I’ve been working at a community health center in a predominantly Latinx neighborhood of Boston for two years and I love working with such a diverse population. I’d wanted to work in mental health for years and I dove headfirst into my role as a Behavioral Health Clinician. I was warned about provider burnout and encouraged to practice self-care. "Make sure you take care of yourself," my coworkers said to me on the first day. "Oh, yeah, definitely," I replied. But stupidly, I believed burnout wouldn’t happen to me because I was doing what I love to do most: help people. So rather than eat lunch or go outside or read a book on my free time, I spent all of my free time on work-related tasks: writing notes, phone calls to patients, etc. I read articles and watched videos on mental health issues. I submerged myself in my work, convinced that my passion for it would never get old.
I had no social life in college. My hard-working immigrant parents couldn’t afford my college tuition, so I bartended at a TGI Fridays full time, leaving me with no energy and no time to go to parties and do keg stands. When I wasn’t working, I’d come home from school, catch up on my studying and then set up the Scrabble board on the kitchen counter. My playing partner was Jacqueline, a cousin who lived only two houses away because Cubans have a tendency to stick together, regardless of the country. Jacqueline was only thirteen years old but mature for her age, so much so that I'd often forget she was still a budding teenager. I would talk to her about school, bartending, boys, everything. She would sit and listen to me and offer me feedback.