The Scaffold

This… this is embarrassing

I had hoped to continue the story of my first therapy session today. However, I had an experience that I think will bring more clarity to the thoughts and feelings that overwhelm me so often. Maybe talking about it can help me understand what happened as well.

I had made it almost the entire way through the work day, and I stopped at my office to turn in my notes for the last week. I was feeling okay, nothing to worry about. I walked in and sat down to check my work before handing it in. Suddenly, I had this strong feeling of dread for no obvious reason. This is not uncommon, and since I had a pile of paperwork in front of me I decided to dive in.

My supervisor noticed me after a moment and said hello, but I hardly noticed. I glanced up but said nothing. Of course, in a behavioral health agency these things get noticed. She repeated the greeting, this time slowly and more deliberately. I acknowledged her, but I knew it was too late.
She pulled me aside and asked me if I needed to talk. This is where it all went wrong.

I immediately broke down. I kept thinking about people judging me, about how I’ve handled other situations recently, about anything and everything that I didn’t need to be thinking about. In the middle of my office, I’m sitting there bawling, dripping all over the paperwork I’ve already had to write twice. My supervisor’s sitting there with this “oh shit” look on her face. People are coming and going, it’s a huge mess.

Then, and I’m very proud of this, I took advantage of a number of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques that I learned about in college! I got my breathing under control and instantly felt calmer. I looked around and “reframed” the room, searching for things that made me feel interested or relaxed. I questioned what I was feeling and challenged it rationally. Slowly I began to explain what it was that I was feeling, and we held a mini counseling session right there. I realized then how much support I really have.

My big brother – my best friend and oldest support system – recently moved 2,000 miles away. The girl from The Realization has been buried in work and school stuff for weeks. My friends are all going their own ways. I was beginning to feel very alone. But this incident at work made me see that you can always find aid. Somebody is always there to support your growth. Sometimes the people you least expect (in this case, my normally very intense boss) will have your back. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I hope my friends know that I’ll always be there to support them.

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