Posted by: Andrea | September 7, 2008

When all you have to say is ‘blah’

There hasn’t been much of the funny around here lately and for that I do apologize.  Most of the time I think if I actually AM funny it’s just a happy coincidence, so my mood has definitely affected things.  All I can say is that work has been absolutely insane and it’s starting to sap the life out of me.  My team is down from seven people to four plus we have been lacking a manager for the past two months.  On friday another social worker went off sick.  Whenever we have something that needs to be agreed on by a senior, we have to call around to all the other offices to attempt to find a senior.  There’s no named person to cover for us and the feeling around here is definitely that we’ve just been abandoned.

I know talking about work is pretty much a no-no, which is SO UNFORTUNATE because I swear, the stories I could tell are pretty hilarious.  And crazy and unbelievable and just plain nutso.  The things our clients get up to, I swear, you wouldn’t honestly believe it.  Normally I love my job and I find it challenging and fulfilling, but the only way to do it and survive is to keep a healthy distance between work and your personal life.  I’m usually pretty good at this.  When 4:45pm rolls around I quite happily return home and don’t give my work a second thought.  I don’t get overly stressed or dwell on work stuff when I’m home.  I think I’m one of the only people in my team not to have taken extended time off sick in the past year and a half.

The key to keeping this healthy balance is to keep myself fit and healthy and recently that’s been starting to slip.  Stress at work tends to bleed into stress ABOUT work and then it’s just all downhill.  Suddenly that case that I was totally fine about?  I start finding myself thinking about it on the bus ride home instead of the book I’m reading.  That man who refuses to go into hospital and instead just wants to drink himself to death?  I start worrying about him during the lull in conversation during my run each night.  Suddenly all these people start popping into my head during my ‘off’ time and I know that the stress is getting to me.

One case in particular has moved from a vague thought here and there to a downright worry most of the time.  It should come as no surprise that it’s about the guy I got admitted to the hospital last week.  He discharged himself on Monday and has been swinging from highs to lows ever since.  What’s sad is that he has no one in his life other than social workers.  He was raised in foster care and has pretty much been abandoned for his entire life.  My heart aches for this young guy and I wish more than anything that I could make it all better for him.  But we have to be very careful about boundaries so that he doesn’t get too attached to us.  Last week we came up against one of those boundaries and his feelings were hurt.  He walked out of the office in a huff.

All night after that I worried about that boy.  Whether or not he’d get over it, if he’d understand that there are rules for a reason but we always want what’s best for him.  I worried that he’d be permanently hurt.  I constantly questioned whether or not I was doing the right thing with him.  The thing with social work is that you’re constantly second guessing the decisions you make.  You’re reading people and trying to figure out how they may react in a certain circumstance.  How to best support someone who has suffered abuse or who has an addiction.  Usually we get it right.  Sometimes we get it wrong.  I know that most people constantly question their decisions.  We agonize over our decisions.

I hope that this won’t go on forever, that we’ll get some of our staff back.  So that eventually I can go back to agonizing over decisions at work but then I can leave them all there when it’s time to head home.  Maybe then the funny will return.  Until then…well…we have work.  I’ve also been taking lots of naps.  But you can’t really blog much about that.

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