"I Just Can't Be a Therapist Today."

Have you ever had one of those days? I'm having one right now. I am sitting at home, using my last scrap of paid time off because I just can't be a therapist today.

I admit it. I am fragile, emotional, difficult to engage, and just plain old tired. This is the result of two friends dying in a little more than a week, on top of two others dying last month. I need some time to process my grief and since that usually involves lots of tears, it is better to be away from others right now.

This is my pattern. I isolate until I can control my emotions. Yesterday, I slept. I started sleeping about 3 pm and slept until 2 am this morning. It wasn't good sleep, but it was sleep nonetheless. This morning, I felt that I needed some more time on my own before venturing out into the world of supporting others. As a result, here I am, writing a bit later than usual and trying to figure out my feelings about the things happening in the world - both far away and nearby.

This is something we never talked much about in school. We talked about being part of functional and dysfunctional systems. We talked about co-dependency, but I don't think we had the conversation about compassion fatigue. I remember lots of conversation about family systems, but not much about being a constant helper and what that does to a helping human. I think it's an important conversation to have, as a therapist, and as a person. This is part of being me and part of being a therapist, so here is one of the posts about grief and compassion fatigue.

At this point, right now, I am struggling with my emotions. It is somewhat difficult because no one else was connected to the two men who have passed away recently. My family can share in the death of Paul, the family friend and church organist, who passed away Friday night. My OCMT friends can share in the death of Luke, our cheerleader and consultant, but no one in my life can share both. Add in the death of a former client and a former co-worker, and I am feeling like death is every where I turn.

My emotional mind starts to roam into fanciful and superstitious thoughts. My rational mind knows that the superstition is just that - silly and not founded in reality, but the emotions try to take over. This leads me into emotional responses that I cannot overcome. This is why being at home is a good thing for today. By tomorrow, I will be mostly cried out and will be able to use my rational mind to control my emotional mind. I will have a chance to think more about grief and my friends and my role in life as a person, a therapist, and a part of the world.

My job for today is to spend time being authentically me so I can be authentically there for others tomorrow.


If you are interested in more about compassion fatigue, I recommend this website: Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project. Retrieved from: http://www.compassionfatigue.org/pages/selftest.html


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