Sunday, November 25, 2007

Detoxing from Work

Talking with an acquaintance at a cafe this evening, I mentioned that I'm on a leave of absence from work due to stress and overwork. Her response was, "Oh, so you're detoxing from work?" I didn't have to think about it for more than a moment before answering, "Absolutely. By the way, can I use that phrase?" She nodded approvingly.

Detoxing from work. How apt. How utterly appropriate. When work becomes toxic, one ultimately becomes ostensibly inebriated with stress. And what, pray tell, are the signs and symptoms of such an inebriation? Impaired mental faculties; poor coordination; impaired coping; altered interpersonal relationships; sub-optimal self-care; emotional lability; impaired decision-making; stress-related illness. 
So, when one suffers from chronic inebriation, one must detox, which more often than not translates to a removal of the afflicted individual from the environment, people and triggers which facilitate said inebriation. Thus, I have, in effect, removed myself from my personally inebriating environment (work), separating myself from the people (colleagues and patients) and triggers (patients' neediness and trauma) which exacerbate my stress levels, stress-induced illness, and vicarious traumatization. 
Returning from detox becomes a challenge when one has successfully divorced and separated oneself from the influences which previously caused one such suffering. Returning to the same old environment, people, and triggers from prior to the detox can be a difficult emergence, especially if one's recovery is still somewhat tenuous. At times, the individual returning from detox will decide to eschew the old haunts, avoid the environments and people who triggered his or her previous demise, and establish new patterns and ways of living centered around healthy choices and new paradigms. 
At the end of my leave of absence, I will reenter the fray at work, diving back into the environment that I believe to now be toxic to me. According to the terms of my leave, I must return full-time for thirty calendar days following my detox on the outside. 
So, this begs the question at this point in my recovery from work toxicity: Will those thirty days back on the front lines erase the gains which I will have made during my detox? And, more importantly, will I then decide beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is truly time to go? Stay tuned, esteemed Reader, and Time will surely kiss and tell. 
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