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 ❤

Woes Of Late

For the past few weeks I’ve been wondering if I made the right decision in weaning off of my meds. I’m afraid that I’m not ready; that symptoms of my depression, anxiety and OCD will come flooding back. It appears as if the depression has already started rearing it’s ugly head. I’ve been hideously exhausted for a few weeks now. Sleeping 9 to 10 hours a night instead of 8 and still requiring an hour long nap somewhere in the middle of the day. I’m also losing interest in several areas of my life. I’m no longer going to the gym 4 times a week. I’ve actually come to loath it and am finding it hard to commit to just one day. While I’m still managing to force myself to complete my school work, it doesn’t quite fascinate me the way it did just a few weeks ago. I’m getting A’s on all my assignments and doubting that it was me that earned the grade, but rather professors grading too easily. I’m also starting to isolate myself more and more. I’ve never been great at communicating with friends on a daily basis, but I’ve always managed to plan at least a weekly hangout with my close friends and enjoy myself during that time. Now I find myself feeling a lack of connection to these friends, which is crazy because I know I love them dearly. Yet, it’s causing me to make less of an effort to plan those get-togethers. My libido is still non-existent, which hinders my relationship with my husband. He’s mentioned that he feels a bit neglected or unwanted now that I’m not all over him. We were very proud of the fact that we were able to maintain such a strong spark long past the typical honeymoon phase of a new relationship. At 4 years in, strangers on the street would have assumed we were a brand new couple. These days it feels as if we’ve been married much longer than we actually have and have become distant. The more I think about all the ways in which my life seems to be crumbling the more I feel as if I’m powerless to change any of it. The things I know I should be doing to combat this seem like too much work. A part of me just wants to forget about weaning off and go back to the comfort of my typical dosage, but that’s not an option. Not just because the medication wasn’t meant to be long term, but because I’m no longer insured. My 26th birthday was the cutoff point for being on my parent’s insurance. I can no longer see my psychiatrists or therapist without having to pay out of pocket, which I simply can’t afford. The bottom line is I’m on my own. As hard as it may seem right now, I have to find a way to overcome this myself.

Weaning Off

For the last year & a quarter, I’ve been on an anti-depressant for generalized anxiety & mild OCD. It was a necessity after my grandma passed, when my symptoms became too hard for me to handle on my own. My neutral obsessions, with sharp sounds specifically, made working with an office-mate so unbearable I’d have to keep my headphones on throughout most of the work day to avoid having a panic attack or acting out my visions of inflicting bodily harm to my coworker, whom I sincerely liked (aside from the sounds she’d unconsciously make). I had wanted to get off the meds after about 6 months. They, along with therapy, had helped me tremendously, but I didn’t like the side effect of having an unusually low libido while on the meds. My psychiatrist advised against weaning off due to the stress that can arise when planning a wedding, which I was in the middle of. Now that I’m officially a married woman, I’m revisiting the idea of weaning off. I think it’s time. I’m just nervous, because I’m still under a lot of stress now that I’m a new grad student. I’m hoping my symptoms don’t come back with a vengeance during vital periods like midterms or finals! However, I have a wonderful support system both at home & school. Here’s to hoping that it’s enough to keep me sane through this process!