So… I went to the doctor today.
This was my “regular” stress leave check-in.
I think it may have been over a month…ok, I know it’s been closer to two months, since I last checked in. Not particularly regular. I have my
reasons excuses but they’re not important right now.
What is important is that after I had begun to go through my prepared thoughts on how I was doing 4 months into my time off work (I had been making progress, but felt I had plateaued, was maybe not sure how to continue to strengthen my self emotionally, still not strong enough to return to the toxic work environment, still far too concerned about what others think of me, etc etc), she interrupted me with:
“I’m really concerned; I don’t think you’ve really made much progress since I last saw you.”
Ok, maybe that’s what I was actually beating around the bush and saying without saying, but I was floored when she just came out with it. So bluntly. Before I had fully admitted it to myself. And really, I know I am better than I was on day one, but I also know that she’s right; I haven’t improved much since my last appointment with her.
I guess this is why the whole regular visits thing is a good idea.
When I had finished riding the long, cresting wave of defensiveness, I listened to what she had to say.
First off, while I like my psychologist and have been with him a good long while, he doesn’t really seem to be helping me anymore. “I mean,” she asked, “what does he tell you to do to overcome anxiety, stress, your worries about what others think of you?”
All I could think of was that he keeps telling me to breathe. Now, breathing is all fine and good, but I think I need something more.
Granted, I’m not really very disciplined at sitting down and doing breathing exercises, or visualization exercises.
But I think the doctor’s right: I need something more than breathing, or visualization, or even walking meditation (which is what the psychologist suggested the other day). I don’t know what I need but I have a feeling it’s something more than this combination of things. And isn’t that what I’m paying the psychologist to provide me with? Tools? Practical things?
I have NO idea how to calm down, how to stop thinking negatively, how to stop worrying about what everyone is thinking of me.
I guess I just figured breathing and visualizing and meditating and yoga was kind of all there was and that it was my own fault for not really doing enough any of them. But maybe there is more?
I agreed that my doctor can refer me to the clinic’s in-house counselling service so I can get a different, and hopefully more helpful, perspective.
Next issue: She asked me what it is I actually want to be doing, career-wise.
The million dollar question. What indeed?
Well, I answered, everything I want to do either doesn’t pay well (or at all), or is in a sector that is downsizing and experiencing massive cuts. Archives, museums, libraries… That is, of course, assuming that my writing isn’t published by the New Yorker and that it doesn’t take off overnight.
“Why are you so scared? Why don’t you apply to these places?” was her, maybe obvious, question.
For my answer, I refer you to the previous paragraph. Massive cuts, downsizing, no money, unpublished.
Plus, my friends have told me it’s too soon to start worrying about whether I should go back to work, and to what work. The aforementioned psychologist has agreed with me that my own work environment is highly toxic and that my ideal jobs are, indeed, experiencing cuts and have their own toxicities. My husband has expressed concerns about me working somewhere that doesn’t really pay and doesn’t have a pension – for practical, realistic reasons.
The doctor cut in again. “Why are you surrounding yourself with all these negative people? You have armed yourself with all these reasons not to apply to where you really want to work. You are terrified and you are letting everyone around you confirm your worst fears. Why don’t you just apply? Fight the fear. Do it.”
She also pointed out that the constant fear is the reason I’m so tired all the time. Hm.
I came home and told my husband about the appointment and, aside from a good and expected dose of realism, he was so encouraging and supportive. He has already suggested a whole list of places I should apply.
And you know what? I’m working on it. I’ve sent in an application to one museum and sent my Omar story to the New Yorker while I was at it. I’m working on some other submissions and applications now, too.
This jolt is just one more step in my healing process. Facing those initial fears, actually acknowledging that they were there, has already helped.
My doctor’s shocking frankness was what I needed, though I balked at the time. But she has managed to move me off that plateau I had been resting on for a month or so.
Taking action is, I think, the best way to combat the fear.
That, and pumpkin loaf smothered in peanut butter.
And writing it all down has helped, too.
Now that I have laid out everything helpfully in words, I think it’s probably time to get back to those applications and submissions.
Wish me luck.
- Walking Meditation: An Easy Method To Meditate Nearly Every Time (nathancopperfield184ccommon6659.wordpress.com)