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  1. #1
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    First time

    Hello all. I have never done this before!!! It feels a little scary. I am just looking for some advice/support/whathaveyou. I am from New Orleans (lived there till age 18) and my family evacuated from Katrina and came to stay with us here in our city (another southern town 8 hours away) for 6 weeks before going back. Unfortunately without knowing the challenges I would face I also took a job for less pay this year for the "clinical experience." I was happy in my previous job (did 2 years there) but had some concerns with my bosses, and when the lower-paying job was offered to me I felt I had to take a chance while I am young and don't have kids yet, etc. (So I guess I did the exact opposite of another poster, "Should I take the job?" and took the risk knowing I might not love it.) So I took the challenge, and then Katrina hit, and this has hit not only personally but professionally as well as I try to serve all the evacuated families. The one person I could really lean on and have emotional crises with was my mom. Now she is a basket case and I am just trying to support her and my family as they put their lives together...but they have gone back months ago and are living in a temporary (plastic sheeting ceiling-ed) apartment and working, so in a sense they're more fortunate than most. I took a chance on the lower-paying job because I wanted to try things while I am young, but the thing is that it is so rough. It is a social work job instead of my previous counseling job. I deal with major crises and family issues every day and it is breaking my heart and I don't know what to do. I am contracted for one year and will try to find something else next year but the amount of suffering others go through is just overwhelming. When my parents were here I thought I could just immerse myself in my job as people often do to deal with hardships--but my job is even more upsetting. I went to get my hair cut today and they said I have "major breakage" which turns out is stress related. Weird, right? have always been so responsible--I went straight through school and got my BSW and MSW and worked in three different jobs without ever not being under contrct and I feel like I am falling apart now. I went down to New Orleans thinking it would help me and it did but it is so upsetting and there is really nothing I can do except stay strong for my mom....but who is strong for me now? I looked into therapy but my insurance doesn't cover. I don't know what to do or how to get through 6 more months of the job and even if I get out of the job at that point, is it strange to have gotten all these mental health degrees and then be so burnt out I have to start completely over after trying 3 jobs in related fields? I don't know how to start figuring out what I want because everything is so influenced by the fact that, of my immediate family, I am the only one not back in New Orleans helping.

  2. #2
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    First time

    It sounds as though you are in a job that is burning you out but feel that you have to stay to honor your one year contract. Is that correct?

    If so, then I think you need to leave that job. Whatever your sense of obligation to the position, it is certainly NOT worth your health. If you are worried about having to tell your employer how this is stressing you out, then why not use Katrina as the reason? You have family down there; they need you; you feel you must go to them. It's hard to imagine anyone who has seen or heard anything about the enormous destruction of Katrina trying to hold you to a contract.

    (And even if they do, really, so what? I don't see a future employer holding it against you.)

  3. #3
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    First time

    I agree with David, sweetie. You've got way too much on your plate right now to remain in a job that does nothing but add more to that plate. If you feel your family needs you, and you need to be with them, I think your employer would understand the need for you to get away from the stress and regroup. It would be ludicrous for them to believe that you can be of that much help to others when you're buckling under the stress of what's happened, and is happening, to your family. Even if they don't, future employers would.

    Katrina was felt by the whole country in one way or another. The media brought the devastation and heartbreak right into our living rooms. I can't imagine that there are many people who wouldn't understand the impact of this on anyone who lives in the affected areas, or has family there.

    In addition, to help combat your own stress, be sure you're getting as much rest as possible and be sure you're taking a multivitamin and a B-vitamin supplement. You might also be able to see your general care physician for medication to relieve anxiety. Your insurance should cover regular medical visits, and I'll bet your doc would be glad to help you.

  4. #4
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    thanks

    Thank you for your support. I've only been to a therapist twice in my life and both times I sat down on the couch and started crying! It is just so amazing to let myself be vulnerable...and I am doing it now too. (:

    I work for the school system so that's why we are contracted. This state is not unionized so they don't let you out for anything and if you do go, they try to take your certificate away and it's a big nasty mess. I am sure they would let me go if I was actually going to go down and care for my family...but the thing is that there is no way for me to help there, so I wouldn't be going. When my folks and sister were here I planned to provide for them in all kinds of ways, and that wasn't what they wanted. They are (like everyone there) focused on putting their lives back together and making things seem as normal as possible. So I don't really have a role to play in that besides on the phone long distance, you know?

    Plus there's that whole making-money thing. If I quit now, what do I do? Bartend? And wouldn't I feel guilty for quitting a job over my connections to Katrina when thousands lost their jobs (or their lives) and don't have my options?

    I think you are both so very right, this job is just making things worse for me. I serve abused and neglected kids and handle crises for the school and economic needs (which this winter are pretty overwhelming too), and the function I was serving last year in a school did not feel as noble but I did get to have good experiences with kids too, like the occasional talent show or holiday party, and the cuteness factor or the fact that the kids loooved me while I was there was a buffer from the harsh things I saw as their counselor. Now I go into 5 different schools and handle the bazillion crises, and all I want is to be back in a job where there's some cheer. And of course I was replaced at that job so that door has closed. In February schools start looking again so you can bet I'll be applying everywhere. In the meantime....what?

    Thanks for your help. It's wonderful to get such a quick response!

  5. #5
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    First time

    Try talking to your family doctor about medications for anxiety, hon. That might help get you through until you can find a more suitable job. Also, take heed of your diet, try the vitamins, get plenty of rest, and focus on finding leisure activities that relieve tension for you.

    In the meantime, we're here to serve as a sounding board, and to offer advice when we have something we think might help. :)

  6. #6
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    First time

    The other thing - I know you said you can't afford counseling but given that you have some training yourself the next best thing might be to see if you can grab a copy of David Burns, The Feeling Good Handbook (Penguin, 1999). Then look at ways of restructuring the situations and your reactions to them. For example, this may help you to focus on the positives that you are able to bring into their lives instead of the negatives that plague you.

    See also http://www.psychlinks.ca/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=1523 and http://www.psychlinks.ca/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=1524 for more about CBT.

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