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How long did decompression/recovery take?
Old 04-12-2013, 01:28 PM   #1
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How long did decompression/recovery take?

I know that I am burnt out because even when I have a few days off I seem to be bone weary and easily annoyed. As a result, one of the makor things I hope to accomplish by ESRing is to recover from the burnout. How long did it take ERs to feel human again after bailing on the job?

"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."

- Will Rogers
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:34 PM   #2
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I'm about 6 months in. After about 3 months, I felt noticeably better. But still, I don't feel totally "human" yet.

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Old 04-12-2013, 01:35 PM   #3
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For me...about a year. For DH...about a day.

But seriously, it took him about a year to get over the MegaCorp mind-set.
There's no need to complicate, our time is short..
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:44 PM   #4
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DH is retired. I ESR'd about 3 years ago. DH, to be honest, didn't seem to miss a beat and didn't seem to really need much decompression or recovery. Perhaps this is because he had a 40 hours a week job that was not high stress and where he rarely had to work extra hours.

For me it was different. I went from a high stress, high hours to working 1 day a week (same employer, same job - but doing the parts of my job that I had liked and not doing things I didn't like). It took me a few months before I felt really recovered. I remember at first having a mental block against doing fun, relaxing things during the week day. At first if I was doing something like playing a computer game I would only do it in the evenings as I wasn't used to doing that kind of thing during the day. I went shopping on the weekend since my mind was trained to think of weekends as the time to go shopping.

I had to get past those kinds of things to really start relaxing and enjoying ESR.
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:51 PM   #5
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None because I eased into it with a couple of years of 20 hour weeks from home. And in the final 3 months I turned my work over to someone else, so for about the last month I was just a backstop in case something came up they needed help with, and I don't recall anything really happening then.

I think going to all-out to nothing is a lot more difficult, but I know a lot of people don't have that option.
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:53 PM   #6
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Brewer, I feel for you buddy. I have been out of the game for two years now and am finally not thinking about the old grind at all anymore.
I have to admit that I did not have the kind of job that you seem to have with travel and high stress, so I can't relate to your particular situation.
I prepared well and when I left it didn't take long to stop thinking about the job and just enjoy each day as it came. I think preparation helps a lot.
And the feeling of "freedom" will overcome all else.........
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:59 PM   #7
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For me it was very gradual. I felt some real sense of liberation/relief on day one, but it took longer (months) to let go in other respects. If it helps, after almost 2 years I haven't had a single day of regret. If I do at some point, I'll just go back to work a something less demanding/more enjoyable now that maximizing (employment wage) income is no longer a priority. Life is good...
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Old 04-12-2013, 02:10 PM   #8
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I decompressed in phases. The mental, "I am no longer Atlas" phase was almost overnight, a couple of days at the most. Other phases took longer but it didn't really matter because once my attention was elsewhere the other things didn't matter as much.
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Old 04-12-2013, 02:36 PM   #9
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Took me about one year to get 50% there and another year for the final 50%.

Job was high profile, 70 hour weeks with 200 days a year of elite level international travel. After 25 years of being 'always on' and the person I was 'supposed to be' to meet the job's requirements, it took that long to become 'me' again. I like 'me'.
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Old 04-12-2013, 02:37 PM   #10
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I think pretty quickly for me. The first month it was a bit of an adjustment phase not getting up at 5am to start the day for work or thinking about some of the projects I had been working on, at least to some degree. After that, those issues faded fast. I'd say somewhere in the 5 to 6 month timeframe I completely quit thinking about work, the people and projects except when I would get the occasional call or email from someone still there. I felt I was finally permanently retired a few months ago when I turned down a consulting offer.
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Old 04-12-2013, 02:39 PM   #11
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I recovered from w*rking in about 24 hours. It took over a year to get over the commuting stress. Sometimes I feel I'm still recovering. Who knew.
Can't you see yourself in the nursing home saying, " Darn! Wish I'd spent more time at the office instead of wasting time with family and friends."
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:18 PM   #12
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It was negative time for me, I guess. I "officially" retired 12/18/2009. But I had an MD appointment 12/07, and he wrote me a 2 weeks stress leave Rx. So I walked out of his office, went and showed my boss and said, Buh-Bye. (Interestingly, for some odd reason - snicker, snicker - I had already cleaned out my desk of any personal belongings the Friday before my MD appointment. Hmmmmm was that Rx planned? ya Think
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:19 PM   #13
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About 6 months. Though occasionally still have nightmares about some safety corner cutting attempts in train maintenanance, about which I had to battle the chinken $hit pencil necked geeks. D*mn them all. REMFs. ugh.
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Old 04-12-2013, 03:42 PM   #14
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I did a "practice ER" when I retired from the military at 43. Going from an unbelievably stressful j*b in the Pentagon to an utterly relaxed lifestyle took about a weekend. The pleasure of getting the local newspaper delivered along with the WSJ every morning, then sitting with as many cups of coffee as I liked, for as long as I liked, before starting my day was simply as good as it could possibly get.

After 4 or 5 months, I started getting antsy and looking for something to do. So I got a civilian j*b (in a completely different career field), and actually enjoyed it for a number of years. But when the company got bought out I volunteered for the first round of layoffs (I was 55 at the time). Much to my delight, they accepted, gave me a nice severance, and I went into full-scale ER with never another thought about w*rking again. For the second time, the transition was about a weekend.

Needless to say, as soon as I hung up my commuting shoes, people started calling and asking for consulting time. I have always made it a rule to never do more than 10 weeks per year in that role, and only on projects I truly enjoy, so it's really just a hobby, not actual w*rk.

Since I know you slightly, I would venture to guess that you will find your experience to have at least some slight parallels with my second ER. Nothing to worry about in the least!
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Old 04-12-2013, 04:23 PM   #15
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Good discussion. I was wondering the same thing.
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Old 04-12-2013, 04:25 PM   #16
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For me it was about six months after FIRE. Although I did practice for the last three months of w*orking as my replacement had already been named.
FIRE'D in July 2009 at 51...Never look back!
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Old 04-12-2013, 04:33 PM   #17
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For me it was very gradual. I went from 60 hr weeks a week to 40 then to 4 - 8 hr days days then to 3 and eventually 2 days a week over the course of 10 years. i don't know if I'm done decompressing yet, but its close. The key to decompression/recovery for me in ESR was finding someone at work to handle everyday problems/emergencies. Once you have that covered in ESR, recovery can start.
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Old 04-12-2013, 04:42 PM   #18
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Most of my decompression was in the first couple of months, IIRC. After that I felt relatively sane and de-stressed.

But really, it takes a long, long time to fully decompress. I have been retired 3.5 years by now, and I think I am about there. Once in a long while I have a work dream and awaken all scrambled and so thankful that it was just a dream. But mostly I have decompressed.

My measure of decompression level is taken in "do-not-give-a-flying-flip" units.
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:11 PM   #19
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I agree with W2R. I think that for me a complete decompression will take several years. Honestly, I've been out a little over 3.5 months, and my blood pressure has stabilized to the point that I'm off the meds. However, I can't yet look back and think about work and especially about the demands of the last couple of years in office and not have know, the feeling of dread, the racing heart, the cold sweat. When I can look back and not give a flip, and no longer have heart palpitations, then I'll say I've fully recovered.

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Old 04-12-2013, 06:49 PM   #20
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It's a great question. In my case, after leaving megacorp I went overseas for a few months and felt completely decompressed while I was away. However upon returning home some of the negative feelings and anxieties came back. Sometimes I had nightmares about work. It wasn't an ongoing anxiety but rather it came and went. Seeing some of my old work colleagues for drinks or lunch contributed to these feelings of anxiety. I wonder if it is a kind of PTSD. Anyway it has been over 18 months now and the negativity is almost all gone.

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