One of the things that I’m hesitant to discuss is work and I believe that it can be the same for others. Obviously there is the expectation of confidentiality between you and your organisation (1st rule of fight club), there is also the expectation of confidentiality and what you share with the wider community (2nd rule of fight club). So what can you talk about when people ask what you do? (I usually give super vague answers). In my case, my organisation isn’t involved in anything illegal or clandestine. What makes it difficult is the concept of “How much information is too much information?”.
Experiencing any form of trauma can have a massive emotional and psychological effect on the individual in question, however it can also have an equally traumatic effect on others. Whether or not you’ve experienced it yourself, hearing about it can have the power to bring you down, just as easily as that person’s experience can lift you up. This applies to more than just mental health and trauma…even viral outbreaks. For some, all the reports of deaths and new cases can spread feelings of fear, anxiety and stigma. For others, the news can reduce those feelings. However, how can you tell how that news affects you? How can you tell how it affects your community? In most cases you can’t.
Other times, because of the nature of the work, we encounter things that are new and aren’t yet publicly known and so it’s not a question of “Can I discuss this?”, but one of “When can I discuss this?”. We are always going to be bombarded by news (unless you go off the grid) and so It’s important to consider how news makes you feel. Does it lift you up or bring you down? Part of my job on my placement requires me to absorb copious amounts of information, analyse it and apply it in various situations related to healthcare (so I’m always thinking about what is important and what isn’t).
Recently I’ve started thinking about how this affects other people and strategies they use to cope. Do you just turn off the TV? Do you read the news once a week? Do you not look at the news at all? Do you do something after to lift your mood? Everyone is different and yet sometimes what works for one person might not work for another. I still haven’t figured out what works for me, but I’m still trying, experimenting with movies, video games with friends, music, books, exercise. Different things to keep me centered and optimistic.
It’s important to try to keep ourselves surrounded with what makes us happy, what brings our mood up and or helps us achieve a state of emotional equilibrium. Books are just one way for me. One of my classmates was even surprised by the fact that I could pick up a novel when we already spend much of our days sifting through information. But what we do isn’t who we are, it’s only a small part of us. I like to remind them that we as individuals are often complex creatures. Besides when it’s something you love, doing work can be as satisfying as relaxing at the beach (assuming you find that relaxing of course).
I’ve always felt that Mental Health is an important issue that is often not given the attention it deserves. Many would rather not discuss it and or even feel stigmatised if it was known that it’s something that they’ve experienced. So over the course of this semester at university, I’ve been privileged to witness first hand the level of dedication that my colleagues have for what they do. The devotion they have for their patients and the level of care they put towards helping the wider community.
So while we are always going to bombarded with information and we are always going to experience stress in some form or other, it’s important to know that there are also places to go, people to talk to and numbers to call. And before you feel embarrassed about discussing your feelings, it’s important to know that these services aren’t just for those with severe depression, but for those who need it, even if you just feel stressed or anxious.
(PS. Services change from country to country, but ‘Beyond Blue’, ‘Lifeline’, ‘Headspace’ and ‘Mind’ are a few of the services available out there. It’s important to take care of yourself, whether you do that alone, with friends or by talking to experts. I hope you all had a good and safe week and I’d love to know what kinds of activities you like to do to de-stress?)