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"My ESG in banking job left me burned out and paranoid"

I was passionate about my job. Then I got burnout.

Everyone is expected to make sacrifices for their career – especially in finance. No one realizes just how much you have to give.

I had to resign from that job to get “healthy”. I was in hospital for nearly two months. I couldn’t even recover from the common cold – and that’s not to mention the serious illnesses that I didn’t recover from. I was constantly sick, and never had the opportunity to rest and recover. I had Covid – and people knew I had Covid – and I was still barraged with emails and calls. On “sick leave”.

My concentration faltered. I was exhausted, constantly, even after eight hours of sleep (as rarely as that opportunity came). I worked when I had the energy to – even if that was in the middle of the night. But at the same time, it felt like everything I was doing in my job simply did not matter.

It wasn’t always that way, though. I liked working in banking – and I was moved into something ESG-related because I’m passionate about it. But passion couldn’t make up for extra hours, understaffing, and institutional ignorance.

I used to be a kind and patient person, who dealt with stress well and had an exceptional memory. Those strengths slowly unraveled, and I found myself losing my patience. I became horribly reactive – the smallest things would make me cry or enrage me. And then I started forgetting things.

I damaged a lot of relationships beyond repair, because people just don’t understand what burnout really is. I withdrew from family, friends, and colleagues. And I became paranoid about those exact same colleagues. It felt like everyone was out to get me.

And it wasn’t just my health taking a hit, or my relationships – it was the tiny little things that make me an individual. I lost interest in my hobbies completely. My selfcare was terrible, if I can still say it existed.

The worst part, though, is that it was all avoidable. If I had senior management support just to rest and be able to take a weekend out for myself and deal with my personal life. If I had the time to breathe, things would have been different. Honestly, burnout ruined my life. But I’m bouncing back. I will be stronger… I am already stronger.

If you have experience of burnout - either past or present - please, share it below. Mental health shouldn’t be a stigma in finance. But that can only change with people talking about theirs.

Emma Leclerc is a pseudonym.

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AUTHOREmma Leclerc Insider Comment
  • Ra
    19 May 2023

    Working in DEI, and even wanting to work in DEI, I suspect is a primary source of the described burnout. DEI work involves dealing with grievances, feelings of victimhood, blame, tribalism, internal conflict, overt politics, imposition of resented policies and programs on employees and other "stakeholders", a general lack of effectiveness, etc. DEI work is a sure fire way to become increasingly disgruntled and view work in the worst possible light - through a prism of victimhood and resentment.

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