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Mental Health Awareness Month: "Are You Okay?"


I have no idea how long I had been staring at my dry erase board on my office wall. But knowing I had to recreate everything I did in 2023 but better and more of it filled me with anxiety. Last year was relentless. It was exciting and challenging in all the best ways, and I’m just referring to my professional life.

 

“Are you okay?” My coworker was standing in my doorway with such pity in her eyes that all I could do was hold up my hand to signal that I was, indeed, not okay. Where do I begin?

Probably shouldn’t divulge too much. But after 53 weeks of extensively researching wellness tips, quotes, and affirmations for our lawyer wellbeing campaign, I am well-versed by now in recognizing burnout. I have read several articles on LinkedIn about suicide. I have attended CLE seminars on drug abuse and checking in with those who work in one of the most pressure cooker-style professions available. #WednesdayWellness #LawyerWellbeing

 

My coworker would later confess she was relieved to learn I was only panicking about my workload and not something truly devasting, such as a dying parent or my husband leaving me. Her words. I’m just tired and worried about being able to carry my workload while juggling my personal life, which is still the most important part of my life.

 

The most empowering (and bittersweet) epiphany about adulting is no one else is going to help you.

You must recognize for yourself that you need and want help. And then you must put in the work to improve your situation. Will you wallow in silent despair for years until disease or addiction claims you? Complain about your innermost woes to friends and coworkers? Please don’t do that. That’s what therapy is for. Your employer’s health insurance probably provides a free Employee Assistance Plan. This plan provides free counseling sessions where you can air out all your cringy, dirty laundry confidentially. Just call the number on the back of your health card. Your coworkers have their own stuff they’re dealing with, trust me.

 

If therapy doesn’t sound like a relief to you, you can literally spend hours online researching mental health wellness tips to suit you. You can change your diet, exercise, and sleep routines. Partake in cold water plunges. Do something.  

 

I really like my job. There is tons of potential for a successful company readying itself for a second act. My coworkers are bright, friendly, and hardworking. It’s hard to admit to my boss that I’m struggling to keep up with them all. And that I need to make some immediate adjustments to keep running at this pace year after year. But I know that my dedication to what we’re doing and what I bring to the table is undeniable. So, it’s up to me to make things better.

 

Are you familiar with the Serenity prayer? I am a very faithful follower of Jesus Christ, and I am not going to ever shy away from saying that. But the Serenity prayer is also the foundation upon which many family members of addicts stand:

 

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

The courage to change the things I can.

And the wisdom to know the difference.”

 

If you are not okay, you do not have to stay that way. You only need to admit it to yourself and decide exactly what you want to do about it. My father, whom I loved dearly and miss daily, had a marble paperweight that was inscribed with:

 

“Though we cannot go back and make a new start, we can start now and make a new end.” ~ Anonymous

 

Let this month of Mental Health Awareness be your sign to check in with yourself. Start now and make a new end. Ask for help and make a change. You are brave, and you can do big things.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Since the distribution of this article, Shannon discussed her pending burnout with her boss. She requested to work from home twice a week until her youngest son leaves for college in the fall. She is now back to joyfully killing it.


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About the Author


Shannon Raley, Marketing Coordinator

Attorneys Insurance Mutual of the South


Shannon joined Attorneys Insurance Mutual of the South in January 2023. As the marketing coordinator, she brings many years of corporate experience in marketing and communications. She is licensed in Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia to sell life & health as well as property & casualty insurance products and services.

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