Working in the helping profession can be challenging but it is an extremely validating career. To listen to someone who has no where else to turn, no one else to trust and bravely dials an anonymous help line is liberating and at times, life saving. I am fortunate to work for such a great organization that offers so much hope to youths and young adults.
A counsellor has to practice self-care to avoid compassionate fatigue. That entails taking time off work periodically, spending time with family, friends and mostly finding activities to unwind and experience joy. Life is not all about pain and sadness but when you work in a field where you are facing darkness in the eye too often, it is easy to distort life’s reality.
But what must one do in between those “times off”? Some watch comedy clips on-line, read a good suspense thriller allows the mind to tune out real quick, go for a walk on the streets of Montreal, talk to a colleague, sit in a park for half an hour, journal, write and some take the elevator in our building to go up to the roof and just breath in the crescendo of colours created by the Great Spirit.
I often hurry up there when I take a sneak peek while on a phone call and see through the window the sun starting its performance and I rush upstairs to witness the concert playing out along the horizon.
Since last December I have had many class interviews on the phone students about the work I do, working on a youth help line. One question that came out often, just warmed my heart. The fact that these youths were concerned about me! So when I saw this prompt to write a poem and start it with a question, this came to mind.
Don’t you feel sad when you go home at night listening to unhappy stories about this or that?
Why I guess sometimes I do feel sad alright! That is really sweet of you to ask me that.
Do you cry sometimes?
Why yes, I may feel a tear run down my cheek from time to time.
So how do you feel better?
I think you are wondering how I practice self-care. I am very much aware I need to be mindful of my feelings as well or else I would not be capable working here as long as I’ve been able. I talk to my supervisor some of the time or a counsellor friend, they always will lend a good listening ear so I can continue working day after day right here. I walk a lot, write a lot too I read for distraction and love comedy shows like The Big Bank Theory gets me laughing quite loudly. There is always a counsellor or manager available to allow me to debrief which is a great relief! Thank you so very much for asking and caring such!