This is something I’ve written about a couple of times over the last 3 months. I left my physical office space on 3/9/20 and have been doing telehealth in my house since then. While I feel unbelievably grateful to be able to work from home and to maintain my business, it is absolutely exhausting. A different type of mental exhaustion that I haven’t experienced before.
I recently read an article that says, “it sometimes feels impossible to be a helping professional and a human being at the same time.” (read article here). The thing about this is that we (therapists) are experiencing the exact same things that you (clients) are experiencing, at the same time. Obviously we do not react to these events the same way, and we all have different coping skills and resources. But it is a surreal time.
Though self care is important, what is self care at this point in time? For me, traveling has always been self care. That is something that isn’t accessible right now and may not be for the foreseeable future. For me, soccer is self care. That is also something that is not accessible right now. It is s strange moment in history to endure and participate in.
I know that myself and my colleagues are holding space for our caseloads, most of which average between 18-30/clients a week. We are also trying to hold mental space for our families, so that we can be present with them when we’re not working. Feeling mentally drained, depleted, without capacity, can feel accurate for a lot of us. In grad school a lot of us are taught not to disclose too much and almost take an approach that we “aren’t human” or don’t react to things. I can assure you that this is not the case. I have always had a great memory for detail. I guess it’s what made me a great bar tender and a great therapist. I remember every single detail, event, name, important piece of information about each one of my clients (past and present). So, sometimes after work I can only stare blankly into the abyss.
Sometimes my wife is talking to me after work and I am nodding my head but really not able to take in what she’s saying. I want to encourage all of my mental health colleagues whether they be in private practice, group practice, community mental health, etc, to support one another. Reach out to those whom you haven’t heard from when able to do so. Allow yourselves to support each other in whichever way you see fit. Bottling this stuff up and just acting as if it doesn’t effect you will have a serious strain on your own mental health. We all know we can’t do it alone.
My bandwidth is getting very low. On top of the Covid situation, the overwhelming acuity of the state of the world, the financial concerns that most of my clients have, the racism and discrimination and violence that is happening in our country and world, life can feel bleak. The thing that keeps me hopeful is that there are good people everywhere, doing good work and deeds day after day. There are tons of people working hard to evoke and elicit change in a world that can feel bleak, scary, and without a light at the end of the tunnel.
To all of my mental health/therapist friends whether you are in a peer support role, case management role, crisis role, clinical/operational director role, private practice role….I see you, I know the strain and struggle that you’re enduring, I love you and I respect the fucking hell out of you. This work has always been tough and right now it feels heavier and more important than ever. Let’s continue to find ways to talk about it in a healthy, productive way, and let’s continue to do what we need to do in order to recharge and increase our band with.
I’m here for you, reach out to me, anytime.