, 11 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
hi hello? *taps mic*
This is a ~mental health~ thread. As journalists we talk a lot ab the work we do but not about the recovery time we need. So I am about to take 3 weeks off, and I’m going to tell you why, in case it helps other people take time off without feeling guilty. /1
About a year ago, after covering two mass shootings and deadly fires across California, my therapist told me I had post traumatic stress symptoms and I should take a month away from work to address them, before they became PTSD. I did not listen. /2
My logic: I had covered those tragedies from the office. My secondary trauma couldn’t be as bad as it was for the journalists in the field, or the people living it. So instead of a break, I took on a new project on the high schools surrounded by the most homicide. /3
I'd take a break after that published, I said. So I reported on these killings of children, and was working on the stories when another mass shooting happened last fall. More victims to memorialize. The same week, more deadly fires. More heartbroken families. /4
The insomnia was back, and when I could sleep I had nightmares. Hearing ambulances or seeing police helicopters hovering made my heart race. Candles and bonfires terrified me. Every space I entered, I imagined how it could be the next target of a fire or shooting. /5
Again, my therapist told me to take at least three weeks off. Ever the haggler, I took one, then worked 12-16 hour days for weeks covering the L.A. teachers strike with my brilliant colleagues. Then I jumped straight back into the project about killings near schools. /6
As soon as those stories published last week, I became more sick than I have gotten in years. It was like my body went on strike, demanding rest. And now I’m finally going to take that extended time off to give my brain some rest, too. /7
For the next three weeks I’m deleting slack and outlook (and maybe twitter? TBD) and turning off my work phone. If you have recommendations for L.A. hikes, fun day trips, books to read and dogs to adopt, send them my way. /8
When I come back, I‘ll continue engaging with the communities I write about, and hopefully the reporting will be stronger because of the time I gave myself (That’s what I tell myself when I feel guilty, anyway..) /9
Secondary trauma is a real thing and it can happen whether you are reporting from the field or a computer. Self care for me is therapy, puppies, exercise, cooking, baking, reading, time with my family and friends. /10
Anyway, if you have read this very long thread then props to you, here is a trophy 🏆, and if you work in a field that is difficult, take care of yourself, take breaks, don’t feel bad about them.

~the end~
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