As May swirls all around me, I am reminded of the nature of this profession. May brings with it awareness, but it seems this increased focus on the topic of Mental Health predictably vanishes with the shift into June. Yet, here I am, left with the ever-revolving tumultuous nature of our society’s mental-wellness. As if the party was had, and I’m left with the rubble of a good time.
All metaphors aside, I grapple with the fulfillment of my job at times.
The unpredictability of the cacophony of challenges wears on me.
The grief of loss that rages within me unrelated to the therapy room complicates the task of compartmentalizing other’s woes from my own.
Serving as a therapist and bearing witness to other’s pain is a cumbersome task without the obstacles of my own human experiences. When my life challenges color my world grey, it takes an extra hoist of willpower to cultivate safe spaces and mask the quiet sadness that lay just behind my eyes.
I never know what I will encounter in my workday. Sometimes, this can be exciting, especially to a newly minted therapist. However, this past year has dulled the novelty of varying narratives. The day could bring humble wins toward the pursuit of healing, or it can generate internal battles, thoughts of self-harm, feelings of worthlessness, or experiences of injustice. All desperate for someone somewhere to validate their truths and to recognize their voices. I’ve come to find out, the pursuit of growth and healing is one of the most cumbersome and exhausting journeys we can take.
I have found comfort in the longer-lit days when I depart from my office at 7pm with the sun still gracing my horizon. This makes the darkness of the second-hand trauma and empathy burnout seem less daunting. It’s challenging to remember the good when your days are surrounded by narratives full of pain, overwhelm, and loneliness just to name a few.
People are suffering.
Take a walk in my shoes, and you'd bear witness to overwhelming uncertainty, uneasiness, grief, trauma, depression, anxiety, and conflict woven into every facet of the workday. For hours, my cozy office holds space for brokenness, monstrosities, hopelessness, and cumbrous obstacles. At times, overextending myself due to the sheer demand of those craving a safe space. A place to process. To catch their breath.
I sit in a room with peoples’ horribly heavy “Stuff” day after day. Giving 110% of myself, encumbered by exuding empathy and unconditional positive regard, despite what is wreaking havoc within my own heart.
Your girl is exhausted.
There are some highlights. Don’t get me wrong.
Us therapists live for the giggles, the silly stories, and the moments of triumph.
Pride fills our whole bodies when a client shares a moment of success, of empowerment, or of shifts in experience that allow for light and freedom.
I love my job.
But my job is hard.
Please forgive me if I seem hollow. If there is a distant or distracted look in my eyes. Sometimes it takes a hot minute for me to be able to press the pause button on processing what swirled around in the therapy room. Please know, I so badly want to hold space for those I hold near, however my soul is dragging her feet. She craves a safe place to land herself, for she has borne witness to so much.
I am a therapist.
But I am so much more than that.