Thursday, March 11, 2010

these dreams

"These dreams go on when I close my eyes. Every second of the night, I live another life..."
-Heart

Last night, two other lives. Neither of which I want to live.

Let me back up. Obviously, I didn't blog yesterday despite my Lent commitment. I'm not going to beat myself up about it because 1) I don't have the energy for that and 2) I think it's more righteous to "try harder next time" than to give up because I didn't measure up to some rigid but arbitrary goal I set for myself. That being said, I didn't forget to blog yesterday... but by the time I was done with everything else I had to do, I just couldn't make myself do it. It's been a really, really, exhausting couple of school/work days. I had only done one intake interview all semester, but I had to do two of them on the same day (Tuesday), and just that little extra time and effort kind of sent me over the edge. Being on the go for 12+ hours a day--especially in this environment where I feel like every move I make is going to be evaluated--is just too much for me. When I got home from school yesterday (and by school, I mean work, lunch, clinic paperwork, research meeting, dinner, yoga, supervision, more paperwork), I was completely spent. I can't remember being this exhausted for a long time. I didn't take any time to decompress or reflect or chill out or pray or even talk to Alexander. I just collapsed onto my bed.

Oh, how I wish I hadn't done that. I had horrible dreams. And I hardly ever have bad dreams. I dreamed, basically, that I was one of my clients. I was still me, but I was experiencing some really stressful interpersonal things that my new client is currently experiencing. I woke up at 3 a.m. (I don't think I've done that since I've been thyroid-less) and was exahusted, but so relieved that "it was just a dream." It took me quite a while to go back to sleep (again, hasn't happened since 2007, I don't think), and when I did go back to sleep, it got worse. In the next dream, I started having a horribly traumatic experience that my other client experienced as a kid. I can't even bring myself to say out loud (or type out loud) what it was. I woke up at 6 feeling more mentally exhausted than I was when I went to sleep.

Clearly, this is not a good situation. Therapists should not be unconsciously experiencing their clients' trauma. It might seem like I have no boundaries and can't leave therapy in therapy like I should. But really, I'm pretty good at that, usually, because I spend waking time reflecting about it so that I can put it away and move on. I've actually been pretty pleased with my ability to do that so far in my "career" as a therapist. I guess it's easy for me, because I naturally take time to reflect, which actually helps these sort of thoughts not to follow me around when I don't want them to. I give them attention when they need it (which is usually right after sessions or in this case, supervision), and then I file them away for next week. But my fatigue stopped me from doing that. The last thing I did yesterday was talk to my supervisor about my clients (and then get their paperwork in order.) Since I didn't have my normal decompression time, all that crap was still floating around unresolved, so it showed up in the worst way possible.

One positive: I have a whole new level of empathy for what these clients have experienced.

Another positive: I have a whole new appreciation for the importance of "self care" as it relates to clinical work. It is so, so important for me not to get so exhausted that I don't have time to chill out.

Lord, come quickly. And bring Spring Break with you.

2 comments:

THE MADAME FRESH said...

Wow, what a day! I'm tired just from reading it. Still, it takes a motivated and dedicated person to do it all and for that I give you a standing ovation.

Never forget to take time for yourself. Even if it's only 20 minutes out of the day, try to fit it in somehow - you deserve some semblance of peace. I think it's super important to take care of yourself because if you don't, who will?

Maleah Matthews said...

Dreams are weird aren't they?! Such strange and fragmented pieces of our days and lives show up in them!