How was your week? Our employment can really stretch our resilience, can’t it? But I admit that a good job can also be a source of delight and pride. I have often mentioned to beginning therapists, “You are part of the good fight. You are helping others deal and go beyond survivorship of a mental trauma or disorder, and you’re in a country that still isn’t sure how best to do that.” In this current economy most cannot agree how or where to best cut budgets, but we all know there have been cuts, and in my experience, I can say that I’ve experienced brutal budgetary cuts to services supporting the needs of teens.
And that’s unfortunate. Teens already start out with major stressors: too many hormones, too many moods, too many free hours, too many peers who think it’s cool to skip classes and try weird and dangerous concoctions. Many have parents who are working around the clock or are otherwise unavailable—and all of these factors contribute to the challenges of just the average teen.
Then there are the youth that I work with! Sadly they have ALL of these issues PLUS a family history of exposure to drug and/or alcohol use, major issues stemming from families dealing with poverty, mental disorders and/or genetics for a variety of severe symptoms, as well as simply being guilty of just hanging out in the wrong places at the wrong times—and, no surprise, landing in the criminal justice system. As well there are the struggles in school with teens at least three to five years developmentally delayed. Very sadly, these are just a few of the issues these kids face every day.
This is heavy stuff!
So in mental health care units you will often find some evidence of attempts to relieve the tension with displays of humor: stuffed animals, a funny t-shirt or whimsical decorations–even computers decorated with touches from home. Some offices go all out with displays of personality complete with posted affirmations and positive statements—“Live, Laugh, & Love” or “Dream & Achieve,” –encouragement!
Then, of course, many people enjoy keeping photos of their families in the workplace.
As you can see, every time my computer boots up I am reminded of my two kids, and don’t you know I think of the responsibility I have towards their well-being and care. I have never been comfortable with personal photos of my loved ones in my workplace. I have good reason to keep my personal life separate. It’s not unusual for mental health clients to take notice and begin to comment on their curiosity about my personal life. This is almost never a good idea. The session is for the client and for it to be effective it’s a requirement that a client’s attention stay directed to his or her own life. Similarly, a mental health worker needs to stay grounded; we need to be connected to our own heart and life energies.
How to do this? I realized I could do this with my dogs. Yes! Computer wallpaper!
To fight the good fight well, I certainly need to stay in touch with my personal core values and beliefs. It may seem an odd stretch to believe that seeing photos of my two furry girls helps keep me grounded, but you’ll just have to believe me that Ruffles & Mae-be do just that! They are important to me.
They are wholeheartedly loving and energetic–unquestioning and with zero hesitation. They are completely loyal, yet they are still interested in their own goals. That’s clear to me as I watch them both give and accept tokens of affection.
These are the tokens of affection they have shared with me this week. They’ve also shared with each other. They even manage to put their own tokens of affection on display next to their feeding places—their own version of what I do in my workplace!
Maybe this weekend as you recharge your batteries you can take some time to think about your own workplace. Have you thought about why, or who you dedicate your work to? I promise you the reasons are much deeper than simply for financial security. There are usually many ways you could find work simply to provide an income.
Think about refreshing your work-self with a token from home—perhaps computer wallpaper or a personal photo of those that you provide for or share with from your earnings—you know, from your labor.
And maybe when you get back to work on Monday you’ll find a way to grab hold of it and give it a good bite! I know that each day as I leave home and Ruffles & Mae-be, headed to that desk and office I say to them, “Okay Girls- Have a good day! Play nice with each other. Mom has to go make money for the treats!” They understand. We all smile at that!
Blessings for a good weekend, leading to a good Monday, Beth & the girls