People do not like change whether it is good or bad. We like to have control. We like knowing potential outcomes and feeling like we have some influence over it. However, reality demonstrates time and time again that we possess little control over anything.
Recently, my agency promoted me. I went from being a middleman with moderate responsibilities to third in command. They dubbed me “clinical director.” The owners called me personally to offer me this position. Of course, I took it! This is what I spent my career as a mental health counselor building up to. I wanted to learn the ins and outs of an agency, while simultaneously taking on some administrative responsibility and still seeing clients.
I was set. This is what I wanted, and I got it. The reality of it though was that it was going to be a bit of an adjustment period. With the new title came two or three new responsibilities. Knowing myself, it usually takes me about two to four weeks to settle in with any major change.
The first week went rather smoothly. I took on one of my newer duties, and it took a little longer than anticipated. I figured this was part of the learning curve.
I rolled into the office on Monday morning ready to take on my next new responsibility. I was essentially told to look over our census of 800 clients each week and ask our agency’s mental health counselors if they were still working with their clients. This was my initial understanding. As I started scrolling through, I noticed A LOT of clients’ names in red, which meant that these needed to be reviewed. I go through the first few and send out the emails to staff. I get a call from the owner giving me more specific instructions. Ok, got it. I do a bit more and start to realize how long it is going to take me. Ok, keep trucking. I see the bottom of the spreadsheet. I scroll down, and done…..wait….no….that was a break in the middle.
I literally start to have a panic attack at my desk because this task was taking me double the amount of time than I originally anticipated. I texted my boss telling her that I am freaking out. I removed myself from the office and sat in my car until I could calm down. My boss straight up asked “What’s wrong?” I was literally doing too much. I could not handle it. I reached my breaking point.
She called the other owner and got back to me. She asked me if I did not want to keep doing this. As much as I wanted to say that I could do it, I had to say “no.” I needed to take a step back somewhere.
I felt terrible saying “no.” I have been with this company for almost six years and working for two owners who have invested a lot of time, energy, and resources into me. On the other hand, I needed to watch out for myself.
Tuesday and Wednesday went smoothly. Thursday rolls around, and I have a few meetings to attend. One of them was an orientation to be an counseling intern’s supervisor. I sit back and turn on this mandatory orientation/webinar. This was my first time supervising an intern from this university, so I paid close attention to their regulations. When they got to that part of the presentation, I grew confused. One of their regulations contradicted an item that was in the original agreement both sides signed. I contacted the university and intern (who had been searching through all of the pandemic for an internship) about this conundrum. It turned out that our agency would not be able to take this intern.
Panic attack #2. Again, I felt like I let someone down. This poor woman needed to start the whole process over again after she finally felt like she had an answer after two years of waiting. I slammed my head into the wall on that one too.
Friday comes along, and I just want a smooth end to my week right before Easter weekend. Of course, this was not allowed to happen. My eight-year-old client’s mother called me while on the way to their house to tell me how her son and five-year-old nephew were caught being inappropriate to each other. I mentally prepared myself for a difficult conversation upon arrival. I get there and tell the mother that I need to report this to child protective services as part of my role as a “mandated reporter.”
I unleashed a demon from inside this woman. She berated me about not trusting me anymore, calling me unprofessional, and slamming her bedroom door. I left shortly thereafter, but the drama did not end there. She proceeded to call my colleagues and my supervisors.
Panic attack #3. I pulled into a CVS parking lot to chill out. I sat there for about 45 minutes and just let it pass.
I finally decided that enough was enough. I was at my wit’s end. I reached out to my owner and came up with a bit of a game plan. She offered to provide me with peer supervision next week, which I always find helpful. I then came up with a bit of a self-care plan.
I had weekend plans in place to spend time with my girlfriend. That was definitely exciting and a nice break from this madness. I put my laptop away for the weekend as well just to separate myself from work. I consciously decided not to touch it again until Monday morning. I also made it a point to write about it on here for my own sanity.
In the past, I would have let this drag on for weeks, but I saw it happening in real-time. It is so important to be proactive with your well-being rather than reactive once you are downtrodden and dead to the world. I will say that I am feeling a little bit better mentally this Monday morning. I am definitely tired from all of the weekend fun at a local amusement park. Now only did I get a promotion at work though, I learned that you must promote your well-being.
-The Caring Counselor