So many of you reached out to me after last night’s post that I feel compelled to offer a word of explanation. But first I need to say that I am touched by your concern and appreciative of your suggestions.
Folks, I do social work in a long-term care facility. I see sad everyday. Yesterday was not a sad day. It was a fine day, with a sad moment. I expect those. And sometimes I write about them. I can’t write about yesterday because the details are what make it sad, but those same details are so unusual that it would make it easy for someone to identify the person I am talking about. HIPPA, professional ethics, and so on. And while details can be altered, if I did so, you wouldn’t be able to understand why this particular case struck me as “more than the usual sad.” Therefore, it’s a no-writey….at least on the blog.
All of which is not to say that I don’t have really great days, days where no one gets sicker, or dies, or has to make the decision that it is time to let a loved one die. But age and sickness and all that goes along with that are part and parcel of what I do, and I chose it, and I am cut out for it.
So last night’s post was more a musing about how it was a goodness to be home, knitting and watching television after work and dinner. Being home is part of my self-care. There are lots of options here.
Above, you see my writing desk. I journal, I color or otherwise art, I read stuff that keeps me thinking positively, and I remember to stop and breathe. You may remember that I was allowed two electives for my MSW. I chose Art Therapy and Stress Management. While those classes filled my tool box with good stuff that I can use with my residents, that was not my primary purpose in taking them. I could have taken CBT. Or somesuch. I chose those two classes for ME. Because I knew that down the line, they would serve me well.
And I’ve used them! Do use them. When my favorite patient at the VA died suddenly, I made a painting. I wrote about yesterday’s case in my journal. I regularly take a moment to breathe and be. Whatever is waiting on the other side of that resident-room door can wait the space of three breaths. I keep myself calm and centered so I can do good social work. And when I need to sit at my desk and cry, I do that, because I cannot effectively minister to others if I don’t keep in touch with what is going on inside myself.
And yes, religious overtones aside, much of what I do is ministry. People often just need someone to hear their story. No. Rephrase. People always need someone to hear their story, really hear it and empathize. Often I am the person they choose. It has always been this way, only the population I hear from has changed.
Now, if you will excuse me, all this typing is cutting into my coloring time and my dinner is waiting!