Thanks for making a beautiful space for shared vulnerability.
My career as a social worker has led me to be with people in their scariest moments; lost housing, lost children, lost hope. As a proud empath with her own mental health challenges, learning how to hold space for these intense experiences has been a journey I know I will be on for the rest of my life. I've learned so many wonderful ways to get me through the tough times from my own therapist, but there are a great number of days when it just doesn't feel like enough. Feelings of guilt, shame, and hurt creep in when I know my role directly worsens the trauma these clients are experiencing.
Make no mistake - my passion for this work grows stronger with every moment I share with a client. I know that my empathy pushes me to be as strong as I can for those who allow me in their lives at such a vulnerable time. Some days are more challenging than others. My hope is that the work you do on this page helps normalize those difficult times so we can lean on each other.
My love to all.
Em, thank you so much for sharing this touching post. We’re so honored to share this space with you and to call you a fellow social worker. Your soul and empathy are exactly what this world needs. And you won’t be alone in the double-edged sword of the nature of our work. We’re with you.
As I am writing this, I am practicing the breathing techniques I learned so many times in my graduate social work program. In through your nose, out through your mouth, and again, and again. I’m also using the method of placing my right hand over my heart but none of it seems to be working. My heart rate is up, my breathing is shallow, my chest feels so heavy. I wouldn’t say these are panic attacks but they are damn near close and I’ve been having these ‘episodes’ if you will since somewhere in the middle of the madness of grad school. Drinking used to help with that, or so I thought. But now I am a recovering alcoholic 3 weeks into this terrifying, exhilarating, empowering journey. I never knew admitting I was powerless over alcohol would give me the strength that I needed to overcome such an insidious addiction.
So yes this narrative is two-fold. Actually far more than that, because in addition to the anxiety and the alcoholism that have been plaguing my life, is potentially undiagnosed and un-medicated bipolar II, along with body dysmorphia and OCD. All of which are gracious gifts directly passed down through my genetics and inadvertently from neglect of a primary caregiver.
The amount of pain, shame, and confusion that these different illnesses have brought upon me and to those I love, is staggering. I never meant to hurt anyone, but yet as I sit in the rooms of AA, I can’t help but think of all the people that have been negatively impacted in one way or another from my alcoholism and other character deficits; deficits I maybe could’ve started working on ten years ago but I was in a 13-year denial, where I could swear to you alcohol would solve all of these problems and then some.
I know now more than ever, though, that I have to focus on getting myself well. Guilt and shame have no place in my recovery at this time. I am going to AA meetings, I am seeking out a sponsor, I have been seeing my old therapist, drawing boundaries in toxic relationships, and for the first time in my life, now that I’ve discontinued drinking, I am considering seeing a psychiatrist to discuss medication therapies that may be helpful during this inextricably painful growth period of my life.
Also for the very first time, I am experiencing tremendous pain and NOT turning to alcohol. I am freeing myself of this thing that I’ve failed countless times to control. And I am doing this, for the first time, by surrendering myself to my higher power. I’m letting my spirituality take the lead from here on out, and trusting in the process; that what is meant to be, will be.
I feel free.
And as a brand new MSW, I look forward to embracing this path of self-discovery so that I can offer that much more understanding, guidance, and stability to those in need of my services.
Thank you for giving me a safe space to share.
Lexi, we are in awe of you and want to sincerely thank you so much for sharing your story. It takes so much bravery to be able to look at and reflect on the things that hurt us most, or that we are most ashamed of. And yet, it is the most important, most courageous step anyone could take. Not to mention the amount of strength, resiliency, and beauty you possess. The fact that you are aware of your genetics and your triggers already says so much about your insight and where you’re moving toward. You’re not alone. We’re SO glad you found us- we’re with you on this journey! Please keep letting us know how you’re doing- we’d love to continue supporting you :) Love, Natasha & Kristen
I practiced my profession while, unbeknownst to me, I suffered from Bipolar Disorder. I always had lots of energy but battled disabling depression. Never get be up!
Thank you for sharing Anonymous! We're with you.
Why am I afraid all the time? I wouldn't wish this feeling of fear on my worst enemy... It comes out of nowhere, often without any trigger. It leaves me scared, with a rapid heart beat, and often times feeling depressed. Tonight I am feeling fear of my future. I keep asking myself-Will I be able to go through pregnancy again without my anxiety meds? This is the question that has been on my mind all night long. I have tried to distract myself with a funny movie, bring my attention to the present moment, breathe and rationalize my way out of these anxious thoughts. Yet I still have them; they will not let up. While I took antidepress ants throughout my last pregnancy, I was told by the medical profession to not take my anxiety meds. I had severe insomnia and cried my whole way through those 40 weeks. The feelings of fear were extremely real for me and would not subside despite hours spent with both my psychiatrist and my therapist. I have spent so much time and energy analyzing my past traumas, trying to pinpoint what the cause of these fears are. Doing so only makes the problem worse as I have no real concrete answer. Furthermore, social media only compounds my unhappiness, as I often find myself feeling envious of people who seem "genuinely happy" or "anxiety/depression free." I know that these are issues that I need to continue to work on in myself.
Our society does not have much information on antepartum depression and anxiety and because I went through hell, fear over my next pregnancy is crippling and often times unbearable. I know that I do not have to have another child, and my partner supports this decision, but why should I let my anxiety win? Strength in this moment is knowing that when the time comes, I can and I will do it again. I have made it through those 40 weeks before. Thank you for reading this... It has been a healthy outlet for me to address my thoughts and fears this evening.
Anonymous, thank you so much for sharing your post with us. Your honesty about your fears and anxiety is what makes you so strong. We're so glad you found us and that you're investing the care and time for self-discovery that you deserve. We're with you.
Thanks for creating this non judgemental and safe platform. Substance use has been a pattern in my life and lately it has taken a toll on me. I knew my alcohol and substance use was progressing as I turned into a daily drinker and it eventually caught up to me. I just recently received my second DUI and although I’m bummed to be have to go through the harsher legalities this time around I feel blessed that this experience happened to me. It’s a blessing because I’m sober and actually remember what happened the night before. It felt wierd not going go lane 5, the alcohol and spirits aisle within the first month of sobriety, but with my AA program, therapy and support from my friends and familyI have been able to feel clear minded and liberated for once. Most importantly I realized that I’m being honest with myself and it feels damn great....
Anonymous, thank you so much for your courage in posting this and for being our first one! We're so glad that being honest and advocating for support has given you the strength to keep going. We're with you.
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