When things fall to pieces

Have you ever had one of those days where you swear that the universe is conspiring against you? Or, one of those days where you believe in the Devil, even if on every other day you just aren’t quite sure, but on this particular day life is so bad that only a supreme source of malevolence can be to blame? For your sake, I hope you haven’t. But, for me, today felt like one of those days. It was THE WORST day I have had in a LONG time. And this is saying something because, well, I’ve had some really bad days lately.

Today just seemed to snowball. Things escalated so quickly, I never had a chance to get on top of one thing before the next thing blindsided me. The day started as a  normal I’m-depressed-but-I’m-up-and-functioning-and-going-to-work kind of day. I cried a little in the car but as soon as I got to work, I sucked it up, went to my classroom and my kids were none the wiser. Lunch time rolled around, again, the crying. I was alone in my classroom, sad music was on, my therapist (C, for those who didn’t catch her “naming” in my last blog) responded in a rather cold way to a text I sent last night (a belated response to a realization I had in therapy, this is why I need some sort of outside something… my brain takes FOREVER to process). Her response was cold, chilled to the bone cold. At least, that’s how it felt to me. I’ll drop it here so you can be the judge:

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Her message was in response to me saying her words feel empty like she doesn’t care.

What do you think? Cold? Or, was I maybe just already in a really vulnerable place and misread the tone? I don’t know. At this point it doesn’t really matter because one thing led to another and I was crying again. This wouldn’t have been a big deal, as I was alone in my classroom but the bell rang. About three students came in from lunch. I had a coworker come to sit with my students for a few minutes so I could step out and pull it together in private. After about 5 minutes in the bathroom, I decide I am okay enough to get back in there. I knew that once I was with my kids the sadness would dissipate pretty quickly. I love them! They’re awesome. They are my joy when my life feels joyless. But, the co-worker had switched places with her co-teacher and she stopped me in the hall to ask questions. I started crying again and I wasn’t giving up what was wrong with me because, honestly, I felt ashamed and I didn’t think she would understand. So, she got worried and called my appraiser (for non-academia folks, that’s my direct supervisor). My appraiser came and got me from the bathroom where I was hiding out again, pulling it together, again. I wouldn’t talk to the appraiser, so she called in the only two people on campus she could think of who might be qualified to deal with me. (Honestly, I don’t know what drove her decision making process). The first woman was nice but she just went on and on about where tears come from and finding the power within and filling the cup with power if there is despair. Lots of feel good stuff. And then she told me about when she felt suicidal and how that was her wake up call. I said nothing. I was not about to take that bait.

My appraiser calls her out, seeing that she isn’t getting anywhere. Let me tell you, I am a wall when I don’t know a person and don’t trust them. That’s probably ironic since I tell all of you my life story with such ease. But, whatever. It’s different. Anyway, back to the story. My appraiser gets a little bit out of me, certainly not enough to deduce that I am suicidal. At least, not that I think. I never once said, “I’m tired of living” or “I hate life” or “I can’t go on anymore” or “I want to die” or “I’m just so tired.” I know all the lines. I said none of them. The only thing remotely hopeless that I said was, “it doesn’t matter” when asked about some health issues I’ve been having. And I said, “because it won’t get better anyway.” But, like, literally, it is a chronic condition. By definition, it won’t get better. I can prevent it from becoming worse. That’s the best I have. I’m not going to lie about that. For some reason, she gives up and calls in one of our school counselors. This woman is kind. She is better at the whole counselor thing but still… she is all, “I’m offering my hand. You can take it.” I’m just like, “nah, thanks. I’m not about pulling people into the storm with me. I’ve got me. I am doing all the right things.” And, genuinely, I am doing all the things. I had an appointment with my doctor to discuss meds set for today. I have another therapy appointment (despite my current disdain for her) set for Thursday. I started to attend this super cool, liberal, millennials religious group as a means of expanding my support system. I started dating. I sometimes do the yoga. Like, I’m doing the things.

Apparently none of this matters once the powers that be decide a person is suicidal. They wouldn’t leave me alone. Had they left me alone I could have pulled it together, gone back to my class, did the whole teacher charade, the kids would have been none the wiser about my sadness, and all would have been well with the world. But, no, in order to assuage their own worries the principal was brought in and he decided to call HR. I was given an ultimatum, go with him to HR to discuss “options” or this gets escalated (because they have decided, without a doubt that I am suicidal). By “this gets escalated” it is implied that I lose my job. I have no real choice but to comply. I go with him to HR. While there, I meet this woman, Kim… maybe… Kay… I don’t know, some K name. She says we are going to go on record, has us all state our names for the recorder. Then she asks questions. She swears these are in my best interest. Really though, they’re to assess whether or not I am a threat in the classroom. Like, come on, if I am a threat to anyone… it is myself. And clearly, they had all already made up their minds about my mental state so it really didn’t matter what I said in there. Yay, another instance of choice being taken away from me, because that is so going to help things.

This whole interview feels like an attack. She asks, “what is the likelihood that this is going to happen again?” And I’m all, “Gee, I don’t know. I don’t anticipate that I’ll have a tearfest again, but you know, I’m human so I’m sure I will cry again at some point. Because, people do that; it’s a thing. And, that was all that happened. So…” Then I give her the stink eye. I come by it naturally; sometimes it just happens. She is all, “well, that is your perspective. Others see it differently.” Uh, yeah, lady. Can you honestly tell me what is in my brain? No. K, slow your roll. She then asks, “How many students were present during this incident?” Me, being snarky, “When I cried? None. It was lunch time. I’m allowed to cry, alone, in my classroom at lunch time. And then, maybe three students came in.” She is getting exasperated with my attitude, “all I asked for was the number of students.” Then she mentions some bull shit about, “as I hear, this isn’t  the first time this has happened.” She is referring to a time more than a year ago when I jokingly said in an email, “I just don’t feel like being human after work, so I missed some trainings and I need you to unlock the portal for me, please.” This does not a suicidal comment make. Was I suicidal? Maybe. But, that is beside the point. I never directly said as much and it pissed me off that they threw that in my face. So, I spat pure vitriol back, “oh, you mean when I made a comment that was clearly misinterpreted by a staff member with clear bias because she has personal experience with suicide?” (Maybe that was a low blow). The K woman responded, “so you weren’t suicidal?” I said, “nope, I was depressed, but so what? Lots of people are depressed.” She decides that is enough and we go off record. They make me leave the room so they can decide my fate.

When they call me back in they tell me that I am placed on leave until I can get a doctor to clear me as “fit to return to the classroom.” I’m thinking, okay, piece of cake. I already had a doctor’s appointment scheduled so I will just tell the doctor this is a misunderstanding, there are some things going on in my life, I’m a little depressed, but I’m fine. Easy, peasy, I think. But, no. This did not go according to plan. The doctor does her depression screening, determines I have “mild depression.” She won’t sign off. -_- Are you freaking kidding me?! She insists that I 1) go to the hospital because my anxiety made my heart rate 145 and gave me chest pain (which she thinks is a heart attack, never mind that I have no other symptoms and I am sitting up talking to her, perfectly coherent, and also drove myself there safely… but, it is just the body I have had for 29 years, so what do I know?); and, 2) I go see a psychiatrist, just to cover her own ass (fucking risk assessment). This means, I have to take a day off work tomorrow in order to figure all of this crap out. And, I’m out of work until a psychiatrist can get me in for an evaluation. And, did I mention? I don’t have anymore paid days off? So, I’m losing a significant amount of money not being at work and having to see all of these extra medical professionals.

I bet you think it can’t get any worse, huh? It does. I made a game plan: get the prescription filled for my beta blocker (which the doctor said she sent to my pharmacy), go to an urgent care (explain the situation), have them check my pulse for the grand total of $50 decide it is acceptable because of the magic of beta blockers, then voila. One thing checked off the list. But, no. She didn’t actually send the prescription. My ass is not going to the emergency room. American health care sucks; that is at least $3000. No thanks. Which leaves me with no plan except to call the psychiatrist in the morning, hope that I can get in quickly, and… then… figure the heart thing out later. That’s the best I have.

And… as much as I would love to have a therapist to have an emergency session with because all of this has really made me actually want to cut… well, that won’t happen… since, basically I am being froze out with stone cold boundaries. I could email and ask that my schedule be changed to Wednesday but… what’s the point? If this is supposed to make me actually want to live life then… uh… yeah… they’re kind of failing at that whole thing. It’s so stupid. If they were so convinced that I was really suicidal, wouldn’t they have… I don’t know… not sent me off alone? I just cannot even with people… can. not. even.

18 Thoughts

  1. Fucking hell this makes me so angry for you. You are actually awake and alive in your body with feeling and they treat you like this. I know the one time I said I was suicidal to a body worker who was invalidating me at the time and flew into a rage and she grabbed both wrists (no way I would have hurt her, I was expressing pain over something) asked her calmly to unhand me and then I got the exact kind of treatment you got today.

    While on one hand I can understand that they are feeling scared they arent responding in the way you need and that makes you feel more alone and as though you are from some other planet. In this situation what can you do but dissociate lie or do anything else to get them off your back?

    I wont go into what happened in my session on Monday with my therapist but they can just be so fucking analytical and detached at times and I told her I am considering if her therapy is actually helping which it does sometimes but at other times I just end up feeling worse and I am no allowed not to make contact btwn sessions so flow of feeling feels strangled.

    Sorry if this is a rave but you are right, something must be going on today. x

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    1. I think I’m personally going to bring in some cited material in the threat of rigid boundaries (in response to boundary crossings) to the therapeutic alliance. I anticipate it being a fruitless endeavor but at this point, literally, what else have I to lose?

      I’m sorry you’re having a rough time with your therapist as well. It’s so bloody frustrating.

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    1. Yes, definitely. It seems everyone has this “cover my ass” mentality now. It’s hard to find people in positions with inherent power differentials who actually act in the best interest of those whom they have power over.

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  2. I’m currently taking deep breaths. My anxiety is increasing just reading your posting. I am so absolutely angry, frustrated and would totally like to throat punch someone for you!

    This is exactly why people are continually afraid to discuss any type of mental distress whatsoever because it is either 1. treated as though you are being a drama-queen or 2. treated as though you will fling yourself off the next available bridge.

    Your employer is not helping, but escalating an already fragile situation. From your description you in no way were a threat to yourself or your students. God forbid a student see a teacher cry and recognize them as human beings!!

    This needs to be dealt with ASAP and it needs to be dealt with by those who should be on your side…AKA your therapist!! Your T (at least from where I sit) is (sorry if this offends you because I don’t want it to), completely and utterly incompetent. You cannot, I repeat CANNOT, suddenly change the rules and expect nothing to happen.

    I hope today goes better for you. I hope you get the answers and help you need to make things a little smoother.

    Gigantic hugs all around!!

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    1. Thank you, it definitely took a lot for me to keep my cool. I did the best I could but I did go off when the principal called HR. I mean, seriously?! What you said about this being why people are afraid of expressing themselves, was exactly what I said when I finally did show anger. They can rest assured, I will never show any humanity in that building again (with the exception of the humanity my students receive).

      And, agreed, it would be great to actually feel like I had a therapist in this moment. She has the flu. So, even if she would help, which I’m not convinced she would, she couldn’t until her contagion has passed. I’m beginning to believe the same thing though. Her rigidity on these new boundaries is uncalled for; her lack of concern for the pain I’ve been in because of them, is uncalled for. Any good, competent therapist would respond to such pain. Any good, competent therapist is in constant negotiation and discussion about boundaries. They don’t authoritatively exert their power by changing then willy-nilly.

      I hope today goes better also, I’ve not braved the outside world yet. I am scared. There is still room for things to get even worse.

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      1. I’m thinking about you today. I hope things go well for you at your appointment and everything starts moving towards easier times.

        You’ve done really well this week considering what you’ve been through.

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        1. Thank you, so, so much for thinking of me today! That means a lot. And for the assurance that I’ve done okay. I don’t know what I’d do if I hadn’t stumbled upon the blogging community

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  3. What you went through sounds absolutely traumatizing. I can’t believe that your tears (a healthy, cathartic release for the body) were deemed threatening enough to warrant a trip to HR. My heart is breaking for you and all I can think is that you certainly need your therapist right now. Will she respond to a phone call if you leave a message? Would she be able to clear you to return to work instead of a psychiatrist?

    I’m sending so much warmth and care your way. Good lord this world sucks sometimes.

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    1. LB, I’m honestly baffled, too. I still keep going over everything in my head, trying to figure out how things got to that point.

      And, therapist is out of order right now. Just got an email, as I was emailing her about how I needed her yesterday, that she has the flu and needs to reschedule the appointment we were supposed to have tomorrow. So, even if she could sign off, it will still be a while.

      I am so, so freaking sad right now. I don’t want to be out of work that long. One, I can’t afford it but two, I love my kids and want to be back in there as soon as possible. I have no idea what kind of rubbish the sub will have them do, since we only had one say of sub plans. And I didn’t have time to set anything up.

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  4. I’m seething with anger reading this and thinking about how helpless you must have felt. They took away all your control and failed to treat you as a person. I totally agree with the comment that if someone had just responded with empathy, there never would have been escalation. As if it’s unreasonable that you might be upset or having a bad day. As if there isn’t a mountain of evidence (e.g. every other day you’ve worked there) that you can’t tolerate some negative feelings and still act professional.

    This is the problem with people treating mental health problems like they are the devil’s work. People afraid to get near the topic of depression or suicide because it’s so scary to them. There are so many misconceptions and biases, and so few are interested in really hearing the perspective of anyone who struggles with these problems. They just stick with their preconceptions. Instead of genuinely listening and recognizing your insight, they treated you like a child who couldn’t think for herself. I’m so sorry you had to go through this. And I’m even more sorry that your therapist isn’t there to be a source of support the way you need. I do agree that the text was cold. Has that air of holding to a firm boundary. Ugh, the worst.

    Hope you are okay today, hang in there Xx

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    1. Helpless is definitely the word. I did feel like they treated me as if I were one of the kids, like there had to have been some consequences to my authentic display of emotion. I was crying intensely but with a kind of quiet calm; it was a disruption to literally no one. And no one was harmed by it. As a matter of fact, I know that they genuinely don’t give a shit about whether or not I was suicidal because not a single one of the people involved bothered to check and make sure I was still alive. If they really thought this was about me being suicidal and being a threat to anyone, they would have checked. This was about them feeling discomfort with emotion. It was about their fear that it might turn into something more, despite the fact that I have proved myself to be, at all times, a kind and loving pacifist. But, whatever. It is what it is and I’m left here, alone, picking up the pieces. Just what I needed.

      As for C, my therapist, I really hope eventually she will be receptive to the talks we are going to have about the hindrance of rigid boundaries. I need her to see how much that hurts. I don’t want to quit with her. There is something good there. She damn sure has a lot of learning and growing to do when it comes to working with someone like me, because she is totally fucking this up, but I’m a teacher by nature… so, maybe through this I’ll grow and she can learn. Or, if she keeps hurting me and I’m not strong enough to persevere then I leave. I’m not dealing with another person exerting their power over me though and that is what she is doing. Boundaries need to be negotiated and co-created like all other aspects of the relationship, in order to empower clients and help them maintain autonomy.

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    1. Yeah… I’m still functioning, somehow. I think things may actually get worse before they get better. I don’t get to go back to work until Monday. My union is putting me in touch with lawyers; my rights were likely violated. I see therapist Saturday. I’ve detached myself from her (as much as I could), so Saturday should be a good objective, business session. I am in life clean-up mode.

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