Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Role Reversal

Confession time.

The past couple months haven’t been my best.  In truth, the February/March time of year are usually when I struggle most with how I feel.  So this year has been no exception.

When I get depressed I have trouble focusing, lack motivation, become short-tempered with people.  I get chest pains and headache and I want to sleep all the time.  Pretty standard fare.  I usually cope with this by taking vitamin d, getting exercise, going to bed on time and generally making sure I practice self-care. 

As you might suspect (or know from your own experience) being a mental health worker does not make me immune to these things or perfect at coping with them.  It also doesn’t make me necessarily receptive to help.  Hey, I’m the one who is supposed to be doing the helping, right?

That particular kind of thinking is ironically what seems to have helped get back on the upswing recently.  So far this year I had been feeling particularly low.  It was starting to cause a lot of stress for me and my family.  My partner, who has had to deal with much harder issues than me basically sat me down and had an “understanding” talk with me.  At first I felt resentful, in all honesty because what he was saying is usually what I tell him to do.  Who is he to tell me how to feel better?  And then I had my “a-ha” moment!  I shouldn’t be resenting him for telling me what I already know – I should be using what I already know.  I had been totally lacking in self-perspective and had my defenses up so high I didn’t want to hear my own good advice. 

I’m not saying any of this to pat myself on the back.  It’s more to record and reaffirm what worked for me, because sometimes I have to work to remember.  There are challenges to being on both the giving and receiving sides of help, especially if you are more used to one than the other. 

Have you ever been a helper who needed to accept help?  Have you been able to use your experiences of being helped to pass along to others?  Leave a note in the comments.


  1. Now you can take this insight and use it to better understand your clients. Next time you get frustrated when a client resists your feedback, you'll be able to put yourself in his or her shoes and remember what it felt like.

    1. Indeed. Although I find it's often easier to be insightful with clients than it is with myself.