One of the questions I often get asked is how do I work in social work when I have seen such terrible things in my life. I would say that it is in part because of those things. I would love for people to no longer have to face the types of trauma I and many others face. I would love for PTSD to become a relic of the past. I know that is a big dream, but a social worker has to have hope in the good of society.
However, I am also a realist. I know realistically people will continue to have little and big traumas. There will continue to be war, disease, and famine; we do not live in a utopia after all. However, from my experience I can help people learn how to cope. I can teach breathing techniques, make referrals to qualified practitioners, and I can keep hoping.
From my diagnosis and as part of my coping I have learned good boundaries which is a strength in this field. I hope to avoid burn out and hurting my clients by keeping good boundaries. These boundaries allow me to work productively with clients that others may consider difficult. I can structure and organize my day and office in a way that works for me. As a person who will be training other social workers I am able to have structure for my trainee and teach in a compassionate trauma-informed way.
I am not going to say every day is easy, it is not. I have days where I have depression and struggle to get out of bed. I still have days I live in fear, but I keep trying. Social work is all about getting back up on the horse after you fall down. That doesn’t just count for clients, it helps us too.