Category Archives: counseling

I am fearless…well that’s not me

(Cage – Plumb)

I will find out tomorrow if I have a job next year and if it is the one I wanted, but in the meantime, I am really proud of the work I did to get this far. Bravery isn’t lack of fear. Bravery is doing it, scared.

In the month of February, I was on 10 planes. I hate the airport. I hate the complete lack of control…and to be honest, being inconvenienced by people who think the world revolves around them is something I can deal with and brush off when at work, but that really annoys me when it involves other people. I suppose it mostly goes back to the fact that I don’t always value myself as much as I value others so I’d rather take the beating in order to keep it from affecting anyone else, and don’t want anyone else to have to be hurt. Like dude, you booked a flight with American Airlines so the United Airlines gate agent is not going to get you on a flight for free because you changed your mind about when and where you wanted to go. No one cares that you flew with United Airlines last week, but you’ve been talking to this person 45 minutes and they have other things to do to keep people moving in other areas so that we can all get on the flights we paid for…

I made a lot of connections and did a lot of other Big Girl things at the airport that made me proud of myself…and it wasn’t all bad, because on one of my flights there was a really cute baby in the row across from me (which does mean I got exactly zero homework done because that kiddo was so cute!)

I also stayed at a hotel alone for the first time. A hotel alone is definitely a lot more pleasant experience than with three other girls I don’t know well who are LOUD and omnipresent, but is definitely still something that I wouldn’t necessarily choose on my own. It was kind of awesome to be able to call a phone number and have a cookie delivered to my room though.

I booked four AirBnB’s and stayed at three of them. Slightly less scary than a hotel, but still a social experience that was totally new.

I rode a couple buses in Chicago. I may have used GPS on my phone to figure out when to get off, and the prices posted online were wrong which made for an embarrassing first ride when I had to dig through my bag to find more money, but I did it!!

I rode the metrolink near school twice and taught someone else how to ride. Finding it was probably the hardest part for me since that is a task I have done numerous times between school and the other airport terminal…I definitely did consider taking the shuttle to the other terminal so I didn’t have to keep looking for the metrolink platform at the terminal I was at, but I didn’t and I eventually found it.

I used both Uber and Lyft. It is unfortunate I didn’t know how to use new rider deals until after I had used the app and wasn’t eligible anymore, but whatevs…it still got me from point A to point B.

I also paid tolls for the first time. It was terrifying at first, but by the time I got to the last one on my way home it wasn’t scary anymore. If I had it to do again I would have practiced with fast food drive thrus where handing money to a person in a window earns you treats before I had driving in a completely unknown area to contend with in addition to the drive thru without any treats, but I made it…and made a wrong turn shortly after that last one that took me on a detour through downtown Milwaukee during rush hour, but it’s over.

Oh, and I had a wonderful time “sightseeing” in St. Louis…it may have been my version of sight-seeing which mostly involved walking past an intersection and being like HEY I totally recognize this place! It is where I got lost last year!! And ooooh, that is really pretty trash on the ground!…but it seemed dumb to me to get on the metrolink for the sake of going only one stop so I walked. Yes, I do feel safe in St. Louis. My opinion is that it is just as safe as anywhere as long as you have your brain turned on. Not turned on like be jumpy and critical of everything, but turned on as in treat people how you’d like to be treated and if someone is holding a gun then probably you shouldn’t provoke him or her…(not that I remember ever seeing anyone with a gun who wasn’t in uniform…but…it is also a REALLY good idea not to bother anyone in uniform if you value your life…just sayin’)

Only moderately related, but whoever designed the keyboard to have m and n next to each other was not thinking of the consequences…lol…so one of the blogs I follow is The Great Umbrella Heist. To navigate to this page I type Um and the down arrow and enter and am brought to the homepage…unfortunately, this morning my fingers were a little off and I typed Un…and instead of cute kids on the top of my screen I was greeted by something completely different that made me mad.

Moderately related again: pinterest found some cool things for me…I know better than to pin them, but I’m pretty sure my blog has become safe again…so yeah…these quotes made me smile…

“Abusing someone then telling them not to act upset is like stabbing someone and telling them not to bleed.”

Laughing SO hard…this is currently on my desktop and makes me laugh every single day. So like I know it is kinda rude and derogatory but that’s what makes it funny…anyone who knows me knows that I would never intentionally hurt anyone…which is probably why I am an easy target and also why I love the bold statement this meme is making – it is so not me, but starts to break down my walls of I’m fine.

“Rule #1 for helping a victim: believe her. Her description is only the tip of the iceberg.”

I saw this and was like “oh my, I totally understand now.” And that is why pinterest can be a good healing activity.

And the last words you’ll hear tonight will be ‘I love you.’ Love takes us all of a lifetime to tell

(For he grants sleep to those he loves—Michael Card)

(written at church as an excuse to stay where I feel loved a little longer…posted at home after using the drive time to make sure I wasn’t posting something that was going to get me into trouble later)

I’m not as think as you dumb I am…lol

So last night I wrote on my to do list, “directions.” This morning I saw that and was like no problem, I totally know where I am going, I probably just was super tired and needed to remind myself to bring my directions notebook to my car in case I need it.

Lol, story of my life, as it turns out, I remembered why that was on my list about the same time that I noticed the “road closed” sign. Oh no…so yeah…and that is how I got lost…and how I ended up running down the sidewalks as I realized that I had parked a mile away from where I was currently sitting and could not apparate into the drivers seat…

Luckily, I miscalculated how long it took to get to church from where I was parked, and it worked out. All is well that ends well.

Except, now I should leave church, but leaving is hard because I have friends Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday, but Sunday and Monday and Wednesday and Friday I am alone. I know that changes starting tomorrow, but that is more stressful than a relief of stress, because I tried really hard to be an adventurous eater, but the most adventurous I got was mandarin oranges. And even that was still a challenge as of last week when I was eating them not to cringe each time one went in my mouth.

And then in a week I will be driving to another state where there aren’t any days that I have friends.

I get to have a million friends here at church, and I never want to leave, because I go home to no friends.

In the past, I was still going home alone but it was a needed break after having friend time all day 6 days of the week and I was totally ready to go home and have Sunday all to myself. But then I became a big girl who doesn’t spend all her time at school anymore. I don’t like the real world. Actually, I probably do like the real world—I don’t like moving every five weeks and therefore not having friends at the place I spend most of my time. I miss going to work in the morning and having a million friends there and stuff.

Finally, two quotes that have been sitting on my list of ideas for a while.

“It’s like being on the 100th floor of a building with only stairs and needing to sign an important document. The problem is, all the pens are on the first floor. You know you need a pen, and you know how to use one, but when you’re up at the top, it’s difficult for you the access the pen and therefore, the skill of using it.”

I love this quote. I can’t remember where I found it or to what it was originally referring. I love the analogy. It is so true that sometimes I have the skills and knowledge but not the ability to use them. There are a lot of directions I could go with this. I think the biggest one that I run into on an unfortunately somewhat regular basis is in the arena of communication. Because I was a little late to the game in learning these things, a lot of the time I am completely at a loss as to how to handle things that are in that arena. I studied really hard on the mechanistics of conversation, but studying for one, didn’t tell me the details that I really needed, and two, flies out the window when I am faced with a situation that feels over my head, because I can’t really take five minutes working on my “correct response” to a friend’s wave or conversational comment. A lot of the time once the instance of needing to respond right now is over, I know exactly what the right thing to do would have been, but in the moment I was on the 100th floor, and the pen was on the first floor. I didn’t know how to get myself there.

“Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive.”

This quote was channeled from Kati Morton youtube’s best online therapist and just a really awesome and caring person whom I would love to meet in person some day…not in the context of therapy, but she is actually awesome enough that I could probably feel safe in therapy with her without a warm up period to make sure she wasn’t another one out to hurt me. She got the quote from Mark Suster who has adult ADHD. And probably child ADHD he just didn’t know about it yet.

Oh yeah. I hate the term damaged people. I just think it sounds kind of derogatory. Damaged things get discounted because they aren’t worth as much—no one will pay full price for damaged goods. The pain in my life doesn’t make me worth any less than anyone else. Being hurt deeply by someone doesn’t mean that I deserved it or was less than in any way. Fighting my way out of severe OCD, and social anxiety that bordered on selective mutism means that I do some things a little differently in life, but different isn’t wrong. Experiencing how people responded to the girl who was often on the sidelines but not often by choice gave me a lot of opportunity to learn how to do the same for others. I might not reach everyone, but I can reach someone. Like that starfish story, I might not be able to make a difference for each of the millions of people who need someone, each one counts. “It made a difference for that one.”

So anyway, the point is, at first I looked at that and was like, what?! As I thought about it, it is true. I totally do know that I can survive. I can’t be destroyed by hurtful words and actions or other adversity because I know I have made it through some pretty tough stuff (things way worse than anxiety disorders). I know I can survive. Bravery isn’t not being scared, it is doing it, scared. Because I know I can, I have developed tenacity and resilience. I still see more trees than forests, but I know when I see the tree that a forest is out there. Lol, speaking of forests and trees, I can recognize first that my rows of straightened chairs have a little zig and zag in them, but I can also recognize that when I walk into church I absolutely do not notice the chairs that aren’t quite straight until I see someone straightening them, because I don’t come to church for the chairs, I come to church for the people and to worship my wonderful Father. Doesn’t mean the church should look like a tornado came through, because in the eyes of a visitor that would probably be super confusing, but also doesn’t mean that I am a failure of a volunteer because I can’t make the chairs look perfect like everyone else does.

They walked right through the door

(Noah took the animals two-by-two—the Donut repair club at the zoo)

On Friday my family got fast food for dinner. My parents were proud of me because I went into the restaurant when they got stuff wrong in the drive through. It is really cool, because I am so far removed from my years of silence that I didn’t understand at first what I did for them to be proud of me. Just a few years ago I would have cried and screamed until I got out of it if I was asked to go in. Now I don’t even really think twice. I just do it. It isn’t even the yummy food motivating me…it is just doing the right thing. I might be a little shy sometimes despite my extraversion, but speaking isn’t something that terrifies me anymore. I am still sometimes a communication avoider when I am overwhelmed, but for the most part, no one can even tell if they didn’t know me then that I ever wasn’t loud in most situations. Now I can talk to anyone, not just a few words sprinkled here and there with my closest friends. Starting with writing has helped me learn to use language, and now I can use language both written and oral. I feel like I can connect with people so much better now that I can use words because I am not limited to only the people who have the patience to sit with me until I can speak to them. I was independent before because I didn’t know very well how to get people on my team. I am independent now because I can do more things all by myself. It is less stressful this way.

Where there is a will, there is almost always a way. On yesterday that will was for ice cream, and that way was…umm…well, I expected there to be a bike rack outside Culvers. There wasn’t. My plan B was to park my bike at the pretty building across the street. I was like 99% sure there was a bike rack there. I was 99% wrong. So after looping around the block a few times I thought about going to the doctors office a few blocks away to park my bike…’cause I mean doctors want you to be active, right? Except if I parked my bike there it would be farther than I wanted to walk to get my ice cream and come back…so I found a light pole to lock my bike to…the lock might not have really fit on the right way, and it may not have been 100% legal, but I got my ice cream and my bike was still there when I came back outside…

Total side note, but the really pretty building says in big print on the outside “mental health clinic.” The majority of the walls of the building are windows without any kind of window coverings. That seems like an interesting structural design. There are definitely some times (especially with certain people) that the distraction of a window would have been highly welcomed to pull my mind away from difficult things…and I definitely asked a certain person a few times to please leave the blinds open and my request was denied…but sometimes having windows isn’t such a good thing. Sometimes counseling requires having a serious conversation—as in one not interrupted by my outburst about the pretty leaf I just saw outside…and having a serious conversation is highly hindered by attempting to have it in front of a window—hello distraction. Hi person walking a dog. Hi red car. Hi fuzzy bunny. Lol…I’ve never actually been inside the building, so maybe it is just waiting spaces around the perimeter of the building and all the real room are in the middle…IDK…the designer clearly didn’t consult me when she or he designed the building…

Truth is harder than a lie.

(If we’re honest—Francesca Battistelli)

Sorry if this is all over the place…I am all over the place…

So Thursday I forgot I was making oatmeal for breakfast (even though I do it almost every day now)…and pressed start on the microwave again and ignored it. Which led to looking over and giving the microwave the look of “are you even serious right now?” because it was boiling over…again…this is what lack of sleep does to me: make me forgetful and stupider than usual…my brother has always said I am the dumbest smart kid he knows…I don’t really think I am that smart, but I do have to admit that for my level intelligence, I sure do occasionally do some really dumb things and am sometimes found to be lacking in certain areas that might be deemed common sense…

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This is an easily remediable situation with napkins or paper towel and throwing way the cup when I am done eating, except that enter another problem: OCD. Yeah, what a perfect time for that old “friend” to make an appearance…see, brown napkins (and really any food service napkins) are icky to OCD…and paper towel especially from the new paper towel dispensers are also icky to OCD…and my lunchbox has been without napkins for the last month because I forgot to put new ones in since I almost never need them anyway…I cleaned it up because that’s what big girls and/or responsible people do, but it was very unfun…and my left shoe is kinda sticky from oatmeal drips…

So yeah, Thursday morning OCD made an appearance. It was really scary, because it has been gone for a really long time, and there wasn’t really a very specific trigger or anything. In the time since the OCD has been gone, I have only felt any OCD-like anxiety in the presence of a reasonable trigger such as hearing about someone throwing up from someone who was completely freaking out about it, or actually seeing someone throw up. Each time the anxiety quickly went away once the trigger was gone. Even those normal-ish things came only like 3 times over the past year. This time the anxiety lasted from Thursday morning until Friday afternoon. I think that a high-stress week (life?) combined with not enough sleep probably set me up for it, but I know there have been other times I was stressed out and under-slept and didn’t react with anxiety, so it is super hard not really knowing what just happened. It is frustrating, because we are learning inhalation devices right now in APP, and I was having a hard time even touching my inhaler, much less getting it anywhere near my mouth (what if inside the factory where they make them someone was sick so even inside the plastic wrapped ones it is not safe…plus as soon as I open it the whole school will contaminate it)…That was a problem—not to my instructors or anyone around me, but to me. I hate feeling limited like that…and then I looked at the clock later and realized that in the past two hours I had done absolutely no studying—all I’d done was wash my hands, take a break, force food in the mouth without touching it, and use hand sanitizer…not good…luckily later in the afternoon the anxiety went away as abruptly as it appeared and I was totally fine again, but that was kinda scary.

Should I get help for that? IDK, but I kinda think no, because I mean it’s less than 36 hours…and I can just envision that conversation: So what brings you here today? Well, I had OCD symptoms for a little over a day and I didn’t like it. Okay, so how do you want to change this? IDK I just don’t want it to happen again. Okay, fair enough, how will you know when you have reached the goal? I don’t know. Well, have you had any problems since that day? No. Well, perfect! I guess we are done here, because you reached that goal!…okay, so I hope someone in real life would put forth a bit more effort…and maybe not let me get away with IDK for like every single answer ever, but either way, that is kind of a nebulous goal, because like I tried to illustrate in that conversation, how exactly do you know if you have reached “never happening again.” How long is never? First year I defined never as 3 years for the sake of crossing goals off my list…but realistically, the fact that three years had passed was a pretty arbitrary line in the sand to reach…

It did finally make the concept of OCD with an on-off switch click though, so it wasn’t a complete waste…I have heard people talk about how for them OCD was like an on-off switch, one day totally fine, the next for absolutely no reason terrified. I didn’t quite grasp exactly what that was like, and thought perhaps it was a bit of an exaggeration or something. For me, either there was a distinct and definable trigger that caused a drastic problem in the case of the random attacks over the past year, or in the case of when I actually was struggling, falling into OCD was very much a gradual process with a dimmer switch that I just didn’t really realize was being pushed up until it was pretty late into the disease process and I was doing pretty poorly handling it…but this time there really was a distinct on and off, no exaggeration, with the onset and offset of symptoms. Now I get it…and I know how terrifying it is for things to be going fine and then suddenly for no recognizable reason, not. I went to bed one night just fine—licking food off the floor, and woke up terrified of the world, and just as quickly went back to wiping off a dropped pea on my shirt and popping it in my mouth.

Actually, now that I think about it, it is more like a pendulum. At first it swung very slowly from normal-ish to deeply entrenched and then back past normal all the way to licking the wall one day because I could (oops…that wasn’t a wise decision…but it did what is was supposed to and gave me a little on top of the world feeling which helped ward off the person soon after not listening to a single word coming out of my mouth) and then eventually settled closer to the middle. Occasionally a trigger would bump it and it would swing wildly towards afraid but then be gently placed back in the middle. Being tired and stressed out though loosened the pivot point and oiled the joint so that the normal oscillations went a little crazy and it swung a little too freely for a little while before calming back down, but it was swinging so quickly that it seemed more like an on and off because the dimmer moved so quickly.

This week we have had a disability awareness thing set up. I think it should stay forever, because it gave me a chance to be just a student like anyone else. Although I didn’t necessarily have anyone to talk to, it let me just go get a piece of candy without going to a vending machine or someone else getting it for me or just having to watch while everyone else got it and I pretended I didn’t really want anything anyway. You don’t know how good that felt. Inclusion is powerful. I also really liked the toy puppy with a button to make it make noise, and now I totally want a keyboard that pivots, and also I found that the idea I had a long time ago of something that would help me communicate when I had trouble is actually something that exists but in a way more functional form than the one inside my head!…but really the best part of the exhibit was the bowl of candy, because it gave me a chance to be like everyone else. It isn’t about the candy; it’s about inclusion…I don’t even necessarily agree with everything that they talked about in the exhibit/presentation, but I am allowed to have my own opinions and I don’t have to agree with someone to respect their right to their own opinion. Sometimes being just like everyone else feels just as incredible as I always thought it would…being just like everyone else has been a goal of mine for so many years, although in what aspect I wanted to be the same has changed over time…

I have the greatest friends ever. I posted something on facebook that perhaps I shouldn’t have, and one of my friends responded so encouragingly…I didn’t expect any kind of response, and definitely not a positive response…I wish I could hang out with all my friends all the time. That would be my version of paradise. I feel like I had something else I was going to say about my friends, but I can’t remember it anymore…

Isn’t it awesome when quizzes are only a few questions long and not exactly over the mainpoints of the course so that even one question wrong really destroys your grade? …yeah…I am kind of frustrated, because I know what I am talking about and yet can’t manage to make it show through my grades…I work so hard and all I get is frustrated.

On Friday I learned why I always go the same way home from the grocery store…because I am directionally challenged, and that short cut kinda got me a little bit lost and was a longer than the way I usually go…

Also, money can buy a lot of things that I think I want…but some of them aren’t quite as awesome as they seem…like a functional guess gauge…It is really awesome to look down and be like YAY! I must be driving efficiently because I still have a decent amount of gas left in my car…however it is a little less awesome to look down and realize that knowing pretty well what I have left makes it a lot easier to wait until the last minute which means that I am now trying to figure out how I am going to get to the gas station without running out…oops…overall it is a useful investment, but pretty much every good thing has a down side…

There are also some other things I kinda want to write about…but occasionally even I can figure out there are some things that don’t belong on the World Wide Web…

I’ll drown in the water if I listen

(Head Underwater–Flyleaf)

After volunteering at a counseling center* for about a year and a half, I have now fielded my first semi-crisis call…and because, of course, just my luck, I could not find the behavioral health emergency line phone numbers that I know I should probably offer…I did get as far as knowing to definitely not promise an appointment tomorrow although I couldn’t come up with the words “we are not a crisis agency” until after I hung up…but I think I got the important information out and did a good job…a lot better than the first few times I ever answered the phones there and stumbled through figuring out to identify where people had called, who I was…you know, all the things I should have learned way back when I was little and we practiced phone skills by calling daddy at work…those skills I should have remembered and developed with friends in middle and high school…those skills that I had nearly completely lost by college because the phone was the thing in the world I was most scared of, and mine was often turned off for days at a time because I’d forget about it since I had no use for it…

The voices in my head say I failed because I didn’t offer any other resources and because now my friend has to either call the person back or make sure someone else calls her back today…but I didn’t fail…I got enough information to make a call back possible, and at least to me if someone asks for a very specific time the next day then it probably at least isn’t an immediate crisis…I kinda thought about offering a link to crisischat since I didn’t have the a phone number to give the person…but sometimes IDK if it really is a good resource, because it does have potential, but there are just a couple issues…First, that sometimes it is pretty much immediate but other times there can be a multi-hour wait for someone to chat with…and that I do not know the quality of the person on the other side of the screen…I did it twice a little over a year ago, and one of the people I got was really incredible and helped me to sort through all the things going on to figure out what was the real problem, but the other one was pretty useless…so that makes it in my experience a fifty-fifty chance of being good, and in my opinion that is lousy odds if someone is really and truly in crisis…not gonna lie, although it is called crisischat, some of the survey options are for things that don’t really fall into the realm of crisis…I was not suicidal when I used the resource…which perhaps is why a few times I gave up after waiting for hours, because I really don’t know if they screen the surveys to get the most desperate people in first or if it just was busy and they go in the order that the surveys are received…

It was a good reminder though that I should probably ask about some policy changes, because I realized that there are a few things that have changed since last spring, and it would probs be a good idea for me to know, for example, what the new policy is for registration for example…’cause the two questions I have gotten most often in the past are people wanting to register, and people wanting to leave a message for their counselor…I still know how to do the latter of those things, but the former is something that seems to have changed…and obviously I am going to need to find the phone # for the crisis line…

*I should probably clarify that I have not suddenly forgotten that I am in pharmacy school…I still think that I have too much time committed with school to be able to take on seeing clients as a lay counselor, but everyone needs a break once in a while, so I volunteer there but I only do stuff like make copies for counselors, answer phones, shred stuff, and other tasks that it won’t be a really big deal if I have to take a week off for an event at school…so I might answer the phone and talk to clients, but I do not actually officially counsel anyone…it works well for me to have a role that is important but not so important to inhibit me from a day off…

So long status quo

(Brave-Nichole Nordeman)

I learn and get smarter every day

I’m learning…and I am not the same as I used to be…besides just no longer being a coward trying to protect everyone else while neglecting myself, I am learning things that make life more live-able every day…and I have not lost my joy for life.

Like last week I learned that graham crackers and sandwiches shouldn’t go in the same plastic bag…the graham crackers get kinda mushy…and the bread gets kinda hardened…also I read somewhere that graham crackers were originally created to suppress sexual desire…that seems really weird, and I am not sure if I believe that is true…but graham crackers with frosting are SO good so I could totally see someone turn down sex if they could have graham crackers and frosting instead…although I am sorta biased since I have never had a husband yet so I haven’t yet had a chance to even decide if I wanted to have sex…

…and I also recently learned that fruity pebbles and sandwiches also don’t go in the same bag…the sandwich ends up covered in fruity pebbles which is sorta messy, and the fruity pebbles get clumpy…and not just the ones covered in peanut butter…

…and some of the things I learn just make me feel downright stupid…like how my face was numb and I didn’t like it…and I read on the internet that heat would take it away…but even when my fingers were nearly burning my face couldn’t feel anything…and I didn’t know I unknowingly burned my face until I looked into the mirror an hour or so later…which is how I got a pretty heart shaped burn on my face…which turned into a pretty wound since my fingers couldn’t stop picking at it…

(no illicit substances were implicated in the learning of this lesson despite how dumb it was…it was from the dentist…of note, I would much prefer a little extra pain now and not have the numbness later…but no asks my opinion and sometimes it is easier to just revert back to my compliant patient spineless doormat-like former self who would never dare to stand up to anyone or fight for myself…get brainwashed long enough that you aren’t worth it and sometimes you start to believe it…and following directions is sometimes a good thing and it earns you compliments at the dentist which makes you feel good about yourself…which perpetuates the cycle…but I loved the empowerment of being given the choice to stop and take a break if I wanted one even if I did think the idea of a break was dumb)

On a more serious note, I am learning not to generalize and put people in categories. A year ago I was feeling very conflicted. I wanted to characterize anyone working anywhere close to mental health as an awful person…but I had close friends that were still in that area that were still my closest friends and I needed to hang on to my inner circle while other things spun away from me…from there I learned to extend the “okay” to people who earned and maintained my trust…my easily lost trust…I have always been, and still am, quick to extend trust before I know someone, but you better believe that trust became quickly removed…I give people the benefit of the doubt. I wanna believe that every person ultimately wants to be a good person…and that burned me enough that I was ready to acknowledge that sometimes trust needs to be retracted and slowed. The song of trust put en retard while the facts are processed and interpreted…and then a few days ago everyone was abuzz about how Social Work is the worst people ever. They are the yes people. They are as bad if not worse than the security at the place I work…and things started mentally crashing around me as that began to trigger the things in me that doesn’t want more victims…it became more proof that people in mental health related areas are not good…

Let me back up a little bit. Theft is a huge problem at the pharmacy where I work. There isn’t really much we can do. In a lot of people’s profiles we have notes to get them out as fast as possible and keep an eye out and call security because they are especially bad shoplifting offenders, but ultimately we still can’t control the theft. It is too rampant and for anyone we catch there are certainly hundreds of others. Someone supervising some kind of family services at my workplace was finally caught…because one of my coworkers used facebook to figure it out…and last I heard we reported her to security and HR and all she got was a talking to despite being a repeat offender caught on camera…and more recently, just a couple days ago someone stole and we caught her and security actually showed up eventually (that is another story…we could flip the panic buttons with an armed criminal and half an hour later when security finally showed up we’d all be dead and the murderer would have whatever drugs he wanted and be long gone…)…but here’s the thing. Security watched the whole thing. We knew the thief still had a child in surgery. Instead of requesting she give back the stolen items, surgery called social work and the social work people said she could keep it and we needed to figure out what she stole and she would come in to pay for it when she picked up her prescriptions…yeah, because she had such a great track record already with actually paying for things before taking them…as it turns out, she transfers her prescriptions to another pharmacy who we warn about the theft issue…and she wants a paper prescription from us to transfer…and when she picks it up we FINALLY are allowed to not let her in, but security doesn’t do anything to allow us to obtain payment from her. We give her the hard copy of the prescription and that is the end of the transaction…great, so all you have to do to get what you want for free when you’re caught is get social work involved…great…and these are the same people that tell people that we will give them their prescriptions for free and make us into the bad guys when they actually do have to pay their copays…pay is a dirty word at our pharmacy…almost everyone has $0 copays and whenever I see a non-$0 copay, I brace myself because I know there is about an 89% chance I am going to be yelled at. There are some customers who really are considerate and understand that life isn’t free, but most people are more on the side of “I should be able to buy piles of candy while my kids steal more stuff and I should get all the Tylenol I want for free.”

So yeah, I got a little off track on that one…but the point is that someone I originally had placed on the side of the line labelled as a primarily good person had crossed over the line simply by having the S and W in the abbreviation after her name…and as I thought about it I realized that wasn’t fair. I can’t put people in categories like that. One bad person in an area does not mean that everyone is bad. There are certainly pharmacists who are not good people and/or not good at their job, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t amazing pharmacists as well…one bad apple doesn’t spoil the bunch…in fact, I recently had an apple from the bunch that was bad, but another apple from the same bag was perfectly fine…

SOME social workers may not be good people, but others can still be good people. What one person did negatively doesn’t change my positive experience with someone else. Trust is dangerous, but generalizing and characterizing people as unworthy of trust isn’t going to hurt anyone but me…and even formerly “bad” people can change. I believe in healing and restoration and believe that people CAN change…obviously some people will never change, but other people might, and I can’t write someone off forever because of being a bad person for a time in their life…

On a completely unrelated note, one of my coworkers told me that I was like a butterfly. I was living in a cocoon that broke open this summer and now I talk. I couldn’t describe it better myself. Inside my head, I responded, yeah, so it is kind of like someone un-pressed my mute button?…which I thought about and I guess admitting that is pretty much admitting that I really did at one point have a possible problem with selective mutism…which I still think should be called elective mutism, because in my opinion, selective makes it sound like a choice, which it definitely was not, whereas elective sounds like something forced that I didn’t want to do…so yeah…I would place the cocoon opening at last summer, but I didn’t work much then so no one would have known that I talk now…It feels really awesome when people recognize how much progress I’ve made.

I am also learning that a good way to help myself make progress in cleaning my room is to realize that not only will I need to move out at the end of the summer back to school (which I am NOT going to talk about right now, because going back to school is scary) but in another year I will need to move completely out of my parents house, because big girls and boys do not live at home…don’t want to pack Bandaid wrappers from seven years ago? Into the trash the “souvenir” Bandaid wrappers go…don’t wanna someday pack a pencil that is currently unsharpened and only like an inch long? Into the trash it goes….Tired of getting the plastic bag unstuck from the lunchbox zipper? Trash…my room still looks like a tornado went through, but I did take out two full bags of trash…someday my room won’t look like five incredibly messy people are sharing the space while somehow needing only one bed…

Also, I am learning that there are some times that even people I don’t like can be helpful…someone was throwing up yesterday. It was just out of my line of sight, but I could definitely hear it over and over for what felt like an hour but was probably less than 10 minutes. It was hard for me, and that made me scared that I was falling back into OCD…and then I remembered when someone I do not like said that she would be scared too if someone was throwing up near her (at a time when I was terrified and would have bleached the world and quarantined the sick people if it were possible)…and I am fairly certain that she doesn’t have OCD…so I know it is okay to be scared as long as the fear doesn’t prevent me from functioning and prevent me from eating or drinking and force me to repeatedly sanitize myself and my environment…also, looking back at that time, I am SO thankful that I am not dealing with that anymore…there was definitely a time where someone throwing up would have made me scared just to be at work, much more to touch anything or eat at work, whereas, now I am a little on edge for a minute or two and then life goes on as normal…It is a much better way to live…and healthier not just mentally, but physically, because I am not refusing the food and drink that my body is craving…and while the cookies and muffins I am eating at work now are not that nutritious, it is still better than when my contamination prevention rules prevented anything liquid from being consumed at work or before going to work, because dehydration is real and not fun…Living that way for a time taught me to treasure and celebrate things in life that may seem trivial and mundane…waking up in the middle of the night because of a storm rather than because of dehydration I something to be thankful for, not something to be annoyed over…

Another thing I learned is that small items that are important should probably not be carried around with me everywhere (unless it is something I need like a drivers license…)…’cause there used to be 25 cents and my laptop barcode in my ID case…now there is 5 cents and no barcode…I spent ten of the cents, but the rest, I don’t know what happened to…probably lost somewhere…I knew my old barcode number by heart, but this one was so unsticky that it was only on my computer for under a week, so I didn’t have time to learn the number before I stuck it in my ID case…oops…I wonder how much trouble I am going to be in over that when IT finds out I lost it…it is kinda frustrating because it is kinda their fault since I did ask for a new sticker which I know they can do and was willing to pay for if needed but their solution instead was a piece of scotch tape that lasted less than a day…but that is something I can’t change, because chances are that the barcode is lost in the parking garage at work or something like that where it will never be seen again…

I also learned how to use the blender a few weeks ago…that was fun…until I realized that blenders have a lot of pieces that need to be cleaned when done…and I decided that the blender wasn’t so exciting anymore…

She’s a GIRL

(How do you solve a problem like Maria–The Sound of Music)–I have the best daddy every…I checked out Jesus Chainsaw Massacre at the library today and we watched it together and then he made the video player work so I could start watching The Sound of Music!!!!! So excited!!!!! So much better than the DVD of it I cried through last summer that wasn’t quite right!!!!!

Some things are hard. I still have survival brain (reference here). Today last year was the last time I was in 219’s office…making plans for next meetings…which she apparently knew weren’t going to happen, because three days later she was going to cancel our phone meeting in the morning (and again ask to re-schedule which she knew she wasn’t going to do)…and then terminate with me in the afternoon as if I had never existed in the first place…although if I am being really honest, I never really existed to her as a client…as a verbal punching bag to manipulate and exert a sense of control over, yes, but as a client or even as a person, definitely not…I was ready to get rid of her, but I was ready to do it gently, formally, and, dare I say, appropriately? The goal was to remove me from the toxic environment, but I wanted to spare both her feelings and my own, and I suppose to ensure that from the outside no one would find out there was ever a problem. I wanted to close the book, but instead she ensured she could continue to hurt me even through and following termination.

This time of year will probably continue to be hard for me in the years to come. I wish I had realized what was happening a lot sooner and asserted my own rights…and maybe hadn’t been quite so protective of the people around me when my world was falling apart, because while I would never wish harm on even the people I do not like (I like self-defense, but the idea of intentionally hurting someone who isn’t wearing padding is something I don’t think I could do even if the other person wanted to hurt me…and verbal hurting of people is the same in my eyes), I can look back now and recognize that my over-protectiveness got in the way of anyone finding out what had really happened until it was too late to do anything about it…

I am working on re-applying for the same scholarship I was a semi-finalist for last year…with deep-seated memories of frustratingly trying to work things out to have access to my transcript…and the application itself…to apply to be a finalist…I am doing okay now, but it is painful to reflect back on the chaos, panic, desperation, fear, and hurt that this weekend and the weeks to come plunged me into last year. I still mourn the loss of my friendships in the weeks and months that followed. I am SO thankful for the people who stepped into my life this year to walk with me through everything, but nothing will ever erase what I have endured, and new friends do not replace the voids left by the old. I still feel empty inside sometimes where there are pieces missing of my heart.

But I wanted to share my first draft of one of my essays…it is a first draft so it is not edited whatsoever…and not very good…but it is a part of my story…so I’m gonna share it…slight literary license was used in this draft though…among other things, I was in 4th grade rather than 6 years old in the first paragraph…haha…this is so different from my school admissions essay years ago that was very clearly thrown together without a whole lot of effort (and which I am not sharing)…because this draft alone might not have used much brainpower, but I did at least CARE, and used thought to move to the final draft…

so yeah…here it is:

As a six year old girl, I didn’t want to be a princess…or a mom…or a ballerina. I wanted to be a pharmacist, but I couldn’t let anyone know—I could never be a pharmacist because the hospital is open 24 hours a day and I needed to sleep. My parents suggested one day that perhaps I’d be interested in being a pharmacist, and I finally let my secret out, and to my surprise, learned that pharmacists work in shifts, making my impossible dream a possibility. By the end of the year, I had shadowed [name], a pharmacist at [hospital] for the first time, confirming my dream to become a pharmacist.

Ten years later, I was shadowing her again getting ready for a diabetic education with a Hmong interpreter when a code was called in the ED. Unlike the movies where doctors are running around and doing everything while the family screams and monitor sirens go off, the pharmacist and I assessed the medications needed, and prepared the medication while the doctors and nurses calmly administrated the medication, monitored the patient, and ultimately intubated the patient and got him ready to be admitted to PICU, and while all this happened, a social worker was comforting the family and explaining what was happening and a child life worker was organizing activities for the sick child’s siblings.

Watching the teamwork from all members of the healthcare team, and seeing the active role a clinical pharmacist has in patient care and in decision making with physicians solidified my dream to become a pediatric clinical pharmacist.