Helping Yourself

Nurse Jesse (Code Black): Remember, oxygen is the first drug we give our patients. Same for you.

On Code Black, Nurse Jesse said the above to the residents as a reminder to breathe during the course of getting slammed with multiple traumas.  At first, I liked it simply because I think we can all use a reminder to breathe every now and then.  I know that when I get really anxious or really tense taking a few deep breaths really does go along way.

I then began to think about it a little more, and I realized that it relates to another thing that I have been told to keep in mind by many professionals: how on an airplane they tell you to secure your own mask before assisting others.

As with a lot of people, I definitely have a tendency to put the needs of others before my own.  If a friend or family member needs something from me, I will usually say yes.  I am getting at saying no when I really have to, but it is a work in progress.  Where this becomes particularly problematic, however, is when saying yes interferes with my own recovery.  For example, if a friend is struggling and I find it triggering to be around her, I will usually still say yes because I feel bad and want to be a good support.However, it has been pointed out to me numerous times that in the same way you need to secure your own mask before assisting others, I need to put my own recovery first if I am to be of any help to others.

The Code Black quote was a good reminder of this.  In addition to reminding the residents to breathe in order to control their nerves, Jesse is basically telling them the same thing that I’ve been told – that you need to take care of yourself first in order to best be able to assist others.

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