By Susan Biali, M.D.
Ten years ago, I was an emergency medicine resident and wanted to die. Today, I’m a general practitioner in part-time practice and in love with life. What made the difference? I signed up for a dance class.
Reports on physician burnout list the personality traits that set us up for trouble: we’re excessively conscientious, feel overly responsible, want to please everyone, and function on an extremely high level –- even if we’re overloaded, exhausted, or our personal life is falling apart. We burn out because we bend over backwards to help others, until something (like our minds or our health or our marriages) finally snaps. Now imagine this: what if we took some of that deep caring and hyper-responsibility, and turned it on ourselves?
When my depression hit bottom and I became a serious risk to myself and my patients, my chief resident asked me to take a stress leave. On impulse I went on a solo tropical vacation and one night at the resort, as I watched an exuberant group of salsa dancers burning up the stage, my eyes filled with tears. I suddenly remembered that when I was a little girl, I practiced incessantly in the basement to my ABBA records, preparing myself for the moment that I would live my dream and finally become a “Solid Gold Dancer.” That night, in that darkened tropical theater, I knew how I would save my life. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*