New Blog

Soon, I will be ending the life of my wordpress blog. You can find my new blog here:

Living with Anxiety: Part One

If you had told me four years ago that I would be writing about this experience on my blog, I wouldn’t have believed you. I have issues expressing weaknesses, especially when they’re ones that could be misunderstood as being crazy or ridiculous. However, as I have lived with the reality of my affliction for several years, I find that I want to talk about it and explain the world from my perspective. Maybe this will help someone understand that anxiety doesn’t have to be crippling or help explain why I can end up in a corner at the change of a plan. Either way, this will take some time to explain, so consider this part one to talk about my diagnosis.

It was junior year of college when I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It was the Fall and I was living with a roommate and suitemate who liked the same boy, I had a full class load, a sister who was dealing with heart-break, and all of my typical stresses you would deal with. The first sign that something was wrong was during a study session with friends in my room. I suddenly felt dizzy, weak, and short of breath. My suitemate (who was studying to be a physical therapist) took my pulse and found that my heart rate was extremely high for someone at rest. Over the next several days, she would check up on me. No matter how I felt or what I was doing, my heart was pounding. I would still feel dizzy and short of breath at times.

I went to the on campus nurse and they did blood work. Shockingly, everything was normal, and none of them had any idea what was going on. Finally, they asked me questions about stress and other symptoms. I was most assuredly anxious, and since there was no major cause of it, I was diagnosed with GAD. The nurse gave me a low dose of anti-depressant in an effort to balance out my brain chemicals. This seemed to work fairly well and didn’t numb me the way that anti-anxiety medication can. I went to counseling and discussed my problems and was given ways to relax.

However, this was just the beginning. Actually, I don’t know if it was the beginning at all. But that’s for another time…

The Joys of Pneumonia and Stress

In May, I had to take time off work for two vacations. The first was a long weekend to travel to North Carolina and watch my cousin get married. The second was a full week to go to Florida and celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday in Disney World. This was at the end of the month, meaning June started out with my playing catch up on all the cases that had blown up while I was gone.

I have to say that I have noticed a pattern. Typically, a lot of things happen when I am gone. Also, everything seems to happen at once. I have spent the first two weeks in June just playing catch up and tying loose ends. This week, the plan was to do all the referrals and paperwork and home visits that had to get done THIS month. Then I got pneumonia.

When it comes to taking care of myself I am terrible at it. In fact, when I started coughing a ton and feeling faint, I figured I was fine unless it continued for two weeks. My mom took my temperature on Monday evening and said it was 101 and I should go to the doctor. I agreed, so Tuesday I worked on getting an appointment, was told at about 12:00 PM that I had pneumonia and given antibiotics. I decided to let them work for 24 hours and was back at work yesterday afternoon.

I didn’t think this was a big deal because I don’t feel exhausted. I’m kind of tired and I cough a lot. If I exert too much energy, I feel I’m going to pass out, but that’s not terrible. And there is a lot for me to get done and a lot of court for me to cover. Yesterday afternoon was fine, but today was much more difficult. There were multiple times where I had to tell myself to go slowly, that I can’t handle going this fast now. I did the best I could, but now that I sit here the room is spinning and I’m wondering…can I do social work while this sick?

I mean, it’s a very stressful job, to be sure, but is sitting at a desk and getting stressed resting? Or is it not? These questions would matter if I could take more time off, but I have two court appearances to make tomorrow and a ton of home visits next week. I will drink my water and rest tonight and hope the weekend recuperates me enough to get back at it Monday.

Happy New Year!

Well, it is now 2012, and I have a long list of things I want to do differently this year. Most of them have to do with discipline and stress relief, which may not seem to go together, but I think they do…in a major way.

The biggest is exercising regularly. I’m hoping this will help me with the fact that recently stress has been taking a major toll on my body. This should also help me lose weight, which is a major plus. The other piece to my resolution that concerns this blog is the fact that I will be writing more regularly. I intend to update this blog weekly (and update my other blog weekly, so that’s good). Hopefully all of these things will stick throughout this year.

This year should be spectacular. I’m done with school, which means I’m just being a real person and work full-time. I think I’ll enjoy having more time to relax, read, and actually see people. Now I guess we’ll just see if the Mayans were right…

Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Christmas

This year my parents and myself went to visit my sister in the Chicago area for Thanksgiving. She had to work Friday, and I didn’t, and since my parents are retired it made more sense to go to her. We had a lovely Thanksgiving meal and then went to see The Muppets. If you are wondering, it IS good, and I felt that Jason Segal managed to keep with the spirit of the Muppets.

Yesterday, while my sister was at work, I hung out in her apartment watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and doing what I do every Black Friday: looking at Amazon lightening deals and browsing other sites. It allows me to avoid the crowds and shop in my pajamas. I managed to walk away from Black Friday with Season 3 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a bluray of Inception, and (my biggest purchase) a 40 inch Samsung LED HDTV. Now I will be able to watch films in my apartment the way they were meant to be seen. Dinner that evening was at The Cheesecake Factory and my sister and I then went to see Like Crazy. That was also a good film.

Today we’re watching the Michigan-Ohio State game. I’m upset that we’re one point down, but hoping we’ll get it back. We head home tonight and I intend to listen to Christmas music on the way. I love Christmas, it’s my favorite holiday. Tomorrow I will decorate my apartment for the season and post pictures soon. Ignore the hole in the couch…I ordered a slipcover, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and will enjoy preparing for any holidays you celebrate this time of the year!

Social Work Versus Paper Work

When I was in undergrad, there was a lot of emphasis on the amount of paperwork social workers had to do and how little time they had to do it. I realized how true this was in my first internship, when myself and the other social work students were asked to do filing for the supervisors. It was a little like waving through a sea of paper and trying to make sense of it all. The internship was torture, but it made me decide that no matter how busy I got as a social worker, I would never ever get behind on my paperwork.

Oh, how young and  naive I once was.

There are days where I feel like I have to choose between the importance of the kid on the phone crying and the report that needs to get to court before the end of the day. Other times, I have five home visits that need to get done and files that have not been touched. There are deadlines for my paperwork and there are more important deadlines for making sure that children are safe and in the best place, bio parents are getting the services they need, and caregivers are also getting needed services. Frankly, it’s pretty easy to know which of these is more important.

I am proud to say that I’ve been meeting all timelines. As of now, I have not yet had a late report and I have gotten things into court on time once I realized what on time was (with the exception of the report that needed to get sent on a day that I was in court all day without my laptop…). I have made the monthly home visits for all of my children and the unannounced visits every quarter. I’ve also been managing at being the type of caseworker I wanted to be and called on their birthdays and met with them sometimes extra. I have consistently made contact with bio parents and caregivers. My Myers-Briggs J has been helping a lot with my job.

But there is one area that I have a hard time with: filing. I don’t know what it is, but putting papers in files makes me want to bang my head against my desk. I try to set aside a day a week to do it, but that rarely happens. Today was my filing day and I ended up giving up part way through and making phone calls.

I got into social work for the social side of it. I can handle reports because I’m writing, which I love, and I’m writing about my clients, which to me relates to social work. However, when it comes to actually getting things into the files, it’s mindless and only exists to keep things in order. I have a system for what happens with papers before they’re officially filed, and it’s fine for me, but it’s apparently important to keep my files updated.

Anyone else a social worker out there? How do you handle the paperwork part of the job?

My Car Saga

Okay, to fully appreciate the story of my car issues over the last week, you have to understand that I have only ever been in one accident. This was shortly after getting my license and during my first Michigan winter. I slipped on black ice and my car slid off the road. No report was made due to the damage not being bad enough for a report and the cops arrived on the scene from another accident and left the scene to go to another accident. It was a bad night. I consider myself a decent, if not good, driver. I also love my car, who is named Mohinder. He is a 2007 Ford Focus that my family has had since December of 2006.

On Monday of last week, I was rear-ended. It was a situation where someone was tailing me and the person ahead of me slammed on their breaks. The situation was one where there was nothing I could do to avoid it and I actually braced myself for the inevitable bump. Luckily, it was nothing more than a fender bender and Mohinder just got a little scratched up.

Wednesday, I was going to lunch with a coworker when I noticed my battery light came on. I began to slow down when I realized the light then turned back off. After playing around with my speed for a bit, I realized that when I went above 40 mph the light came on and it turned back off when I went below 35 mph. However, it did not do this on the way back to the office or when I went home, so I didn’t worry too much. I figured, since it rained that day, it must have gotten wet.

Thursday was the day that everything happened. It started when I was rear-ended for the second time in a parking garage. Once again, just scratches, but it was incredibly frustrating. Then, on my way home, the battery light turned back on and had more issues turning back off. I had class that night, but I called a friend and asked for a ride because there was no way I was going to use my car when I had no idea what was going on.

Finally, on Friday I took Mohinder in for a check up. Luckily, my multiple rear-end collisions did not hurt my car at all, but my alternator was running at 83%…apparently that’s bad…I know nothing about cars, though. After spending a good chunk of money on my car, Mohinder is now safe at home.

Hopefully, soon, I will post some pictures of my apartment…first I have to take pictures of my apartment.