It's so nice to be back writing again - it's been a busy few months in my world. I typically start writing a blog post here when there is something sonography- or work-related that I can't get out of my mind. Then I think wait - I bet there are others in the same boat! I say all this to forewarn you that this is not going to be an overtly educational post. It isn't even a sonography-specific post. This is going to be a post for everyone. For me, for you, and for future us. This is a post of support and my own little moment of healing.
I don't do a lot of social media, but in the little bit of scrolling I've done recently, I've noticed a common theme - we're all STRUGGLING. People, the world is hurting. Your friends, neighbors, doctors, patients, retail workers, everyone. No one is immune. Yet, the world keeps spinning. Cancers keep appearing. Bones keep breaking. Gallbladders keep creating stones. We can't all stop doing our jobs even though our hearts are screaming at us to stop and heal. So, how do we do it? Those of us with existing mental health conditions are, sadly, a little more used to picking ourselves up and moving through the sludge of the day with a smile on our faces. I will never pretend to know all the answers, or even half the answers. But what I hope to create with this post is open dialogue. I want you all to comment or reach out to me in any way you can and tell me "GIRL, SAME. I FEEL YOU," or "I feel like you were off base and here's why..." and tell me your thoughts and suggestions! We are all on this planet together, riding the struggle bus together, going through one thing or another or another, and we can all support each other as human beings with hurt hearts. So, at last, I have a few suggestions I've come up with. I welcome, ask, beg, and plead for you to add to my list. Let's talk about it. NICELY.
1. Deep breaths
Wrap your head around what you know: your heart hurts, maybe your head hurts. But none of this is your patient's fault (even if it's a little bit their fault). Before you greet your patient, feel your feelings. Acknowledge their existence, then take some deep breaths. This is a new moment and it's in your hands. Go in with a clear slate and make this a good experience for both of you! You have the ability to make this next 30 or so minutes a bright spot in the day of someone who is also hurting. Which leads me to...
2. Remember what they're going through
Put yourself in your patient's shoes. Maybe they're scared or frustrated, but either way, chances are their heart is hurting too. It's very frustrating when people take their hurt out on others, but it does happen, and you've probably been on the other side of it. It sucks, but it happens, so just roll with the punches. Act the way you'd want someone to act to you or your loved one if it was reversed. If I'm in a garbage mood and someone compliments me or I have a super nice patient, that can go a long way to making me feel better. Be that person for your patient.
Sonographers have to be good at this, or our jobs can bring us down, down, down. We see a lot of
terrible things throughout the day and that can affect the whole mood. When you're doing the ultrasound, try not to connect your findings with your patient more than necessary. Look at your findings as answers to questions and nothing else, like solving a puzzle. This is not easy, but it is possible. When I do an ultrasound, I can often just zone right into my scan and nothing else affects me. It's my zen place. I'm doing what I know to find answers to questions, and let everything else just fall away. When I talk to my patient, I don't talk about the ultrasound. That's separate. The patient is just another human being, and your ultrasound is your work. Just make sure you don't lose your compassion along the way.
4. Think about nice things
We often have those patients who darken our doorway when they walk through it. It just
happens. But when that cloud starts to take over, fight back (the darkness, not the patient). You can reach way down deep and pull your light out to combat the dark. Make it your mission for the next few moments to lighten the mood in your space. Be overly nice to your patient. If they aren't responding well to that, I get it. Sometimes niceness just makes me more angry when I'm in a mood. "What the hell are you so happy about?" Right? At that point, just do your job without chitchat, but think about wonderful things in your own head. Think about things so nice that the bubble you are sharing with your patient is bright and happy even with their cloud trying to take over.
5. Fake it till you make it...
...to the end of the day. Sometimes all we can do is plaster a grin over our faces like we're drawing it with magic marker, and pretend for the sake of our jobs. Go home and let yourself feel all the things for a while. Sad, mad, or otherwise (just please don't take it out on anyone at home). Be sure to make time for yourself, whatever that looks like for you.
Friends, please see a therapist. Mental health is on a severe decline and there are tools we can use. As a lifelong anxious and depressive human, I can tell you there are many many days when I DO NOT want to get out of bed, let alone interact with humans all day long. But work with your therapist to find ways to push yourself through in order to do what's necessary. I wish everyone could be nice to each other and understand varying points of view and accept that not everyone feels the same way about things. Every single individual person has their own set of experiences behind them, culture, family members they've learned from, genetic material, and preferences that create the INDIVIDUAL. These things all make up the reason people feel the way they do, and there is no right or wrong to that. No one gets to make you feel less than because of your opinions. We are all just trying to get from point A to point B with as little hurt as possible.
I love you all, whether you think I'm great or terrible. Just please be nice to yourselves, to each other, and to me.