A major decision has been weighing heavy on my mind for several months. For those of you who do not know, I am a mental health counselor in a specialized program for young adults experiencing psychosis. Working with this population has been a dream come true going back to my sophomore year of college. That was back when I started volunteering with schizophrenia research. I fell in love with it and with this job.
Out of financial necessity, I began a part-time job simultaneously with my full-time job a little over a year ago. I conducted counseling with children. I enjoy this work too, where I thought I would despise it initially.
Between these two jobs, I was working between 50 and 60 hours a week. Back in graduate school, I did those standing on my head. However, my health took a turn for the worse in recent years with multiple diagnoses including fibromyalgia and sleep apnea. I had my health under control over the summer and early fall. Since October, I experienced quite the decline. I was back in a pattern of missing multiple days and weeks at a time. It happened three, four, then five times. I know myself well enough. My physical health worsened under high stress levels. I took this as a sign – one for a change.
In November, my part-time supervisor had asked me if I wanted a “full-time” position with them. I put that in quotes because it is a contracted position at about 30 hours a week, but at a higher hourly rate. I politely declined at the time.
As the situation developed, I contemplated my course of action. On one hand, I had a wonderful full-time job with my dream population. On the other hand, I had an offer for less hours and more money. It came down to my passion versus my health. This was far from an easy decision.
During a meeting with my current full-time supervisors, I tested the atmosphere to see where their thoughts were. Some suggestions were thrown out there, but it really did not convince me that it was enough. I gave my notice during that meeting.
For the remainder of the day, I was down and out. I confused myself. I should be happy right now. I have an awesome opportunity ahead of me. I called my parents and a few friends to inform them of what happened. Everyone agreed that I made the right decision. Then, why do I feel like crap? It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a good friend of mine who also works in mental health. She ecstatically proclaimed, “How does it feel to do something for yourself?”
As much progress as I’ve made in muy self-care journey, I realized that most of my endeavors have been focused on specific facets of my well-being. I really have confronted a decision to affect my overall well-being in a long time. I felt uncomfortable. I was overwhelmed by guilt. I felt like I was letting down my clients and coworkers. I was doing quite the opposite for once. I was being selfish instead of selfless.
-The Caring Counselor