I’m not a trainer by trade, I’ve always been an operator who got asked to do a little delivery when they were short handed in L&D. A subject matter expert I suppose you’d call it.
Similarly I didn’t set out to become self employed, I couldn’t find work and decided to parlay all the qualifications I had acquired in to some sort of portfolio career.
I got asked last week whether I liked the route my business had taken, more and more work delivering in the area of mental health. I struggled to answer the question – after all, I’m a subject matter expert to some degree and it allows me to deploy many of the skills and qualifications I have developed over my career. For sure it’s important work and I’m glad of the chance to help others develop fresh understanding and insights.
However it’s also emotionally draining. Take last week for example. I normally deliver Mental Health First Aid with Charlotte but she is currently very unwell. Luckily our mutual friend Andy stepped in to help me out. He’s a great guy and it was our first chance to actually deliver together but it was mixed emotions straight away. It’s a long two days and I want to give it everything I have as this is all the mental health training that most delegates will ever get. This means that inevitably breaks are shortened as delegates want to ask supplementary questions or confide in you about how they are doing.
Whilst the course covers many conditions I have no direct experience in, talking about the challenges for others inevitably makes me reflect on my own health and the struggles of those close to me. I try to bring as much of myself as possible – to make it “authentic” as the current jargon has it but that comes at a cost. On Friday I found myself churning inside, struggling to talk of earlier battles around self harm. I spent much of the day on the verge of tears, holding them back whilst continuing to share. It wasn’t a comfortable day.
When all is said and done I’m proud of the job I do. It’s worthwhile work and similar to my previous career in public service I think the output will help others. I just wish it hurt a little less.