Tasting the bitter edge of my tears

I’m not a trainer by trade, I’ve always been an operator who got asked to do a little delivery when they were short handed in L&D. A subject matter expert I suppose you’d call it.

Similarly I didn’t set out to become self employed, I couldn’t find work and decided to parlay all the qualifications I had acquired in to some sort of portfolio career.

I got asked last week whether I liked the route my business had taken, more and more work delivering in the area of mental health. I struggled to answer the question – after all, I’m a subject matter expert to some degree and it allows me to deploy many of the skills and qualifications I have developed over my career. For sure it’s important work and I’m glad of the chance to help others develop fresh understanding and insights.

However it’s also emotionally draining. Take last week for example. I normally deliver Mental Health First Aid with Charlotte but she is currently very unwell. Luckily our mutual friend Andy stepped in to help me out. He’s a great guy and it was our first chance to actually deliver together but it was mixed emotions straight away. It’s a long two days and I want to give it everything I have as this is all the mental health training that most delegates will ever get. This means that inevitably breaks are shortened as delegates want to ask supplementary questions or confide in you about how they are doing.

Whilst the course covers many conditions I have no direct experience in, talking about the challenges for others inevitably makes me reflect on my own health and the struggles of those close to me. I try to bring as much of myself as possible – to make it “authentic” as the current jargon has it but that comes at a cost. On Friday I found myself churning inside, struggling to talk of earlier battles around self harm. I spent much of the day on the verge of tears, holding them back whilst continuing to share. It wasn’t a comfortable day.

When all is said and done I’m proud of the job I do. It’s worthwhile work and similar to my previous career in public service I think the output will help others. I just wish it hurt a little less.


9 thoughts on “Tasting the bitter edge of my tears

  1. kategl Reply

    It feels strange to press “like” for a post that is so painfully honest.
    I asked a question and you have given me your answer. I know that what you do (and the open, understanding, non-judgemental but comprehending approach that you have) helps others, but, just by being who you are and doing what you do, you have no choice but to dwell in areas that are hard and often uncomfortable. I hope the positives compensate sufficiently for the pain.

    • Project Libero - coaching, musing and exploring Reply

      Hi Kate and thanks for commenting. I think I have strayed a little from your original question in remarking the difficulties of delivery. More broadly I don’t want Mental Health to be my only source of work. I want other projects to leaven the load but for now this is what it showing up and I’m well placed to give a variety of perspectives.

      In conclusion, I will most likely always deal with the pain and delivering MHFA and other awareness pieces are not compensation as much as a chance to pay forward some of the care / treatment I have had.

  2. broc.edwards Reply

    Human vulnerability is so scary/painful/powerful. It only hurts because you care, because it matters to you, and because you want it to matter to them. And they care because you care.

  3. janecp1 Reply

    I was on the course and can only commend you – I don’t think any of us had a clue about how difficult you were finding it. Your openness about your experiences, and Andy’s about his, really made the course for me. Thank you.

    • Project Libero - coaching, musing and exploring Reply

      Thanks Jane and I’m glad you had a good time on the course. It’s not so much that I find it difficult in the moment but rather that the content takes me back to sad times and makes me reflect. So much has improved since I was diagnosed and yet there is still so far to go. I really enjoyed the delivery of your course and you were such an open and constructive group that it was a pleasure to facilitate.

  4. lellielesley Reply

    I love your honesty and authenticity within this post, but feel it’s a shame that you only feel able to express this pain here, rather than in the training room as well. Reflecting on difficult times can be really tough and it can be a fine line to walk between sharing and suppressing your emotions. I really respect your desire to do the best for your delegates, but I am sure your delegates would have still gained a lot if you had struggled over that line. Be gentle on yourself and hope the knowledge you are doing good work is enough compensation for the pain. Good luck with the next course.

    • Project Libero - coaching, musing and exploring Reply

      Hi there Lesley

      Please don’t misunderstand me. The delegates got plenty of detail about the painful and slow journey I have been on, it doesn’t only make its way out via the blog. In reality I did struggle over the line but ultimately the course is not about me but a broader approach. Delegates have paid and this is a certificated course, I don’t think it serves anyone to have the trainer unable to deliver the content. I am open about what it costs me to deliver the course and the fact that those two days will be my main two days in the world that week. That helps contextualise exactly where I am at in my recovery.

      Thanks for your wishes of good luck. We go again in December.

      • lellielesley Reply

        Sorry, I didn’t meant to suggest that I didn’t think you were giving enough insight to the painfulness of your journey. I just know that trying to hide how you’re feeling can be exhausting and I expect that your delegates would forgive you if you pushed yourself too far, although I understand you not wanting to do this too. I hope as your recovery continues, the pain will ease. Take care and hope December goes well. 🙂

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