Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hello, Hello, hello!

Okay, I know it has been an eternity since I updated this little blog. I can admit I honestly wasn't sure I would reappear. I could have vanished into thin air but it just didn't seem right. So much has happened the last year....or almost year. I don't even know where to begin. I was so naive to believe that I would have time to update this blog with all the things I would be learning. HA! There has been no such thing as time.

I am 3 months from graduation. Nearly 400hours completed of the 500hours needed to graduate. Hallelujah!! I feel like I need to keep the angel on my page to honor the singing choir that rejoices in the near finish of my Masters degree!! This will be a day to celebrate.

I feel like I could tell a million stories about the things I have been learning this year. Most all about myself and my process in becoming the therapist that God has intended me to be. I am gaining such insight in my lack of faith and dependence on Him. I recognize more and more through this season that I like to "fix" people and try to make them feel better and that is NOT my job. The Lord has been teaching me to depend on him in all ways; to acknowledge that He is the ultimate Healer and that His ways are not my ways. I am learning to sit with my own anxiety about wanting to offer quick solutions and soothing words when realistically people just want to be heard. I cannot tell you the ways the Lord is combing my spirit and revealing the junk that might keep me trapped inside myself and unable to sit with people in pain. It has been a journey.

It's weird going through a refining process. It feels utterly helpless and exhausting and hopeless at times; yet something about knowing that your growing and changing offers some sort of solace and peace. It's weird. This is by far, the most stretching season I have walked through and still it has been the richest. I have gained so much perspective and insight about myself. It is so fun to see myself and my world through a different lens.

I have to say it has not been easy being refined. I have seen myself through other people's eyes and that has been hard. I recognize some people experience me as bossy, self-centered, controlling and more. It has pulled up a lot of the ways I cope with stress or hardship or fears in my life. I promise this could sound negative and yet in an eerie sort of way it is liberating. Recognizing and accepting myself offers new freedom and possibility for transparency and depth in relationships. It also creates an opportunity to identify with all sorts of clients who also feel bound by their stresses and pains and cannot break free of the distorted ways in which they relate to others.

I am thankful for this process; for this season. I feel like I have been a bush that had lots of overgrown brush and branches that needed to be pruned WAY back. I have not enjoyed the pruning process. It has been painful and uncomfortable and scary at times; yet soon I pray the new fruit will show itself. I hope to see a new bud soon!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Test trauma

I just had the immense pleasure of taking an assessment class. I was trained in the special skills of diagnosing people with specific disorders out of this fantastically interesting 900+ page book called the Diagnostic and statistical Manual of Mental disorders. Can you hear my joy? This class was a bear.

Have you ever thought about the difference between hallucinations, illusions and delusions? Have you considered if you were in a panic, manic or major depressive episode? Curious about impulse disorders? Did you know there was a thing called a somatoform disorder? This one is interesting because basically the client is experiencing physical symptoms without any medical cause. Did you know there is a big difference between delirium, dementia and amnesia?

I cannot communicate the magnitude of information communicated through this course. I can however, report how poorly I tested over it.

Last week was our final. I studied faithfully for days. I made note cards. I had my husband quiz me. I studied with friends. I thought I was prepared. I needed to be prepared.

I got to the test with my pencils sharpened and in hand. I purposely avoided caffeine to not get too jacked up and add any extra anxiety to the event. The professor allotted 5 hours for the test. There were two parts included. One part was a diagnosing portion. It would require us to read scenarios and write out a 5 axis diagnosis for 5 out of the 8 different case studies. The second portion was a 90 question multiple choice. He had communicated that we would take the dx'ing portion first and then the multiple choice. As the test begins he asks if we would like to take a vote and switch around the order. The class divides out and by one or two votes they choose to switch the order of the test which immediately pushes my panic button. I am geared up to do it the opposite way. My breathing begins to change. I immediately begin to worry. I now begin to feel my heart rate increase. My brain gets foggy. I am slowly slipping into a place of fear. Not little fear, big fear.

I start the 90 multiple choice. I try to maintain clarity. I know this stuff. I can do this. Breath. Take your time. You have 5 freakin' hours. You can do this. You got this.
I trudge through the first 20 questions skipping a few. Slowing losing confidence. I hit definitions that are suddenly becoming confusing. My chest feels tight. I can't remember which one is which. I begin to cross the words. I feel tears well up. I can't do this. I cannot remember. I suck. What in the hell is wrong with me? I am totally NOT getting this.

I try to practice some deep breathing. I excuse myself to the bathroom. Then I walk outside; pace around the parking lots in a trance like state; use a lifeline and call my mom. Mom wanted to fix me. Remind me how smart I am. Give me some test taking strategies. I could not receive her words. In fact, they only fueled me more.

I try talking myself off the ledge. I let the freezing wind pelt my face and pray it will slap the sense back into me.

Where are my keys? I dig through my purse. I think to myself that maybe I am not in the right field. I may have to drop out tonight. Tears well again. I may not be able to do this. I keep digging through my purse, "Where are my frickin' keys?" Wind pushes the tears back down and the teeth chatter. I want an escape route. I want to quit. I want to leave. I do not want to take this "expletive " test. I am going to throw up. I suck. What about walking home? How long would that take me?

I am freezing my butt off out here. How long can I sit outside? I am wasting time out here. I need the extra time to finish the stupid test. How long can I stay out here? These shoes are not made for pacing through mist filled parking lots. I wonder if I could get hit by a car and they would excuse me from taking this test?

Get your *** back in there! This is a test...put it in perspective. Grow up. You are not in Junior High. Please. It is one class. So what if you don't get an A? Waa Waa. Get back in there and finish the son of a gun up and let's go home. Quit being a big baby.

I evaluate the scenario. Looks like acute worry and fear. Seems to be unexpected and situationally cued. The individual is associating onset with an internal or external situational trigger. Individual is presenting with palpitations; trembling and shaking; chest pain or discomfort; nausea; unsteadiness; fear of losing control. Looks to be a classic panic attack. Not enough criteria met to diagnosis a full panic disorder at this time. Should refer to a physician if continues. General Anxiety Disorder needs to be ruled out.

Maybe I did learn something after all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New Season of Life....

It has been many weeks since I entered the presence of this space. I am not certain what has kept me from it, and honestly it doesn't matter. Today I reenter. I changed my picture to the lovely angel with folded hands. This represents my season of life today. A season of deep dependence and prayer.
I am approximately a week and a half from seeing clients. That is me, being a therapist. Uh, huh. I know what the world is thinking. How in the hades does this work exactly? Random girl gets 9 months of training and then they throw her in a room and expect her to be helpful. I am thinking the same thing. Hence, the praying angel.
I am petitioning the Lord to ready my spirit. To provide in ways that I would not know or understand. I get that this whole learning curve has to happen in the actual environment of the therapy room AND it seems pretty premature. I could use months more training and experience with modalities and theories. I know that being with people in pain and crisis is a lot more then brain information. It is going to require a lot of heart as well. Again, the angel.
My two best friends Fear and Anxiety would like to have their way with me and cause me a tremendous amount of wasted energy focusing on all the "what if's". I am deciding today that instead of letting those dear pals rule my life I am going with the angel. I am going to submit. I am going to trust. I am going to move in faith and believe that truly God has designed this season for me and all He wants from me is to trust Him.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Here's gambling on a great New Year!!

I have a secret. I love to gamble.

Yeah, that isn't something I advertise. In fact, I am not all that proud of it. I began my little relationship playing the odds back on my honeymoon when my husband gave me 20$ to shoot on the slot machines.

Well, you guessed it. I hit a couple of winners and now 20 years later, I still wanna win. I will confess right now that this little hobby is NOT one that interferes in my financial portfolio. In fact, I rarely feed the fire. My father was borderline addicted to the boats which left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. So, I am not one to allow the games of chance too much opportunity in my life. I know myself well enough to know I could get addicted in the same way as my father.

This shot was taken after putting 7$ in a machine and winning 87$. It was a nickel machine and I played for nearly an hour; which was the perfect amount of time to hit a few sevens, hear the machine alarm and feel my adrenaline pumping. I am not addicted to losing money. So, with the small margin of profit I quickly closed down my machine and took the money and ran. Yea! I am a big gambler.

I would like to win more. Wisely though, I am not about to spend anymore money on silly slot machines. My once a year itch has been scratched and I am good for another 12 months or so.

It does make me think about life and the gambles we take every year. I am imagining this school endeavor to be a big gamble for our family. We are pouring out a lot of cash and rolling the dice on a career choice for me that may or may not pan out.

We are gambling on our parenting skills and the way we are raising up our children. We are now entering into the fruit bearing season where we will actually see if our offspring have benefited or learned anything in our homes.

We are at the stage where we regularly gamble with our lives as our 14 yr. old is learning how to drive. This is a high-stakes adventure as he is still very new to managing a vehicle. I am often afraid.

I know that the risk and adventure and fun involved in the slot machine is really masking the fear of losing it all. I catch myself rationalizing and manipulating my mind to let it be "OK" to lose money so carelessly.

I think this is what I do with the other frightening things in my life. I mask them and cover them and repackage them to let them be manageable and livable and "OK". When in reality, the pee is dripping down my leg and I am petrified and nervous and afraid.

AND excited and hopeful and interested and curious. I think that is what gambling does to us. It somehow makes you think you may have a chance and without a chance wouldn't we just give up altogether?

So, this year is another gamble. It is a risk to step out and try new things. Look in the unexpected places for newness and hope. I even think that is what this blog thing is about for me. It is risky to put myself out here. I don't even know who reads this silly thing and honestly, it is OK. I am good.

I am ready to plop down more this year. Maybe the stakes will be even higher. Maybe I will dig deeper and find more about myself, my expectations, my flaws. Maybe I will grow and be changed and be open and transform.

I am betting I do. I am praying the same for you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post Christmas thoughts...

Good grief it has been forever since I have posted an entry here! I must confess I have written many and they remain in the drafts pile. I don't feel very articulate these days. Maybe it is because I recently took my brain age on one of the kids DS games and learned that I am only using 8% of my noggin. My son tried to make me feel better by telling me that the game purposely scores you low so you have something to improve on. This did not make me feel any better.

I have yanked down the Christmas tree and cleaned up most of the festive decor in hopes of restoring some level of order back into the home. I am listening to my 7 yr.old daughter sing Dead or Alive with her brothers pounding the drum and guitar to Rock Band. I think this may have been disturbing to me if my first born would've attempted this activity at the same age. I would've felt the lyrics would have manipulated his heart into a ball of hate and disdain and perhaps even led him down a path of evil and corruption. Today I think it is precious that my three children can bond over a silly game and enjoy each others company. I tried to creatively work out the lyric issue by singing my own lyrics instead of the questionable ones in hopes that the children would follow suit and just hum or sing doo's and dah's instead...not sure it will be a popular choice for them. At least they like each other enough that they can play together. I like that.

I feel like I am just now coming down from my sugar high. I cannot believe the unabandoned fury in which I ingested sugar this week. My aunt always brings a giant chocolate sheet cake to our normal celebration and I feel confident that a quarter of it ended up shoved into my piehole. What the heck is that about? Yuck. I am glad the sugar is gone.

I am glad the purchasing is over. I am glad the gifts are put away. I am thankful that the house is relatively quiet and the kids are happy and the year is wrapping up and I am done with school for a couple of weeks. Deep breath in and big exhale out. Life is good. Yes, life is very, very good.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Big day!

Guess who is starting therapy today??
It's me! It's me.
Yeah, I will be the client today. I found out that the other counseling school in town works a trade off for the students. You can attend the other schools counseling center for $5 a session. I thought this would be a wise move for me. I believe the best way I can offer any support or encouragement for someone else is to first consider what business I need to attend to in my own life. Makes sense.
So today in the middle of the most hectic season ever I will take a time out and begin to unravel my soul to a stranger. A possible young student stranger. A therapist that is in training. fun, huh?
I have come to believe that I can learn something from everyone and anyone. Today I get the opportunity to live it out.
I don't really have time for therapy. I am trying to get out of town on Sunday morning for a week long trip with my husband. (This is his move to celebrate our 20th anniversary! I would never have picked December...but ???) I have a giant family history paper due before I leave. I am trying to get my Christmas crud purchased, put out, organized, wrapped, mailed, etc. This is kind of a nightmare. So, let me take a minute to blog about it!
I think this therapeutic window in my life is one that will eventually pay off ten fold. Won't it be helpful to realize all my nasty business before I begin trying to help others through theirs in just 4 months? I say YES.
In fact, the more I have opportunity to gaze into the world of my own upbringing, history and life, the more I am convinced this is beautiful. What a gift to have this window of exposure and revelation at the half way point in my life. I feel like it such the hand of God, gifting me this time to learn about myself and to make adjustments and tweaks and changes. None of this would be happening if I didn't choose to quit my job and head back to school. I know that God is pushing me to examine the pieces of me and see where He can have more room in my life. He is challenging me to lay it all before Him. I believe the therapy window is really the confession booth for me to say outloud what I have been holding to myself and allowing room to fester and manifest in ways that may not be so healthy or beneficial to me or my family.
I am looking forward to today with expectancy. I look forward today with readiness that this is all about sifting and combing through the pieces of me that need to be refined and reshaped and reconsidered.
I highly suspect this will not be a fun experience. From what I know, most growth opportunities are not all that fun. We will see! I can't wait to find out who my therapist is!
What does it say about me if I hope she is over the age of 22? See, I do have issues. I am already trying to control my session!! I need a lot of help!! This is going to be a long process.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A bit about my journey

I want to blog today. I really don't have time. I feel like I never have time and yet this is really about me vomiting my heart and if that is the case I should not think about it, I should just do it and release it and not think about if it is grammatically correct or if some random reader should get a hold of it and put some sort of judgement on me or my content so today...I am just dumping. No filter. No prettiness, just release.
I feel like I have a ton to get off my chest. I have this crazy school paper I am working on that is all about my transformative journey thus far. It is supposed to reflect where I think I am in the growth process. Growth is not a quick easy thing to measure. Unless we are taking size and that one is not really going to be addressed on this site. I am not going there. Internal, heart, life-changing growth...that is the stuff this paper is supposed to be made of.
When was the last time you thought about your own growth? How you are changing, developing, becoming a different person....through your circumstances, your interactions, your experiences, your friendships, your family...the word of God or whatever religious lens you use...isn't this an interesting thought???
I have really been unraveling it. It is kinda scary to consider growth in your life. What if there is no growth? What if I am standing here in my 43 year of existence and I am not really developing into the person I would have dreamed becoming? The kind of person I am glad to wake up and be every single day?? What if I don't really like what is becoming me?
I think this would be when I would start to do a lot of plastic surgery, look for a some "things" to begin to fill my life and make me "feel" better about this lack of being content with myself. ( Another term for this may be: Mid life crisis.)
Thankfully, I feel peace about the very imperfect process I am in to become the best version of me I can be. I am grateful to be in a relationship with the author and perfector of my faith who pours out graciously His undying mercy and acceptance of me and for me. This hope is really the confidence I have that is okay to suck. To not be all the things I had wished and wanted and dreamed of becoming and that I am exactly in the place He knew I would be and He is exactly at work in making me become the woman He exacted me to become and I really am okay.
I like the fact that today I am giving myself a break and recognizing that I do not have all my poop in a group. That I am very self-centered, egotistical and vain. I am confident that I have a lot of different pieces of me that like to shield this ugliness and pretty myself up and pretend that it is all good but ultimately, it isn't. I am good with that.
I am good with the fact that I am not going to be perfect this side of heaven and I can work hard and try a ton but it is all for nothing.
Ultimately, I must rest with the confidence that even with all these nasty pieces of me there is some really good stuff in there too. I am honest. I like being transparent. I am glad I can see myself with my imperfections and that I am not trying to live this covert life of inauthenticity.
I love that I ultimately have a redeemer and a hope.
I love that I am going to get the privilege of walking with other people through their seasons of evaluation and self-examination. I love that I am going to understand what it feels like to dig in and not necessarily love everything I see. I am grateful for this season to see that ways that despite my imperfections I have hope. I have confidence in my purpose. I am grateful for a Savior that sees me and adores me and accepts me.
I pray for wisdom to lovingly encourage others who walk their journey without that hope and without that assurance. Today I recognize the enormity of being with people in process and I am humbled and afraid. I alone have nothing to offer another. I am equally as desperate and equally as broken.
I have a long way ahead of me on this journey.....but today I am thankful.