Something happens to me as I go back to the intern office after my therapy group.
I’m planning to go back to the office and pick up my stuff & realize there is another intern I must share my office with. As the straw the breaks the camel’s back, I find myself frazzled and befuddled. I struggled to grab my stuff quickly after inadvertently interrupting an individual session. As I walked to my car I began to feel overwhelmed, my stress level increased and I worried about how this little change would affect my ability to cope. With a 70+ hour work week, I don’t get a day off. I look forward to the 10-30 minutes between session to calm my mind and pray a bit….
…The alternative made me shudder. I remembered the first month when I had to carry a large overstuffed tote bag and find an empty conference room in a homeless shelter to run an individual therapy session. Inevitably, there would be people needing to use it so each session was in a different room so I was never in one space, carrying piles of paper from room to room….
So I ended up having an embarrassing emotional breakdown that all the interns and my supervisor had to witness.
In an effort to work through my stress regarding this potential change, I ended up feeling like the biggest boob. However, they were all sweet and told me they would be there if I needed anything.
On the way home, I couldn’t help but note that this event is a clear evidence that I’m running on empty. The brutal irony of this is it reflects the discussion I had during an individual and group therapy class. I was in the same boat as my clients more than I wanted to admit. am not taking adequate care of myself & won’t get a day off until June.
FIRST, I pick my boys up from school.
we have this regular routine we do every single day first I get my piglet who is waiting by the front of the stairs for me and give them my phone so he can text a picture of himself to his dad and tell him about this day. Right now, I’m dictating this post on my phone and watching my boy walk down the stairs. He’s wearing his favorite little pink “cupcake hat” with the red fluffy puff on top while carrying his Batman cup and Lion King Tote bag, we got from when we were able to see the play in a local theater.
Honestly, with what I’ve been through with my two boys, I do remember to say I love you and ask them about my day, however I quickly fall into a habit of my “Git-er-Done” mode. This involves picking them up and rushing home with a long to-do list in my head. There is dinner to make, paperwork to complete, homework to do, and chores I have to nag my boys about, (fun fun!!).
THEN, We eat out at Culvers….
My youngest so tells me about a field trip they had today at Fontanelle Forest and how it was a lot of fun but he didn’t like the lunch they packed. My oldest then explains the sticker on his shirt with numbers on it. On this sticker it said my son was doing very well in school and one of the top-ranked students in his class. Honestly, it surprised him that he was doing so much better than his classmates. Then as the food came, silliness ensued as my boys blew straw paper another and stealing food from each others’ plates. I silently watched the two-man comedy routine play before me and was grateful to have these two boys in my life. As we made our way to the car, my oldest said thanked taking them out to eat and my youngest said I love you and gave me a hug before getting into the car….
…As I started to drive home, I couldn’t help but recall the stories I heard earlier that day in my therapy group. I began to recall the stories, ladies in my group shared of how much they missed their children. The pain of begin separated from their kids brought up a mixture of palpable guilt, grief, loss, anxiety, and depression. I couldn’t help but berate myself for failing to appreciate what I had right in front of me, given the fact that I hear these stories all day…
NOW, I Blog…
My husband is on the sofa watching a “Barrett & Jackson Car Show” while my youngest son reads a book on the floor and my oldest practices his new electric guitar. I am typing away on my computer and trying to work my way through several dictated posts I made on my phone while in the car. The random stream-of-thought narration are difficult to make sense of at times, but quite entertaining to read. It is now Thursday evening and have to work tomorrow night. After the weekend & a bit of rest on Monday, I can have time to begin to process what happened. I expect to have a meeting with my supervisor again on Tuesday in order to provide updates on what transpired…
It is now 2:50 & I’m in the car, rushing to get my boys picking them up from school by 3:20.
I’m leaving a bit later than I normally do and have to hurry to pick them up in time. I had to stop & talk with a fellow intern to process the thoughts and feelings after a meeting with my internship supervisor. She was wonderful, prayed with me & shared some essential her oils with me. I have to admit, it did help alleviate the nagging anxiety burning in my brain.
I now work six out of seven days. Over the weekends, I work for a large hospital system float pool. I get Monday to rest and recuperate from a three, 12 hour, night shifts. Then on Tuesday, I begin the first of three days at my internship site. The work weekend was better than previous weeks, but a good work friend was still grieving from the loss of her mother, and that did put a damper on things. Monday came and went, too fast. I usually arrive home at 8:00 a.m. after working and pass out on the sofa. I set an alarm for 2:30 to pick up the kids and am home by 3:30. I end up going to bed early, since I’m still a bit jet-lagged from three successive night shifts…
As a result of this busy work-weekend, I had pushed memories of the events that had lead up to my emotional breakdown last Thursday. This morning on the drive to my internship, a nagging anxiety started to build as I knew what was waiting. My internship supervisor emailed me this weekend to so we could set a time on Tuesday to sit down and speak at greater length about what happened. The last time we had talked, he was on his way to a therapy group and didn’t have time to talk at length. During the 30-minute drive to my internship site, I had time to ruminate. I wondered what the other interns told him I began to wonder what the other supervisor was saying to him. What sort of impression did I make? Would they be willing to provide good recommendations to my future employers? I cringed at the thought of what they might think of me.
At 9:00 a.m. this morning, my internship supervisor came into my office to express his concerns.
I discussed with him that I’m trying to be conscious of how I’m doing work on trying to take care of myself as best I can. I reviewed my schedule and it’s overall impact. He was very understanding and provide several bits of useful advice: (1) take care of yourself, (2) practice awareness of how you’re feeling, (3) live less in your head, & (4) keep him updated.
His understanding was very helpful and put me at ease. However, as the conversation came to a close, he did feel a need to briefly mention something that he heard from the other supervisor that concerned him. Apparently, as a result of everything that transpired, he said some people expressed concerns about me hogging the office. Additionally, the other practicum student, who I walked into on Thursday, decided to complete her hours at another facility.
I responded with an apology, (even though I’m unsure if it was necessary) & explained I had no interest in keeping the office to myself.
I again iterated how everything that had transpired last week, reflected how overwhelmed I was. I needed to continue finding ways to manage my well-being & level of self care. In fact, I told him I missed sharing the office with Jill, because I feel so alone now. It was the straw that broke the camels back after a series of unresolved stressors that loomed just below the surface. I happened to walk into an individual session with with a client after a therapy group & was caught off guard. I honestly didn’t know where the feelings came from & was surprised by my reaction.
During the remainder of the day, I try to push the nagging worries out of my mind, however random thoughts pop in from time to time. “What impression does everybody have of me? Is there any hope of me restoring it?” At the end of the day, on my way out the door I talk with a fellow intern, who provides lots of useful advice. I find it does allay my worries for a period of time. After I pick up my kids, I decided to pop over to my professor’s office to see if he’s available for a visit. He helps normalize the events that transpired by sharing similar experiences. Since he is a former policeman and military veteran, he has experiences with the type of emotional suppression I experience at work. He states it is indeed normal, and common in my profession. The real trick, is to learn and become more in touch with how you feel emotionally and tend to this aspect of your well-being. He described a few breathing & mindfulness techniques as well as spiritual practices that can help me live less in my head….