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Adesuwa's Burnout Story

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

I didn't get to see Adesuwa often because of the nature of her job, but we managed to talk from time to time. It's been weeks however,and I still haven't heard from my only daughter and I was fussing so much about it, to which my husband responded, "she's 28 years old, not a child you know" and I agree with him, but I also knew it was very unlike her, so I planned to go visit her the next day being Sunday.

Very early on Sunday morning, the only day she'd actually be home, I knocked on her gate for a long time before she answered, I was going to scold her for taking so long to open the gate, when I saw her face. Adesuwa looked worn out and washed out, she had obvious dark eye bags, bigger than I'd ever seen on her face. As if that wasn't enough, she reeked of alcohol and didn't even seem pleased to see me. I was more bothered, it was the weekend the only day she could stay home and sleep in, but Adesuwa was the type of child who didn't like one hair out of place and never developed a taste for alcohol, but here she was, smelling like a bottle of stale wine.

I was almost convinced she had gone through a messy breakup, I mean why would she be drinking so much alcohol? When she finally opened up, I wasn't sure how best to help my baby. She told me about how she felt physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, how she was sure she was messing up at work because her boss had started to complain about her under performance. She was a personal assistant to a very successful business mogul whose name I never remember, but I recall how excited she was to put her skills to use at the time of landing the job, but somewhere along the line, the job pressures increased due to an ambiguous and perpetually demanding job description from her boss. She was really struggling to keep up with the endless meetings she accompanied her boss to, the minutes taking and reports she had to compile and submit weekly and many more expectations of her. It had hit hard on Friday, how much she was struggling to keep up with her job demands hence, her recent underperformance. This realization only drove up her worrying, which then informed her decision to take a glass of wine and another, until she lost count of how many glasses she had last night when she got home from yet another event she had accompanied her boss to. She worked Mondays to Saturdays! How much longer could she continue like this? I asked myself as she shared her struggles with me.

She said her nights were the absolute worst, she was up most of the night because no matter how hard she tried, sleep never came and when it did, it was never refreshing, she had nightmares about losing her job all the time or some faceless person chasing her and fighting with her in her sleep or handing her a sack letter! So, she resorted to alcohol to get a semblance of rest each night which made her wake up groggy, irritated and with a headache that never went away.

Adesuwa is easily the brightest girl in any room, smart and ambitious, that's how it's always been since childhood, but now as she recounted her issues to me, while I cooked her a decent meal she hadn't had in ages, I could see how miserable and stressed out she was.

As the evening approached, she had to start preparing for the next day and her phone started to chime with notifications of meetings and schedules for the week, she started fretting, she became jumpy and uneasy despite how hard I had tried to get her to relax all day.

She said that's how things had been for a while now, she was constantly jumpy about work or the thought of it. She felt it was due to the sense of reduced accomplishment/satisfaction at work- she was constantly fatigued, unmotivated, struggling to follow the trail of the conversations during meetings. She had bad eating habits and was now almost isolated both at work with colleagues and at home with family and friends because she worked overtime with no time to visit friends and when she wasn't working, she was mostly irritable and she avoided chatting with everyone on the phone.

As I tucked her into bed that night, I tried to convince her that for once, she delegates her tasks to other colleagues so she could take the day off to go see her brother who's a Medical doctor. She was being stubborn and refused to go, but as she woke up the next morning with a banging headache, fatigued and pains all over her joints, and the thought of dragging herself to work, she budged and we went to see him.

After running a few tests and examining her, he said there was nothing wrong with her from the physical point of view, however she was really stressed out but to be sure, he referred her to the Hospital's mental health expert for her own professional opinion.

After a thorough and lengthy discussion, the expert made a diagnosis of 'Occupational (work) burnout' and advised her to take things easy, to look for the best ways to manage work stress such as taking time out to de-stress from time to time. Dr. K gave her useful tips such as taking her lunch break, leaving work in the office, staying off work when on vacation/leave, eating right- not skipping meals and taking up exercise and meditation activities, including breathing exercises.

Adesuwa took a few days off, to clear her head out more and get the much needed rest. She started exercising and paid attention to what she consumed, particular with regards to alcohol and caffeine intake. She evaluated her options, opened up to her superiors about her concerns and the pressure of her inconsistent and rapidly changing job roles- they reached a compromise that worked for her and this improved her motivation, she also put more effort into rebuilding her social life, creating time for her friends, and repairing other important relationships including her intimacy with God. The company also engaged the services of an expert with regards to the emotional wellness and support of her employees for everyone's benefit and well-being.

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