Working With Other Trauma Survivors - Hurting Myself?

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plantsandworms

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Working With Other Trauma Survivors - Hurting Myself?
« on: July 24, 2018, 09:34:11 PM »
Does anyone else on this board have a highly stressful job with a lot of secondary trauma working with other trauma survivors? I do and I've really found myself struggling lately with this career path. I feel so driven to do this kind of work and make this kind of difference in people's lives - but sometimes I wonder why I don't just allow myself a job that makes me happy without piling on all the other stuff and reopening my old wounds? Why don't I just let myself heal without trying to help a bunch of other people at the same time? When I've worked clock-in-clock-out type jobs I just feel useless and pointless and like my life has no meaning. Is it better to feel useful and meaningful but also exhausted, re-traumatized, constantly stressed? I really love my job, but my world has become so so small to accommodate the extra emotional work that sometimes I feel like I'm choosing between having this job and having a life outside of it. I would love to hear how others have approached this.

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Deep Blue

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Re: Working With Other Trauma Survivors - Hurting Myself?
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2018, 09:52:24 PM »
Iíve asked myself the very same question.

Iím a teacher.  When I was a kid, I fell through the cracks.  Nobody noticed what was going on with me.

 I Say sometimes that my job is to save every single kid that walks through my door.  The reality is, that can be taxing.  I pride myself on being the type of adult they feel comfortable talking to. Iíve helped many students that didnít know where to turn.  But still... self harm in others and s.i. In others is a trigger for me.

I guess what im saying is that itís a delicate balance. I guess Iíd recommend the oxygen mask rules for you.  You need to put your own mask on before helping others.

Take care and hope you get the answers you are searching for. 

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plantsandworms

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Re: Working With Other Trauma Survivors - Hurting Myself?
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2018, 08:58:40 PM »
Deep Blue,

Thanks so much for your response. I can relate to so much of what you said. I work with adults serving long terms in prison for violent crimes they committed as teens. Nearly every single person I work with had an extremely traumatic childhood as well as untreated PTSD. I do a lot of trauma interviewing with both my clients and their family members, and I find myself struggling to stay grounded sometimes because the content is so triggering that my mind begins to disassociate. I begin to feel hopeless at the endless cycle of violence, abused children becoming abusive adults. Sometimes it's very cathartic, though, to help someone begin their healing process and to help a family unpack all of those skeletons in the closet.

 I think you're right that I need to find the balance. Often I feel like I'm on a teeter-totter - either feeling really great about the healing work that I'm doing, or deeply depressed and intense flashbacks. I want to be "strong enough" to do this kind of work long term, because it feels important to me. But I don't know. Maybe it's too much until I've reckoned with all my own skeletons. I have a lot to think about. Thank you for listening and sharing those thoughts with me.

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Boatsetsailrose

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Re: Working With Other Trauma Survivors - Hurting Myself?
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2018, 03:56:35 PM »
Hi plants and worms i totally hear you ...
I've been a psych nurse for 10 yrs and a support worker before that ....I've recently got out of it all..
Its that age old thing of physician heal thy self ...i woke up to wanting and needing to give it to myself and stop giving out.. I've made the right decision. Yes for me there was a thrill a power a sense of control when helping others but co dependent if I've got too much of my own stuff and it has detrimental effect. Its a tricky one and we each have our own journey with it ..that balance between out and in ... And protecting ourselves. I worked with many nurses who had stuff but not the cptsd i have and the level of being triggered and affected.
You speak about 'being driven' and for me that's what i woke up to -i realised that supporting people had almost chosen me because I'd made the decision when i was less aware. I was def driven and when i stopped doing the work this year went through a 'who am i ' healing as supporting others had been such a big part of my life for so long in fact my whole life because i had the role of care taker / responsible one in my foo.
You provide some good awareness and insights plants and worms and i know it is distressing to be at the point you are but it can be worked through in the best way for you. Do u have adequate supervision sessions with your work ? Do they provide enough support for employees

Quote ' why I don't just allow myself a job that makes me happy without piling on all the other stuff and reopening my old wounds? Why don't I just let myself heal without trying to help a bunch of other people at the same time?

Maybe these questions are some you can do further writing on either privately or here ? Look a bit deeper at these areas ..


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Boy22

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Re: Working With Other Trauma Survivors - Hurting Myself?
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2018, 07:55:22 PM »
Hi plantsandworms,

I stopped work 18months ago, luckily I have good income protection.

I realised sometime after I had stopped that I had created the perfect storm for myself. I had employed people and agreed to contracts with organisations that hit multiple buttons of my cptsd until I was unable to cope any more.

As boatsetsailrose said, it was time to follow the old adage of ďphysician heal thyselfĒ. It is quite a challenge to go from patient to physician and back to patient again. My psychotherapist has to repeatedly remind me that I need to be patient with myself!

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Eyessoblue

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Re: Working With Other Trauma Survivors - Hurting Myself?
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2018, 12:35:43 PM »
Hi, Iíve been studying a little psychology lately and one of the subjects is why are people attracted to their career choice, itís been really interesting and some of my studies have shown that people who want to work within the care sector are more often then not people who have lacked appropriate care for themselves and want to give something back to society, the same as people who work in the financial sector come from either a background where money was an issue or have ne er been short of money, quite often when you look at people and their careers you can really see the reasoning behind it. My aim is to work with fellow trauma sufferers ideally children. Also itís said that people who have suffered poor childhood experiences grow up with a desire to want to save the world, definitely a trait that I follow.