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Category Archives: Mental Health

Self-Care: If I had time…or energy,…or emotions…or a mind…

I’m almost afraid to even get started on this as I will most likely get in a rant and not stop about the absurdity of it all and…blah there I go already.

So foreword: I am writing this while being upfront of one of the clinics I work at so I may publish this half completed but I want to get out whatever I can in these last thirty-ish minutes.

So self-care. I almost feel as if it is a ginormous sham for me as a grad student when I try to pass it on to my clients or fellow co-counselors. I just keep having these thoughts in my head go on and on about how I do not have any time to actually take care of myself as I should be working: either at a job so I can actually support my family and I (or try and feel like it at least), pay off bills/tuition, working on subject matter for clients, or overall just do not deserve it. Blah all this while trying to push my co-counselors and clients to take time to care for themselves.

I mean, I do get some sense of relief talking with others and being able to see them relaxing, but all that is doing it making me dependent upon their state of mind and not my own. I do have my own skill set though. I love doing Autogenics Training and Deep Breathing as mindfulness tools. But I have this nagging feeling that if I have time to relax before 2am every day, I am missing something. And that bothers me. And I get stressed that I am bothered about missing something imaginary. So I start to worry about worrying. Then I freak out questioning why I cannot calm down. Then get pissed at myself for not being able to calm down. And pissed about being pissed… By this time I have a raging headache and snap at anyone…which you probably guessed it, helps kick me down a notch.

One saving grace, and I am soooo not meaning to be corny, is my wife. She…well she’s definitely more hardheaded than I when it comes to making sure I have relax time. She always finds ways to point out how some of my reactions/feelings are due to being stressed and tired (I think I talked about my schedule last time or so). Now normally someone might get pissed that their faults are being pointed out, but I find it comforting as she’s the only one I’ve let really see me as I am. Which is quite ironic as I have been telling other co-counselors to journal/blog and even use mine as an example. So they might see this glimpse (Hey everyone) but only she, well only she really knows my demons and their names. Quite appropriate I might say.

But I digress, the sham of self-care. Bah not a sham, just…feels like one when you realize how little time there is for it in a grad student’s life.

Bah again, but there is a need for it. And honestly I do try to take time out and practice self-care, even if it is only for a few minutes. Oh man! Those few minutes do make a world of a difference. So while I may be sitting here complaining about self-care, please try to take some time out, every day, for yourself and remind yourself about your reason for doing what you are doing. Pay check? Education? To help others? Whatever it may be, hold on to it, nurture it, grow it, raise it to be such a powerful force of reckoning within yourself that whenever you need that boost, you can call upon its mightiness and feel at ease with yourself and events around you.

BTW: I do not want to leave without some resources from apps that might be helpful. I do not have an IPhone so some I am not sure about but if you try any, let me know how they work.

Healthline

PsychCentral

Yahoo!

Huffington

TIME

Ok time for my next session, later!

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in Burnout, Mental Health, Personal, School

 

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Horrible truths of a Masters degree.

CAUTION: I am writing this so late as i have just gotten off of work, am worn out, tired, and overall in poor shape. Ergo, I am writing this because of these exact same reasons.

First of all, I love my Masters program. Seriously, love it. But the next person that tells me the Masters program isn’t hard,  other students have managed the feat with no real issues, or something along that line, I will stare you in the eye and call bulls…let’s go with just bull.

The only way a grad student can take time to breeze through classes and not worry about finances is A: Living solely off of some ridiculous financial aid or B: Have wealthy and generous parents. Let’s put this in perspective, for most of my grad career I have been working 40-50 hours a week for a community mental health agency. What a God sent miracle. I was able to take 9 credit hours of coursework each semester (full time is considered 6 hours or more fyi) and flex my schedule as long as I met client hours.

Yet at this point in time, I am in the final stretches of the program and am trying to complete my practicum/internship hours. Internship 1+2 need a total of 600 hours to pass. In the time span of 6 months, doesn’t sound to bad right? That’s only of your clients actually show up. Any clinician in any field can attest we humans sometimes suck at making appointments. Guilty right here. So if like my case, only half show up on a regular basis, you need 1200 clinic hours to be safe. Aka a full time job.

Where am I going with this? Hell at this time of night I’m not to clear myself except this sucks. Best way to describe it is to lay out my schedule for ya’ll:
Sunday: 9a wake up, 1115a-1p church, 2/3p-11p Valet job.
Monday: 5a wake up, 6a-2p Valet job, drive to CC, 530p-9p Garcia Center clinic (GCC)
Tuesday-Thursday: 9a wake up, 11a-8p Counseling and Training Clinic (CTC), 8p-3a Bar job
Friday: 530p-9p GCC
Saturday: 9a-1p Internship class, drive to SA, 3p-11p Valet job.

See the problem? No rest for the frigging wicked. But wait, what about Friday? That looks slow. Errrrrrr! That’s time to write pending papers, case studies, journal reviews, and other professional development material assigned to us.

With all of this, there’s no way I am making enough money to cover my school and cost of living. The only jobs that will accommodate my weird hours of availability are minimum wage jobs like bars and restaurants. Not a way to make not just a living but just stay afloat. Hell, I just had to stop by a coinstar to cash in my change so I would have enough money to cover my bills. Thank God for tips otherwise I would not have money after tomorrow night for gas to get me home to SA.

So to tie my sleep-deprived, delusional rant up, I’m apparently a suckered for punishment, am slowly dying from no rest, and want to punch something… I guess. I don’t know. I can’t think straight to save my life right now. Time to shower, rinse and repeat for tomorrow. Lord have mercy on this weary soul…

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Burnout, Mental Health, Personal, School

 

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School Journals

Ok so I know I said I would post after each class but that seemed too tedious and cloggy…if that’s a word. AKA here they are in one post lol.

7/16

Today there were six presentations: Empty Chair, Role Reversal, Dreamwork, Relaxation/Progressive Muscle Relaxation, Emotional Freedom, and Identifying Feelings. Empty Chair was an interesting technique that I particularly enjoyed. I like how the client can use this skill to help explore possible options and act out new things. I did not like Dreamwork. It was presented in an interesting manner, not a Freudian manner. My partner presented her Relaxation technique and showed how I did not like Progressive Muscle Relaxation. Talking with the professor was enlightening as I found out that one did not need to induce tension before relaxing your muscles. I did not get to go as apparently I did not have the right connection for the file…embarrassing.

7/21

I presented today on Alter-ego exercise. I appreciated the feedback from the others as I was uncertain about my ability to utilize the skill i chose. What I seem to need to work on is my ability to explain a skill during a session enough so the client can easily understand. While I can attribute some of this lack of description to the time limit our videos had, it is a good reminder to understand each skill I try to use. One other skill that stood out was the Thought-stopping skill. While yes the Mad TV skit is a comedic approach to the skill, my classmate’s use of a sudden, loud “Stop” seemed to do the job. His partner even admitted her pause and struggle to continue her conversation was real surprise. I liked how she indicated, due to her loss of concentration, she questioned herself if the topic was important and why she was thinking about that topic.

7/23

I presented Autogenics Training today. This was especially nerve-wracking as this skill I personally like and hoped I would perform it well. The professor did not have any qualms and neither did my classmates it seemed. I was greatly encouraged by my ability to explain the skill, process, and how it applies towards counseling with little need for outside help. One skill I watched and enjoyed was the Flooding skill. The use of a computer program and actually getting in a car to help reduce anxiety was really cool. Especially since the partner/”client” was actually afraid of driving.

7/28

Watching how Scaling questions can be used for more than initial check-ins for counseling was a great thing to see. I particularly like how the skill was lightly peppered throughout the role play. Whle the main focus was about the skill, it was only used as a tool to help move the session forward. it even helped clarify a client’s thoughts/feelings on where she wanted to go. I can definitely see myself using this tool later in my own sessions.

 

That looks like that’s about it.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2014 in CNEP 5375, Mental Health, School

 

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Scary “P” word… No not that one!

So I had an interesting conversation with my clinic supervisor today. I was looking up information on Adventure Therapy and where it was around central Texas. During my discussion about this method, she drops a word I never thought I would fear… Published.

After picking up my jaw, let me give you the rest of the story as that just might help. Since Adventure Therapy is relatively new, she suggested I do a literature review on the topic. Heck, she would even help me and support me as needed.

… Oh yeah, and after doing this review, I should submit it to the American Counseling Association’s Creative Counseling journal to be published. Uhm… What?!?  Hell I’m just trying to make ends meet for classes and grades, much less become a published pre-Masters student! It would be amazing but, oh who am I kidding… I have already started looking up resources and seeing who I could contact for this.

This fall should be interesting…

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Mental Health, Personal, School, Texas

 

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Worry about worrying

Well I’m back…again haha. So I have this great topic that hit me hard today about being a case manager and my future prospect of being a counselor. Being objective without bring a robot. Lot harder than it sounds.

So let me set the stage. Yesterday, Wednesday, I did a CANS (child/adolescent needs and strengths) assessment on a client. This youth when first presented had issues controlling anger, making both suicidal and homicidal statements, and was very dominating over the guardians. That was probably a year ago. Fast forward to today and two hospitalizations later, all is going well. No issues at home, some tiffs with school still, and was just told that the client stopped using synthetic marijuana recently. Awesome! And here’s the “but.” But, I get a call today that the youth is going to the PD for having lots of baggies of synthetic in possession. My thoughts are there was intent to sell. Well hell…

I realize this is part of the recovery process for substance abuse. A client can go through the stages of precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. All through this there is the possibility of relapse.

I know this! I know the stages, the characteristics, what’s involved. Heck I know some on how to engage a client differently and appropriately in each stage.  This is not even my first go around with clients encountering relapse. But hell, for some reason this has hit me hard.

I want to be objective and think about this rationally. We are told to find that balance of Kirk and Spock in order to be effective counselors. I realize I need to retreat into my Spockiness so I do not encounter burnout from the stress. All this I know! Doing is so much harder.

Retreating, heck I hate just thinking about that word in regards to a clients progress and my mental capacity. Feelings of failure surface even though Spock is looking over my shoulder and saying, “Josh, you can never truly control another being without destroying said being. You must learn to let go, use this as a learning moment for both you and your client.” Kirk is over here trying to tell Spock off and not admitting defeat. Not wanting to be a heartless computer like him. Will I grow into that? I always struggle with that notion of being able to balance those boundaries and keep sane.

Bah, I’m talking about Kirk and Spock fighting on my shoulders even though I like Picard and Data so much more. Have I already cracked?

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2013 in Mental Health, Personal

 

Side Project: Healthy Mind Healthy Body

Ok so I’m blaming my friend Shelia for getting me back into the groove of working out ahaha!  Basically this is gonna be a side project to see if forcing myself to workout will turn into a better feeling about myself which therefore turns into a better mental state.  And here’s some reading material for ya:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ01676/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043

http://exercise.about.com/od/healthinjuries/a/stressrelief.htm

http://www.fitwatch.com/weight-loss/9-ways-exercise-can-make-you-feel-better-605.html

Anyways, my goal is to keep a side log of how I’m feeling and see how my outlook changes.  To keep to a pre-fabricated routine, I’m using the one hundred push-up challenge to see how I do:http://hundredpushups.com/index.html.

So Day 1:

Did the initial test and set myself at a reasonable 15 consecutive push-ups before my arms started to give.  Not bad but I wished for better, guess that’s what I get for being a runner and not a lifter!

Overall Feeling: Slightly Depressed

How am I feeling?  Well currently that’s a majority of a downer but I have some ups.  I want to start with the good and the major one is my amazing girlfriend!  I won’t post her name…mostly because I haven’t asked yet and don’t want to catch flak for it!  (Mongo dumb, Mongo not stupid!)  Anyways, she has been a great pillar of support and happiness in my life.  I think without her, I might have fallen into a pit of despair after the beginning of my summer if it wasn’t for her.  And that introduces the downers…things like my girlfriend leaving for a new job out of town and my car being redone from the ground up taking longer than I thought.  I’m happy for my girlfriend but it sucks that she’s going away.  But oh well, we’ve talked and it’ll turn out for the best.  Now my car…been in the shop since beginning of June for a snapped timing belt and three weeks has turn into two months…getting told “One more week,” “One more day,” or my favorite “Soon.” That’s been wearing down on me pretty heavy since I’m a major gearhead and pretty much attached to my car like something fierce!  That along with I was uncertain if I would have my job for much longer.  Basically each Case Manager needs a decent case load to earn the pay we receive.  My case load was dwindling due to client’s getting better (yay!), client’s avoiding me and being discharged, and not receiving any new client’s to offset the loss.  It’s gotten better and looks like my job is secure but that was scary hearing your boss say “You need to get more client’s or we’re going to have issues.”

Now I know my downs are more then my ups but that’s just saying something for my girlfriend to offset that much negativity.

On to the workout so…brb!

And yikes my arms hurt! I think it’s time to look into buying bananas and the such to offset this burn ahaha. But I guess from the tone of that last sentence shows that it does help to workout, even just once to brighten a mood.  Now lets see how long it lasts and how well it stands up in the long run.  Next workout in two days!

PS: I find working out to Dupstep, Modestep, House, and the like helpful to keep me going.  Fast beats, usually no lyrics, and sometimes you get a string of songs that just glide into each other.

 
 

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Outside my box…into a kaleidoscope of me’s

So it’s been a while, actually a long while really.  I’ve almost been a case manager for a year now come November.  And one thing I’ve realized, it sucks helping people.  Don’t misunderstand me, I love my job and that I hopefully help people.  It’s the people that are the frustrating part.

Ahaha no duh you may say.  But this is something they do not really emphasize in classes.  The resistance to change…what a barrier to skills training and psycho-social rehab.  And this resistance comes in all shapes and forms; kids who don’t even listen to a word you’re saying, kids that listen attentively and can parrot back but immediately forget it, focusing on another person and not yourself, just plain avoiding me…gah these are fun things to deal with on a daily basis.  These among other normal barriers, conflicting schedules, illness, simple forgetfulness, all add a strain on how I can effectively teach and pass on knowledge that will hopefully help a person deal with their illness and be able to handle him-/her- self without me.

But these frustrating barriers have helped/hindered me to become multiple me’s.  What I mean is, while I have a mandated source of teaching material I need to use when teaching various skills, how I go about it is at my discretion.  Some barriers are easy, just be that stable male figure the client needs.  Sadly this is sometimes all I need to be due to fractured homes.  Hold up though, before you go bashing baby daddy for being dead beat and not being around, some family’s father are away on oil rig trips, passed away, or heck could be the mother that’s a dead beat but dad is busy working and needs help on how to raise his children.  Other times, I need to be the stern one that tells the client he/she needs to stop goofing off, be all in, or I’m gone.  Geez, even being annoying and just repeating the same lesson over and over until the client gets the idea I’m not moving on until he/she can remember the current lesson.  Yet I always, always praise and thank the clients, young or old.  Saying thank you and good job can never be said too much.  Problem with all these different tactics…I need to remember with person I am with each person.  I in essence am breaking myself down into compartments, tailored for each client.  Yeah, talk about a headache when you have a rotating set of 20-30 clients.

How do you help the ones that don’t want help?  You don’t sadly.  Each different image of me provides the tools for the client, but they are the ultimate therapist by either accepting my help or shutting me out.  I try to weasel my way in with different versions of me as needed, but sometimes I just hope…

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Mental Health, Texas

 

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