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?

Coma black

I’ve been avoiding this page for months now. I think about posting daily, but I don’t. A lot has happened since my last visit here. I’ll try my best to play catch up, because I’m going to need some way to help manage my emotions as they seem to be spiraling out of control.  

First, I finally got a new job and I really like it. I’m an intake and discharge coordinator for a local hospital. The staff is welcoming, the pay is astronomically better than I used to make in community mental health, and when my shift is over, it’s done; I punch out and someone continues where I left off. No need to worry about building a deep, unshakable, everlasting bond – they will only be here for a few more hours.  

Get in, get out, have a good day. I like the fast paced life of crisis intervention; I’m addressing your “right now” problem; if you have a “sometimes this bugs me problem,” here’s some resources to help you with that. This sounds like a heartless thing to say, but I’ve burned out so quickly putting in the work for my patients in community mental health – making the calls, connecting them with resources, locating and arranging transportation… The list goes on. I put more energy into their recovery and treatment than they did. Is that true across the board? Of course not, but the people that had been involved in CMH longer had a higher level of learned helplessness and an external locus of control.  

If you yell the word “victim” loud enough and long enough, it will be the only word you hear. You’ll hear it, see it, taste it, and eventually, become it. Why be a victim of circumstance when you have the power the change your circumstance? And if you can’t change your circumstance, you can choose the way you view and respond to it.  

My counseling friends and I meet once every other month to let our hair down, drink, and be very, very merry. I was explaining the nuances of my new job to them and the looks of horror were written all over their faces. The idea that we should promote autonomy in those that we council seems to be a foreign and despicable concept. Personally, I think it’s insulting to assume that every patient I come across is unable to make a telephone call or make decisions about their treatment. The only person guaranteed to follow you from womb to tomb, birth to Earth is you. Asking for help is 100% acceptable; we are not a species that can exist in a vacuum. However, dependence, this learned helplessness, victimizing of self – isn’t where it’s at.  

I just read over everything I wrote and realized that one of my next updates is parallel.

And I just can’t hide it

Exciting news: I passed my licensure exam. I scored a 92%. I studied for 3 weeks. This is not grandiosity or narcissism; I’m truly proud for the third time in my life I accomplished a task that I was determined to do.  I graduated college, graduated grad school with honors, and now I’m to be licensed before the end of August (damn bureaucrating paperwork).  

I’m out at a therapy seminar this week and I’ve found out quite a bit about myself in the past few days.  

It’s amazing how much clarity one can gain from just a little break from the everyday grind.   

in the end, it doesn’t really matter

The stress I feel is unyielding. 
Or is it that I’m looking for an excuse to use?

At this point I don’t know which would be worse. 

I take my national licensing exam this week. I usually get test anxiety about stuff like this, but I’m not nervous. By this point, I should be sweating blood. I feel unprepared despite the fact I’ve spent most of the past couple weeks opening and closing the library. I finished my study guide on schedule, yet still… I feel numb. 

I guess it comes from some insurmountable feeling that if I blow this, I’m forever fucked. The test will allow me to go into private practice, the military – whatever I want. If I blow it, I have to wait 3 months before I can take it again, leaving me stranded at a job I both tolerate and despise. If I don’t pass, my salary will still be the equivalent to that of a general manager (with an associate’s) at McDonald’s. 

And let’s not even get into my addiction. I just ate my weight in fries and onion rings when I was on day 2 of my ketogenic diet. So much for hitting ketosis. I did it to myself, but all I want to do is blame it on my stress, my mother, my pets, my husband, the exam, work…everything. 

I feel sick to my stomach, but I can’t differentiate between binging and feeling stuffed, my growing disappointment in myself or my fear of failure.

How do you tell yourself that you’re not a failure when you’ve failed? What do you tell yourself when everyone’s counting on you but you’re uncertain of what you can realistically deliver?

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.

Exit stage left

Today I was dragging my ass. I think I took a catnap in front of my computer at work this morning. I almost called in. I’m glad I didn’t; 15 people came to my group today – the LARGEST turnout ever. Either people have nothing better to do as winter draws near, or people actually enjoy coming to group.

All I ate were carbs and it felt like it; my kingdom for a fucking salad or raw vegetable. Thanks to my severely low paycheck, grocery day is two weeks off. Looks like we’re sticking to carbs for now. Blech.

Awkward silence countdown: day 3 or something childish. I hope she’s not counting on me for an apology. I said what I meant; I always do. I love her, but I am burnt out. At work and at home there’s a constant push/pull; my candle is being burned at both ends. When I say no as a means of self-preservation, I get nothing but guilt and attitude. My priorities are not her priorities, which I’ve noticed she finds very inconvenient, frustrating, and plain wrong.

I’ve found the dishes can wait. I haven’t seen my husband all day.

The clothes can wait; I haven’t changed out of my work clothes into regular clothes yet.

Rearranging and cleaning the fridge can wait; I haven’t used the bathroom since 7:45 in the morning – it’s 6pm. (Not to mention that she’s retired and home all day… Sets my head spinning.)

I’m trying to set boundaries, but because of the enmeshment issues we had when I was younger, it seems more difficult. I find it easier to detach from her completely than to draw a line in the sand but I’m not sure how healthy that is. I preach to my patients about boundary setting on a daily basis, but the waters get muddy when applying some of the same ideas to my own life – this one in particular.

“Moderation? Sipping, not gulping.”

That’s an actual quote I said to my mother this morning. She and I have been at each other’s throats for 2 days.

Couple that with the stress from work the past 2 weeks… It’s been a great November.

It’s not the patients or my co-workers that have been stressing me out – administration is full of shit and has many of us considering leaving the company. The only reason I stay now is for my patients. My supervisor, the most supportive and professional person I’ve ever met – quit with 2 weeks notice. One of the counselors I’d just started to work with also quit; they left the day after my supervisor.

I cried. I sat in my car and cried.

Administration said they will not be making any adjustments to the way they handle business (no pay bonus, no overtime, no extra staff members, no pay raises) – only raising their expectations of us (higher productivity ratios, higher caseloads, more paperwork) with punitive consequences if they are not followed.

I work from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 at night, several of those hours without compensation.

I made a reminder call to a patient for an appointment last week; THE PATIENT told me to go home – they don’t need a “crazier counselor than I am. Why are you still at the office?”

I agree, but if they want a counselor at all, I need to keep my ass planted in that seat until the job is done.

My cousin, an MBA, suggested I search for last year’s tax forms filed by my company, as they’re public record (non-profit). I was sickened to find that the head honchos, the ones that work us like dogs and pay us a pittance, make $110,000+ a year with 5-figure UNTAXED bonuses.

Every day now I find myself becoming more jaded and bitter about my company and it’s spilling into much of what I do. I fucking hate it.

Between that and the dynamics between me and my mother, I’ve hit the ceiling and formed a hole in it.

I come home each day While at work, I’m inundated with several texts and emails about various things – mostly relating to money and how much I owe (followed by another email asking if I’d like to attend a concert, shopping trip, etc. within the near future). Upon arriving home, I’m swarmed with a list of tasks that need completing within the next, well, now goddamnit – usually before I’ve been given a chance to decompress from the work day.

Dinner consists of storytime: where my mother regales me and my husband with tales of her numerous physical ailments and how each afflicted her throughout the day. Sometimes I find myself interjecting my tales of administration bullshit to break the sounds of the dragging cross against the tile floor.

She then takes to ringing her bell, pointing and asking for various objects to be moved left of center – no, left of center, oh let me show you – as she moves them to the right and rolling her eyes at our inability to perform the simplest of tasks.

Yesterday was no exception. I was critiqued yelled at for my inability to print out a set of coupons (later proven to be unnecessary, but that’s besides the point).

I just didn’t have it in me to put up with her shit. Due to an abundance of previously mentioned bullshit and my lack of printer toner, I went off.

“What else did you send me that was of such vital importance, hmm?”
“I can’t remember!” (She has “mild cognitive impairment.”)
“Then it wasn’t that important! No need to send me all those emails and texts!”
“Some days I can’t remember your name!”
“Good! Then you’ll stop asking me to do shit all the time!” (Yes. I separate work and home very well now. A little too well.)

The constant digs, comments and now demands – at home and work – are enough. I can’t won’t deal with this. It has gotten to the point where I’ve started having a glass of wine after work – something I’ve never done. This weekend, a bottle. Didn’t appreciate my mother’s commentary regarding my late aunt/namesake: “Don’t take after your namesake; that stuff was her demise.” My response? “Don’t make me want to.”

Dramatic? Sure. Truth? Not far off. …I’ve justified this by asking my husband, who’s had past issues with alcohol abuse (not dependence), if I’m pushing it. He says I’ll be ok because I’m already asking (I’m always hyperaware and hyperafraid).