HOPE = “Hold On Pain Ends” (((10/80/10)))

“So what have I learned this week?”

It is now the end of my sixth week in this internship, and I’m ready for it to end.  I’ve discovered several things about myself.  FIRSTLY, I have trouble with confrontation, its just not in my nature.  SECONDLY, I believe my temperament isn’t exactly suited to addiction counseling in general.  THIRDLY, I can’t do 70 hours a week for much longer.  My body and mind aren’t having it.  FINALLY, I worry too much about others opinions.

So how is my over-tired brain processing this information?

image I’ve resisted this fact for far too long.  The truth honestly scares me.    However, I’m finally at the point of needing to say “when”.   I’ve struggled to continue with my pre-determined path: graduation in just three quarters!!! Personal insecurities fuel my endeavors to try and keep up the pace.  I hope to impress my intern supervisor, but to be honest she scares the crap out of me.   Despite my best efforts, I find myself running repeatedly into the same old brick wall: mind is “running on fumes”.  As a result, my ability remain mindful and self-aware is limited by the effects of exhaustion…

Old anxieties pop into my brain as thoughts of an uncertain future linger in my mind.   Will I find a job? Can I get another internship placement in just three weeks?  If not, am I willing to “sit it out” one quarter?  Should I push off graduation 12 more weeks?….and with these thoughts comes a wave of depression.   Are better internship opportunities really out there?  What if I can’t find a job when I’m done?  This endeavor would have all been for nothing.  Do I really want to be an ass-wiper my entire life?

This line of thinking is turning me into a walking shit-magnet.  I can’t think beyond the anxiety & depression I’ve allowed to take over.  Somethings really gotta give here.

What do I mean about this exactly?

Don’t worry, I’m not quitting altogether. I’m just accepting the fact that this pace isn’t  “doable”.  I need to take a break next quarter and notify my site supervisor of my plans.  Once the quarter is done, a period of transition will be essential so my replacement can take over.  I will then be able to start looking for a new internship placement.  Currently, the effort is pointless, since nobody is really willing to consider taking on an intern “last minute”.

A strange irony exists in the contrast between my struggles & advice I provide to group therapy participants. I need to follow my own advice, & stop being a hypocrite….

As much as I love pissing-n-moaning, more can be said about my own shit-stained thinking.  I’m creating the anxiety and depression through my own perspective and thought process.  The problem isn’t so much a matter of what I’m looking at, as how I’m looking at it.  In the remainder of this post I hope to “get real” with myself.  What have I learned from my client’s this week?  How might my own psychoeducational group therapy material apply to my own situation?

INSIGHT #1: “H.O.P.E = hold on pain ends”

imageThis week while at my internship site, I visited a nearby homeless shelter.  As I stood in line for my lunch, I overheard one resident comment to another that HOPE is an acronym that stands for the phrase: “hold on pain ends”.  She heard it after a recent stay at an acute inpatient psychiatric unit.   The backstory she provided to this creative catchphrase if hope as an acronym added another layer of depth to it.  She has endured great emotional suffering and lived to tell the story.  Now as she works at rebuilding her life this insight goads her forward as a light at the end of the tunnel.  Hope is like light at the end of the tunnel.   With intense emotional suffering, sometimes the only way out is through.  No magic pill exists that makes it all better.  There isn’t anything that can be said to instantaneously cure your hurt. The only realistic solution is to endure….

As Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

INSIGHT #2: The 10/80/10 Rule…

imageLast week I met with my professor.  I was in desperate need of clarity.  He shared with me an interesting insight.  Oftentimes when we are anxious it pertains to uncertainties in our future.  A scary unknown sits before us, outside our control.  It is terrifying in light of the vastness of potential outcomes…

…behind us lies the past: with memories good and bad.  When reminded of traumas and losses of long ago, old hurts can re-emerge.   Depression quickly follows as one’s mind is filled with memories from long ago.  Very quickly, when depression takes over, it is hard to “dig your way out of it”…

With this unique persoective of anxiety and depression in mind, my professor then notes how they can take you out of the past.  Anxieties, reflective of future uncertainties, cause us to live in a world of what-if’s  in our future.  Depression causes us to leave the world of the here and now as old hurts preoccupy our mind.  We’re too busy reliving old painful memories to notice what’s happening right in front of us.

Taking things one step at a time is crucial now.  Looking at what I have on my plate now and acting on my best interests is critical.   I can’t take care of others if I’m unwilling to care for myself…

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