Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The neverending job search

Sometimes it feels that way. But I'm getting close to a conclusion, I think. I went for a follow-up interview at the program I'd rather take a job at (as opposed to the one that offered me a job), and I believe it went well. And today I underwent an exhilarating group interview with another candidate. We were both interviewing for Site Director positions at different branches of yet another human services agency.

You heard me. Site Director. I'd be supervising 12 case managers. Which is a little daunting, but I think I can handle it -- as long as I don't make the same mistakes I made at my last job. And I think I need some therapy to process that trauma, because last night my social work mentoring group thought I still seemed "wounded" from the experience -- and more than a little jaded about employers and co-workers. They also saw leadership and administrative potential in me, though, so overall I found their comments helpful. I'll find a new therapist as soon as I know where and when I'm working.

Today's interview was interesting. There were two candidates -- myself and a middle-aged woman wearing jeweled thong sandals. I was envious, as it's rather steamy in NYC today and I was wearing nylons and closed-toe shoes. I also disdained her a little for unprofessional interview garb, but she did have to go to work after the interview and I just had to go to my doctor for a physical.

We faced a panel of eight agency higher-ups -- other site directors, a program director (PD), a deputy director, and a senior case manager. It was intense but very friendly. PD told the other interview candidate, "I need you to calm down." She didn't need me to do anything, so I felt confident I was doing pretty well.

When PD called me last week to schedule the interview, I was surprised because the agency provides care for HIV + individuals. I have had HIV+ clients, but my expertise is more in dual diagnosis. As it turns out, however, while HIV+ status is the inclusion criterion, virtually all of their clients also have dual diagnoses.

It doesn't surprise me. I was interviewing for a site that focuses on women, and most of the HIV+ women I've worked with had extensive histories of childhood and adult sexual trauma. Childhood trauma often leads to adult psychopathology as well as unsafe sexual practices. The agency takes a very holistic view of providing care (of which I approve), and often unresolved trauma blocks people from making progress in other areas of their lives. So they're looking for someone with a strong dual diagnosis background to help the case managers help the clients.

It would be a big scary challenge -- tons of paperwork, responsibility for billing and other administrative stuff -- but that's better than a boring rote job. In the past I've risen to the challenge a number of times. I just need to walk a careful line between doing an excellent job and making myself sick. I got sick a number of times while trying to be the dual diagnosis recovery program coordinator at my last employer, and in the end it wasn't worth it because they just saw me as a volatile screwup. No gratitude whatsoever. (See why I'm jaded?) I also need to manage my professional relationships very carefully.

In mood news, last week I had one really horrible day, when I thought my life would never get better and starting planning suicide. The day after that, I got my period and didn't think suicide was a good option. I still don't. Another reminder than when you have bipolar disorder, PMS isn't a cultural joke -- it's clinically significant.

I've blogged about BPMS several times, but somehow I still fall prey to it every so often. So I signed myself up for PMS Buddy, an email alert that warns you when PMS is imminent. I enrolled Ivan the Terrible while we were dating, and I assume he's opted out by now, but hopefully it will remind me that my worst depressions aren't real -- they're the result of a perfect storm of hormones, frustration, and mood lability.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My first prostate exam

I've never had a prostate exam, because I lack a prostate, but my date tonight apparently has one and thought it would be appropriate to tell me about his first prostate exam -- at the hands of an unfortunately large-fingered physician. My expression must have registered somewhere between appalled and horrified, because he eventually stopped regaling me.

I'm not saying he's a bad guy. He seems very nice. Usually I expect coffee on a first date; he suggested dinner. The restaurant I chose had closed (RIP, Darna); he called me to let me know, and then called again to make sure I got his message (I hadn't; he called when I was in the shower and I didn't check my voicemail).

I'm just extremely unattracted to him. The prostate exam discussion really didn't help his cause. True, I talked about my first mammogram, but he brought up the subject, citing his sister-in-law who had a family history of breast cancer. She had to have mammograms every six months, and eventually underwent treatment. So I said that when I had my first mammogram, it wasn't as bad as I was led to expect it would be, but I still thought the tech should have bought me a drink first.

But mammograms aren't prostate exams. Or are they? Was he excessively escalating the intimacy level? I'm not sure. If I wasn't completely repulsed by him physically, I guess I'd go on a second date and see if tonight he was just nervous and off his game. However, my experience with Captain Best Effort taught me that if I'm completely repulsed by someone and also find him annoying, "giving it time" will only make me more angry and resentful. Which isn't fair to the guy. So no second date with Captain Prostate Exam. "Nice" just is not enough.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stuck in the middle

On Sunday I went to my new job for half a day, getting a sense of my responsibilities and how the residence runs. I learned that I won't have an individual caseload -- I'll be supervising mental health technicians who do the direct work with clients. Kind of a letdown -- I won't grow as a therapist if I don't give therapy. But I'd still be getting LCSW supervision, so maybe I'd have other options in the future.

Monday, as I waited for the agency HR to give me the information on getting fingerprinted for a criminal background check, I got a call from a program director at another branch of the same agency. He runs their continuing day treatment program. I sent them my resume before the placement agency sent me on last week's interview.

And from what he described, it's a better job for me. Monday through Friday, not Sundays. An individual caseload of clients for therapy. And supervising the groups that the program offers. Also, it's permanent, not temp-to-perm -- that means I'd get health insurance in 3 months rather than 6. Saving me more than $1500 in COBRA payments.

I started groups at my internship and my last job. I'm good at identifying topics and areas that the clients need to encounter and discuss. And I'm really good at creating curricula and handouts. I wanted this job, not the job I was offered. Since I sent him my resume first, the program director made a ton of calls -- to my current boss, the placement agency, and the HR department -- and I'm interviewing with him tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.

Last night I dreamed about that interview. It was scheduled for 10, but I got there at 8, and they let me start working. I gave instructions to some direct care staff to bathe a resident who had soiled herself, and volunteered to do it myself if they wouldn't. I picked up a bunch of checks from the payroll department and checked to see if I had signed off on them or if there was just a photocopy of my signature on them; for some reason that mattered.

I interacted with someone I used to work with more than 5 years ago, at the last job I had before I became a social worker. I'm not sure why I dreamed about her -- we didn't really work that closely -- unless it's that I saw her at a health food store less than a year ago (she lives close to my most recent employer) and haven't seen any other former co-workers from that job..

I was also given a strange task. I had to wear three pairs of glasses and not let them fall off my head. One pair had black frames and was very heavy with thick lenses -- they kept slipping off my face. They were "sensitive" -- I can't remember if that means they could allow me to see through things or to see very far. Another pair was purple plastic with colored lenses, and the earpieces were like combs; they were easy to anchor in my hair. The other pair had to be worn on the back of my head. They seemed like "regular" glasses -- no special properties. I had to walk slowly, so that none of them would fall off my head. And walking slowly made me late for my interview, which made me feel terrible.

I'm feeling very nervous about this interview tomorrow. Because I want this job much more than the job I was offered and accepted. And I'm convinced that somehow I'll screw things up. That much is obvious from the dream. I'm not sure what being told to wear all the glasses means -- that I think they expect me to have eyes in the back of my head?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What have I gotten myself into?

I went on a job interview today, for a supervisory position in a transitional shelter for dually diagnosed formerly homeless men and women. And wowed them. They hired me, without even checking my references.

It's not as great as you might think. While the commute is quite bearable, the schedule is Sunday-Thursday. Not that I ever do anything on Sunday anyway. There's a long probation period during which you don't get health insurance -- COBRA continues, which is expensive. And I'll be doing as much supervision as direct practice. I've never supervised anyone -- and I couldn't get my former co-workers to comply with my program policies at my last job.

But it's temp-to-perm, which means I have about 3 months before they hire me full-time. I can keep looking for something else, and go on job interviews on Fridays, if I want. Getting a full-time job that provides benefits right away is a good reason for leaving. And in the meantime I'll get some experience. I can continue to certify for unemployment each week until I'm full-time, so that benefit won't lapse; I just won't get any government checks while I'm earning more than $405/week. And they're paying me on the higher end of the hourly scale. I demanded that, and got it.

I'm terrified, but that's probably a good thing. And I did get a good feeling from the people who interviewed me. Seems like a nice place to work with reasonably happy employees. I talked the talk; now I really have to walk the walk. Roll with resistance, supervise others, and do a good job. Hope I can.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Burning bridges

Dr. Jones has been a reader of mine in the past, so I shouldn't be surprised that he wanted me to include the whole correspondence, so that his side of the story could be told in full:

So, let me just make sure I understand you correctly; my FB friend does something rude, so you unfriend me?

You know, I really shouldn't care about stupid things like this, but things like this bother me on principle because they're so stupid, and I guess I don't like loose ends. So...

What she did may have been inappropriate. And my response was simply to correct an erroneous assumption of yours (that she was not my secretary) and inform you that I had no involvement. I'm not sure where you got "snippy" from that- you know very well that email or text is a very poor conveyor of tone. But since you brought up being snippy, I will point out that you would do well to employ some diplomacy in your own approach- it will serve you well in avoiding burning bridges like the one you just burned here. You could have sent me a message on Facebook stating something like: "Hey, Jones, one of your Facebook friends contacted me about helping her win some contest.. I don't know her and I really would rather not be cold-contacted by strangers. Perhaps you could ask her to please not contact me any more?". Or, you could have sent her a message saying the same thing. But instead, you chose to lash out at ME, publicly, on my wall: "Please tell your secretary that she shouldn't write to strangers". Doesn't that sound snippy to you? It sure does to me.

I also can't help but notice that your reply here above was all about you, you, you. I'm genuinely sorry your life sucks, or that you feel it does, but none of that is relevant to me, and it doesn't give you license to treat others poorly. In the several years that I have "known" you, and known about your condition and your struggles, I have been nothing but nice and nonjudgmental to you- given you info on a few potential dates that I knew personally, and sent you medication samples when you needed them. And in return you unfriend me without explanation, for something I didn't even do. . I hope you don't treat all your relationships so cheaply.

Look, I'm a grownup, and this isn't high school, and I'm not going to waste any more time on Facebook drama. so good luck, God bless, and Happy Birthday. I hope things improve for you.

Of course he's right, but I can't help how I feel. Yes, right now it's all about me, because I'm in pain.

Right now my life is an open wound. My personal life has been a huge disaster. My professional life was a punishment. I don't want to live. I recognize that I overreacted to your friend's unsolicited contact, but I couldn't help it. If a friend of mine contacted my friends on Facebook, didn't explain who she was, and asked them for a favor, I'd read them the riot act and apologize to the people she contacted.

That somewhat mollified him:

I am sorry for the way you feel. I recognize that you have a lot to deal with, and you are struggling with pain. I do hope that things improve for you. I hope your birthday marks a better year for you.

And if you must blog about this, you should really post the rest of the messages, so that the reader gets more than one side of the story.

I didn't respond right away for two reasons: one, I couldn't, since I was busy working in the field/out of the office, and two, this gave me time to formulate a more even-tempered response.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Ayelet overreacts again

Last week I got a Facebook email from a complete stranger:

Hi there, I am work with Dr. Jones and i am trying to win a wig. For religious reasons i need to cover my hair and wigs are pricey. There is a contest going on where I have a chance to win one and I am asking if you can help me out
All you need to do is:
1:click on this link http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tori-Wigs/271415749046 and like their page (it will be on the top right corner)
2. Once you have done that, Please scroll down to where you see a wall post by me(Young Married Chick with Baby or YMCWB) and like that post
I would greatly appreciate it and if you can get some friends to help me out.
Thank you

Who the hell is YMCWB? I don't like being bothered by strangers. Especially those who are lucky enough to NEED to cover their hair and have children. I know she has children because her profile pic is a baby, and I assume that's not her.

So I wrote to Dr. Jones (she was on his friends list, as I was) and asked him to let her know that it's bad netiquette to bother people they don't know with crap like this. His response, in my opinion, was quite snippy. So I unfriended him. I don't need snotty little shnorrers reminding me that some people get married and have babies but apparently I don't. And if my friends don't understand that, they're not really my friends.

I heard again from Dr. Jones today:

So I was going to send you a message that the slightly annoying (but very nice, actually) co-worker of mine who was doing the wig contest and contacted you about it (without my knowledge) actually won the contest and the wig; thought you might be somewhat amused by that. Then I noticed that you must have unfriended me; not sure if that was the reason, but if it was, like I said, I had nothing to do with it and while I won't apologize for something I had nothing to do with, I regret if you felt the need to unfriend me because of it. (Of course, if there is a different reason, I'd be curious as to what that was.) Anyway, I'm not trying to get you to re-friend me- although I would certainly welcome it- and if you don't, then I wish you good luck and all the best.

I wrote back somewhat incoherently:

I thought what your friend did was very rude. I also didn't appreciate the snippy tone of your response. And I'm not amused that a woman who is married with a child and being socially inappropriate is winning contests, when my life completely sucks. I would buy a wig for myself if I needed one, were I so lucky as to need one, so I don't appreciate shnorrers who don't know how lucky they are coming to me with their hands out. And I don't want to visit foreign websites where I could possible get a virus or something to help out a total stranger who's done nothing for me. I turn 41 on Sunday, and I wasn't in the mood to have my privacy invaded.

He hasn't responded. Funny -- I was feeling great all day until I got his message. I probably overreacted, though.