Burnout is not a place. It's a state of mind.

Burnout can happen to anyone. It can happen anytime, any place, at any pay rate.

No one is immune to burnout... Well, unless you don't have enough brain to grasp the concept of fast food. Then you're probably ok. But I digress.

There are several different levels of burnout.

1st Degree Burnout

Characterised by periods of listlessness and apathy, coupled with an inability to concentrate and a feeling of helplessness about your situation. Can usually be cured by a week or two of vacation and work enviornment changes. Drunken weekends are a stopgap solution, but the effect tends to not last longer than a week or so. Weekend warrior cases are often sufferers from first degree burnout. Ignoring the situation can lead to

2nd Degree Burnout

Increased listlessness and apathy, interpolated with periods of heavy frustration and anger. This is usually accompanied with a feeling of being trapped and an intense need to leave the situation. Second degree burnout is generally what people think of when they say 'burnout'. Long vacations, therapy and lifestyle changes can help with second degree burnout. Prolonged second degree burnout can lead to the incurable

3rd Degree Burnout

Deep depression, anger, violence toward inanimate objects. All the previous symptoms, but in much greater amounts. There is no career cure for 3rd degree burnout. This level of burnout is so severe that the subject can no longer cope with his or her work situation, or even his career choice. Often the mental balance is disrupted to the point that periods in mental hospitals, or years on a beach in tahiti are the only solutions. Almost without exception, the career of the subject in a particular field is ended completely, without hope of recovery or reentry. The subject is then required to switch careers in order to function. Unless (s)he has enough money amassed to just say screw it with the real world and node for the rest of his natural life.

On a personal note, I'm currently suffering from second degree burnout, or perhaps even a touch of third degree in terms of Systems Administration. It's not fun, it's not pretty, and it's exacerbated by the fact that, by it's very nature, sysadmin is a thankless, crappy salary type of job. As a result, I'll be going back to school full time next semester and working very part-time doing something where I don't ever have to take work home, or work more than 15 hours a week, or stay late.

If you see yourself in any of the above descriptions, GET HELP NOW! Or you will lose any love of life you may have left.

Burnout is generally characterized by a certain lack of energy and/or emotional exhaustion. It also may include a degree of job dissatisfaction, increased work absenteeism, and poor job performance. Those who suffer from burnout may also be seen to have essentially negative attitudes, a greater tendency to become ill (i.e. lowered immune system function, which means they may have some degree of depression), and a penchant for isolating themselves.

People who have any or all of these symptoms sometimes have a hard time dealing with the demands of daily life and often feel overwhelmed. When they suffer from low energy, they may be more unable to manage stress, have a difficult time getting to sleep, and have many somatic complaints.

In addition, they are not always in control of their emotions and/or related actions, and may have a hard time recognizing this or learning from mistakes that they make. Often, they have a hard time feeling compassion or respect for others and can feel alienated and alone.

At the heart of things, we all, methinks, wish to be part of a community.

However, many people seem to assume that they'll show up to that community, be handed a neatly lettered card detailing their position and the method of carrying out their duty, and take their place among their new fellow cogs, and that will be it.

Reality being the cold hard bitch that it is, this is most often not the case. Oh, there are indeed always generic positions to be filled in any community or organization. Places where one can come in and simply be another one of the mass...usually, in the "served", common user variety position.

But there are those who, upon seeing the community for what it is, find that there are needs to be met, holes in the structure which must be plugged, and go to work doing it. These individuals are generally, effectively, the administration, whether they are given title to recognize this or not.

And their burnout is enormous, especially in non-profit communities.

Through personal commitment and recognizance of problems, they commit a great portion of their lives toward the betterment of the community. Most often, and terribly necessarily, they serve an ideal, something they see the community as reaching toward, which they will ever strive (in whatever fashion suits them) toward achieving.

Often, no matter what or who has to be destroyed or broken down on the way.

Because there are always, and always will be, turning points in the life of a community or organization, where one must decide whether to serve the ideal, or the population of the community. In any case where the population comes first, the community starts to die.

But in any case where the ideal comes first, the administrators begin to burn out. Which means on an every day basis.

The obstacles of an administrator, whether elected or self-found, are many, and often overwhelming. For one thing, no one will ever say thank you. No, quite the opposite...whether elected or not, your lot is to hear the complaints of the rest of the community about how they are not being served, of how they are not being allowed to abort the ideal in the pursuit of their own passions.

Because most members of any given community are there to belong, generically...not to actually add to the life of the ideal.

Forget sacrfice and selflessness. Administrators have joined a community for an ideal, and are there to defend it, no matter who they have to destroy in the process. If they're allowed to...

But most often, they aren't. We live, after all, in a civilization. Which means that the happiness of the general generic population comes first, no matter how dire the need.

And so, after pushing, and straining, these administrators...these editors...generally burn out. They reach the end of their tethers...and decide to find another community, or a cell, or something elsewhere, where their efforts may be more achievable...or the hopeless pursuit of an ideal may be a little more rewarding.

Burnout is being told, day after day, that keeping the criminals happy is more important than keeping the ideal alive.

Burnout is knowing, moment by moment, that keeping things together and making a more perfect future is generally seen as far more of a crime than creating anarchy through personal happiness, on a community wise basis.

Matches, anybody?

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