When the second client came to me with bullying issues from the same small town schools, I had enough. Actually, I had enough after the first one's complaints!
The first one was from a large city. Understandably, he was not up to the par of this small town. He was physically, emotionally and sexually harassed. Despite complaints to the office, nothing was done. The principal was informed, as was the dean of students. They told my client not to have such a "thin skin." This alone made me irate. The PE teacher failed to see anything the bullies were doing to my client and when my client finally had enough and blew a gasket, promptly told him to get a handle on his temper. Bullies broke his glasses, shoved him into lockers, turned the bathroom lights off while he was in there, and called him every name possible for "gay". Oh, and they also call him an "overachiever" in many different ways.
The second client is very shy and has attended this school district since kindergarten. She used to be more sociable. She would not tell me why she was so down. Finally her facial expressions revealed it was school. I did an alternative of Andrew Turnell's Three Houses used by child protection to gather information from children in abusive homes. This technique has pictures of 3 houses: The House of Worries, The House of Good Things and The House of Dreams. The first two are what they are currently worried about and what is currently good. The last one is how things would be if everything were perfect. This client indicated in her Schoolhouse of Good Things, 3 friends and 1 class. The Schoolhouse of Worries showed the names of 13 kids and "a group of 9th graders." The House of Dreams had "go to a different school" and "be homeschooled." This was so powerful, I got tingles! Bingo. I asked her if she was being bullied by the "Worries" kids and if it was really bad in the last two classes. She nodded. She did not want to tell her mother for fear of how her mother would react. I honored that and told her I would make phone calls without revealing her identity.
I was irate again. Same school. Same teachers. Probably the same 9th graders!
What we see here is systemic bullying. This is bullying that is apparently approved of at all levels in the school. From the principal down. That makes me irate.
This morning I called the superintendent of the schools. I left a message on her voicemail. She called back while I was with a client. By the time I was done with clients for the morning, the mother of the second student called me. She was frantic. Her daughter had tried to get all her pills from the nurse and take them. The nurse called her. The mom had no transportation at that time to get her daughter, but the nurse said she was safe. Apparently she indicated there were people bullying her. Her family is taking a trip to Europe next week. She felt she could not even hold out that long. The mom stated she had been calling other parents who have or had students at that school and 3 state they pulled their children from the school and placed in other schools, one was homeschooling and one sent her child to self-defense classes due to bullying issues and lack of action.
I told her mother the superintendent had called me back and I would be returning her call and calling the principal. The mother told me to call the principal because they were looking for my client's sister to find out who was bullying her. I stated I had a list and the mom insisted I call the principal first. I did. Immediately after getting off the phone with the mom. The principal never called back. At 4:55 I returned the superintendent's call and stated the principal had not returned my call.
Monday, May 20, 2013
When the second client came to me with bullying issues from the same small town schools, I had enough. Actually, I had enough after the first one's complaints!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
I have felt more supported and validated in this last week than I have in perhaps all of my life. Friends have come out of the woodwork and if I asked for a "Don't Fire Ande March", I know my friends would bring their friends and they would pack the streets with picket signs.
Truth is, I really don't want to stay anymore. I think I will be out within the year regardless, and by the end of the calendar year with any luck.
Funny thing is, as down as I was, so many people came through for me. I am being validated by coworkers and clients alike. Not that all of my coworkers or any of my clients know what is going on...but miraculously, I kept being reinforced by the rewards this field brings. That success I feel from working with the many different people I do is panning out.
I have received referrals from other clients, stating I have, "worked miracles" with others before them. I have had success with so many clients. A man who had a stroke stated he felt so much better than he did when he came into my office the week before. I asked one client to come up with 5 life goals and he came up with 10. In meetings with colleagues, I notice people looking at me when a question is asked. I have people who have done their jobs longer than I have, asking me for advice. My office at lunch is still the hang out place for therapists.
I do ask myself with all this positive going on, why the only negative is the administration. I would be embarrassed if I were an administrator to know my employees felt that way. I have tried to speak but rarely, as I have learned throughout the years not to be everybody's spokesperson.
I found out Friday I will likely not be the center of attention for long. The (state?) did an audit and the auditors were twitching while administration was sinking in their chairs. Particularly, the director whose hands my fate rests in. Her own job may be on the line. There seems to be a bit of a problem with our agency hiring clients to be "peer specialists", drivers and cleaning people with access to confidential information. Oh, Karma... thank you! She is in the "hot seat" now!
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Saturday, May 18, 2013
In light of the last post, I may be under consideration to be the "fall guy" - the sacrificial lamb so to speak. I was behind in my paperwork. My fault, I admit it. I was tired following my surgery. To my credit, I kept all my hand-written notes. Also to my credit, I was getting energy back and was getting caught up on my documentation. Not soon enough. In April I got an e-mail from one of my two directors stating I needed to have all of my documentation caught up by the end of the week. They would also be reviewing my personnel file. I called one of my directors and told her I was afraid of losing my job. She told me, "I can't say that's not a possibility."
I toiled day and night. I met the deadline. I was exhausted and I was scared. I let Shelly know I was done. She was unable to meet with me for 3 weeks. Great. I had to wait 3 weeks to hear my fate.
That day was Wednesday, May 15. I was stressed beyond belief. In fact, I lost 13 pounds. When the meeting took place, my supervisor was kind enough to mention she knew I was exhausted. thought full-time therapy was too much for me. thinks the age range of my clients is too wide. thinks I need to quit reflective supervision (where I meet with someone else who gives me actual support and perhaps forwards to my other director how unsupported I am with my supervisor and yes, I know this is a run-on sentence.) It was actually nice that my director was at the meeting to witness my supervisor's lack of support for me.
So, I was written up. I thought that was it and the documents would be placed in my file. Nothing else because there was no heavy sigh or that look before they tell me I am fired. Of course, then my supervisor clarifies and states, "Is this it or can she still be terminated?" Thank you VERY MUCH! I have learned in my life not to ask for more negative. The director confirmed that, yes, my fate lies in the hands of the other director and the HR department. The other director is the one that offered me a different job and an $8000 raise when I was initially offered the outpatient position and then not only withdrew but denied making the offer after I declined the outpatient position in favor of $$. The other director is the one that "forgot" to give me a raise following my LGSW licensure and let me know (although her mistake) it would not be retroactive. So my fate in partially in her hands.
I was shaken. Great. More pins and needles. Indefinitely.
Then some wonderful things happened. My friends, knowing about the meeting, talked to and texted me that evening. Through this, and the therapy session I had the day before, I realize this is not the only place I can work at. Truth be told, most people at NP are burnt out. They are feeling as if they are machines in a vast production line. Many people - perhaps most - are behind in their paperwork. They are losing their passion for their jobs. We have meetings where they ask for our input before the message comes out the following week they are going against our input and doing what they wanted in the first place.
Anyway, a few glasses of wine later, and I was convinced I am going to be better off when I leave NP. My sobriety did not wash that away. I am still convinced. I am not losing my passion for my clients, but know if I remain, I will. Meanwhile, something of a batch of stone soup is brewing. My friendships come with the benefit of the "flavor" each item contributes to brew. I have developed many friendships. Two of my friends (one of whom is a director herself of another division) sent e-mails to the director left with the decision, singing my praises. Another of my friends is researching grants to see if there is funding available for my vision of becoming a director of another nonprofit. Another of my friends offered to write the grants (and gave me a virtual hug). Another friend was born and raised in the area and has a mother who used to do fund raising for a college. Two of my friends are on the board of the nonprofit and completely support my endeavor. We are developing a plan...
There is more, but I must sleep.
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Saturday, May 18, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
I don't want to go into detail, but I am under a pretty dark cloud right now and don't know when/if it will let up. Just when one thinks they have it bad, someone else has it worse: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/204026361.html?refer=y
This is our psychiatrist across the hall from me who, like my coworkers, has been very supportive.
My friend Kim's brother also attempted suicide.
Prayers and positive energy now being accepted.
Love you all!
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Saturday, April 13, 2013
We got seven-plus inches of snow. It was piled on the grass that was turning green and the sandy snow remnants. My white "privacy fence" shrunk from its five to six foot menace to a one to two foot bump surrounding my driveway and the road. Now we are nearly back to square one, and in another winter storm warning. I suppose those three words should be capitalized, but like alzheimer's disease, I don't wish them to feel such importance.
The week was a challenging one, and busy at the same time. We only had a few people present for our Dialectical Behavioral Therapy consult meeting, due to the snow that attacked the area. We are missing one anyway who took a month off for mental health reasons. He was a supportive soul for me, as I am snarky and ask questions, admitting I do not know it all. He validated me, as many of the group members remained silent. The two men on our consult team seem to be the most supportive. We have two sisters who are religious DBT players and do not step outside the proverbial box. They don't even inch up to the edges. There is another one (not a sister, but was one of the "DBT Wonder Twins" who was just as religious, who is coming to the dark side. She is beginning to twitch and cry in consult and, thankfully, has admitted she is not perfect. Amen!
My suicidal client validated my fears this week and attempted suicide. He did not complete his suicide - we are suppose to say this rather than "he was not successful." (This verbal protocol makes me snicker. Perhaps I have spent too much time on the darkside.) I had told the psychiatrist this client was worse than I had ever seen it. He told me the man had a PhD in suicide, and did his dissertation on methods. Fine. Now the "team" is in a huge uproar over this ordeal and it has wandered up to one of the directors. This leaves me in fetal position on my office couch with the door shut and locked.
I have always had a fear of authority. I don't know why. When I was in school I was shy and so well behaved. Despite this, if someone did something wrong, I felt guilty. I felt my face redden, grew sweaty and felt my heart beat out of my chest. I am certain I looked just as guilty as I felt. I was a good student, but feared being called on in case I got the answer wrong. This translates into adulthood as, "if the director is in the building, I am going to be fired." Everyone makes mistakes. No one is caught up on their paperwork. But I am certain I continue to look guilty.
I fooled one of the DBT Wonder Twins this week. It was after all the bad snow we got. My body limited me to three hours of sleep the night before. Kim greeted me at the door and in our typical sing-songy-overly-cheerful-so-sarcastic-we-make-ourselves-laugh voices, we sung out in unison, "HI! HOW ARE YOU?!" Bob's half-open eyes veered towards us in critical disbelief, causing Kim and I to both roar. Neither one of us has been too perky lately. I think that woke me up and shed a bit of the grump from my shoulders. I continued into the office, where the staff requested whatever I had gotten the night before. I told them, "Three hours of sleep." I went into the staff meeting where Stu, our Zen therapist, was sitting and continued to chirp. After the meeting, the aforementioned DBT Twin told me of all the accidents. I commented on how wonderful this will be for all the local auto body shops. She looked at me in disbelief initially, then decided to drink the kool-aid and believe I was in a good mood. Later after I showed our support staff the "power-pose" I had seen on a TedTalks, that actually can raise your testosterone and lower your cortisol (this increases your confidence and decreases your stress hormone), the DBT WT accused me of being a team player.
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Saturday, April 13, 2013
Friday, April 05, 2013
Dad told me I need to post some positive things...
I inquired about being on the board of a local agency. My friend and one colleague are on the board. It is for victims of sexual assault. I met the director when I was in grad school. She was a very nice American Indian woman. After speaking to our class, she asked Kim who I was. Kim said she thought I really stood out as intelligent and liked me. So, when Kim inquired about me joining the board with a new opening coming available, the director stated I should not join the board if I wanted her job. I was confused. It turns out the director is retiring and looking for her replacement. She has "chosen" me for her replacement. Wow!
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Friday, April 05, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Spring has been tough on the caseload. We are quickly approaching the time of year when clients are most susceptible - at least in this geographical area - to decompensation. Our crisis outreach team is overworked and underslept. Therapists are doing multiple intakes in addition to their regular caseload. Grown men are crying. Women want to leave (or have left) their husbands. The stoic are crumbling. Adults are turning to their substances of choice. Children are acting out. Then, there are the clients...
It has reached the point of helpless laughter. I inject humor so often at meetings now I worry for my own job security. This is my way of coping. I have not left a husband, drank to oblivion, turned to serial sexual encounters, beat my children or dog, taken it out on anyone else or cracked - yet. I am scared for my friends who are my colleagues. I am the ear for many of my fellow therapists and am actively seeking a therapist of my own.
Burn out: One of the hazards of this job is burn out. According to current resources, the only solution to this is quitting. According to one of our directors, the only solution to this is firing us. No pressure (sarcasm). Yet, no pressure relief valve. Why wouldn't an agency such as ours provide us with help for this? We have an employee assistance program - the same as a factory would have for their employees. We have greater needs, since our job is much more emotionally taxing - perhaps one of the most emotionally taxing jobs. Instead, there are more demands on us from management, DHS and healthcare reform changes.
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Saturday, March 30, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Yesterday I was out in the garage and found a bag of Azteca tortillas on top of the potting soil. This bothered me for a couple of reasons. Number one: I live alone. Number two: That was not a logical place to put them. Number three: I don't ever remember placing them there.
So, judging by the fact that my electronics are still here, nobody entered my home to steal things, leaving the tortilla shells on their way out. Perhaps I would not be so upset if this was the case.
I now am questioning if I am following my mothers descent down the Alzheimer's trail or if I am sleepwalking and going all willy-nilly with tortilla shells in my slumber.
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Sunday, March 17, 2013
I remember when growing up, we watched a great deal of tv. It was our entertainment. Renee and I wanted to watch Charlie's Angels and Mom and Dad insisted on watching something else. I don't know if it was at the same time as Magnum P.I. or if they were even competing, but the argument was that Charlie's Angels objectified women.
Years later I caught an episode of Magnum P.I. and realized that women in that series were usually bikini clad and had no significant or powerful role in the series. I thought about how, at the time, Charlie's Angels may have been the most empowering television show for women. I did identify with the brainy one in the trio...
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Sunday, March 17, 2013
Sunday, July 22, 2012
I awoke at 5:30 am, unable to sleep any longer. What does today bring for me? I placed a cup of yesterday's coffee in the microwave and went outside to smoke. The fox scurried from my yard towards the woods and a deer reluctantly followed. I walked around, looking at the plants and weeds I have growing, and thought of all the things I have to do. I began watering the potted plants and set up the sprinkler for the ones in the ground and apparently the weeds surrounding them. After a month, I see the deer discovered my sunflowers and on the some leaves were missing while others the entire tops were bitten off. Pests! The lawn needs mowed.
The laundry has piled up, which meant for last week, pulling things from the back of the closet for work. Clean laundry is piled up on the table by the washer and dryer. Wrinkled now and only in the case of towels and underwear, needing only folding. Sigh. I vacuumed yesterday, but as is usually the case, the dogs seem to purposefully shed on the newly hair-free carpet. I hate this carpet. I would like to have wood floors.
I turned on the tv and searched for noninfomercials that may be pleasing to distract me from my to do list or at least allow me to wake a bit before doing something. I found background noise and went to my facebook. Renee loves summer. Hmm... and it is so hot I contemplate a move to Canada or Alaska. This summer has been a series of plagues and tribulations. The bees and wasps actually preceded the mosquitos which came in thick following the deluge of rain this summer. Shortly after the mosquitos, the dragonflies hatched in abundance to eat them. Poison ivy sprouted early as did my aversion and avoidance of it. Two weeks ago, (or was it three?) frogs the size of flies jumped to avoid my every step down the driveway. Yesterday a bat had attached itself to the front of the house. What next Minnesota?
I notice guilt in the form of medical bills piling up on the table. They hide nicely the spot I spilled fingernail polish remover on about a month ago. Collectors are calling, despite my payments to each of the medical institutions as I am able. The doctor said I need to stop smoking. This panics me. I don't know why. I am trying to ready myself, but designating a "quit day" is hard for me. When I tell people, I get advice anywhere from what candy they used to acupuncture. "Doc Jones" wrote me a prescription for the patch. No one can tell me how to avoid the emotional crash I experienced the last time I tried.
Doc Jones is an interesting creature to say the least. He is a psychiatrist with a plethora of keys on a chain for each institution her serves. He has an office across from mine though he is scheduled only one day a week there. He has a fainting couch with blankets in there and an old car or truck door on his wall. His inherited family doctor bag on the top shelf of his bookcase indicates the title "doc" has also been handed down for generations. He sports a pony tail in his salt and pepper hair, giving a nod to the early '70s I suppose. He is always running at 100 mph. In addition to his psychiatry practice, he has an organic farm. Who knows where he gets all of the energy to do what he does. He still dictates his notes, a privilege of his title, I am sure, for the rest of us type our own. At times he is short and curt, others he is jovial and sarcastic.
Yesterday I went to the Celtic Festival put on by Doc Jones at St. Matthias farm here in Brainerd. It was sparsely populated with what appeared to be some of the more "different" people of the area - me included. The smell of the peat burning lingered in my nose this morning. The beer was cheap, but not quite cold enough to have two. The music was good and two used books relating to Ireland joined my stacks of bills on the coffee table. There. Now I don't have to dust.
After I poured my second cup of yesterday's coffee, I realized I needed to brew another pot for today. Grumble. I was not that ambitious. Fatal loop. Need liquid ambition to provide ambition for making another pot. Hmm... I guess I will have to feign ambition for now.
I know I need to go to work to get my stuff to work at home. I just don't feel like showering but should in case I run into someone else just as behind in their work as I am. I have several diagnostic assessments to do. I get to label people so the insurance companies will pay for their therapy. My new supervisor insists I write novels for each one as well as their treatment plans. We get paid for one and one-half hours per DA and nothing for the treatment plan. Even the most seasoned of therapists spends at least two hours on each. I have been told there are people with jobs that actually don't spend their days off working. That sounds wonderful. I have also been told those hours accruing on my paycheck can be used for vacation. That's an interesting notion but has a negative impact on productivity.
I suppose I better get off my couch and be productive today. I know I can't get caught up, but can pursue being less behind in my work at home and in my profession. Do I really want to go to law school? Still thinking about it. I realize the sooner I start the sooner I will be done. Right now I need more of a social life, or time occupiers, but can I handle that stress? Perhaps I will ponder studying for the LSAT and see if it interests me. They say it isn't what you know, but how you think that will get you through. Still pondering as I pace through my rut...
Posted by The Sioux Falls Phoenix at Sunday, July 22, 2012