The end of the beginning....

Today is the first time in quite a while that I have started to feel a little optimistic.


I’ve woken up to find that many therapists have received the first round of Jobkeeper payments. The stress we have all been under over the last months is coming from many different sources. Any one or two of these stresses we would normally just take in our stride, but the cumulative effect has been a incredibly hard to deal with.


Some of my stresses are easing, others I don’t know when or if they will. These are some of the sources of my grief. I know that most of these are not unique to me.


Finances


I didn’t get into massage for the money. I don’t know anyone that did but suddenly loosing an income bloody hurt.


For those that rely on massage as the primary income for themselves or family, the last few weeks must have been devastating.


For those that are eligible for assistance, don’t be proud, accept it, breath again, it’s not going to solve all the problems but it might help a little.


For those that don’t qualify for the assistance, I don’t know what to say, and I need to understand that you may need to return to work earlier than you want to.

Is it legal to work?


This has been a BIG one. Who knew that a global pandemic would make us regret not paying attention in Year 10 Civics classes. Turns out that the Federal Government doesn’t have much influence on what happens at a State level. Every State has different criteria, definitions, some can declare what’s “essential” and some can’t. It turns out that Remedial Massage Therapists are an enigma. What has become painfully obvious is that the powers that be have no idea what we do or how we do it! It’s also been painfully clear that at a Government level the left had does not know what the right hand is doing.


For those that don’t have a qualification, are Cert IV or Beauty therapy qualified, I hope that you can learn from the trauma we have had over the last few weeks. Things will change for you as restrictions ease. Don’t judge, don’t assume, verify everything yourself and get EVERYTHING in writing (even if it is just your notes from a telephone conversation with your State’s hotline).


Is it safe to work?

The simple answer – no one knows.


Is crossing the road safe during peak hour? Sometimes it is if you take the necessary precautions. Sometimes it’s not, depending upon many, many factors. And it may be safe to cross the road at one point in time but not at another.


All we can do is assess the situation and minimize the risk as much as we can. I still firmly believe that for ME it is not safe to open. But that is for ME. I’ve come to understand in the last week, through some great online discussion that I have had with therapists Australia wide, that the experience for me in South East Melbourne is very different to someone in South Australia. It’s also different for someone in the North West of Melbourne, or even in the next suburb and I am trying to be more aware of that going forward.


I need to learn that I can’t control the “cowboys” that are going to reopen with no protocols in place. I can’t control what they do but I can control how I let that affect me.

I need to support the good, ethical therapists in the industry that have assessed the risk and determined that is safe for them to reopen and I need to create a safe online forum where they are comfortable asking for help and advice without being afraid of abuse and attempts to shame them.


When will I be ready to treat again?


This is starting to become a regular theme in the virtual meetings I have been hosting. Many therapists are scared. What we have been through is unprecedented. It has been traumatic, and acknowledging that is essential.


I don’t want to be massaging from a place of fear. I don’t want to risk infecting my clients and I don’t want to be looking at my clients as a potential vector for infecting me. I don’t know how to get over that. I’m just not in the right head space and I don’t know how or when I will be. It’s terrifying to actually admit that I am not sure if I ever want to return to massage. I will give it time. No need for any life changing decisions just yet.


Where to from here?


I’m not making any big plans for now. I am trying to trust the online world again. I am trying to forgive the online trolls who made me want to step away from Massage Training Australia. I am trying to inform as many therapists that I can of ways to minimize the risk of crossing that road.


To all the members of the “Australian Massage Therapists Community”. Thank you. Let’s hope when we each get to a place where we are comfortable treating again some of the connections we have made, Australia wide, continue and we start to think of each other as colleagues and friends rather than competitors.

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