Every year moving forward in my career brings new challenges related to the intersection on my professional life and my experiences on the patient side of the mental health system.
This brings me sitting in an employee bathroom at a Psych hospital looking at the cuts on my legs. I think about the hypocrisy that my clients would be placed on one to one observation over this behavior while I have the freedom to cut or not cut as a choose. I have the keys to the doors and come and go as I please.
I have anxiety about whether I am doing too good a job of validating patient frustrations about being in hospitals. If I validate too well does it dislodge my mask of someone who is psychologically healthy?
I am glad I wrote so much down in this blog. As I read through old posts sometimes I scare myself realizing how I have forgotten some details. I think documenting what I have felt is good to make sure I don’t lose perspective. I wanted to join this field partially to be able to fix things from the inside. But if I lose what I felt when outside the field I can’t properly advocate for situations relevant to past me.
My first day at the hospital, hearing the doors shut behind me was very anxiety provoking. I feel more confident having used the key many times. But when a key is finicky and gets stuck I feel trapped in the moments while I wiggle it into position.
I grapple with the tension between the type of therapy I have gravitated towards preferring to implement (CBT) and the type of therapy I like for myself. I find supportive and psychodynamic approaches helpful. Yet when I do supportive therapy for clients I feel guilt over not teaching concrete skills. When therapists through skills at me I am a master of trash talking any emotion regulation skill that I don’t feel like using for myself. I went from hating CBT based on personal experiences to considering it a solid first line treatment.
I am going to a conference where I might run into the therapist who kicked me out of my undergrad school. I don’t know if I am terrified or just looking forward to getting over the inevitable first meeting.I am bound to run into him at some point. We have lots of mutual colleagues. I kind of just want to pull off the bandaid and get this interaction (or awkward hallway eye contact) over with. I have been playing disaster scenarios in my mind for 9 years about running into him. Sometimes in them I’m snarky, others I’m panicky, others I run away. None of my anxious imaginary situations are as simple as a handshake and pretending to have never met him before. I doubt he would recognise me. I look very different. Worry is about worst case situations. If I can get the event over with I can finally stop this worry.
Working at a college counseling center softened some of my tendency to view them as villains. However I did leave still with the feeling that they are deeply flawed organizations. The flaws though are less about them trying to shove students out of school. I have had the good experience of seeing the center strongly defend student confidentiality from nosy administrators. I still worry though what might lurk in a corner that I didn’t see.