My coworkers are wonderful people. They have supported me professionally and personally throughout my employment at the VA. They stood by me after I was injured, helping behind the scenes and directly. I work with some truly wonderful people.
Several months ago, I started the process to apply for medical retirement from my career. Ever since the injury, I struggle to complete simple tasks at work. I am exhausted by the end of a shortened work day. Being in public is being in a world traveling 70 MPH, when I am plodding along at 45 MPH. The world is too bright, too noisy, too fast for me to comfortably be present. Spidey super senses are not fun when it makes even being at work tiring and anxiety- provoking never mind actually getting tasks done. I made the decision to retire and explore other options to remain part of the community and produce something.
I mentioned the decision to my coworkers and supervisor, not wanting this to catch them off guard in the future. Their response shows the caring, “How can we help make it possible for you to stay?” Offers of lowered hours, fewer patients, etc followed.
One concern I have is my lowered production. I only work half time and in the time I am in the office, my patient load is already light. I’m not really providing the services effectively and my coworkers are taking up my lack. It’s a busy place. They really need three full time social workers. Instead, they point out how my injury gives me insight to the struggles of the Vets, how helpful I can be to others with TBI, how seeing me back at work after a debilitating injury shows the Vets it is possible, etc. I know I do these things, for the few Vets I see. The cost I pay is in pain, anxiety, and exhaustion.
I appreciate the support and encouragement my friends at work provide. However, right now, I think I need a different type of support- that allows me to make the choice to leave rather than fighting to survive every day. It seems whatever choice I make “lets down” the team. If I stay, they continue to cover my brokenness. If I leave, I let down a lot of people in my life. Part of me sees leaving as “failure,” just as I failed my Army unit by not deploying. The Army found another qualified social worker to take my place. I’m fairly certain the VA will as well.