|I'm now blogging at: Coffee and Salsa|
I've been wanting to make a blog change for quite some time now. Also, Sean and I have talked about getting our own domain and site for a couple of years. So, we finally did. I've enjoyed Xanga for many years, but I'm in such a different phase of life than I was when I started here. So, come visit me at my new home!
|I work at a psychiatric hospital with children, adolescents, and their families. The children and adolescents are at the hospital because they are a danger to themselves or others, usually suicidal or homicidal to some extent. They are usually there about a week. A psychiatrist oversees their care as the attending physician, and I'm part of the treatment team as a therapist. I usually do 2-3 family sessions with each patient in the week that they are at the hospital (sometimes, I do individual sessions, if the patient is there longer, but usually therapy is done with patient and their parents/guardians). |
So, that's what I do. My job title is Allied Mental Health Clinician. When asked what I do, I have a hard time deciding what category my job/career fits into.
Am a social worker? Well, kinda. When I was deciding on a graduate school program, I specifically decided NOT social work (for a number of reasons). However, much of my job is social work. I spend a significant amount of time advocating for my clients and families to get the treatment that they need. I advise care givers/parents about how to help their children, and I educate. All part of social work.
Am I a marriage and family therapist? Well, that's what my degree is officially. I officially have a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I do not want to be a marriage counselor. Although, sometimes helping children and adolescents means helping parents with their marital issues. I definitely use the Family Therapy part of that degree, as I try to help families become more functional systems. However, in 2-3 sessions, I'm limited in how much I can intervene on the family system. Mostly, I help my patients and families figure out how to best support the child/adolescent and keep him or her safe.
Am I a substance abuse counselor? Not really. Although, many of my patients/clients and/or their families have addiction problems, whether it be to substances or behaviors. At times, I use addictions counseling theories and interventions.
When I went to school, I wanted to be a counselor. I didn't realize that meant so many different things. And I'm not sure I could really say that I'm a counselor now, because that does not completely describe what I do. In some circles, counseling and therapy are very different things. I do some counseling, where I listen, empathize, and encourage. I also do therapy, where I have specific skills that I teach and techniques that I use to help people with their struggles.
I've been thinking about all of this for a number of months, and today I discovered that CNNMoney.com published a report about the most stressful jobs that pay badly. Three of the fifteen "most overworked and underpaid professions out there" are ones that are very similar (or part of) my current job/profession (see below).
And notably, Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists usually have Masters degrees (which I have), and Substance Abuse Counselors often only have a Bachelors degree...and my current salaray is much closer to the median pay for Substance Abuse Counselors than the median pay for the professions that requires a Masters degree.
Median pay: $43,200
% who say their job is stressful: 72%
workers step in when everyone else steps aside to help people and
families in vulnerable situations. They provide patients with education
and counseling, advise care givers and make referrals for other
services. And with social workers in short supply and programs
underfunded, few must juggle the work of many, while reaping little
Just ask Heather Griffith, a social worker who works
with children in intensive foster care in Boston: "You're getting paid
$12 an hour and kids are screaming at you, telling you that you are
just in it for the money and you're just like, really?"
Median pay: $44,400
% who say their job is stressful: 61%
can be tough on a family. Most are marked by tension, anger, stress and
anxiety. Under the guidance of an underpaid, overworked therapist, some
couples might find reason to reconcile before calling it splitsville.
But sorting through the drama of other people's tumultuous lives every
day can be frustrating -- or even downright dangerous.
years, one marriage and family therapist in New Jersey thought she had
seen it all until recently: "A new couple I was seeing for the first
time told me to shut up and let them fight!"
Substance Abuse Counselor
Median pay: $32,400
% who say their job is stressful: 71%
with the needs of one addict is more than many people can bear, but
these counselors do it by the caseload. Coordinating personalized
treatment programs for addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling and other
issues such as eating disorders are all in a day's work.
the funding sources aren't there, when people you know are losing
people, it gets hard," said Beth Rosenshein, director of the Substance
Abuse Coalition in Charlestown, Mass. "These are people's children and
people's families and yet that's what drives you to do something about
Things That Make Me Happy
- Pumpkin carving with friends.
- Cuddly kitties.
- Pumpkin spice coffee creamer.
- Viewing art with a friend.
- My iPod Nano.
- Listening to Steve Brown's Scandalous Freedom podcasts.
- Spiritual conversations, not lectures.
|I graduated from high school in 1998. I had only attended the high school from which I graduated for one semester. I moved from Alabama to Pennsylvania the middle of my Senior year to live with my aunt, my mom's older sister. My mom died 6 months prior to us moving, and my brother and I tried to stay in Alabama and live with my biological father, whom we had only really known for about a year before mom died. After she died, things were not the same. Living with my dad wasn't that great either because I had primary responsibility for my sisters who were in grades 1 and 3. And I felt like I couldn't grieve because everything in Huntsville reminded me of my mom. |
In September, Sean and I went to Huntsville for four days. It was an emotional trip. I had not been back since 2001 (when we passed through briefly on our move to Florida). As we drove closer and closer to Huntsville, I kept thinking, "I'm going home." Yet there's no physical "home" for me to go to; my family never owned a house, we often moved from rental to rental. We stayed with my stepdad and things went well there.
Sean and I spent much of our time driving around the city and exploring. As we drove around, so many memories came back. Not big, extraordinary event memories, but just memories of life. We passed the places where where mom and I would go grocery shopping, my brother played football, I took the SAT, etc. Just memories of "Life."
One evening, I was feeling frantic to see every place I'd ever done anything in Huntsville; an unreasonable goal. As I talked with Sean, I realized that doing that would only allow me to re-live the past, and keep me stuck, instead of moving forward.
My history, my biography, is written on Huntsville, the City. Trying to take pictures of every place I remember, or trying to write down every memory of "Life" seems dishonoring to my story. The City remembers me (kind of like Red Hot Chili Peppers sang about in "Under the Bridge"); the City contains my story. When I visit, I remember and read portions of my story, but it's not a story I can take with me...at least not in it's entirety.
Everything in Huntsville still reminds me of my mom. My mom was my "home." But now, I am able to grieve the loss and enjoy the memories.
And instead of racing around frantically trying to gather up all my memories, I decided that I needed to add a new chapter onto my story. I needed to make new memories, as an adult, the adult I am today, with Sean. So, we went to a place where I spent so much time growing up, going to arts and music festivals. A place where I spent a significant amount of time with friends in high school. Sean and I went to Big Spring Park, walked around, took pictures, and talked. I noticed trees that were small when I was in high school are now tall and lush, the bridge is far more weathered than it was, and the walkways have been redone. The City, while it holds my biography in it's forever memory, has continued to grow and develop and change...just like I have, and that is okay.
|I've been doing a lot of self-reflecting lately. Mostly because I've been trying to figure out why I feel miserable so often. Things in my life are not bad...actually many things are much better than they have ever been. But I still often feel sad and depressed and hopeless. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way. I worry that I'm not honoring God with my life because of feeling so badly. And then I feel guilty for feeling guilty. It's a vicious cycle. |
I've been thinking about why I feel so badly about myself as an adult, when I really didn't struggle with feeling badly about myself growing up. I had reason to feel badly--my family was a mess, we were pretty poor, I never had the "right" clothes or things, I was always overweight, etc.--but I never really did feel bad. I never felt like people didn't like me, which is how I feel now. I'm not sure if I was just oblivious; perhaps, my peers really didn't like me, I'm not sure. I enjoyed my peers and friendships, but I didn't base my self-worth on what they thought of me. Why do I do that now?
I think the truth is--because my mom was my best friend, and now I don't have her. She's been gone for 12.5 years (she died in 1997), but it seems like just when I get used to her not being around, some other level of the loss is apparent to me. I realized this past week that the reason why I didn't have low self-esteem growing up is because my mom constantly affirmed me and supported me. She regularly told me that she was proud of me and loved me, even in the midst of really difficult life circumstances. I could always count on her to be there, even if I screwed up and yelled at her or said mean things to her (which is exactly what was happening around the time she died because I was 17, and in the process of becoming more independent).
So, now, when I feel bad. When I worry that everything I'm doing is wrong. When I feel like the whole world is against me. I don't have my mom to remind me that I'm okay and still loved. Honestly, Sean tries to meet this need. It's not the same as having a momma tell me these things...someone who has known me my whole life.
In my head, I know the truth is that God, my True Father, loves me and tells me these things. But, it's hard to take hold of that. Partly because I fear that I'm sinning and disappointing Him with all the my worries and negative thoughts. I'm trying to reconcile how He can accept me and love me as I am, when I feel like all He wants is for me to change and be "better." I'm not talking about salvation issues; I know that I am redeemed and reconciled with Him, as far as salvation is concerned. But my feeling of being "wrong" and "not good enough" (which is how I feel in relation to most humans), extends to how I feel like God sees me. And then I know that I am never "good enough" for Him, and that's why Jesus came, and I'm covered in His righteousness.
So, I feel confused...I'm not "good enough," however God accepts me because of Jesus, but I need to change so that He is more pleased with me. I don't know if that's even all theologically true, but it's certainly my thought processes lately, and it really seems complicated and not unconditional. And it makes me miss my mom more because she accepted me because I was her daughter, and it seemed so simple and uncomplicated.