I’ve experienced a long-term existential crisis with chronic disease as it prevents me from doing a lot of what I used to. Nbd but I know for a fact that I’ve saved several lives. I worked at a national telephone counseling insurance company and we would need to assess, de-escalate, and distract people who were about to commit suicide while chatting online with another counselor to send emergency services to the location. (If any job triggered my autoimmune condition…) I’ve counseled thousands of people and based on their feedback and the sheer enormity of numbers, I know I’ve made SOME positive change in the world. That energy comes at a price and the stress in most mental health positions outweighs the gifts.
Many mental health workers get secondary trauma from the stories we hear. Everyone at the clinic may know the client you saw and can relate, make a distasteful joke, and then you feel validated and all go out to lunch and don’t go home crying about child rape. Often the clients will teach me something about my life and they may never know. It’s self-therapy to give therapy. Stress causes any endometriosis to grow and become inflamed and also triggers IC flares. Mental health will always be a part of my life but probably not the sole compoent of my work.
Surgeries, fertility treatments, and the uncertainty of my health prevented me from taking on doula clients. It was a letdown going from dealing with homelessness, drug addiction, self-harm, violent paranoia to coloring in bed all day. Also a nice, long break! Thanks, body! You knew just what I needed.
At a birth at 3am, almost 24 hours awake, dozing off between contractions while a birthing mother was on an epidural and trying to sleep, I would give her water in a straw, listen to her sighs and the beep of the epidural button, rotate her every 45 minutes with the nurse. In this hallucinatory state, I realized even if I never biologically become a mother, my job and my current purpose is to mother the mother. Many clients who hire me have estranged or uneasy relationships with their mothers. They have mothers or mothers-in-law who violate boundaries or caused trauma. I step in to take on that role. Every woman deserves to be cared for during labor and childbirth. (And waited on like a queen in postpartum.) I hope for more, but when I was first diagnosed with infertility, I couldn’t hear from others that I would find a way to use my maternal energy, with or without a child.
I probably won’t be posting as much because I’ll need all my energy for birth and infant sleep training. This blog has served as therapy for me. I’m on the other side and here to tell you it exists.