By David S. Prescott, LICSW.
A recent conversation at David's house went something like this:
David: My Fitbit says I got eight hours of sleep. I’ve had plenty of coffee. Why am I still so exhausted?
Mrs. Prescott: I’m right there with you. I almost wonder if we haven’t had a light case of COVID.
David: I’m not sure I’d go that far, but who knows? Meanwhile, we’re expecting four inches of snow, so that changes my plans for today… again. Rats!
Mrs. Prescott: Uh-oh. Our son just messaged. He drove an hour in all of this just to find out his university class had been canceled. He’s driving home now. Well, only six weeks until Spring!
The mid-winter blues have been particularly tough for many of us. Those of us who manage a caseload or have students have been acutely aware of the strife that has gone unspoken as well as spoken. If we’re honest, the Holiday Season may have been the most difficult since World War II. Clients have been dying of COVID-19 in numbers so high that media accounts of institutional outbreaks are unable to publish their names. Readers in the US have coped with the stress and anxiety that has followed the January 6 riot at the Capitol. Outside the US have been the stresses of Brexit, lockdowns, and heavens knows what else.
While all of this has been going on, though, the hard work and contributions of people in the field of preventing sexual violence have continued. When there was a COVID outbreak in a small program in the Northeast, some staff opted simply to reside at the program (under the supervision of medical staff) and they all got through it together.
During the month of January, David ended up covering cases by video in the wake of a clinician quitting without any notice. The unexpected surprise was how pleasant it was to interact with all of the staff members at the programs. Everyone was ready for video appointments on time and even early. The staff all talked about the clients in the most professional manner and all were thoughtful in the ways they describe client progress and interactions. It’s easy to forget just how dedicated the front-line staff is in the inpatient settings where many of us work actually are. On top of all of this, the sessions weren’t always easy. Many clients discussed all the reasons they are no longer in contact with their families during the holidays while others wept openly about their current statuses.
For us, all of this points in one direction. Our message to the readers of this blog is: You have all been more helpful to our clients than maybe even you know. In interactions such as those above, there is no question that it’s the folks at the front lines, working nights and weekends that have made the difference.
It’s clear that we all get into this work because we want to help people and then we find out who we really are when the going gets tough. This year it’s the front-line people like those reading this blog (and those who can’t because they don’t have the time) who are the ones who have made the difference. This has been especially true for those clients who, whether through their own actions or not, have had no greetings or kind words coming from their family. Instead, with only a few exceptions, our clients don’t know to say thank you because things went as well as they have.
Since the clients and those who remain in their lives too often don’t know just how much you’ve actually done for them, allow us to be the first to say – from the bottom of our hearts – thank you.