Empathy Through A Screen

It has been quite some time since I posted a blog. The truth is I have been struggling to write at all. You see, even therapists find themselves in a slump.

As I swiped that word across the screen just now “slump”, I fought to call it what it was.

I am a therapist who has been fighting to get out from under my own dark cloud. Depression and grief have paid me one hell of a visit. We all know how hard society has been fighting to squash the stigma of mental health. Let me tell you just how hard that can be when you are a professional with that title.

People visit you day after day. They sit across from you and open up their most fragile souls. You sit with them in it. I consider this an honour. We map out solutions that work and it is a painful process.

When they leave your space, it is not over. Their stories resonate with you. Their pain stays with you. You struggle to find peace for them. You work into the night to find better. You pour over notes in hopes of making those souls whole once again. Remember, I consider this an honour.

There are times I forget to eat. There are times I give up sleep. I can be found stress cleaning. Then there are those clients who stories mirror your own. Don’t worry; you are trained for this right? It is not always that easy.

Every great therapist has a therapist. Remember that, because there have been many times I have forgotten. Midnight messages to my best friend have saved me on many occasions, as we remind each other that our sanity and health are just as important as those we see.

Others have told me in my field that this will get easier the longer I do it. That my emotions will become numb. That I will seldom look up, and I will spend much less time becoming invested. I am not built that way. I already know this about myself.

Our society is still smack dab in the middle of a pandemic. There have been highs and lows. Those depend on whom you ask on any given day. Toilet paper shortages, shorter line-ups at grocery stores, mandated masks, fewer deaths.

In my profession, the impact has felt like an earthquake. More than half of my clients are in the medical field. In the beginning, they were too busy to reach out. All hands on deck. Then, they began to filter in. Virtual therapy sessions began. I now had to figure out how to show empathy through a screen. Seeing fear and grief in the eyes of my clients was something I still cannot explain. Childlike, simply wanting someone to tell them they would be okay. Wrap your arms around me and keep me safe. Help me understand what this is. Each day, more requests. They were burning out. I was burning out.

Here I am, six months later. A mental health professional who is still mentally drained. I am waving the white flag. I am speaking out for any one else out there who can’t yet. There is a massive wave mounting behind me. Our eyes are strained from virtual therapy. They are sore from the tears we shed once we end the session. Our hearts and souls are aching for us and for all of those we want and need to help.

To all of my friends, clients and those who have read this still fighting the fight. Thank you for every single day you are out there. I think you are all amazing humans. For those super tough days, remember it is not just okay to ask for help, it is vital. I don’t know what that looks like for you. A hug, a text, a hot bath, a long drive, a vacation day, a good long scream. You have earned whatever you need. Always remember that. Ignore the nonsense and do what you need.

I appreciate you every second of the day.

To everyone else, thank you for reading. How can you help? Be kind. Save all of your judgement, it is not needed during this time. Reach out even to those who seem to be doing great because remember, even the strongest make time to help when they are struggling.

Much Love ❤

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