June 24th (“The only thing we have to fear…”)

I was terrified of becoming a counselor.

Which is ironic, since that’s the graduate degree I’ve pursued since 2010.

But when my pre-practicum counseling course came, I had to face my fear of the counselor’s chair.

ImageWell, sure, it was a “pretend” counselor’s chair. The role plays that we did in class weren’t with actual clients yet. But I did have to sit there, with professor and classmates looking on, and try my best to be a counselor.

I was scared my best wasn’t good enough.

I made it through the introductory lectures fine, but when the night for role play came, I was curled up in my bed, in the dark, escaping through tearful sleep. I finally withdrew from the class.

I signed up for the same pre-practicum course again this summer.

I fought hard. I saw a counselor myself and worked through fears of criticism. I examined my irrational expectations of perfection. I practiced short role plays with my counselor (boy, was that a switch). And when I was afraid, my counselor asked me to remember why I wanted to do this.

I want to help people.

Mentally, I prepared and prepared. I could do this. I would not be perfect, but my little “failures” would grow and strengthen me as a counselor. I would learn. It was part of it. I would embrace it.

I wanted to be a counselor.

On June 24th, I made it through my first role play.

I still have more role plays to come. I still have my first session as a counselor with an actual client. Do I have a few lingering fears? A few tingling nerves? Yes. But come on. I want to get to that other side.

People have “role plays” to face. Maybe I can help some of them find their June 24th.

What “role play” do you face? When will your June 24th be?

Being real

I’ve been considering blogging again/more. (I once read that the cardinal rule of blogging is to never talk about lack of blogging or about renewed efforts/decision to blog more, but there you go.) I knew that if I were to really, honestly blog, it might involve a large amount of honesty and “being real.” I wondered if I was ready for that. In the past it was so much easier to be real about my struggles, and I’m not sure if age and wisdom or fear has tempered that. But here I am, and I thought I’d give it a shot.

I’ve had another recent run-in with my old friends, depression and anxiety. The collision was to the point that I had to withdraw from another semester of school and temporarily pull out of my job on unpaid sick leave. I have now spent two weeks at a Christian counseling center in CA, getting more intensive and concentrated help to overcome the depression and anxiety. It’s been hard; it’s been grueling. Most days I’m exhausted from the work and the therapy. But there you go, and here I am.

I used to talk a lot more online about my depression punctuated by bouts of anxiety. Again, I’m not sure what has tempered that more as the years have gone by. But one thing I still believe is that open and honest conversation about these kinds of things can help erase some of the stigma associated with it. It can help others open up about their own struggles; it can help us feel less alone. So I’m writing and letting you know what I’m going through. I hope that if you’re struggling, it will help you know you’re not alone. I hope if you know someone who’s struggling, you might be encouraged to reach out and offer to be a listening ear. And wherever you are, I hope that it helps us all realize that we don’t have to let fears or stigma define us. Real is real. Let’s be real, and maybe we’ll all end up a little better for it.

And most of all, I need to say that God is faithful. No matter what, God is faithful in ALL things. Always.

Ready for it to be done

I’m not gonna lie: it’s hard. And a lot of times I wish I was someone other than “me.”
I get really tired of depression. I get really tired of fighting it, and fighting anxiety. I’m tired of the pain in my chest when I sit panicked by the world.
Please just leave me alone.
I want to get better. I really do. And I try, and I fail, and I take more medicines, and I pray that they work.
My chest hurts so bad right now. It kills me to sit here every minute. I just want it over with. I’m ready for it to be gone.
It hurts, and it makes me want to cry. I’m ready for it to be done.
I just want to be normal, but I know that everyone hurts. Everyone hurts. But they’re not the ones sitting here in a battle that’s gone on for weeks. They don’t have to count the number of days since they broke their own skin for blood. Or maybe some of them do. But if they do, they’re like me — they know the pain, they’re tired of the war. We’re ready for it to be done.
One day it will end — hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Praise Him for the day that will come where sorrow will be no more. Every tear wiped dry, every eye clear, every heart glad. I can praise Him for that.
But for now, I sit here…and the pain in my chest just aches.
I’m ready for it to be done.