"Self-care" is a fun phrase that tends to be thrown around a lot by organizations that have counseling or outreach programs. Apparently, burnout is a problem for employees and volunteers who staff the hotlines and "mobile health units"of rape and abuse, low-income abortion assistance and sex worker outreach/needle exchange/HIV testing organizations. Astonishing.
Anyway, staffers have to learn to recognize the signs of burnout and make self-care plans. We get worksheets with helpful ideas to get us started! Or, as I like to call it, "77 Suggestions and A Drink Ain't One"
Here are some gems:
23. Play on a teeter-totter
38. Imagine myself achieving my goals and dreams (lol)
(---and my personal favorite---)
52. Tell myself the loving words I want to hear from others.
Way down this list, at #59 to be exact, we encounter "Pet an animal". This is my version of petting an animal
(I'm also singing 'Always be my Baby' to him, but I guess that isn't apparent)
The past 9 months have been rough. I feel like to be a successful counselor, I needed to be in a much better frame of mind when I started than I was. And I don't think it helped that I took a lot on pretty quickly. But, it is getting easier and I think I am getting better at "establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries" and "managing my discomfort". I had my first suicidal/self-harming session a couple of weeks ago and it was really hard. I lost it after my shift was over. I think the hardest thing for me is not knowing what happens to people after our brief encounters are finished; not knowing if they are ok. I finally got certified as an HIV counselor/tester this week and my hands started to shake when we role-played giving someone a positive result.
I guess we'll see how that goes. But for now, I'm going to keep reminding myself how happy I am that I have Charlie (and lots and lots of other good things and alcohol) in my life.
What an angel.