and not for the better.
in practice, clients don't talk very much at length about content, what happened, the story, before i start using some gentle reflecting and gentle therapeutic questioning.
in this post, it's very tempting for me to run down the list of everything that's going on right now - specifically - everything that's going wrong right now. but, that's boring. and as humans, i'm fairly convinced it's not what we need from each other. do you read this because you really care to know how much i have going on? do you read this because you want a list of everything factual that's going on in my life right now?
i'm going to guess no. i'm going to guess we read each other's blogs because we want to have some sort of human connection. we want to know that others feel like we do. we want to know what's truly going on with people. so i'm not going to run through that factual list of everything i have going on right now. it's sufficient to say that any one of the life transitions i'm experiencing right now would be stressful in and of itself.
and, i'm panicky.
and, it's serious.
it's always been a joke, right? lisa's high strung. lisa likes detail. lisa's anxious. lisa can take care of it.
but lisa's walls started closing in in early april. it was a particularly (insert content here) stressful time. and the stress - the slight worry - crescendoed in a big, scary way into feeling absolutely panicky (cued, not coming out of the blue, and not a true panic attack). i go to bed at night, absolutely exhausted, and it takes one little, insignificant thought such as, "i need to remember to email so and so tomorrow" and i'm suddenly wide awake, my mind racing at top speed about *everything* i need to get done. keeps me up late, wakes me up several times during the night and i wake up in the morning already worrying. my mind is already in process.
what does worry feel like? for me, a tightening of the chest, rapid breathing, a knot in my stomach, often a headache. no concentration. i sit down to write a paper and can't because i start thinking about all the reading i need to do. if i move to the reading, i can't concentrate because i start thinking about everything that needs to be done to find a job. in short, i'm not getting anything done (as in, i've requested extensions on all of my assignments and am barely getting my mental health assessments in on time).
it is not easy to admit that i do not feel ok.
it is not easy to admit things are not going well.
i am somewhat ashamed.
from somewhere in the back of my lived experience, dirty little voices whisper i should pray harder and trust more and God wouldn't let me go through this if He didn't think i could get through it. my faith in God is unmoved. i do not think i am having a hard time because i do not trust enough in God. i think i am having a hard time because i am having a hard time and God is right there with me through it all. i pray often and feel His spirit moving. and i exercise. and take relaxation yoga. and have a very small group of supportive friends who do not give me grief about any of this.
and it is sadly not enough.
i tried to deny how bad it is for a long time. then i did a couple process recording with my co-horts (we do a lot of counseling sessions with each other. i love them.) and i realized how painful this is. my co-intern Nicole said, "you're just now coming to a point where you're able to give witness to and recognize your suffering." true 'dat.
in true mental health field form, it took me 2.5 weeks to get into a counselor. they asked me repeatedly if i could wait that long, but who are we kidding? unless i was having suicidal or self harming thoughts (and i'm not), it wouldn't matter. my appointment was this morning with a well seasoned, level headed psychologist.
it took 30 minutes. (when i write that i have a 4.0 gpa, am finishing my master's, am able to maintain my gainful employment and describe my symptoms accurately - with duration! - it goes smoothly. Jesus, help the souls who do not come from mental health backgrounds and find themselves in the same situation. it breaks my heart). and then he referred me to a psychiatrist for a medication consult. that's tomorrow morning. psychologist believes i present with sufficient acute symptoms and present stable enough to warrant the use of, possibly short term, anti anxiety medications. psychologist also listed several reasons psychiatrist may not feel comfortable prescribing (namely, i'm moving from portland in a few weeks.)
so i'm sharing this with you, if nothing else for the following reasons:
1. as phillip booth (how i love this poet) wrote about suffering, "why we guess we know / how much, never"
it is hard for people to understand how somebody that is as "stable" as i am could be undergoing mental anguish.
2. in the spirit of transparency, to remind us all that mental wellness is an idiosyncratic continuum that is highly personal.
3. to remind us all that there are no easy answers and that advice giving, while usually well-intentioned, is not as helpful as sympathetic listening. good sympathetic listening uses ears more than mouths and gentle reflective statements such as, "this is really hard" or "you have a lot on your plate" or "you feel really overwhelmed."
and so that's where i am.
i am grateful there are only 3 weeks of classes left.
grateful there are only 2 weeks of internship left.
grateful for the hard work cheryl and elizabeth put into my bridal shower that's happening saturday.
grateful for shoes.
grateful for shoes' family - most of whom i visit with rarely - who continually email and ask what they can do to help - and are sincere about it.
grateful for professors who are working with me as i work through this.
grateful for good friends like b., who listen to me process through all of this and who plan lab parties.
grateful for the girls at the lab who have done nothing but offer complete support.
grateful for a God who is not scared or disappointed in where i am at right now - a God who holds my hand and soul consistently and is not impatient with my journey.