when mental health professionals are so transparent you know the depths of how they’re feeling

Hey everyone,

So had a very interesting experience tonight!

As you all know we’re solidifying our trip!

However it’s been very hard as due to public health and other stuff happening in the facility Jonathan has not been able to see me or be in touch all week. This brings up the usual problem of not having a therapy session, which I’ve gotten used to and am a lot more easy about, but in this case he’s been saying he’s committed to the trip and doing things but he hasn’t done them because he’s so busy! Stuff like texting my mom, confirming airport stuff getting my phone fixed ETC

My PRC/ caseworker Anna obviously knows about the trip. She was one of the people to nudge me back to trying to get going again when I got too overwhelmed. But it takes a lot for me to open up to someone and consider them a professional I trust to process things with. I did try with her on different things. Like with NRS we had huge conversations about what it’s like to be disabled and I knew there was a real barrier around her ability to just sit with that experience with me instead of putting assumptions on it or insisting things aren’t how they really are. And more to the point she’s just not someone who has the skills/ experience to really work with my emotions, to work with someone who’s experienced emotional trauma and needs to be fully accepted around expressing emotions. She’s just not at that level, and I thought that caseworkers weren’t supposed to try and fill that role. That they’re more about basic coping skills, as well as goal setting and doing practical things.

Anyway so we started talking about Jonathan not being around. And me saying I’ve had a lot of anxiety obviously over just everything! So she says maybe we should meet twice a week so you can process your anxiety. I was like no. I don’t want to meet twice a week. I want to either talk to Jonathan, Jess, my online friends or my toys. But I don’t want to do that.

She was extremely caught off guard. Then she’s like well I think it’s important because I don’t want this trip to not happen or there to be big issues. That’s when I really got upset. I was like I don’t understand you. Two weeks ago, when I didn’t even have half the money for this trip you were so optimistic saying I can’t wait to write your vacation pass. Now you’re saying you’re worried if I don’t talk to you about stuff and have you be intensely helping with things that this won’t happen or things will go wrong.

Right when I got upset I could just tell. She got totally silent. She was like in a very emotional voice “Sam I’m sorry. I didn’t know you felt like that. I’m your caseworker I know Jonathan is your therapist but I want to help you with this.”

I was like well I don’t know how you can really help. Beyond sitting in Dr. appointment with me, getting stuff for me, basement stuff in storage, looking things up signing papers ya know caseworker stuff. I was like you can do all that. But the other things you can’t help with.

I had cried a little when getting upset as I always do. If it were Jonathan I would have been able to fully experience and express my feelings of frustration and just wishing she would be there for me, and could be someone I could turn to. Because he’d be able to be in that experience with me and help me manage things. With her I knew the more upset I got literally the more upset she would get.

She was already upset the more I talked the more she was just silent and when she spoke it was with such emotion like she almost was going to cry, or felt deeply hurt or shocked by all this. Overwhelmed, not sure how to respond.

At one point she asked in such a depressed tone like she thought she’d failed “Have I been helpful to you at all as your caseworker?”

I said of course she had been. I was like yeah you have a good grasp on my basic life and who I am. You have helped me nudged me to take this trip, and I would trust you enough to come to you in a crisis if needed say if I wanted to cut or something. I said yeah you helped you’re doing all the right caseworker things you’re just not someone I feel that I can open up to.

She kept askingwhere this was coming from. And I was like well you’re never around so how do you expect me to feel safe processing with you! When you are here you’re incredibly stressed out or just totally thinking of other things/ emotionally overwhelmed. I was gonna put in something about her stimming with the stress ball and pacing but I didn’t. Because I know that would plunge her into more hurt and shame around this.

So that was basically it. She sat there like stunned and I talked out loud to myself. At one point I was like, I think it was when she asked if she were a good caseworker, I was like I know you’re a genuine person. I know this is really hurting you right now and I’m sorry. (sorry that it’s hard for her not sorry for what I said)

She said nothing.

So that’s kinda how we ended things. On another talking to myself tangent I said that she brought up a good point about me needing more than just Jonathan. And maybe I should really consider getting another therapist. Jess’s therapist also works with other residents here, and though often couples/ close people should not see the same therapist. Mr. J is creative and flexible and outside the box so I think it could really really work. It would get me used to trusting another therapist which will be huge when we move. And just like I did say to Anna I’m probably holding in more than I even realize.

I will be seeing my psychiatrist either this Monday or next. And getting her go ahead with the trip. I did say I’m not sure if I should have any med changes due to the anxiety. I said I hoped now that some things have been straighted out and are more in place I may have less anxiety.

So that’s what she’s gonna do. Plus look for the bigger suitcase and get the cord I gave Jonathan for my cell because we think it’s actually my victor player cord. And that’s really all I could give her to do.

She offered to talk to my parents but she has absolutely no relationship with t them or understanding of my family and how huge this is for all of us. Jonathan does.

I’m very surprised with her reaction. First of all as I said, and I know the job description because of helping with HR, I didn’t think PRCS worked therapeutically with people. They’re just learning. As an entry level job I thought the counseling they give is very basic skills training, group or individual and crisis intervention.

However to many residents, who have no idea what the word “process” means, they will likely just open up and talk about anything. And take anything a caseworker says at face value either reacting negatively or ok but they don’t have the relationship awareness that I do. So it does make sense that maybe she expects most residents to just let everything out and so they don’t have that sense on whether she’s the best person for that job.

Secondly residents emotionally and rarely physically, abuse staff. They will say the most horrible things. When I was having my breakdown for months I said horrible things. And at the time it was either say horrible things or cut. So people had to live with it, and Jonathan did a lot of interference and explaining about how to not react to my attempts at expressing emotion. But when I saw they were emotionally affected by my outbursts, this one nursing staff every time I’d cry she’d cry. I would go off on them. I’d be like this is not acceptable you’re the professional!

But anyway all that to say I would think she’s heard worse. I’ve seen her deal with worse. But I think it is different with me because I think she knows I have such awareness of others and are so intelligent and articulate that it felt so personal to her. I think she had a sense of our relationship that’s totally different from mine. I think she felt like I meant more to her as a support person, than I do. Also a very common statement from her that’s always bugged me is that things are so busy around here that seeing me is her break! I’ve joked that’s my cue to go off, but now I think it might seriously be a part of this that she somehow saw me as different from others here, and a person she could just totally not be clinical around and could be herself or something? Like if she’s saying my meeting is a break for her that’s saying something! It’s probably a mix of everything. Plus this week has been a nightmare with public health around a lot of hospitalizations and things.

But it was just one interesting emotional experience. More for her than me! At one point I said I wished I could give her a stuftie. Just tried to make her laugh. It’s funny how I was using therapeutic interventions on her, empathy and all that. Just lol!

So who knows? I hope she bounces back and is ok with her role as I see it, and that I still very much value her as a caseworker. Not that I’d mind if I were switched though there are a couple I would absolutely not work with. And it’s taken awhile for her to understand as much as she does about my complicated life and self.

I love when professionals are transparent and take off the clinical mask. There are a lot of moments when not doing so is harmful and demeans someone’s experience by boxing it in. But this is just as harmful to be flooded with so much emotion in response to a client that the client feels the need to support them!

Will let you know what happens. Will especially talk with Jonathan about the Sandra thing.

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One thought on “when mental health professionals are so transparent you know the depths of how they’re feeling

  1. wow. that is supe r hard. I am sorry you had to take care of her emotionally. thats really not acceptable. yes its ok to be real. and be transparent. but she could try to keep her feelings in check. xx

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