Catching My Breath

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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.

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On Learning To Be Gentle With Myself

3d675678917bba596237431aef648f94It’s my second week of juggling work on top of grad school, and it’s already been a somewhat difficult adjustment. That feeling of not having enough time to accomplish it all hit me almost immediately. Looking at my weekly planner can be a bit daunting. There’s a rainbow of scheduled activities on each page; black for work, pink for class/assignments, blue for scheduled appointments/the gym, purple for special events, green for birthdays. Not to mention the things that don’t make it into the planner like household chores, my commute, meal prepping etc. There’s very little time in between it all to unwind. My mind has to be focused with few breaks from approximately 6am to about 10pm every night. It overwhelmed me for the first time last night. Tuesdays are my longest days, with 8 hours of work followed by another 3 of class. Halfway through class I could barely hold my head up anymore. It was then that we started talking about anxiety disorders & OCD related disorders. Those who have experienced these illnesses, like me, know that thinking about the symptoms can sometimes spark a sense of fear that we will experience them again. Normally, I can discuss both disorders or my experiences with them and be just fine, but because I was so tired my defenses were weak. Talking about Panic Disorder was tough enough, but when we started talking about Hoarding Disorder our professor decided to play a video clip of the show Hoarders (something I’ve tried to avoid like the plague, because I knew it would negatively effect me). As soon as I got a look at the client’s house I was horrified. Suddenly waves of anxiety started washing over me, I could have cried right there.

Today I don’t work, but even on my days off I set my alarm for 7am so that I have plenty of time to go to the gym and tackle some school work before class in the evening. I woke up feeling exhausted, and defeated by the thought of dragging myself to the gym in that state. I originally scheduled my gym sessions for mental health purposes rather than physical health. Today, I just didn’t believe that the gym would be beneficial for me mentally. What I needed was a bit more rest and something that would stimulate my mind gently (yoga, meditation and writing). I made the best decision by deciding to be gentle with myself. I could have told myself to suck it up and dragged myself to the gym. I could have also been too easy on myself by sleeping the entire morning away. However, I was able to realize that my unwillingness to go to the gym wasn’t about my usual laziness, but rather a genuine need to unwind in a way that included more than just sleep. I’m rather proud of my attunement to myself this morning, it gives me hope in my ability to continue down this busy path.

Guess Who’s Back?

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This week I made some exciting moves. The agency that I worked at for 2 years prior to starting grad school recently contacted me with an offer. They needed some extra assistance in the residential department with a lot of the tasks that I previously handled. They wanted to know if I was interested in returning. It was a difficult decision, but I declined. While I loved my previous position and could see the value in continuing to build my knowledge base with that population, I simply couldn’t devote a full 40 hours a week to the job. I had set my mind on completely immersing myself in the grad school process and getting all that I could out of it. I wanted to honor that, and a full time job would hinder my ability to truly apply myself at school. I did, however, let them know that if they were willing to bend the amount of hours per week, I’d be their girl. I was pleasantly surprised when they told me they would be willing to work with my needs. We took some time sorting out the details, and I’ve officially agreed to return as the Residential Treatment Coordinator! The most exciting part is that some of my responsibilities overlap with the Mental Health department. For example, I’ll be facilitating a Day Treatment group on topics such as anger management or seeking safety. This will allow me to start working toward the 3,000 hours that I’ll ultimately need to collect in order to take the licensing test after I finish school. I’ll be getting paid to do something that I would need to do for free otherwise! So, I’m going back to face the minions once again. I’m thrilled to see where this experience takes me this time!

Yoga, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Seminar

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I just got back from my 2nd day of Mary NurrieStearn’s seminar for Mental Health professionals, and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I read her book, Yoga for Emotional Trauma, over my winter break and loved it, so I was very excited to learn from her directly. I will absolutely be applying techniques that I learned there to my own sessions with clients, just as soon as I get some! Mary was such a delightful speaker and managed to get a room full of adults to not only do some light yoga and mindfulness exercises, but also sing, dance and confess our inner demons/greatest gratitude. We spent about 16 hours over the course of 2 days in the same room, but Mary kept us alive and stimulated the entire time. This seminar reinforced my immense love for the field of Psychology and the beauty that mindfulness and yoga can bring to it. I simply cannot satiate my hunger for more knowledge in this area! I am so very thankful to have found my passion ❤

School Due Date Tracker

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In a previous post, I mentioned that one of the ways I stay organized in school is by utilizing syllabi week to create a sheet that will help me track all of my readings and due dates throughout the semester. I upgraded from a Word document to an Excel spreadsheet this semester & have attached the template to this post so that you can all try this method for yourselves. The template may need to be edited a bit to suit your needs. I’m on a semester system, so my sheet has 17 weeks whereas you may only need 10 for the quarter system. Dates may need to be moved around, number of classes altered, etc. Either way, I hope this helps my fellow students tremendously. Cheers to a new semester!

Due Date Tracker