Working with birth and mental health professionals across the globe has made me very aware: Most birth professionals have trauma related to birth. Most mental health professionals have trauma.
In fact, many enter the profession precisely because the trauma they experienced (or the injustice) was so unacceptable, they had to do something about it. I love that. I believe there is nothing more central to the purpose of life than to leave behind better than you got.
This is why birth and mental health professionals are my people.
Anyone who takes trauma and turns it into loving action has my attention.
And yet, there is something not being talked about here and frankly, it's starting to worry me: untreated trauma + a traumatizing professional environment is a recipe for disaster.
Because here's the other thing I've learned in my work with birth professionals: you all have some of the highest rates of vicarious trauma around. So you come to this profession because of your trauma, and then in exchange for your valiant effort you experience even more trauma.
Put simply: this cannot work long term.
I want professionals who love and care and work hard to stick around a long time. I want those of you who are motivated by the fire of conviction to continue making change. I want your voice to be the last one standing on the issues of: trauma-informed care, informed consent, compassionate care and trauma awareness. I want your stand to be the tallest, your bullhorn to be the loudest and your body to last your whole career long.
So... can we talk? I need you to address your trauma.
Trauma is an excellent catalyst. Think of it like a spark near tinder. Trauma lights up our passion like a fire. Trauma motivates us to take action. Trauma motivates us to push against obstacles of resistance. Trauma gives us conviction like nothing else.
But in the end, that spark will burn you alive if you let it. What was once tinder will become a forest fire. Unaddressed trauma leads to physical illness (this is proven fact), broken relationships, poor decision making and ultimately... one more amazing professional in the "burned out" pile.
We don't need any more martyrs for this cause. We need valiant warriors. We don't need ashes. We need sustained effort.
So from one professional to another: I'm begging. Please do the work to heal your trauma so you can be here for years to come. We need you.
No, you didn't ask for your trauma. It's not fair that you now have to be responsible for healing it. It's unjust. But it is holy work. And you must. For all of us. Please.
Krysta Dancy-Cabeal, MA, MFT
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist