The fall semester has just begun, and somehow I feel more relaxed now that I did all summer. This is the semester I’ll be starting my practicum hours, so I decided to resign from my position at my agency to allow myself the freedom and mental capacity to focus on this learning opportunity. Fitting full-time responsibilities into a mere 25 hours a week on top of school and the whole purchasing a house & moving in process has made these last 6 months ridiculously tedious. More often than I’d like to admit, I didn’t handle it well. The stress triggered everything from OCD & anxiety to some major irritability. I did, however, manage to end things at work on a good note. I tried to do my best for my clients up until the very last day, simply because their education is important and I cared about them enough to do my due diligence. My supervisor had been under the impression that my last day was on a Thursday, and was prepared to let me go even though the start of the school year is the busiest time of the year for my position. I had to request to stay an additional day, because I wouldn’t have felt right about leaving unfinished work for my successor. With that extra day, I managed to wrap things up nicely. Somehow that makes me feel a little more proud of the entire experience; as if I found the strength to maintain a jogging pace all the way to the finish line despite the fatigue and unbearable cramps that begged me to quit. Now I can take stock of my lessons learned and hopefully make some changes to better handle the new bouts of stress heading my way.
I apologize for my lengthy disappearance. My soul’s been sliding down the curves of a rainbow, unsure of what color suits it best. Between school, work, marriage and my newest endeavor, purchasing a home, I’m all over the spectrum. All I can do is embrace the ride & hope that each new phase of this chaotic life will be just as beautiful as the last.
Life has been difficult lately. On paper, the work and school schedule that I have is manageable. It leaves little room for a social life, but it works. What I didn’t anticipate when I committed to the schedule was a reemergence of OCD symptoms. When you throw a panic attack into the mix, and some everyday generalized anxiety while you’re at it, the workload becomes damn near impossible. For this reason, I’ve been struggling to maintain the light within me.
My work environment is the root of the issue. My office is known as the recreation department, which holds all the arts & crafts supplies, movies, games, beauty supplies, sports equipment, & misc. items the girls could ever dream of. What all that means to me is a whole lot of clutter. While I did my best to organize it in one full work day, I barely made a dent. Being in there makes me feel tense; in a constant state of discomfort. I’ve tried to just suck it up and not look behind me, where most of the clutter is, to no avail. Although the generalized anxiety escalated to panic attacks, I was afraid to open up to my supervisor about it. I felt as if I was asking for too much. Yet, I was at the point where something had to give. The anxiety followed me from the office to everywhere else, causing my quality of life to take a serious hit.
I wrote a letter of resignation during my desperation for an escape route, then pondered the option of turning it in for a week. It didn’t sit right with me, I felt like a coward. Yes I was setting my expectations for myself very high, but how would I ever conquer anxiety if I chose to run away from it? It finally dawned on me that maybe there could be a middle ground. I was preparing to run without even giving this agency, that had been so good to me thus far, a chance to work with me. I decided it was time to open up to my supervisor. I explained my symptoms to her and the source, along with a few suggestions of what I thought might help me (part-time hours and either a new office or a laptop to work elsewhere when symptoms worsened). To my surprise, she was more than willing to work with me. She thanked me for going to her rather than simply quitting under the pressure; she understood how difficult that was for me. My part-time schedule was mapped out and agreed upon. Finally, she’ll be speaking with the HR Director to try to work out the office situation. They’re going to try to get me out of there altogether, but the laptop will be the backup solution.
What a relief it’s been already. I am so appreciative of my supervisor’s willingness to accommodate my needs. Furthermore, I’ve learned a valuable lesson; asking for help shouldn’t be a shame inducing action. People might surprise you and extend a helping hand. As this photo depicts, “Life is so very difficult. How can we be anything but kind?”
Goodness gracious it’s been a hectic month! It’s only been 1 month since I started working again, but it feels as if it’s been much longer. Not necessarily in a bad way, it’s just that so much has happened! Starting work again has been exhausting/thrilling/inspiring. I’ve told you all about the exhaustion, and a bit about the thrill of diving back into a field I love. My journey hit an inspirational point when I discovered that our new Head of Mental Health Services is a 3rd waver! He’s a LMFT, and currently in a Buddhist Seminary graduate program! How perfectly this happened to fall into place; at the same time that I’m looking for a practicum site, a 3rd wave supervisor happens to start working at my agency! I’ve already talked to him about the possibility of completing my hours at our agency, and he confirmed that he plans on reestablishing the student trainee program. I’m crossing my fingers, hoping that it happens in time for me to start accruing hours next fall.
School is a bit more challenging this semester than it was last. There’s a lot of memorization in Law & Ethics, and I’m pretty sure I’ve diagnosed myself with about 6 different disorders thanks to Psychopathology. Then there’s Concepts of Family Therapy; we had to create a genogram and write a paper about our family histories and dynamics, and thank goodness I started a month in advance. I spent the first 2 weeks crying as a I wrote, because my family’s history of abuse and trauma just had to be mourned. There’s something so profound about seeing it all depicted on a genogram. Family patterns become unignorable; demanding awareness, proper grievance and more importantly change.
Finally, my home life has been bitter-sweet. I spend so little time at home now, which unfortunately means so little time with my husband. However, our hectic schedules have sort of forced us to cherish every moment that we do get together. We spend our time talking about our upcoming plans to buy a home; letting our imaginations soothe away any lingering fatigue. Once again, he’s proven to be my rock during the most trying times. I’m hoping that the summer brings us some ease. We’ll be moving into our own place and I’ll have a bit of a break from school. For now, I have to keep reminding myself to breathe through the chaos.