As usual, I awaken in the middle of the night, and for that one blissful, fleeting moment, I don’t remember who I am. That moment between sleep and consciousness when All Is Well.  Ahhhhh…..Then BAM, it hits me, like a hammer to my mind, I remember I’m a dentist.

The anxiety starts like a hard ball in my stomach and radiates out to my fingers and toes; stress hormones are released as I recall the weight resting upon my shoulders, and I’m aware that sleep will elude me for the rest of the night. In 3 short hours I have to get up and drag my tired, overwhelmed, stressed-out body to the very successful dental practice that I willingly, excitedly, and naively started from nothing 8 years earlier with 2 employees and 3 charts in the drawer. I’ve never felt so alone, lost, and stuck.

Getting up is not easy, and I feel physically ill. Taking a long, hot shower helps, as well as being with my dog and going outside to feed the horses, who always knew everything was OK.  I pack my favorite foods for lunch and snacks and head for the office with a forced smile on my face, once again hoping for the best. As I drive, a very strong urge to get on the highway and never look back comes over me. My heart longs to do other things; bike, swim, run, ride my horses, play, laugh, socialize, travel, read, think.  Its been so long since I’ve focused on those things, as my career has engulfed my whole life.  I feel like a failure…spending 8 years in school, then working nonstop to build a practice that is very successful by all definitions from the outside…also building and moving into a large, beautiful, brick, high-tech office with all the extras including a gym, sauna, full kitchen, 4 bathrooms, and a shower… yet just wanting out.  Dentistry has become my identity.  Who am I if I’m not a dentist?  I don’t know the answer to that question, but desperately want to find out.

To Be Continued…