My Why (And cute pictures of our foster dogs!)
Last week, my husband and I took in a foster dog named Piper who is available for adoption. She's a 9-year old pit bull mix and has made so much progress in just a few days of having a safe and comfortable space to get some rest. My husband and I talk often about how much passion we have for fostering dogs, as this is our 4th one since we started fostering about a year ago. And yes, I'm going to include some pictures... I can't tell you about all these amazing dogs without showing them to you! Bear with me if you're not a dog person... I promise that there's more to this blog entry than talking about dogs!
March 2021: Brutner (plus Arizona on the right)
June 2021: Victory (Plus Arizona on the left)
July 2021: IPA
March 2022: Piper
So, now that you've hopefully enjoyed the cuteness of all our foster dogs, let's move forward.
Depression is a cruel, cruel trait. It often makes me wonder, "what is the point?" I wake up, I go to work, I come home and eat and clean, and then go to bed and wake up the next day to do it all over again. What is the point? Well, I've learned that finding my "why" is so important to feeling purposeful in life, and feeling like what I do means something. Fostering is something in my personal life that feels like a why for me. It gives me a feeling of fulfillment and higher purpose, to give dogs a safe place to heal and come out of their shells a bit so that we can give potential adopters a good idea of what they're actually like. I could go on and on and on about dogs and fostering and shelters (and cruel humans that treat dogs badly). But I will move on.
All of our lives have so many layers. Fostering is one why in my personal life. But what about my work life? What is my why? I spend approximately 40 hours per week doing this job. I feel like I need a why to be able to keep doing this and feel good about the work I do. The pandemic, the mountain of debt I accumulated, getting yelled at by patients, feeling unappreciated... all of these elements of my career are SO distracting from my "why," Why did I become a PT in the first place??? I've talked to a lot of former classmates who are also practicing PTs, and they are all in a similar place. Why did we go into so much debt for this? Was it really worth it? Do we want to stay in this profession?
So... what is my why? Well, I can tell you what it isn't. It isn't money. Every time I receive some sort of raise, I love seeing the difference in my income for about a day or two. And then I forget that the raise even happened. Because whether I get paid a lot or a little, the workplace does not change with my change in income. I am still facing the same difficulties that I faced before my raise.
I've really had to consider my why with this job. If I come in without respecting my why, I find that the day seems to last forever and I feel disappointed in my work. But if I really put my focus on my patients and what I'm doing for them, I can find joy in my work. I have a passion for working with patients with spinal cord injury, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and lower extremity amputation. I don't know why. I just do. The sessions I have with those patients invigorate me and make me feel excited about providing them with the best opportunity for functional improvement. I feel that same invigoration when I see a patient make strides toward a goal, or do something they were unable to do at the last session. It really is rewarding.
My why is harder to find when I have a caseload of very sick individuals in an ICU that don't seem to be getting any better or making any progress. Maybe I'm unable to work with them because they've become too sick and doing a PT session would have a higher risk than benefit. How do I find my why in a time like that? Honestly, I don't have a great answer other than really focusing on maybe one or two patients out of twenty that are actually headed in the right direction. An ICU nurse who sees these critical care patients 100% of the time could probably give more insight to their why in this setting. It's something I still struggle with and am working through with my therapist.
Finding our why in every aspect of our lives is so important to our well being and our mental health. A why keeps us going because there's a reason for what we do rather than simply going through the motions every day. Keeping my why in my sights doesn't always keep my depression at bay, but it does minimize the frequency and the intensity of it. For people without depression, it is still just as important! We all need to find our why and stick by it to keep ourselves moving forward in life. There is no worse feeling than stagnation or regression. If you know someone who is struggling with this, help them find their why in life.
I'd really like to hear your why! Whether it's a personal why or a career-focused why, I'd love for you to share it with me. I can always use some help finding another why to keep moving forward in life! As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the foster dog pictures :)