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In the Eye of the Storm

Before the pandemic began, I had already burnt out.

I worked as a pharmacist in the British National Health Service in different sectors and enjoyed the roles I had. But in early 2020, I wanted to run as far away as possible from the profession.

In the UK work culture (and I assume across the globe too), it’s seen as taboo to talk about taking a prolonged break from work. Whenever I mentioned the idea of a career break, it was met with blank expressions or quizzical looks from colleagues. It was as if they couldn’t comprehend the idea that a young pharmacist such as myself would even need a break.

‘You’re just at the beginning of your career, what do you need a break for?’

‘What else are you going to do?’

‘But how are you going to earn money?’

By that point, I was already run into the ground. I’d worked in my fair share of unsupportive and toxic environments and faced challenges in my own health, but it was a period of workplace bullying that sealed the deal. I was done with the profession of pharmacy.

As the months wore on, I began to dread going to work but I didn’t know how to take a break.

I didn’t know that quitting was an option.


When the UK went into its first lockdown in the spring of 2020, I was in between jobs. I managed to get some time off between leaving my previous work and starting my new role, which meant I had one month off during the lockdown.

A small part of me felt guilty in leaving my colleagues behind to deal with the uncertainty and increased workload that the pandemic brought in its early days. Apart from that, I secretly enjoyed my time off.

As I watched the news and numbers rapidly increase, I didn’t want to leave my home. But it wasn't because of the fear of contracting the virus. My body and mind had been crying out for a breather for months; now, the world was forced to slow down, too. We were forced to watch as a virus invisible to the human eye took control of all our movements.

I spent my days exploring my creative side once again, but that usually ended in frustration when I couldn’t draw or paint or physically make anything nice with my hands. I realised I had no idea how to switch my mind off. It took me a while to get used to—and enjoy—doing absolutely nothing.

After I began my new job, I knew I couldn’t continue. The effects of burnout and workplace trauma were still present: I found it difficult to concentrate, dreaded going to work, and tried to think of reasons to call in sick. I left this job before the summer ended and enrolled to study an M.A. in Creative Writing.

Pretty random, right?

Writing has always been a love of mine. I never thought of it as a way to be creative because I did it so much; whether it was journaling, essay writing, or creating fictional worlds, writing was something I both leant on and grew with. It’s as comforting to me as a mother holding the hand of her child: the child knows she’s supported and loved and yet is free to roam inside her own imagination.