Wednesday, September 07, 2011

PJSD: Post-job stress disorder

"Job" meaning my previous job. I'm terrified of screwing up at this new job, and that makes me anxious. Which makes me ask the clinic manager (CM) a million questions, because I'm kind of scared to do anything without her explicit approval. Which kind of annoys her, I think. Which makes me more anxious. It's a vicious circle.

Today was very busy. We had simultaneous crises to handle -- two patients on one counselor's caseload. Very different, very serious problems for each of them. Not his fault at all, but I had to really step in to help him manage everything. And I wasn't sure exactly what to do for both of these patients.

I'm still the new girl. I don't know all of the agency policies and procedures. I don't know how to handle every situation that comes my way -- it's my first time working in a methadone program, and only my second job out of social work school. And I've only just recently met the clients -- I don't know them well at all, and don't know their history at the clinic.

So when I don't know how to handle a situation, I go to CM. And she's busy. Several counselors are out on leave, so we're short-staffed. CM frequently gets mildly exasperated at the counselors who are there. Sometimes I'm afraid that if I go to her, I'll just exasperate her more.

I think she can tell I'm anxious. She's made a point of thanking me a few times for doing my part as we deal with crisis after crisis. But during the third major crisis of the day, CM asked the client a question: "How did you know that?"

"The social worker told me," the client responded. CM shot me a look. Not a glare, but a sort of "why did you do that" kind of look. Crap, I thought. I shouldn't have done that. But I didn't know what kinds of things we do and don't tell patients in this program.

We didn't really resolve the issue because we didn't have enough information. The client was a recent transfer from another clinic, and we didn't have her chart. CM promised to speak to the client tomorrow to see if she can sort things out.

After the client left, I asked, "What should I have done differently?"

CM looked at me quizzically. "Nothing!" she said.

So maybe I'm not screwing up, but I feel like I'm screwing up and that makes me scared that I'm really going to screw up.

I know that I take CM's demeanor way too personally. And I know that being anxious and acting anxious is only going to make things worse. But I'm still reacting as if I'm in my last job, when I did keep screwing up.
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"

1 comment:

  1. I know just how you feel! It took me many months at my current job to get over the trauma of what happened at my prior one. Hopefully you will get enough positive reinforcement from your new boss that you regain your natural self confidence. Hopefully the fact that things are so busy means you have less time to agonize and stress.