Unfinished Sympathy

This time of year I find it hard to stay positive sometimes. It’s like the summer is all around me and there are so many exciting things going on, that even if I were to experience all of them, I’d somehow be missing out on a unique experience somewhere else. I’m leaving work this week and winding down at work, and sitting in the office is really boring without the normal pressures. I read somewhere this week that boredom is actually really bad for your health, worse than eating too many cakes!

There is something sweetly self-indulgent about it though, the sense of something nearly happening but not quite coming to pass, and before long it’s easy to turn that into someone else’s fault. Like the song.. unfinished sympathy, boredom is unfulfilling, and leaves you feeling like you’ve had half an experience, or in fact nothing at all…

Like a soul without a mind, In a body without a heart, I’m missing every part…

The things I will really miss about my office job include having a really lovely chat with a fantastic colleague, swapping notes on how the kids are doing, being involved in exciting new projects, and seeing work come to fruition. Its really satisfying in my 40’s to have the experience and knowledge to make things happen. There is a longer list of what I won’t miss……………  the new initiatives that come out from government that seem designed to torture us through their lack of achievability or resource to implement. I won’t miss seeing colleagues falling ill due to stress, pressure and unachievable work loads, the lack of focus on what frontline staff need to do their work, the changing of the guard in senior management team in a constant vacuum of “leadership”. I won’t miss the reluctance of anyone to take a risk, take a chance and achieve something and I won’t miss the government changing the rules every 4 years so what you’ve just achieved is seen as retrograde.

I’m really proud though to have achieved some major things that help people with disabilities and their families over the years. The public sector is a really crazy place to work but the ethos of healthcare that is free at the point of access, delivering high quality, evidence based support for us all when we need it, can’t be beaten. I love that there are committed social workers trying to find ways to help the most vulnerable in society, and doctors trying to keep up to date with the best kinds of new medicine.

I’m not entirely against privatization, having run several tenders to outsource aspects of what we do, I can testify that there are often organisations who can deliver healthcare as well or better than the status quo, especially when the voluntary sector gets itself in the right place at the right time. The commitment and passion and entrepreneurship in the charitable sector is really fantastic. I do think we take for granted what we have, but that’s actually a great place to be, as the public sector is there for us when we don’t want to have to rely on it- no one wants to get sick, and no families want a social worker to turn up.

The thing I’ve learnt from working alongside lots of health and social care professionals, is mainly that if we all took more responsibility for our own health, and wellbeing, the NHS would run much better. Life’s too short to carry on coming into work with tonsilitus, high levels of anxiety, chronic fatigue, and sleep deprivation, but many of us do it. Instead of feeling sympathetic towards others we should really encourage each other to take action-   It’s this general unfinished sympathy that I think holds us all back.. feeling sorry for ourselves and not really taking action.In the end that costs us all either with our own health, or other people’s time if we’re too sick to get to work.

That’s not to say that we shouldn’t be care, and be compassionate and kind- I mean being kind is the main place to start with most healing. If we wouldn’t say it to a good friend, then why say it to your husband or to your children or yourself! God is of course very kind and gentle and not at all brusque. It’s getting the combination together that is the real skill, and something I will always admire about those working in healthcare.

Corinthians 2, v2-7 Praise to the God of All Comfort

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

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