Checking In

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I apologize for vanishing off the face of WordPress. I have not been posting, commenting, or even really reading anything since right around Thanksgiving. The reasons for my absence are both that my schedule has really been that hectic with Christmas preparations and that some nights my depression knocks me so low that all I can do is crawl into bed.

There’s a lot that has been going on, things I’d ideally write my own posts about in a perfect world. But for right now, I’ll just stick to some basic updates.

My job has been taking up 90% of my time. We’re facing a big restructuring to part of our program, which will go into effect at the beginning of next year. My supervisor has had her mind on that, so she isn’t always around to answer questions I might have. As a newbie, that’s difficult because I’m making a lot of guesses and often I find that guessed wrong and then expend extra time to work to rectify my mistake.

My supervisor just keeps making changes that we can’t keep up with. There’s so much need and not enough staff, time, or energy to go around. Plus, she’s piling more on my colleague and I than we can handle.

I worry, because my colleague is pretty good at what she does, and she’s mentioned multiple times that she’s had job offers from other places. The more that’s asked of us, the more I worry that she’s going to take someone up on the offer. I’m just barely keeping my head above water there with her, I can’t imagine surviving if she leaves.

There’s just so much. So much to do. So much to know. So much to learn. I have a list a mile long of information that I’d like to read about more in-depth. I’d like to learn more about curriculum and the process of working with agencies and various disorders, but unfortunately there’s just not time for that. Not during the day at least, and then I get home too exhausted to do anything else.

So here I am getting thrown into situations that I don’t know how to handle and haven’t been properly trained in. I wonder if I’m picking up new skills fast enough.

Then there’s the fun part. Dealing with parents and teachers. It’s still anxiety-provoking for me and I’m working really hard right now on being comfortable in the discomfort of meetings, especially when I know we’re telling the parent something they don’t want to hear.

I’ve gotten through a number of different kinds of meetings and handled a few sticky situations with teachers, but it’s still a sensitive area for me. I have to actively remind myself a negative interaction isn’t indicative of negative self-worth on my part.

Imposter syndrome is a big issue. I’m still asking for reassurance that I’m doing an okay job (and then kicking myself for needing that validation). Mostly because I really feel like a little kid parading around in an adult’s job. I don’t know how these kids can ever look at me and expect that I know what I am doing.

News flash kids, I know about as much as you do.

My mental health has been all over the place. Right around, or maybe before, Thanksgiving, I was hurting myself at every opportunity I got. Then L and I decided I was only allowed to do that on Sundays (why did I agree to that?). So I’ve been trying to keep to this ritual, and I guess it’s worked pretty well because I am harm free for at least a couple weeks.

Still, the weeks can be difficult. I’ve had this recurrence of Tuesday and Wednesday being by far the most difficult days for a couple weeks now, where the shit seems to pile on until I’m just ready to give up. Usually by Thursday (therapy day), things begin to settle down. It’s a frustrating pattern honestly, one I don’t know how to break.

I still feel extremely empty and have periods of deep shame, but I’m mostly just pushing it all away when I can since talking about them with literally anybody just produces more shame. It’s to the point where I don’t want to share those vulnerable feelings with anyone, including J or L.

Speaking of therapy, , things have settled into a somewhat stable place. In what probably comes as no surprise,  at our first session back after Thanksgiving neither J nor I mentioned the ill-fated session that made me further question our relationship. I knew that she wouldn’t say a thing about it, because she never addresses any of our conflicts, and I certainly wasn’t going to propel myself back into perpetual misattunement and dysregulation. So…I guess we’re not returning to the letter at all. At least not right now.

The first week, I asked her to bring her DBT workbook.  I figured if we couldn’t solve our relationship stuff, maybe we could focus on solving some of the social issues I’m dealing with at work. There are sure enough of those to fill an hour.

It actually ended up going really well. I’d gone into session locked up tight, but as we dissected some of my interactions and I settled in, I let myself open up a bit more about what I’d been feeling during the week. We repeated this process again last week.

What I’ve noticed is that J seems more engaged with me and overall at ease than she’s been recently. I think that she’s relieved the focus is off of her for once.

It’s not a permanent solution, but right now I’m at least not dreading going to therapy. In fact, I’m actually feeling threads of a connection to her again. Maybe that’s because I’ve been us the space to let the relationship exist instead of harping on her? Like we can connect because she doesn’t feel under a microscope?

I don’t know, I’m not really questioning it too much.

However, while it’s nice that therapy has been helpful, it also makes me a little sad that for me to start feeling this way I had to essentially pack away the attachment stuff and all the feelings surrounding our last interaction before Thanksgiving (e.g. my anger about her breaking the eye-roll boundary again and my disappointment in how she handled the letter situation). To call that stuff into question would mean risking this sense of homeostasis.

Additionally, it makes me wonder what happens the next time all these issues float to the surface. Because they will. Right now, I’m able to compartmentalize because the feelings aren’t huge. But I don’t typically do middle of the road emotions for too long.

When that happens, will I be allowed to bring them up? Do I only get access to the kind, professional, and empathetic J when my problems don’t concern her?

I’ve considered that I may have to accept that the focus of therapy from here on out will have to strictly be skill-based and strength-based changes in my outside life, as J doesn’t appear comfortable or prepared to handle the relationship-centered work. I don’t know if that’s true, but it feels true, which isn’t necessarily fair to me.

I’m pretending not to care though.

I didn’t see L last week, but the week before my session with her wasn’t particularly great. I’m not sure it was anything specific that she did, but I know I felt myself retreating the more she talked.

She noticed it, and near the end of our time she asked me why I seemed to be withdrawn. I told her I felt disillusioned with therapy and questioned if anyone could help me. “I may not be able to help you, but I’m here for you,” she said.

She’s said stuff like that before. That we probably can’t make the cruel voices in my head go away, but we will try to turn the volume down dramatically. This statement felt differently though.

Perhaps her aim was to make me feel supported, but all I could think at the time was: J can’t help me and L doesn’t think she can help me either. She’s already admitted this, after only 5 weeks of knowing me. I’m hopeless. My disorder makes me hopeless. So really, what’s the point?

I’m supposed to let her know when she says something that hits me in a negative way, but it was the end of session, so I didn’t. I just kind of nodded and left. I guess we’ll see where that goes on Thursday.

I could keep writing, but I think I’ve rambled on enough for today. Plus, I’m ready for bed now. That’s my life, rearranging my schedule to maximize sleep.

I will try to get back into reading and writing, but for all of you who I normally comment on and have been neglecting, please know that I’m still rooting you on and celebrating your successes. WP is such an important place to me and I value all of you, especially those with whom I’ve interacted closely in my journey.

Advertisements

Leaning into the Emotion (Also known as I Hate Change)

Today was my last day of my internship. This sounds like a celebratory thing, doesn’t it? I feel like that would make sense, because people keep asking me how I feel. Am I excited? Is it awesome to be done?

I’m just going to be honest. It’s really cool that I made it through a year as a school psychologist intern. I’m proud of that. But no, I’m not excited to be done.

I’m sad.

This has been building ever since I graduated last month and my team surprised me with a basket full of gifts, a “school psychologist survival kit” if you will. That day, I broke down crying in J’s office because I knew that change was coming.

Part of it is that I still don’t know what the future is going to look like for me. I am waiting to hear whether or not I will be offered a job that I made it to the second round of interviews for. The stakes feel high here, and I don’t really have a plan if this one doesn’t pan out yet because I don’t have any other interviews scheduled right now and everything else I’ve interviewed for has been filled. Did I mention that I’m competing against my best friend for this job?

So yes, that’s weighing on me. I am oscillating between feeling like bad news is right around the corner and feeling hopeful that they will pick me, between just about to tip over the edge and stable. I hate this waiting game. Schools shouldn’t be allowed to put us through this.

That’s not all of it though. I think the bigger part was knowing that after today, it would never be like this again. I was blessed with a team that I loved working with. My supervisor, the learning disabilities consultant, and the social worker were each wonderful in their own way. I took something different away from working with them, learned different skills.

I’ve been working with my supervisor on and off for three years. He mentored me through all of my practicums and I’ve learned so much from him. I respect him as a school psychologist and I really like him as a person. Our personalities meshed well and we spent so much time joking around.

So many times recently, I tried to insist that I would stay in touch with all of them. We’ve made assurances that we will have lunch, that I will text them with updates on the job search.

The truth is though, no matter if that happens, it will not be the same. There is quite an age difference between myself and them, so I can’t imagine spending too much time with them outside of the walls of work. They have families and responsibilities. And now we do not have work to connect us anymore.

I knew all day that I was living my life as an intern on borrowed time and once I walked out that door it all changed. Which made me so sad, because for all the stress and questioning of my own abilities, I really loved my internship overall.

Not only that, but these are the schools I went to as a kid. This is the district that taught me for thirteen years before welcoming me back as a graduate student.  There’s a personal connection there.

I went in this morning and just soaked it up. I joked around with my teammates, we went across the street to where the intermediate school was having a fair day and played games with the kids. Then we came back and got ice cream. My colleagues teased me about being a “quitter.” Eventually, it was time to part ways. I gave everyone hugs and made it out the door and to the car before I burst into tears.

I let myself cry the whole way to my babysitting job. Being with the girls reenergized me, gave me a distraction, but the sadness is back again now. As I type this, I’m feeling my eyes well with tears.

I’m heartbroken to leave. I really am. And it’s killing me.

I’m not used to letting myself feel my pain. It feels counterproductive to healing for me to express anger or sadness or fear, even though I know instinctively that they need to come out. When emotions threaten to rise, I stuff them back down.

Except J tells me that I need to give myself permission to feel. She tells me this all the time, and I’m trying to listen to her. But it hurts so much. It hurts to let the emotion work its way through your body. To feel without fighting it.

And I wonder, why is this such a necessary evil? Why do I have to feel pain to feel better. It makes no sense. I don’t want to let the feelings of loss and fear overwhelm me. Yet I am. It’s a brand new experience.

So the tears come. The sadness radiates. I’m sitting here waiting for it to get free of me so I might feel some relief.I’m sensitive enough as it is on a good day.When your emotions are as intense as mine, the wait to survive sadness like this is interminable.

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll wake up feeling better. I really hate change.