Care Providers Are Hurting

Can We Talk For A Minute?

To my readers who are care providers: the ones who wear work clothes marked by other peoples’ bodies. To those who consume copious amounts of caffeine so you can work while others sleep. To those who have held life and death in your hands and know the fragile knife point of the sacred and the tragic. To the ones who spent long years and the cost of a home for the privilege of working in such liminal space with far too little recognition of your sacrifice.

We need to talk.

As a group you are awe-inspiring. You are the example of achievement and doing what matters. You hold high esteem and also dogged criticism. You do it with grace and dignity. You are too busy caring to be bogged down.

As an individual you are suffering.

You see, research tells us that your job will take its toll. 1 in 4 of you have fully diagnosable PTSD right now from bearing witness to your patients' experience. Far more of you suffer below clinical thresholds.**

Because I know you well, I know how unlikely you are to do anything about this. You are used to helping others. You are accustomed to running into the fear, into the risk, into the alarms. You are used to providing answers and direction and healing for others. You will not easily ask for it for yourself.

So, care provider, I know I need to make a case. You will not go quickly or easily. So I will do my best.

Please treat your trauma because you deserve to be healthy.

Surely you’ve seen the studies? You know that untreated trauma can cause a host of mental and physical health symptoms. You have certainly seen it yourself. When your mind suffers, the body suffers with it. The two are not separate. Your health matters. Your gut, your heart, your sleep, your brain... matter.

Please treat your trauma because your loved ones need you.

PTSD steals us from ourselves and our loved ones. It causes us to become rigid, hypervigilant and vacant. It causes us to stiffen in the face of our loved ones’ pain. After all, if we cannot hold our own pain how can we hold theirs? Trauma shuts us down when things get intense, when we get tired, when we are triggered. Trauma has a real impact on our relationships.

Please treat your trauma because your patients need you.

Yes, I am going to say something that might sting. Trauma steals you from your patients. I have been in the hospital room when a provider was triggered and I have watched the dark cloud pass over her face. Traumatized providers are disconnected, fearful, anxious and rigid. Their eyes look away. Their body stiffens. There is no softer way to say this: trauma impacts your clinical judgement. When PTSD is triggered you are no longer responding to the situation at hand. The nature of the brain and trauma insists that you are flooded with hormones and even somatic flashbacks. This means you are making decisions based on things past. You are being influenced by things not in the room.

You didn’t ask for any of this. Trauma is the scar of your caring. It is the weight of diving into suffering and giving it your all. It isn’t your fault. But you are the only one who can decide what to do with it.

So my care providers, my lovers of humanity, my battle-weary angels in flesh, please heal your PTSD. Please give yourself the care and compassion you would recommend to a patient. You deserve it and we need you.

Thank you for giving your all,

Looking for next steps?To read a brief description of trauma and my preferred treatment methods, go here.

If you want to see my 2 min video on "what is trauma" go here.
If you want to see my 2 min video on "how to heal your trauma" go here

ps- I made a video about this

*Image Credit to
**Beck, C. T., Driscoll, J., & Watson, S. (2013). Traumatic childbirth. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

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