Quitting your job. It seems to be on everyone’s mind lately.
Do a quick search on Youtube and you will find 25 of the first 30 results are from within the past year. Wow!
Can someone say pandemic stress?
The pandemic has created a public mental health crisis. This should not be a secret but for many people, they do not realize this is happening.
Our society, in 2021, still feels shame when it comes to mental health. The consequences of not talking about or engaging in healthy habits when it comes to your spiritual well-being are immense. Not recognizing that our current situation is collective only makes matters worse.
If you have done a google search for covid-19 or coronavirus lately, you may have noticed statistics and news about mental health hiding in plain sight. For example, when you search coronavirus statistics or covid-19, this image comes up near the top of your search:
“Coping” is code for mental health. This is how shameful it is to discuss mental health the way we discuss physical health.
There has been some reporting on the mental health impacts of COVID-19. The news has reported on children and elderly mental health decline during the pandemic. It has reported on doctors and nurses being overwhelmed and exhausted.
Rarely has this public mental health crisis been addressed as something we are facing as a collective.
Many workplaces are treating mental health during the pandemic as individual issues that individuals need to access through Employee Assistance Programs. But these systems are overwhelmed.
The whole of the mental health system is overwhelmed. I have been waiting months to see a doctor, my primary doctor has offered to write a prescription without seeing a specialist due to these conditions.
While it is easy to blame the pandemic and social distancing as the sole cause of these mental health outcomes. It would be premature and inaccurate to explain this as a causal relationship as though no intervening factors exist.
By examining qualitative changes in people’s lives, we might easily slip into this explanation: coronavirus lockdowns cause mental health problems. After all, it is an easy way of explaining the situation. But let’s think about things a little more deeply.
The economic crisis spurred by shutting down entire countries and transportation networks created new living conditions.
In this brave new world, there are many uncertainties but expectations have remained the same.
Children are now in the home. People are living in their homes. Custodial staff are unavailable, food has to be prepared largely at home, you can’t trust your neighbors because they believe in QAnon conspiracy theories, world leaders are falling into fascism, the United States has picked a fight with China for whatever reason, North Korea doesn’t want to be forgotten, climate change keeps rampaging the world, the Gulf Stream could break down, common core math, killer cops are not being help accountable, Amazon has people shitting wherever en route to your home as they speed down the road where you kids are playing outside, maskne, global shipping disruptions (and now the Suez canal is blocked on top of it all), not being able to visit grandpa and grandma, and then you are expected to keep doing your job as though nothing out of the ordinary is happening and the assumption is you have more time available to you.
Your job, your fucking job. This nightmare that never ends. They have made zero accommodations for you. If they made any accommodations, it was verbal so as to give them justification for letting you go at their whim. If they made accommodations, they were not adequate. “Try not to kill yourself, visit the EAP website” where you go to seek out resources only to find the suicide hotline front and center. Ouch. Thanks for your support.
If your job only cares when you are on the verge of killing yourself, it is not you that is the problem. It is your employer who could not be bothered to advocate for your health and safety prior to you reaching that point. That is not suicide, it is murder.
When I initially searched “I quit my job” I was looking for a song. That song never showed up after I continued scrolling further and further down. It used to be first on the list. The pandemic has changed everything.
Whats going on?
There is a lot going on. The need for money to pay the bills is at the top of the list. Directly tied for that position at the top of the list is the drudgery that is work.
People were not meant to sit at computers endlessly or flip burgers for 8 hours a day or put on a smiling face while you grab their ass table after table or be treated like shit from your kids as a teacher. Kids are stressed, parents are stressed, everybody is stressed. Unfortunately the pandemic has placed an inordinate amount of attention of families with kids, but rest assured (irony intended) your stress during this pandemic and its impact on you is just as important.
Even in conditions that might not be drudgery the pandemic has created these conditions because we are stuck in a state of eternal stress.
Chronic stress is common in certain professions, but those professions are balanced with the rest of society.
Imagine society is an organism. For example, imagine society is a body. Each of the parts work together to make the whole thing work. The body of course is not just the immune system and the circulatory system and some bones and flesh. No, you are a person, you are so much more than each of these parts.
Under non-crisis conditions, your body is fine and can handle stressors. Chronic stress on any one system as a whole can create long term damage. Chronic stress in one part of one system can be accommodated.
Right now though we are experiencing chronic stress on the whole system. This is why we are currently facing a collective mental health crisis.
Our jobs should not be at the forefront of our daily lives right now. We have other things to worry about and concentrate on. The politics of money making has overruled the rationality of our personal and collective health.
Staying alive during a pandemic is hard, especially when politicians and your QAnon neighbors are so confused about the basics of how the economy and science work.
People actually believe that the government is giving money to people because they care about the people. Maybe you did too, but let me let you in on a little secret….
We are in big trouble if the economy fails. If the economy fails, the whole system is subject to collapse. This is a threat to civilization itself. Giving people stimulus payments is intended to prevent economic collapse.
Should economic collapse happen, there will be even more political discontent that we have already seen. And politicians are not keen on being murdered by their constituents.
Let’s keep them safe and support stimulus payments. Let’s advocate for stimulus payments. Let’s normalize these payments.
Work should not be a death sentence. Work is how we survive because we depend on money. This is a false reality, because what we really need are love, shelter, community, nature, water, and food.
Money can buy these things, but not everyone has access to money and thus human needs.
After all, jobs are largely meaningless today. Productive jobs have been automated and replaced by non-jobs and service jobs. Productive jobs were high paying. Non-jobs oversee service jobs. Non-jobs are things like managers …of service jobs like burger flipping and setting up peoples’ cell phones. Non-jobs include teaching people how to take advantage of the stock market, dog washing and other jobs that claim to be about independence and autonomy but really are desperate attempts to make ends meet.
There is even a website called Fivr.com where people sell menial tasks for $5. At least, that is how it started. Another version of this idea is Taskrabbit. There are a whole bunch of these types of non-jobs.
Why have jobs at all?
Who needs to accumulate money in the stock market when we could just redistribute the wealth of the companies that lead in the stock market? After all, only 5 companies account for 25% of the market.
Hold on, did this author just advocate redistributing the wealth???
Yes, this was the promise of capitalism. We were promised that eventually we would not need to work. We were told technology would replace work and we’d all live good lives.
Instead, we have been chained to low wage work without benefits and now with the added responsibility of saving our own taxes to give to the government at the end of the year. But we don’t make enough money. This is itself an economic crisis.
As long as people keep behaving and following the rules on the books, everything is ok. But with a pandemic, it changes everything.
Our economy is divided into those with non-jobs and those with “real jobs”. All are effected by the pandemic.
Everyone is locked into this chronic stress, instead of enjoying themselves in their own home. It is destroying mental health.
We’re locked in our homes but expected to work at full capacity. We have all these added responsibilities that make it obvious our employers should be providing wages and accommodations to complete our new workloads, but they are not.
So we don’t sleep, we either eat a ton or very little, we scroll endlessly making our mental health problems worse. If you change anything you do, my recommendation is to make sure you do not start or end your day with scrolling.
For me even scrolling has become boring. Another girl shaking her ass or boobs while half naked to W.A.P. Another cute dog/cat video. Drunkies getting hurt. ZzZ. I’m over it.
Things that used to be enjoyable are not any longer. This is a sign.
Burnout is most often associated with work. Under normal conditions it impacts some people. Under pandemic conditions it impacts large masses of people and entire industries are effected.
The concept of burnout was developed by Herbert Freudenberger and defined thus: Burnout is a reaction to prolonged or chronic job stress and is characterized by three main dimensions: exhaustion, cynicism (less identification with the job), and feelings of reduced professional ability.
It is hard to feel attached to your job when you are working at home and only see coworkers on occasion and only over a videoconferencing software.
Life itself becomes a chronic job stress when you are working from home. When you have all these added responsibilities associated with both your work and home life, simply because a pandemic closed the world down, it makes sense that you would feel cynical and have “feelings of reduced professional ability” (or as those of us from lower income backgrounds know it: imposter syndrome).
Burnout looks an awful lot like depression.
Here are some of the major signs of burnout:
- Lacking in energy and motivation
- Being unable to sleep or tossing and turning all night long
- Emotional exhaustion
- Feeling like you lack purpose
- Headache, dizziness, stomach aches, body aches
- Detached or less invested in interpersonal relationships
- Inability to focus on tasks that need to be done
Burnout is a predecessor to depression. It is important to address so that you can lead a happy healthy life with friends and loved ones.
Typical solutions are not available or reasonable during a pandemic though. You cannot just escape the pandemic.
We are not being provided with a basic income to survive a pandemic. We are expected to continue working. The only major modification is wearing a mask. Some people cannot even accommodate that for a pandemic that has killed millions and is festering into new potentially more deadly variants as it proceeds unchecked in Brazil.
During a pandemic, self-care is not going to cut it. I can go get a massage, but I am still returning to the environment in which the stressor lives. In fact, the stressor lives everywhere.
The pandemic is pervasive.
We wear it on our faces in the form of a mask.
We live it in the paranoia when someone coughs in public.
We obsessively clean and use hand sanitizers even though we now know the pandemic is spread through aerosol particles and not droplets as initially thought.
What is to be done?
Living through a pandemic, it is important to remember why it is we are doing the practices we do.
We wear a mask because we care about others and ourselves. We clean because it is necessary to maintain a safe healthy living space.
What else can we do? Talk to someone, find someone new. Hangover Throat even offers this service.
Speaking with someone is a great way to relieve yourself from the stress.
While we support alcohol consumption, maybe don’t take that route. But then again, if it works to get you through and you don’t think it will have long term repercussions, go for it.
Most importantly, quit your job. Refuse to work during the pandemic.
In the spirit of maintaining solidarity and connection, start to advocate with others. Advocate for yourself and your families.
There is no return to normal. We are in the process of creating a new normal. This new normal can be anything you imagine. The rules have been chucked out. They don’t apply.
This leaves great opportunity for creativity. Creativity is conveniently one of the best mechanisms for expressing yourself when you have burnout.
Connection. Creativity. Common Cause.
This is how we will triumph during a pandemic.
So go paint or draw or do macramé or learn to sew or be one of those women who plop eggs filled with paint out of their vaginas and call it art.
Get your musical instrument if that is your thing or your hoola hoop, ribbon dancing, flag dancing, or your pots and pans or your loud speaker and get out into an open space where people can safely congregate and share in communion.
Explore your ideas for what a post-pandemic world could be. Talk about what it is that makes you feel burnout. Don’t settle for easy explanations. Think about your commonalities.
Avoid confrontation, practice collective care. Avoid assigning blame and personal attacks. Recognize and celebrate difference as you work collectively to find common cause.
Then go home and take care of yourself.
With love and solidarity I end my first post for this welcoming organization Hangover Throat.