There’s been so many changes lately and the funny thing is that I started a new job right before everything shut down so it’s been a learning curve adjusting to a new process while navigating policy changes related to patient care as a result of the current client. Yes, that was a mouthful. Everyone is coping in their own way and some better than others. I’m glad to see that there is more attention around mental health and that people are reaching out but as it’s also equally imperative that therapists’ take the time to reset and recharge between providing emotional support to individuals while being (sometimes) in a similar personal situation. I’m finding myself saying “no” more often than I used to due to juggling several responsibilities and taking classes. One clothing brand has given a 50% discount to all healthcare workers and I was so glad to finally get a jacket that would be perfect when I go into work at the crack of dawn and it’s still chilly outside. While I think that a show of support is great, what would be even better would be compliance so that the rates of this virus can come down. But there’s nothing more American than protesting and people don’t like being told what to do regardless of the fact that it’s for the greater good.
I have to say that this previous week has been pretty stressful as it’s been a huge change in the daily routine that I have gotten used to. I’m normally someone who can adapt quickly but the absence of afternoon naps was really difficult. I found it hard to catch up on sleep and as a result I did not feel rested. I encountered some difficult news and also had an realization that was difficult to process. Disappointment is a part of life and sometimes it just can’t be anticipated. Things change unexpectedly without warning and we have to roll with the punches. I’m finding that experiencing multiple disappointments does not make each one any easier to handle. There is always the process of finding a way to make peace with the new normal or the new circumstance. You have results or an ending that you did not anticipate and you have to create a different plan because things have changed. It’s rough because in some ways you have to mourn the ending that you wanted but never received while recognizing the need to change priorities and focus. I think that there’s also a certain level of annoyance and frustration that accompanies disappointment because of the sheer inconvenience of having to make an unplanned adjustment. However, it’s one of those things that are unavoidable. How we respond to these disappointments says a lot about our resiliency and ability to adapt. But it’s a tough place to be in.
These past few weeks have been unusually stressful for me. I feel like everyone has a certain level of stress that they manage and cope with on a daily basis. It’s like a “regular load” of sorts. And then there are the things that can’t really be helped. It’s like Murphy’s Law gone haywire. The past two weeks have been exactly like that. From my job doubling my caseload, to car troubles, to making a decision to separate myself from someone who didn’t have my best interest in mind–it’s been exhausting. I was talking to someone the other day and I said that I felt like building a fort in my house out of blankets and chairs, crawling in and never coming out. Very unreasonable I know. The theme of my life sometimes seems to be this song “You Can’t Win.” But one thing that I’ve learned is the importance of being flexible and resourceful when necessary. I have to admit that times like this make me miss the presence of a significant other in my life. I’m not complaining but it would be nice to have someone as an actual support who had a vested interest in my life and was there because they wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and would do anything for them but it would so clutch to not go to bed alone every night. I’ve never been one to flaunt my single status or to complain about it but there’s something to be said about the power of “we” versus “me.” Normally I would take this time to launch into some Pollyanna-like declaration that everything will be fine. Someone will come into my life who genuinely want to be in it and I’ll experience some degree of happiness in the future. But I’m just not feeling it right now. Yes, I’ll be fine. I’ve been living this way up to this point and a change isn’t anywhere on the horizon. I’ll continue to adapt and make adjustments as necessary but it honestly does just plain suck at times. But that’s my life. At least for now.
One of the things that I appreciate about social work is that there is an abundance of things to do. You aren’t required to stay doing the same thing for decades at a time. There’s room to try something different and learn a completely new set of skills while still working in the field. One thing I’ve noticed is that while people are all different, they share a lot of commonalities as well. There’s a video that went viral recently where a lady was recounting her experience at a popular store. She observed a customer being nasty to a cashier that appeared flustered and to be having a bad day. After confronting the customer, the cashier shared that he had had a very recent tragic loss and was struggling to pay rent. The lesson from the story is that you never know what someone is going through so be kind to everyone. The holidays can bring up so many emotions for people as they remember loved ones they miss and re-hash old wounds with family members. It’s a time that many people are especially fragile and as someone who has worked in mental health, I’ve noticed there’s a increase in suicide attempts after major holidays. This isn’t an appeal for world peace (as much as we need it). Just a reminder to try to be a bit more patient and kind as you interact with people. You don’t know their stories.
I saw this CNN article and found it pretty relevant to my life because I work in a crisis type of position. You can read the article here. One thing that was interesting was the fact that many social workers and crisis counselors report that they like their job. This wasn’t surprising to me because despite all the craziness and unpredictability of my job, I don’t mind it. People get into a helping profession for a variety of reasons. In my case, I can’t NOT help people and I figured that I might as well have a job that allows me to do that. I’ve had stressful jobs in the field of social work before, but nothing comes close to the emotional drain from crisis work. It’s the kind of job that make you want to take a month long vacation after every shift. However, it’s also meaningful and you get the chance to encounter people from various walks of life and separate those who truly want help from those who don’t want any help. The article noted some great ways to deal with the stress that comes along from constantly working with people who facing some pretty big life challenges. There was an article I read not too long ago about a email that was intercepted from a social worker to another that contained some inappropriate humor that caused a public outcry. While the things crisis counselors deal with is not a laughing matter, sometimes you have to see the humor in things. It’s similar to the whole idea of laughing instead of crying as you see the dark side of humanity over and over again. It’s the kind of job that has really high highs with lows that are just as dramatic. The ability to disconnect is so important in this kind of field and I think it’s the reason why there’s an abundance of impromptu happy hours between colleagues who work in the field. All that being said, it’s a fun but hard job and I honestly believe that to have longevity in this type of field you have to have a pretty effective way of taking care of yourself so that you don’t get burned out.