The morning that changed my life

Alun Rees describes the morning he realised he was doing too much and how Confidental can help.

I remember it well.

Monday 8am, first patient due at 8:30.

I was driving to our practice in a suburb of Gloucester.

My journey took me through the picture-postcard village of Upton-St-Leonards.

I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw four cars behind me, bumper to bumper.

I realised I was driving very slowly and was unable to put my foot on the accelerator any harder.

I pulled into the side of the road and turned off the engine.

My pulse was racing, blood was pounding in my ears and I was hyperventilating.

Then came the tears.

I had spent most of the weekend at work, trying to deal with what felt like a mountain of paperwork.

Letters to read, referrals to make, financial statements for analysis.

Plus, a difficult decision about hiring a new team member to replace someone of long standing who had left because: ‘I can’t work with you any longer, Alun’.

Burn out

I now know four signs of burn out:

  • Has anyone close asked you to cut down on your work?
  • Have you recently become angry or resentful about work, colleagues, clients or patients?
  • Do you feel guilty that you are not spending enough time with your friends, family or yourself?
  • Do you find yourself becoming increasingly emotional?

On that Monday:

  • My wife, a hygienist who worked as my partner in the business, had suggested I try to do less
  • I had started the practice, enjoyed it and our patients. Now it all felt like a heavy load dragging me down
  • I regularly missed our son’s bedtime. My Dad had died the previous year, his last words to me were: ‘take care of your mother’, she was not coping well
  • My journeys to and from work were marked by my shouting at other motorists or Radio 4.

I wish I had known then, what I know now.

Confidental, the 24-hour telephone helpline for dentists by dentists, is now officially live.

Trained volunteers are there to offer support in a crisis and are there to listen.

You can find out more by visiting or calling 0333 987 5158.

Read more from Alun Rees:

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