Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Do people see you as a person or as a patient?

About 2 weeks ago, my girlfriend received excellent news: her cancer is gone. I am glad for her but somehow I still see her as a recovering cancer patient. Given my 2013/14 burnout, the same may apply to me. Do people see my girlfriend and me as a person or as a patient?

People sometimes ask about my burnout. I don’t mind talking about it. It’s a part of who I am today. The most interesting question is whether my burnout is “over”. Technically, my burnout is over as I haven’t felt a relapse since 2015. I use one of its main triggers – anxiety over a ringing phone – as my benchmark.

Nevertheless, I doubt you can fully heal from a burnout. Nowadays, I compare my burnout with clouds that are following me in life. On most days, these clouds are light – or invisible. On my worst days, these clouds are dark and feel like an approaching thunderstorm.

There is one caveat to the above: I am a different person than I was. My long lasting feelings of dissatisfaction and unhappiness are gone. Also see my 2017 blogs: The cycle of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and chaos and The cycle of happiness and satisfaction. As a consequence, my temper has also gone, but not the warrior inside me.

A personal crisis, like a burnout or cancer, creates a T-junction in life: you can either continue your old life – or change. For me, change was the only option because I had lost faith in my old beliefs and thus lacked willpower to continue these old beliefs (my blogs on Faith-Beliefs-Willpower). Please also see this 2007 New York Mag article: “In a culture where work can be a religion, burnout is its crisis of faith”.

The answer to the question in my blog title might be difficult when people have changed following a personal crisis. A different person is no longer the person we thought we knew. Perhaps, that “new” person is a symptom of that “former” patient. The (ir)relevance of the question (in my blog title) only becomes clear when you meet strangers.

I did and do not treat my girlfriend as a patient because I know that would be an insult to her. You should treat people the way, you would like to be treated yourself. Wiki: “The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in many religions and cultures.”

A 2014 Good Therapy article, “Does your therapist see you as a person or as a patient?” gives another argument: “To argue this case, I have addressed the significant myths fueled by mental health providers who view the people they work with as patients. These myths lead to the devaluation of those who seek help and promote the idealization of helpers.”

In a certain way, I am patient as I’m “able to remain calm and not become annoyed when waiting for a long time or when dealing with problems or difficult people” (Merriam Webster).

Patience (2010) by Damian Marley featuring Nas

artist 1, artist 2, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2, Wiki-3

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise


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