Thursday, March 06, 2008

How I totally lost my shit.

Yesterday, I cried at work for the first time. I basically had an anxiety attack and cried in front of my supervisor like a child coming home to their mother with a wound. It was probably as endearing yet felt just as pathetic.

Basically, something happened to my client. It was something I was dreading, yet something that I knew was going to happen in the end, but also knew that I was going to be completely drowned by guilt if it did, even if I could have never prevented it.

My supervisor listened to me, and didn't try to overtly comfort me, or hug me, or do anything that felt insincere. She did just what I needed at the time, and listened to me pour out everything that I had been worried about, and listened to me sob about how guilty I felt. She told me, truthfully, that there was nothing else I could have done. I think I always subconsciously understood that, but after saying everything out loud and hearing her say those words, I was finally emotionally able to understand that things were beyond my control.

It was an exhausting day, to say the least.

It didn't help that earlier that day, I had gone to a day-long case manager training where we talked about self-management. They talked about how professional caregivers (i.e. social workers, case managers, etc.) had to learn how to take care of themselves first before helping others.

I listened, but when I hear these things, I always thought yada yada yada, blah blah blah, I know this stuff, this is new-age, I need to go back to work and get stuff done.

But you know what? It does matter. Because I think (and you can even see on previous entries) that I'm on the verge, or perhaps already in the state, of a burn-out.

It didn't occur to me until I identified it, but I may be totally stressed out from my job. ( You think?)

It really hit home today, when I burst into tears again during work (which I thankfully was able to hide because, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have my own office) for no real reason except that I was just tired and felt inadequate at my job.

I called Naoko and she talked me through it, and I also replayed what my supervisor told me the day before, and I finally, truly, breathed. Really, just inhaled and exhaled and really really meant it.

After that, I was relatively OK, and was able to carry on through the day as normal. And slowly feeling some sort of purpose again with what I was doing. I'm still slowly regaining that.

And that's where I am tonight.: finally understanding the value of self-management, and understanding the importance of admitting defeat and admitting your own limit. It's the kind of thing people on sitcoms and TV show admit to themselves (like when Jessie from Saved By The Bell OD'ed on caffeine pills), and something not a lot of Asian people do. I mean, my family never talked about feelings. Feelings are for those other people who always like to hug and call each other animal-related pet names. We dealt with things in an unspoken way. (Notice I said unspoken, and not ignored. There is a difference.) I function very well that way, and I always will, but I'm glad to be able to deal with something in a slightly different manner for once, and feeling a beginning of some sort of outcome. And also, it's nice to know that I actually am NOT dead inside. Yay.

Here's to one step forward towards personal growth.


Betsy said...

hi lisa!!! you comment on my blog so the LEAST i could do is read yours ;)

i went back to work today for the first time all week due to awful sickness, and it was awful. i almost lost my shit about 20 times. that feeling of having no control and feeling entirely inadequate at your job is the worst. being gone for that long and going back realizing how much i have to do and how i take on too much at my job is overwhelming and scary. i remembered the first time i cried at my job...i ran to the bathroom so my boss wouldn't see me. but, somehow, we get through it. i don't know how, but somehow we do!! however, as of right now, i am not looking forward to going back on monday ;)

hope you have a better week next week!

Lisa said...


holy batman, i didn't notice your comment here until now, weeks later!

thanks for your sweet comment. it's been better since, especially because i work with really supportive people.