20 years by Dr Dee Gray

20 years. 20 years of my life. 20 years of pursuing what it means for us to be well. 20 years of unpicking what happens to us when we are stressed, of when we falter, and discovering how somehow we can all find a way back to wellness.

We all have within us a huge amount of power, and I have come to call this the ‘power of return’. Return indicates a dedistination, so where are we returning to? To our ‘selves’ to our ‘best selves’ where our energy is light and the purpose of our lives and all that we are shines through us.

I have worked with so many people, who have been in places that have been full of fear, where exhaustion and overwhelm were making them into someone they could hardly recognise.Yet inside all of them was this beautiful kernel of ‘self’ and with some nourishing it began to grow, step by step, until they could stand again in their strength and hold their fear by the hand.

Some of these people worked in frontline services, they had become fearful because they felt they were no longer doing the work they had set out to do, their values were sometimes compromised as they struggled to deliver services with ever fewer resources. Colleagues who had once been their ‘team’ were now withdrawing, doing only what they could cope with, some had resorted to anger and bullying, the sadness felt at the loss of the tribe was palpable. Yet even here sparks of friendship were remembered, and honoring both the years of working together and of why they were all in the profession they had chosen was enough to ignite the bond of togetherness.

Some of the people I have worked with have not been in frontline services, as such. Some have been carers, I have grown to call these the ‘third workforce’ that also delivers to the frontline. These people have been the empitome of the word ‘caring’, their love, duty and loyalty often sorely tested as they have continued their work, often without external recognition … for years and years and years….These people had also lost their sense of ‘self’ as their caring role absorbed everything else that they were or could have been. The stress they coped with was borne of loneliness and of the day to day drudgery that swallowed up any deeply cherished ambitions.  Yet here in these tired noble people, the bright kernal of ‘self’ lived, and given the tinyest of spaces to breathe, became a glowing rememberence of ‘this is also me’.

In the last year COVID- 19 has exacerbated the challenges these people already deal with, yet each day they rise up and begin each day determined to do their best, because what they have to do is also part of their ‘best selves’.

20 years. 20 years of my life. 20 years of pursuing what it means to be well. I wouldn’t change one day of it.