Category Archives: Self-Reflection

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…

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 First Week of Work

It has been a while, I know. First I had finals, then it was my me time, and then it was my first week of work. However, even though the next few months are going to be insanity with a full-time job and 8 credits, I am going to work hard to write once a week. That is my promise.

Anyway, I thought some of you may be interested in my first week at the Department of Human Services. I arrived at eight in the morning along with another new hire. We were shown around the building and I was told that they actually moved me from a foster care caseworker to a children’s protective services (CPS, get used to that abbreviation) caseworker. This was fear inducing, as I like the idea of longterm cases from foster care. The in-and-out idea that exists in CPS makes me sad. I want to get to know my clients.

As I was trying to wrap my brain around this new change (while doing paperwork), another person came to tell me that they may actually move me back to foster care, however I should stick with CPS until I was told otherwise. So I spent all last week shadowing CPS workers and realizing that, if need be, it is a job I could actually do. The people were great and my supervisor cared about my well-being and learning. However, I still wanted to be in foster care.

Luckily, today I found out that I was switched. I got to read through a case and now I’ll spend the rest of the week shadowing foster care caseworkers. Hopefully next week I’ll begin the nine week training and then be able to get actual cases. Even though last week I learned a lot about an area of child welfare that I won’t be working in, I also learned a valuable lesson about myself. I often believe that I can’t handle something without trying it. In reality, it turns out that I can handle a lot more than I think. That’s nice to know.

Tomorrow I have four hours of class after work and Wednesday I have internship supervision and some interning, so, naturally, my weeks will be insane, but hopefully I’ll be able to handle all of it.

Apartment Hunting

Okay, I know I haven’t written at all this week, but this is still going to be a quick update because I’m getting old (meaning it’s almost 11:00 pm and I’m exhausted).

Yesterday, I visited six apartments in an attempt to find one that I would occupy in September. It may seem ridiculous to try to make this decision in April, but I live in a college town (as in there are four colleges here), so September would be a major time to move. This means I’m trying to get an application done and on a reservation list ASAP. After visiting these apartments (which had been narrowed down after careful review on the internet), I realized that I have no idea what it means to apartment hunt.

Is it better to get the cheapest apartment that doesn’t seem that nice? Should I get the smaller, pricier apartment that I think is cuter? How important is it to have certain utilities included? How much of my income should be dedicated to rent?

In case you couldn’t tell, I’ve never rented an apartment. At eighteen, I went to undergrad, where I lived in dorms for four years. For one semester, I was in University apartments, but it isn’t really the same, since it was the same, basic housing price. When I graduated, I moved back home to save money while I got my MSW. Now that I know I have a full-time job soon, apartment hunting seems to be the logical step, and I will be living alone.

Does anyone have any good tips on apartment hunting? Just trying to pick the best place. I’d hate to regret this decision…

I’m Bi-Winning

A lot has happened in the last week (and two days, but the specific amount of time is not really the point). The last time I wrote to you, I was 22, and now I am 23, but frankly, that’s the lowest level of change. On my 23rd birthday, I was offered a full time position with the Department of Human Services as a foster care caseworker.

Those of you who keep up with my blog should know about the giant DHS recruitment that I went to a few weeks ago. At that recruitment, I was told it would be 4-6 weeks before I heard anything, which made me assume it wouldn’t be until the end of the semester. However, on March 16 I got a phone call offering me the position, which resulted in me jumping up and down, incredibly excited to know there was a job waiting for me in August.

However, as I called the county office to discuss getting a drug test, I found out that they would need me to start no later than the beginning of May. They were basically saying I could finish up this semester, but I’d need to figure something out about school for the Spring/Summer semester. Suddenly everything was different and I felt I needed to choose between the 12 credits left to get my MSW and a full-time, full benefits job. And I was panicked…

Now, for those of you who don’t know me, you may not know how much of a planner I am. I plan out my life and my days far in advance…I like knowing where I’m going and when. Throwing a kink in that chain is incredibly anxiety provoking for me, and none of this was in my plan. The goal was to get my MSW in August and have a job waiting for me, not to get a job and have to choose between that and my Masters, but alas, this was where I was. After a lot of thought, planning, and research, I chose to take the job and finish my MSW requirements by December instead of August.

So, the past week has been a lot of phone calls, emails, and paperwork, and it’s still not done. However, I think I’ve figured out what my classes will look like and my finishing my internship will look like. Basically, all that’s left is registration and financial aid, and the latter of those is basically out of my control (though I do have one last form to fill out and one more phone call to make). Slowly, carefully, things are falling into place, and the next six months are going to be crazy, but things will get done and I will be okay. I’m hoping to even move out of my parents’ house in early September and get my own apartment.

So, enjoy this crazy journey with me. Also, I received Rob Bell’s book on Monday and have begun to read it. Keep a look out for a full review sometime in the next few weeks.

*Note about the title: In case you don’t know, this is a Charlie Sheen reference. It is not supposed to mock anyone who is bi-sexual or bi-polar…just to mock Charlie Sheen…