To rec therapy or to not rec therapy…

That is the question. I have my certification and can include CTRS behind my name, but that’s about the extent of it. I haven’t mentioned anything about RT here in this space since January (when I was enthusiastically trying to make an RT blog) because I’m not currently working as a therapist or providing services to anyone, nor have I been actively pursuing any continuing education credit given that I had no income until a little over a month ago.

My membership with the RT group in my state has lapsed, and soon my ATRA membership will as well. I’ve been contemplating about renewing both of these, and putting money into continuing education credits. Or perhaps I need to save that money for student loan payments, or the move-out fund of my current living situation with one of my parents, because I cannot work full-time as an RT (or likely anything else).

This has been such a hard thing for me to accept; trying to decipher if it is true or I’m being lazy – not wanting to do the work. Considering I’ve already been let go from one full-time RT position and almost failed to finish my full-time internship last year, I’m trying to reconcile that I have, in fact, tried. Multiple times now, and it hasn’t turned out well no matter how hard I pushed myself or how desperately I wanted to be successful.

Irrational Fears? Or not?

I can admit that there are certain populations I’m afraid to work with now. Not because I am afraid of those individuals or don’t think I could work with them (although maybe there’s something there as well…), but the baggage of negative feedback and unexpected failures has me worrying. What if I had one too many difficult clients in a day (or just one particularly challenging session), and I slip up and forget to document or cause harm to whoever follows that? Or if I physically burn out within a couple months, trying to keep up, but finding myself stuck. I’ve made progress in my own emotional regulation, but as I learned just last week, trying to suppress emotions (of any kind) for too long can still put me into a cataplexy attack. Apparently thinking I was keeping calm while being berated on the phone by a pushy salesman was an illusion, because soon the familiar feeling of a suppressed emotion permeated throughout and I knew I had overdone it. I ignored this for another hour at work, but eventually relented and asked to go sit for a minute in the back. A minute turned into 25 and some fussing-over from my two co-workers who had not yet seen one of my attacks.

Hell, after my last failed job attempt it would be easy for social anxiety to take hold and convince me I can’t work with anyone and that I’m a liability as a therapist. That I’m more likely to slip-up than anyone else, be reprimanded, let go (which, in itself, doesn’t bother me), but then I become a greater burden on those around me.

More selfish admissions…

I’d like to think that I’m special (don’t we all? Just me?). Or more specifically, that I’m meant for more. I want to contribute to something larger than myself – to even lead or teach others about it – and I move forward with the mindset that I (with copious help) can make that happen. That I have this potential and all these ideas and knowledge and experience that is ever expanding/contracting/refining/failing, just searching for the right resources to start acting on what I’ve learned. “More” doesn’t equal famous; I have little to no desire to be a household name. I just want to walk my talk and be respected in whatever my area is, be a resource for others and sure, create/co-create something that lasts a lot longer than me.

I’ve trying all sorts of things in this odd in-between I’ve found, somewhere between college and… what? Is it recreation therapy? Sociology, psychology, sleep disorders, narcolepsy specifically, or sleep advocacy? Furthering my equestrian skills and expertise? All three? Just two? None of the above?

The latest is dipping into vocational rehab and starting back into riding lessons. Voc rehab is a rather slow process to get going, but after getting the initial bureaucracy taken care of, I met with my first employment coach of several and am open to wherever it takes me. The riding has brought me immense joy and reconnected me with an old friend at, funnily enough, the very stable I first sat on the back of a horse. I am also cautiously optimistic about the opportunities this could lead to, but mainly, I’m just enjoying it for now, which is something I could stand to apply to these other areas I’ve written about as well.

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Spooked

I happen to be a hyper-aware person and am typically not someone who can be “got.” When I gather myself up and decide to paint at home, I’ve always got one ear and eye on the two doors in our spare room. I’m almost never home completely alone, so I’m always anticipating my mother or sister to either ask what I’m doing or, worse, just walk up and look. What’s the big deal though? I think it’s because my painting skills are so far behind my drawing skills (which are burnt out honestly) that I don’t want anyone to see these beginning stages… Though as I say that, I’m using one of these doodles for the featured photo, content to share it to however many handfuls of strangers. It could also be that I assume family or anyone who knows me off the internet would see this as a poor use of time; which I don’t particularly care about per say, but I don’t want to hear about it. So, mainly avoidance it appears.

greens and yellows

I thought until recently that this “one eye open” behavior might be true for all situations, but I recently discovered at least one place where I am comfortable enough to be spooked. If that sounds confusing, then my younger sister would agree with you. I unintentionally scared her the other day, and after her yelp of protest (and my apology) I quipped that it was a good thing because it meant she was enough at-ease to be caught off guard. She still didn’t understand, and maybe I’m making this whole thing up.

Whether I’m at home, in the car, at a friends, or a public place, I couldn’t tell you the last time someone said “gotcha!” to me. In the past month or so, it turns out my place of employment may be the exception. I usually have a book with me and when whichever coworker I’m with that day goes on her break, it’s easy for me to get lost in my story. To the point that even if I’ve just glanced up to check if a customer is about to come in, the bell has me jumping about off my stool. At first I was embarrassed, but really, what’s the big deal? I’m enjoying my book! I’m relaxed! Something I am perpetually working on.

Like sharing my thoughts. It’s so easy to say no, this isn’t worth it. What’s the point? I’ve written about this so many times you’d think by now I’d either have quit or gotten over it, but nope, I still wonder if I’m contributing anything of value. Whether it’s on Medium, Facebook, a discussion or random comment on another blog. What could I possibly contribute that hasn’t already been said?

I get spooked, convince myself it’s not worth it. Then I’ll find a spark of inspiration, state I’m changing my ways, join something new, write about something else, think I’ve got something figured out. And then the familiar insecurity sidles back up to my side with a shiver. It seems I’m always on the verge of action in so many areas, but that I can’t quite reach it for any of them. Or I skip five steps ahead mentally and find myself surprised that I’m physically in the same place, as if I can’t believe that didn’t translate.

Then there’s the opposite: I haven’t gathered enough information to write on this! Or I need to write an epic to do it justice (who would read that anyway?), and I don’t have time for that or can’t get into a flow long enough to create some masterpiece. Or find the right tags to promote it – not that I would do that anyway. It’s all so silly, but I find it important. Whether it’s important for it’s own sake or because I want to follow some special protocol for success is likely another part of my problem.

TL/DR: I’m just another human whose blog is not going how they envisioned it because their life is not going quite as they envisioned it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; said human just isn’t sure how much of their soul they want to bare, if it would be of any use to anyone, and how they want to go about doing it.

This Twisted Web

abstractish.jpgAnother piece of ‘art’ courtesy of yours truly.

Let’s set the stage. I’ve currently got over $60,000 of student debt to pay back before I die. The reasons for that amount are their own story. Had I got into nursing school my freshman year of college, or applied to OT school after my junior year (and made it in, and graduated, and then got a job), I might have more or less loans, but I’d likely be able to pay them off in due time. If I were working as a full-time recreation therapist, having not gone to OT school, the progress would be a bit slower, but still achievable.

Instead of getting references and GRE scores near the end of my junior year, I was served with a incurable chronic illness diagnosis and some medication Rx’s.

And now, in spite of some more Rxs’, I can only work part-time. I can’t do that as a recreation therapist – if I end up making too much I can say goodbye to my Medicaid health coverage, which is enabling me to work in the first place. However, I’m also not making enough to comfortably take on all of my student loans, and this is while living at home.

How am I expected to escape this web? Watching the progress of the latest healthcare massacre bill, I’ve nervous. What’s going to happen to me? Maybe I won’t lose my healthcare immediately, but what about a few years down the road? I still won’t be working full-time as far as I know, so I won’t be able to get employer insurance. And without those essential medications, I regress. I can’t concentrate or remember things, and then it becomes difficult to stay awake. Not just difficult, impossible. I remember falling asleep while standing up, during conversations, dazedly walking from here to there and not remembering how that happened.

I remember desperately running stairs, pinching and scratching myself, eating or drinking, anything to stay awake. And usually failing; unable to concentrate because everything about me is just.so.tired. and then getting to the point where cataplexy is inevitable. Not feeling like anyone believed me, and questioning whether I was, in fact, making it either worse than it was or making something out of nothing. The depression that whispers at first and sounds inviting, but only wraps you in a cold blanket of self-loathing or numbness.

I know I’ve written this all before, likely multiple times, but I think it’s because I’m still trying to make sense of it. Myself had no idea what was going on and truly believed I was causing my own problems. I coped in every way I could possibly find, and a lot of those were not healthy. I try to revisit this time period, to learn from it, and find that it’s hard – I cannot stay long because it feels suffocating, overwhelmingly sad and dire. I’ve obviously got some processing to do, but I’ve come so far in the last few months. I can’t lose that, whether it’s to my loans or job or insurance.

Reality may hit sooner than I’d like. Here in a little over a year, this unicorn of a job that was literally placed in my lap, with an amazingly compassionate manager could be gone. With an aging owner in another state, this local health foods store has been picked apart by large chain competition also has an expensive lease that will be counterproductive to renew. What then? Grad school, to do what, escape? Or pile on more loans? Start my own business, but with what saved up?

I’d love to get out of the web, but with no ground, branches, or anything in site, I don’t know which way to jump. If it were just me I had to worry about, it might (or might not) be easier, but my jump will inevitably create ripples or waves for others. Dwelling on it doesn’t help me, as I’ve learned the hard way, but I think acknowledging and giving it a voice on my own terms does.

All in Good Time

IMG_2442.JPGHonestly, the lion has nothing to do with the title. Beyond the fact that I hate searching out stock photos just to get some clicks, but I also intensely desire having a visual of some sort (if it’s my own). Thus,  a lion drawing, sketched from a picture… I did not take.

Silent nearly 6 months, and here I am. I gained a job in January and lost the job by April. Gained another therapist, but lost my insurance again the same week I was “let go.” Thankfully, unintended medication vacation lasted about 5 days this time, compared to over a week back in December. I gained employment thanks to earlier-gained therapist in June, so happy birthday to me. Not as a recreation therapist this time, nor full-time. I’m an associate at a health foods store, working about 20 hours a week, and it suits me just fine right now.

I’ve been in such a hurry for I-don’t-know-how-long. I thought I was past this and had slowed down after graduating last year, was taking time for self-care and recovery, but that’s where I had myself fooled. My mind is at least two leaps beyond both my body and immediate circumstances. After listening to a podcast I’ve been considering where I’m at in relation to three systems: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, Covey’s Dependent/Independent/Interdependent relationships, and the Graves model.

Maslow

It has been a long time since I’ve looked at my man Abraham’s pyramid. Not as long as I had originally thought (high school??) however, because I recall trying to explain the concept to my patients in the inpatient psych unit during a group earlier this year. As an unrelated aside, it wasn’t a hit, which I am now realizing is probably due to my patients and I being at different Graves levels. Ah, hindsight.

And where am I? Almost entirely in level two, aka safety. I have shelter (though I’m not always welcome in it), but for the past year and a half my health, job, finances and security have been constantly shifting around on the cracked base of my eating habits and (literally) broken sleep.

Covey

In his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey talks about the paradigm that all of our relationships fluctuate between dependence, independence and interdependence. Take our relationship with our parents for example and you’ll get what I mean. The fact that I am once more dependent upon my mother is a tough pill to swallow. The other relationship this is applicable to is my chronic illness: I’ve been dependent on narcolepsy’s whims for longer than I realized, and too many times I’ve tried to separate myself from it before I was ready. Each time I’ve tried to “forget” about it, or think that I’m somehow “better,” my reality is usually checked in short order and I am once again dependent on sleep’s whims.

Problem is, it’s not going away. I’m still learning to work with it and not think of it as something that must be overcome.

Graves

I’m too lazy to include a link to explain the Grave’s model right now, but in short, it’s a way of looking at societies as a whole, or yourself. You can zoom in or out as much as you please. I’ve deduced that mentally/cognitively, I’m a lot higher than where I’m at physically. And by that, I don’t mean my body, but my environment and surroundings. So my mind doesn’t really mean shit if my home life, family and community are three levels different. I’ve got to work from where I’m at.


And that leads to where I’m talking about everything happening in good time. Time is an abstract and completely subjective concept anyways, so why measure it right now? I can’t manipulate it to my will and rushing it has only tripped me up. I’m working on being kinder to myself, and kindness has no deadlines or timestamps.