The last two weeks pushed my well-being, self-care, and sanity to the limits. I started a new full-time management position, while holding onto my old job part-time. This put me into quite the conundrum. My old job was conducting in-home counseling services for trouble youth. Typically, I worked with these youth short-term (8-12 weeks) to stabilize them until they could receive outpatient services. When I received the offer for the new job, many of the children I was working with were halfway through their authorizations and ending in the coming weeks. I made a commitment to my supervisors that I would at least see out the remaining weeks on these cases. By making such a promise, I backed myself into a corner. I was working 40 hours as a supervisor, and then another 25-30 still with the kids.
Only a mad man would pull close to 70 hours a week working in mental health as a supervisor and counselor with such acute populations. Well, yours truly is a mad man and well aware. However, I knew it would only be temporary. I did what I could to mentally prepare myself. I pulled back where I could. I informed my friends and family members to keep an eye on me. I even scheduled times where I could rest. I had a good idea of the toll these few weeks were going to have. This is not to say that I was immune from its effects though.
My anxiety has been on high alert. I have not been sleeping well. My mind races all day and all night. I am struggling on maintaining my own boundaries. I even neglected important parts of my well-being like diet and exercise – the first things to go for me. I felt the side effects of this monstrous change.
While debating if I had the emotional and physical energy to go to my friend’s thirtieth birthday party, I called my dad up to decompress a little. He is typically a good person just to “shoot the shit” with. As soon as I started talking, he immediately commented, “You sound burnt out.” I was. I knew it.
I explained to him, “I just want to do everything the right way.”
“I was a chef who would turn over 500 dinners a night. Did you think I cared when one or two people didn’t like the food?”
The old man was right. I am never going to be able to make everyone happy and do everything absolutely perfectly. Especially while learning this new position, it was almost expected that I was going to make mistakes. My well-being was going to take some hits with this much pressure on me. There were going to be some deficits in my self-care. On the other hand, I was doing a pretty damn good job for my first two weeks on the job. I was still providing solid care to my clients. I even managed to slide in time with my friends a couple times.
Not everyone you interact with is going to like you. There will be some haters along the way. You will make mistakes and maybe even some that will cost you relationships. The one person who has to like you – or at least accept you- is yourself.
-The Caring Counselor