Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I don't know if I've ever mentioned on here just how hard it is for me to sit still. I'm pretty sure I have, but in any case, I'll say it again... I CAN'T SIT STILL! I mean, I do fine in counselling session, but I limit those to an hour, and when I lead groups I'm up at the whiteboard a lot. I can fidgit all I want when I'm just doing paperwork and no one cares if I walk up and down the hall or take a trip to the photocopy room. Why does this matter? Well, today I have to sit kind of still...

Today I am going to the first of four workshops about how not to screw up my social work student. This is a good thing. I really don't want to screw her up! BUT, I also can't say I'm all that excited about having to go to school all day. Especially because it's at the other university in town, not the one I went to. So it's unfamiliar, I don't know the presenters etc... My hope is that someone from my school will be taking it. See all first year practicum supervisors from that university have to take it, so there should be someone from my class there, you would think. I'm sure it will be fine.

During the workshop today we get all sorts of information about how to get things set up, their learning contracts and deadlines and stuff. We also have to do things about our supervision styles, learning styles and stuff like that. That's the part I'm not excited about. Although I'm an extrovert, I'm not a huge fan of meeting large groups of new people and having small group discussions with them. Oh well.

In anycase, I gotta get out of here. It's wonderful to be able to sleep in, but I suppose I do have to leave eventually. I was planning to take the bus, so I wouldn't have to park, but I finally decided I'm just going to drive afterall. It's funny, becaues last year at this time I didn't have a car yet and I took the bus EVERYWHERE or rode my bike, and now I'm so used to the car.

and, in other news, the cats are fight.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Health Day

So, today I took a "health day" not a "sick" day, but a health day. In other words, I took a day off before I got sick, hopefully to prevent said sickness. Working a job by myself which is supposed to have to people has been wearing on me, and so a couple weeks ago I decided I would plan a day to call in sick. Then after last weeks craziness it became even more necessary. The beauty of planning a sick day, is you can plan to have no appointments that day. That way it doesn't screw up things for your clients or your team members and there's no catch up when you get back.

So what did I do for said "health day"? Well it wasn't maybe the most relaxing day ever or anything, but I did get some things accomplished that needed doing, which make me feel like my life is more under control. I got the oil changed on my car, got groceries, did laundry, washed dishes, had a nap (wonderfulness), saw best friend, snuggled with the cats and read an entire book. It was great. Now I'm just hoping I can sleep tonight despite the napping.

I wish workplaces could me more accepting of the need for such "health days". My supervisor was awesome about it. I actually told her what I was doing, so she knew ahead of time we'd be down staff. She's always saying we don't do enough self care, so it seemed like a safe bet she'd be okay with it. At my old job however, at the shelter, I wouldn't have dreamed of doing this. They were a lot stricter about needing doctor's notes and such. Then again, it's a lot easier for my program to run with less staff then it is for the shelter.

So, what's your workplace policy on taking a mental health day or a personal day. Is it an unofficial policy? Or is it totally frowned upon when employees take time off when they're not physically sick to the point of being completely unable to work?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

taking a vacation

WestJet is by far my favourite airline, and in just 45 short days I will be taking a plane, just like the one pictured, to go see one of my very best friends. I can't tell you how excited I am. The catch? I've never met her before. So, how are we such good friends? Well it all started five years ago when I was young and angsty... (And now it's time for story time with Still Dreaming).

Back in first year university, my life was pretty screwed up. I was living in residence and spending much of my time with two pretty disfunctional older woman at the non-profit I was involved in. Of course, being at Bible College, things got pretty touchy feely one night and I was all like "i cut myself" and yada, yada, yada... No alcohol involved in my "confession" either. So then we made this convenant to tell people and blah, blah, blah, I told these two women (okay, this is turning into a horrible story). The point is, that since we couldn't find a face to face support group they suggested I look online. And I found this awesome support forum.

This forum was my "everything" for a really long time. I couldn't go for very long without looking at it. And as I spent more time on it, I began to make friends. Good friends. Of course then came holidays and birthdays and we would even exchange letters and cards. And some of the friendships I developed way back then I still have today. Including the friendship I have with the person I'm going to see. I seriously can't imagine my life without her. She knows just about everything there is to know about me.

What I found interesting, while reading the message boards, was the number of teenagers on it who reported that their therapists didn't want them being a part of the community. Now, I understand a therapists hesitation. The internet can be WAY out there, and I think we more commonly think of websites encouraging disordered behaviour such as "pro-ana" websites. It's important however not to put things in boxes and label them as good or bad. Some websites are good for some people and some aren't. Whatever helps the person, and finds them support should be encouraged, not restricted.

Another common assumption is that "online" relationships aren't as meaningful or valuable as "real life" relationships. This is something I both agree and disagree with. I love my "real life" friends, or perhaps I should say, the friends in my city, but I also have great relationships with friends who've moved away or I've met in other places. And very honestly, my online relationships are just as "real" to me. Maybe it's a generation thing, but it doesn't bother me that I haven't met them.

So in anycase, I'm super excited to be taking some holidays to spend with an amazing friend! I'm counting down the days :D

Saturday, August 22, 2009

blogger's block

I have bloggers block. Bad. I've just got nothing to write about. Except I do, oh how I do! Even though I make lists, and put things aside to write about later, I still can't manage to actually have an inspiration when I sit down at the computer.

Things I could blog about if I wasn't so blocked...

- How the cats are getting along
- Suicide
- Toolboxes of recovery and coping tools
- Teaching assertiveness
- Explaining to a client with slight cognitive impairment what child sexual abuse was
- Quitting smoking as a therapy goal
- Housing for people with mental illness
- Getting into the psych ward
- Suicide intervention during psychosis
- Sexual Assault
- Lack of staff at work
- Setting therapy goals
- My nutritionist
- Spiritual Direction
- Church
- Youth Retreat that's coming up
- Oil Changes
- What I've been reading/what I haven't been reading
- My roof
- Wheelchair poem guy
- Getting a social work student
- My best friend returning to my city (possibly why I haven't been blogging as much come to think of it)

And the list goes on, and on. Unfortunately, when I sit down to write, the words just don't come. I'm planning on trying harder, because blogging is SUCH a release for me and such a good self care tool.

So, to all my friends out their in the blogisphere. I love you <3

Friday, August 21, 2009

craaaaaay week

It is amazing to me, that one of my clients could ingest more than 200 pills, wind up at the hospital in an ambulance, be treated in emergency and be released with no admission, not even a follow up. The day before that they refused to admit her to psych. Who knows what the weekend will bring. Apparently she is safe because she swallowed her plan.

For the record, my whole week's been like this. I spent all of Thursday in tears. It's a long story. But every six months or so, I cry for an entire day. Unfortunately, that day, was Thursday. It sucked. But, it turned out really well. My supervisor and I had a great talk (after she freaked out at me in the hallway earlier that day). I'm calling in sick Monday for a planned mental health/self care day.

Also, Oliver Lockhart seems to think the litter box will attack him. It's a closed box, (with a lid) and he does his business with his head sticking out. After he burys it, he BOLTS down the hall to the living room like there's something chasing him. It is hilarious! Just thought I'd share :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Workplace Conflict

I teach/lead a class/group on conflict as part of our pre-employment workshops. It always seems so cut and dry when I'm doing that. I give them this easy to use and fairly simple conflict resolution process that I actually believe works. Unfortunately, nothing is that simple.

I wish more than anything that I could tell you guys about what's been happening at my work place. I do so much better when I'm able to write things out and get them out there. I am SO sick of stupid conflict though, unfortunately, in this situation some "stupid conflict" has had some very serious consequences for some people.

Today, we found out that there have been some very negative and nasty rumours going around about our program. These rumours have been both verbal, and perhaps most challenging to deal with, spread over Facebook. Obviously, I can't get into it, as the internet is not a safe place...but I think we all knew that. The last thing I need though is for things like this blog to come back and haunt me. It sucks, but I think for awhile I'm going to have to post mostly about the shelter and general life and social work stuff until this passes. And possibly edit some posts. Sigh.

I'm so frustrated. I actually cried at work today. Because one of the rumours really hurts. I love having an office where I can shut the door and do that. I really love my job. I don't want stupid things to affect that.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

rant around the clock

I'm having an issue at work that I'm kind of getting sick of. My clients seem to have a VERY difficult time keeping their appointments. Now, I don't mind the occasional missed appointment that was forgotten about, and I of course don't mind rescheduling with notice, but this is getting ridiculous. It bothers me on a number of levels, and I'm not really sure what the reason behind things is.

Now it is true that my client population is dealing with mental heath concerns, this can definitely affect memory and sense of time. However, everyone who gets into my program has to be fairly stable. We're not usually working with people who are actively psychotic (although of course it happens every now and again). So this could be one reason.

Now the other reason that my coworkers and I have discussed is that we are a free center and there is no consequence for missed appointments. If a client misses an appointment, nothing bad happens. We reschedule. That's it. It's not something they're paying for, and maybe that gives it less value? Perhaps because there are no consequences when something else comes up or they don't feel like coming in, they don't.

My program still uses the Psychosocial Recovery Model (PSR Model) which, although old, has some value. There is a huge emphasis on client responsibility and client decision making and empowerment (which are great) but it also means that we don't chase after our clients as a general rule. We don't require them to come to appointments, it's their choice.

I think what frustrates me, is that I put aside time in my day for a client, that I could give to another client or use for my never ending pile of documentation. Instead, I'm left wondering whether they'll come in or not. For many clients, I do prep work and it's frustrating when they're a no show. It also bugs me on a personal level (as opposed to professional) that I managed to show up for all my therapy session when I was in therapy, why can't they, but that's not something that's all that relevant really.

So that's my rant for the day. I'm SICK of it. But, life will go on, mine, and theirs.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hearing Voices - Workshop

Last week I went to a fascinating workshop called "Hearing Voices that are Distressing". It's based on the idea that a person can experience hearing voices, as someone with schizophrenia might, the same way a person can experience a physical disability by being in a wheelchair for a day.

The first part of the workshop was general discussion/information about schizophrenia/psychosis and the organization which held the workshop. Next though, was the really interesting part.

Each person put on a pair of headphones and pressed play on a tape. The tape mimiced the voices that the workshop creator has experienced in her life. Then we were put through a mock psych assessment at a contrived psychiatric hospital. We had to do a mini mental status exam, a cognitive assessment and a reading comprehension test. The "staff" (workshop leadership) behaved in a very cold and clinical (old school clinical) way. We also had to go on a "errand" out in the community and write down some information, all while wearing the headphones and hearing the voices. I was definitely a one of a kind experience.

I found that all I wanted to do was sit down and listen to the voices. I didn't want to do any of the other stuff at all, for me, it really opened my eyes to why someone hearing voices might isolate themselves. Other people found themselves listening to the directions of the voices (stop it, put your hands down etc...) while others found themselves very frightened and frustrated. And we all knew that the voices were a tape!

Afterwards there was a debrief time, and even though I'm normally a very talkative person all I wanted to do was go home and rest. I felt soooooo over stimulated. Of course I had to work though, and go to a goodbye party...

Overall, it was a great workshop, and if you ever have the chance to do something similar I would highly recommend it!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Social Worker...

Here we have a picture of me giving Oliver Lockhart a bath. He looks sort of like I've been feeling.

I finally feel like a social worker, for all the wrong reasons. I feel like a social worker because my case load suddenly doubled because the other counsellor is leaving. I feel like a social worker because our 8 person team only has 6 people, one of whom just got fired. I feel like a social worker because I have tension in my back. I feel like a social worker because I sometimes take at least a full day to respond to my clients phone calls, and I'm often a day behind on my documentation.

Fortuntately, the good stuff keeps me going.

I feel like a social worker because I can see that there are clients whose lives I am making a difference in. I feel like a social worker because people respect my opinion, even though I rarely give it. I feel like a social worker because I can write letters of support for people to other professionals and believe that they'll mean something. I feel like a social worker because I finally have work to do all day instead of reading "Stuff Christians Like" all morning. I feel like a social worker because I'm finally starting to understand the ins and outs of the multiple systems that make up "the system" even though I thought I knew them before. I feel like a social worker because I KNOW that I'll never learn it all.

Tomorrow I'm headed to a workshop for the morning, then a goodbye lunch for the other counsellor, and then we'll see. I have a counselling session booked and I have to fix a letter I'm writing for my supervisor/team.

My spiritual director taught me a very neat prayer that dates back over 1000 years. It is a simple reflection on that which you are most grateful for and that which you are least grateful for. Today it is as follows:

I am most grateful for an evening spent with the cats, tea and a mystery novel (as well as a couple episodes of The Simpsons). I am least grateful for the stress at work which causes me tension and for the stomach ache I've had on and off today.