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The emotionless but sensitive soul of a health care worker – San Francisco Chronicle

Posted: December 30, 2020 at 9:54 am


Dont cry, its unprofessional.

Thats what I told myself as I blinked back tears to avoid embarrassing myself in front of my coworker.

I had just come back from a 4-hour-long Code Blue. You know someones heart stops, chaos, CPR, shocks, trying to bring a patient back to life that whole ordeal. A 20-something-year-old who had an entire life to look forward to was now unexpectedly gone. This 20-something-year-old hadnt died just once, but four times in front of me. It was the third death Id seen within three days. The third family I had to watch shatter.

Once youve heard it you cant forget the traumatic frantic sobbing of a daughter who has just lost her father, or a wife who has just lost her husband of 46 years. You cant block out the cries of a small child desperately begging his mother to come back, and you sure as hell cant erase the vision of a father collapsing in shock upon losing his young son. You cant forget ... but you can pretend youre not feeling.

Ive spent the past nine years training myself to be desensitized to death. To walk away emotionless, as though nothing horrible has occurred. At this moment, however, I was heartbroken. I was fighting back tears to avoid seeming unprofessional. To avoid being ridiculed for being affected by something so normalized as death. My coworker was right there, and yet there was absolutely no way I was going to let him catch a drift of how I was feeling.

Legally, of course, I would be supported and encouraged by my workplace to take a mental health break. But lets be real. Weve all heard the judgmental whispers of gossip that spread every time someone takes one. Why is that? Were expected to care for and be empathetic toward our patients and yet we cant give that same empathy to our colleagues whose mental health has been stretched beyond its limits?

Why is it that from a young age its been drilled into our heads that being emotional makes a person unprofessional? How is burnout irrelevant?

How is watching severely sick people struggling to live each day not considered contributory to emotional trauma? Why are we afraid to speak up when we have reached our limits and need help? Additionally, we all also have personal life stressors that dont get mentally filtered out just because a person is at work.

Unfortunately showing vulnerability is socially discouraged. Everyone is trying to be the best, stepping all over one another as well as themselves on their way to the top without realizing that were all also human! Were not robots! We need positive social interaction to thrive. We need love and support. So why dont we give that kind of a judgment-free environment to one another?

The thing is, we have a plethora of resources readily available to us that we dont use. Why? Why do we choose to turn a blind eye to the state of our own mental and emotional health? Because were care givers?

Because its seemingly uncool in our line of work? But then again, wouldnt we be better providers heck, more sensitive members of society if only we utilized the same support systems to release mental and emotional burdens that we ourselves offer to everyone else?

Sayli Natu is an inpatient clinical pharmacist in California, and a strong advocate of support for mental health.

See the article here:
The emotionless but sensitive soul of a health care worker - San Francisco Chronicle

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