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My Health

Question:

What’s wrong with me; am I having a breakdown of some sort? I have been over worked for the last 3 years as a night retail manager working 13-14 hour nights and only getting around 3 hours sleep daily and this was the cause of my break up with my partner. We have 2 small children. I have tried to get out of nights yet my boss keeps saying I’m too valuable to take off nights and put on days. Even when I explained my health issues he still refused a move. I also am feeling so down I find myself getting upset over the slightest of things and then really angry. What’s wrong??

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Answer:

What is wrong is that you are suffering all of the classic symptoms of stress. Your stress is routed in the number of hours you work and the lack of sleep. In fact, the problem of your work hours has disrupted your personal life and that is awful. Three hours of sleep per night is totally inadequate and is making you feel irritable, angry and depressed. You do not need medication. Instead, you need a life style change and it is imperative that you make that change as quickly as possible.

Fortunately, we live in a country in which people are protected by laws. There are laws that protect you against exploitation at the work place. For example, the law restricts workers to 8 hour shifts with a fifteen minute break for every four hours worked and a lunch break. There are several things that you can do to change your situation:

1. You can go to the Department of Labor and file a complaint about the number of hours you are being required to work.

2. Of course, if you are not required to work those hours and you are choosing to do that on your own initiative, you must stop doing it to protect your health and mental health. Even if you are earning overtime wages for those extra hours you will not be able to work at all if you become seriously ill. As of now, you are on the road towards a serious illness.

3. You can see your Medical Doctor and even see a Psychiatrist in order to apply for disability based on your declining health and deepening depression. This could give you paid leave for up to a month or two. Also, it is entirely likely that, with the written support of your Medical Doctor and/or Psychiatrist, you can demand that your shifts be changed from night work to day time hours for your health and that of your family.

4. By the way, a lot of this should be done through your Human Resources Department at work, rather than your boss. Human Resource Departments are much more aware of the laws than are bosses.

5. You can and probably should look for another job. While I fully understand that we appear to be in a recession and jobs can be hard to get, you also have a lot of experience and can probably get a better job than this and with the daytime shifts that you desire.

You do not have the time or luxury to wait. You must act quickly to protect your health as well as your rights.

By the way, I would even suggest that you inform your ex boy friend of your actions and see if the two of you can get back together, assuming he is a good man and that there was no abuse. You do have two children and they need a mother and father.

Best of Luck

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