Thursday, January 14, 2010

Depressed therapist = bad therapist

I've been watching the light box and exercising. It hasn't helped; I've been irritable and short-tempered all week. Unfortunate, because recovering substance abusers -- with and without bipolar disorder -- are frequently infuriating, and you need a lot of patience to handle them. This week, patience was in very short supply at Camp Ayelet.

For some reason, on Tuesday a couple of my co-workers started spontaneously praising me as "warm" and "sensitive" and "caring." Ironic, because this week I've struggled to care. I've counted the minutes every day, watched the clock during every group. I've looked forward to my dental surgery tomorrow, because I just could not stand listening to any more people give me excuses about why they couldn't make their appointments or complain about their problems.

Not sure how much of it showed. My poker face at work isn't bad; after the Alaska cruise, I concealed a wounded heart so well that one client thought I'd fallen in love. But when a client called me this morning and said he wouldn't be able to attend his appointment -- right while I was in the middle of attending to someone else's mess -- I said brusquely, "Why not?"

"My family," he wept, "they're all in Haiti... I haven't heard from them in days. I'm trying to reach them..."

I. Felt. Awful. Like the worst therapist ever. Like Miss Thing. I knew my irritation was showing, and that I needed to get over it, or at least blow off a little steam.

So when the assistant clinical director handed me a list of risk factors for developing an inappropriate relationship with a client, I fell out laughing:

Do you look forward to seeing a particular client when you come to work?

Do you talk about personal matters with clients?

Have you ever received personal advice from a client?

Have you said anything to a client you would not want tape-recorded?

Do you have thoughts or fantasies of touching a particular client?

Thoughts or fantasies about touching clients? "Only when I want to strangle one of them," I told the ACD.

Do you think you have the right to touch a client wherever and whenever you want?

"Not in the slightest," I said. "I'll touch their ears if I'm doing acupuncture, but not the rest of them."

You would think that after going on vacation I'd be more relaxed and able to focus on my work. It seems to have had the opposite effect. I'm feeling very tired and burned out, even though I had fun in Vegas. It can't be jet lag. It could be winter blues, but as I said, my attempts to battle it through exercise and light therapy aren't very successful.

Part of me wants to blame JV, because I haven't seen much of him lately. And by seeing, I mean... more than seeing, obviously. I wanted to ask my dentist how long after the procedure before I can... engage in strenuous activity, but JV seems to think we'll "just know."

I might ask regardless, because I know my mood was better when we were more strenuously active. Either that, or the light box has vaulted me out of depression and straight into irritable, hypersexual hypomania.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. Sounds like you can "act as if" which is sometimes the only way to move forward, particularly as a therapist. Stay strong.

  2. Thanks, Katherine. I'm trying my best...

  3. You are doing your best. Hang in there. I know you can do it.

  4. What Katherine said.

    If I haven't already said this, Katherine, I think I want to be you when I grow up.

    Ayelet. You're doing good. Maybe it's just that time of the month. I know I get VERY irritable and also hypersexual mid-month and end of month.

    Keep on keeping on. You're being there for your clients, even if you're feeling guilty for having an "off" week.


  5. fake it till you make it! :)

    I've been in a funk for the past few weeks too. But now it's starting to be light when i get out of work at 5, which definitely helps my mood. It only gets brighter from here...