These two months as an essential worker have been nothing short of HARD. I wish I could make it sound pretty and not so harsh-sounding but the truth is the truth. The crazy thing is I didn’t even know or even consider myself an “essential worker” until COVID 19 happened. I usually like to pretend that I am a superwoman and can handle anything. I have started to face the fact that there are limitations, even for me.
Before all this happened my life as a medical social worker meant that I assisted with getting a patient discharged from the hospital to a rehab facility or home. When things changed my role suddenly started to encompass things on a more intense scale. I spoke more about death than ever before. I was dealing with others’ anger, sadness, confusion, and every other emotion under the sun. No one was coping well. Everyone, patients, family, and my coworkers, were stressed and at a loss for words. I worked harder, took on more, and had no ability to take care of myself besides bathing and combing my hair.
Family and friends would check in on me and ask how I was doing and the only thing I could say was “I’m ok”. So much hung on those words but I had no feasible way to describe what I was feeling. But “ok” was something I definitely wasn’t. I sometimes joked that my employer needed to provide employees with a few weeks of free therapy when things returned to normal. People laughed but I smiled knowing that there is always truth in jest.
I am trained to assist people in finding solutions to their problems, showing them tools to cope with their trauma, and being a source of encouragement. I had none of it. There were days I wanted to cry but didn’t have the energy. There were days I did cry. Talking about it would invoke such emotion that I prayed no one asked me anything. But they almost always did and after my go-to response I knew what was next. The question “is it really true what they say on the news” and all I could say is “yes, it’s true”.
After struggling for weeks, I had an idea that instead of aimlessly going from one day to the next I would start my day in a different way. What I was doing wasn’t working so I had did something different. I started to wake up and say a prayer of gratitude. It was small but I felt a shift. I was talking more. Describing my feelings with more honesty which I so desperately needed. I also realized that in the midst of chaos there is always something to be grateful for.
It’s been a few weeks since the shift and so far so good. I am talking about things more. I am feeling more motivated and creative. The weight of work is still there. I am still dealing with a lot but I am coping better. I am an essential worker and will continuing being one. The pandemic is not over and won’t be for awhile so I am continuing to look for new ways to cope and new things that speak to my wellbeing. So, if you have a suggestion drop a line. I’m open these days!.