Tuesday, September 14, 2021

It Comes and Goes in Waves

Today’s blog is about two things and comes off the back of a clinical supervision session I had yesterday with a woman I have been working with in supervision for several years.  She is an awesome professional and inspired this little piece. The first topic that springs here from my conversation with her, is the place for work when you are struggling with a personal issue. It’s not just a distraction from the stress you are going through, that work can provide.  It is also the relief from the stressful even or situation and an opportunity to take-ones-mind-off having to be steeped in that, if only for the few hours of a working day. Recently when I was back at work very shortly after my sister’s death, many people surprised at my presence at my desk (albeit through a video platform), would ask why I was at work – to which I replied how at that moment in time, it helped my wellbeing to be in the workspace. 

Of course, a reasonable concern that must be considered (and addressed) is whether or not I was  fit to work and did the death of my sister impact negatively on the job and tasks I was being paid to do. In answer, I believe I was able to fulfil the requirements of my work and role and I sought feedback from those whom I was working closely with.  The work and what it required, took me away (albeit only for the number of hours I worked that or any other day) from the pain I was going through. 

My focus became the job at hand, not the loss that had just occurred in my life. There was also however, a limit to my capacity and ability to work. Some days, I simply could not face sitting at my desk, tuning into a zoom or teams meeting, or immersing myself in a 200-page document that required review and therefore a deep level of extended concentration. Some days the politics of working in an organisation, was also not within my coping mechanisms. The trick was knowing when to step away. When to say I can’t work today, I need time out.  This beautifully expressed and with a high degree of self-awareness, but my supervisee as “I had to just not work”.  For me, it was a combination of physical and emotional weariness that signalled the need to take a break, or to not work.  And always, those  to whom I reported in the organisation I was working for, gave a  resounding, “we understand, take care”. 

My supervisee found peace in her garden, with her animals and in the healing that came from giving herself to what she was going through and the space and time to do it.  Through time out, time-to-self, and time away from the desk – one recovers.  The waves of emotion and the impact of the stress or grief beneath the emotion, become more manageable, less frequent over time. 

The second topic from the supervision session yesterday, is the how the stress and its impact on functioning is always transient. It passes, it changes. The angst of the moment, the sadness, the awfulness of emotion doesn’t last.  And, though we know that for some, if and when the awfulness does endure, there is something more seriously amiss. Something that requires more active intervention. But, when there is still the movement of emotion, that is supported by an awareness and attention to the healing required, there is change and there is growth.

Right now, there’s a song in my head – it comes and goes in waves – by Dean Lewis. That’s indeed how it can be, how the journey of my own grief has been. I wrote a little piece last year while struggling through the second lockdown in Victoria and inspired by something my sister Libby said – tomorrow the sun will rise. It reminds of the transience my supervisee was talking about. It comes, you’re in it, it’s awful and you might think it will never end. But it will. 

Tomorrow the Sun will Rise

The way you feel today, is the way you feel today.

Tomorrow things will be different.

I know today it might feel like there might not be a tomorrow, 

Or that things couldn't get worse, and this is really bad,

Or it feels like this has been forever.

But, it won't last - 

nothing does; there is always an end.

Good or bad,

circumstances will change.

So, take it for what it is, 

Keep one foot in front of the other.

Keep marching, keep working, keep hoping - if that’s what helps you.

Just don't give up.

Do give in though - to the knowing that,

Tomorrow the sun will rise. 

Thank you to my supervisee and my sister Libby, for the inspiration



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