Throughout my internship, I had several patients that were either traumas or suffered under the hand of horrific abusers. I had to look past the history, not dwell on it, and focus on what I could do for that child; they were present in this hospital, and there I was, so how could I assist them.
I put my all in; I sat bedside and sang and read books to children in the PICU who couldn’t do anything for themselves. I was present with them when family was not present, doing crafts and making sure they weren’t alone.
But at the end of the day, I came back to an empty apartment and made my dinner, did my homework, and went to bed. I learned from years past that “work” stayed at “work”.
One of the specialists told me that “she was thankful for the drive back to her apartment from the hospital; that it gave her time to process the day”. I took that to heart and on some days, I drove through the historic neighborhoods; it took a few extra minutes to get home, but it was nice to ponder and view all the families gathering together; I had to know that there were families who loved their children, especially after the different days.
If the day had been rough, a nice bath with a LUSH product was a treat, unless you lived in my apartment, where the bathtub was made for super short people, but at least it was there. I would sometimes light a candle while making dinner, reread old notes from friends, read a favorite “Nancy Drew” novel that my Mom read to me when I was little, or bake something if I had the energy. Other escapes included browsing the aisles at Target, pondering the baby section for my best friend’s new baby and wandering into the home section looking at all the new products.
One thing I found so beneficial was adult coloring books. I found one at, of course, Target, called “Everything Beautiful” which combines scripture and uplifting poetry placed into these gorgeous, yet simplistic drawings. They are a quick color session and provided great relaxation.
Bottom line: If your in the field of caring for children in traumatic situations, you need you time to recharge. We’re not machines, we don’t run on electricity 24/7…we need sleep, we need patience with ourselves, we need music, we need belonging, we need friends and friendships. We need to press on for the impacts we currently make and those we will make in the future.