Devious stares in my direction

It’s been a minute, I know. I’m hanging in, but barely I feel. 

I’ve been struggling at work the past few weeks. I feel drained and overwhelmed. I often wear my bite guard to work to keep from grinding my teeth while I’m awake. The job is stressful while at work, but I don’t often take it home which is nice. When I do, it’s usually a personal problem, not a patient’s problem. 

For instance, the other day I had someone call me a fat bitch.  While normally I wouldn’t pay much mind to what others have to say to me, that stung for some reason.  Maybe because they hit that right on the head. Obviously the “fat” thing pissed me off more than anything. And it hurt. It cut really, really deep. Then I had a situation where I felt I did something right – I felt confident about my work and I was ripped apart.  Later that shift I assessed a situation and my disposition was not what anyone wanted to hear. I was ripped apart by family members, nurses – and I broke down. I was so frustrated and angry that I started tearing up and couldn’t stop them from falling.  It didn’t help that I’d had a UTI and hadn’t been able to pee all shift long.

What I’ve realized since then is I can’t allow people to dump on me. My supervisor said that’s what happened – everyone felt like crap and needed to release their frustration and crap and I happened to be the nearest one there. 

I am not a trash can. I am not a dumpster. I am not here for people to dump their crap onto. This was a step further than projection – this was blame, guilt, manipulation, and avoidance.  

See, when things don’t follow the natural order of things in my department, the staff gets freaked. It’s admission, assess, and either discharge or transfer.  Not to mention cleaning up the ancillary bullshit that no one else “knows” how to do. (They sometimes know, they choose to shove it into our laps).  That shift, things were so fucked up it didn’t go that way for several patients and each time I had a gaggle of nurses and 1:1 sitters in my office asking me the same questions: 

“What are we doing with them?” 
“Bed 58 wants to see you again.”
“So what’s the game plan?”
“I know you’re super super busy, but Bed 58 said they wanted to see you again.”
“What’s the ETA for transfer for Bed 13?”

When the staff gets freaked, I’m usually good at holding my own, but that day I couldn’t keep it together. I had 2 nurses, 1 security guard, and a 1:1 sitter standing there just pressing and pressing.  I answered the same question three times.  At what point should I stop talking? At what point did you stop listening – were you ever listening?

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Deliver me into my fate / if I’m alone I cannot hate

Work has become a living nightmare. My patients are OK, but administration is making it very difficult for any of us to do our jobs. They’ve increased the level of our required face-to-face time with patients; if patients don’t attend scheduled appointments it will count against us (apparently because we aren’t “engaging” enough… Look, I can be the nicest person in the world, but if your car doesn’t start or your kid’s in the hospital, it has less to do with my skills to build rapport and more to do with shit happening beyond anyone’s control). If your percentage of face-to-face contact is not at or above expectations consecutively for 8 weeks, you can face probation and fast track your way to unemployment.

I am to spend 7/8 of my day listening to some of the most horrifying, gruesome, sweet, touching stories of my life – with only 1/8 of it left to finish paperwork – paperwork that better not be late or unfinished or my ass is on the chopping block.

My job has now become less about helping others and more about saving myself. As far as I know, our company is the only county-funded company making these outlandish and exceedingly fucked up changes.

Oh, not to mention my patients, who are also receiving state assistance of some sort but may hold part time or seasonal employment, often MAKE MORE MONEY than I do. I’m just a tad bit sore as I have about $200,000 in student loans (that’s with interest) and an advanced degree.

I’ve been abstinent for over a week now. This morning I think I finally broke down and had a slip (yes, there is a difference between a relapse and a slip). My normal breakfast consists of one serving of Greek yogurt, one serving of homemade granola (barely any sugar – I add 1/4 cup of honey to 3 cups of oats, 1 cup of pumpkin seeds, and 1 cup of coconut flakes and some spices), and a banana. This actually fills me up and it tastes so good!

This morning, however, I went into the kitchen unscripted. I tried to make a breakfast with a fruit, protein, milk, fat and grain serving. And I royalty fucked it up. I ended up with 2 proteins, 2 fruits, 2 grains, 1 milk, 1 fat. My husband asked me, “Where’s your food log?” See, this is where shit got ugly. I knew what the fuck that meant. Just like I knew what the fuck “What about doing the lap band and OA?” meant. Even if I’m wrong, the female translation of these sentences to someone with my negative mindset is: “You’re eating too much; get thinner quicker because I have to turn my head to look at all of you.”

:::sigh::: I’m sticking with my damn yogurt in the morning. This going rogue stuff is for the birds.

There’s the rub

Last night, I slept like a pancake – a side effect of my anxiety and rapid cycling. My thoughts flew around in my head as though they were on broomsticks. I sat up every so often and watched the clock count down to 6:45 a.m.; I wake up at 7. Fuck.

Work was a blur. I was so busy I didn’t even notice my anxiety or remember yesterday’s depression. Whether or not that’s a good thing, I’ll have to figure out later. In between patients, I could feel myself dragging my ass due to lack of restful sleep. I made sure to leave at quitting time; I’m not trying to overload myself like the past few weeks. I’ve sworn off 11 to 13-hour days; I just can’t and won’t do it in this state anymore.

I feel my body responding to the stress like it did when I was younger. More migraines, more fibromyalgia flare-ups, more panic attacks – all symptoms that had been controlled and almost non-existent since I graduated from college. Funny, I was under less stress in graduate school than I am right now.

I can make sense of someone else’s life, someone else’s pain or triumphs, but little insight into my own. I guess that’s why I’m not my own counselor.

A part of me feels judged being on that side of the desk; a part of me doesn’t care because I need to get my feelings out or they will turn on me and spill over onto other facets of my life. I guess I’d rather deal with whatever judgment exists (or I’ve imagined) and get my shit together than ruin whatever good things I’ve managed to create out here.

The unfortunate truth

“…For in virtually any other serious sickness, a patient who felt similar devistation would by lying flat in bed, possibly sedated and hooked up to the tubes and wires of life-support systems, but at the very least in a posture of repose and in an isolated setting. His invalidism would be necessary, unquestioned and honorably attained. However, the sufferer from depression has no such option and therefore finds himself, like a walking casualty of war, thrust into the most intolerable social and family situations. There he must, despite the anguish devouring his brain, present a face approximating the one that is associated with ordinary events and companionship. He must try to utter small talk, and be responsive to questions, and knowingly nod and frown and, God help him, even smile. But it is a fierce trial attempting to speak a few simple words.”

– William Styron, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness (emphasis added)

I can’t even rest in my sleep. My dreams are soaked in memories I’d rather forget. The loss of very close family members, the loss of my dog (who saved my life – a post is for another day)… It’s like this disease wants me to stay trapped in its web. My body is still so drained for what seems like “no reason”…

I wish my doctor would call.

Only 2 weeks until I go back to therapy.

I can do this. I just have to hold on for as long as it takes.

I’ve come too far, right? Shit, here come the water works.

I thought being a counselor would be a cure-all; demonstrate that I’d fought this demon possessing my brain once and for all. However, the disease has no idea about my profession; it doesn’t care. It’s a well-known fact it doesn’t discriminate. I didn’t teach it any kind of lesson or fight it into submission. All school did was make me super-aware of my disease and the behavior that accompanies it through self-exploration and education. I can predict the ebb and flow of my disease and attempt the best damage control which is something I’m grateful for on days like these.

Ok. Let’s try this sleep thing again. Maybe without all the dead relatives in my dreams.