Faith, Vacation, and Moving Forward

So for the past almost week I have been on vacation. A blissful time away from the office, phone calls, and constant affirmations that I am indeed not doing enough. I had to tell two high maintenance parents right before I left that I was unable to do some things for them until I got back. I know they are mad and I will hear about it when I go back to work on Wednesday. But for once in my ever loving life I was able to take a step back and realize that it is OKAY to stop and let things wait until I get back.

Also with stepping back I’ve been able to get some clarity. I want to stay in this field but I can’t stay in this job. It is literally making me physically ill. I love my kiddos, I love most of the families I work with (even some of the difficult ones) but the stress level is unbearable and not healthy. I need to go back to school even if it bankrupts me because hey isn’t that what college is for? In all seriousness though I am not able to gain more knowledge and abilities to help others if I don’t get my Master’s degree. I realized that I have been whining about this for 8 years now! I have been graduated 8 years! Yikes where did the time go?

My husband finally got a job and last week it was made full time. It’s nice and easy for him and he doesn’t even have to dress up. How nice! He gets to keep a schedule he likes and it doesn’t really interrupt much in the way of things he likes to do so I’m happy for him. I’m also grateful to God for finally cutting us a break. I should probably tell him more often about that.

Today in church our pastor talked about how God is Almighty and all powerful. He can do anything. He can do everything. He made everything. I believe all that. But how to reconcile that with some of the things I see at work and also that I have experienced is hard. I guess He knows what he’s doing though.

So tomorrow I will find time to apply for grad school (again). I’m hoping that I don’t have to gather all the documents again. Such a pain! But I can call Tuesday and find out.

Ta ta for now!

Mother’s Day, Work, and Other Stuff

I know Mother’s Day is a week old as of tomorrow. I celebrated my husband’s mother and gave her gifts and we had dinner together with her and other family members. It should have been a nice day and for her it was.

For me, the day was filled with a mix of anger, depression, and other emotions that are hard to describe unless you are feeling them. I admit I was a bit of a terror last Sunday and later I apologized to my husband for such.

You see the reason I was in such a funk was that my mother has passed away. We had a very rocky (and often abusive) relationship but all was forgiven by the time she died. You can’t really care for someone and take them to their doctor’s appointments and listen to them cry and say they want to kill themselves repeatedly without letting go of the past and just dealing with the person in front of you who is weak and disabled. Well, maybe some people can, but I am not one of those people. It was better for my spirit anyway that we finally developed a decent relationship towards the end.

But she left some battle scars. Some very deep ones that I’m not sure if they ever will fully heal. But last Sunday I missed her. I wanted a mom of my own to dote on and buy flowers for and tell her Happy Mother’s Day and wrap her up in a hug. I love my mother in law. She has honestly been more of a mother to me then my own mom, but sometimes there are moments when you just want your own mother.

The day was also difficult because I too would love to be a mother. But a combination of womanly problems and bad genetics make this nearly impossible. Not to mention I’m no Kate Middleton who can seemingly pop out children and go back to her regular figure two days later. I love you Duchess Kate but you make me so frustrated! How do you do it?! But that is a blog for another day.

I get told frequently on my job that I would make a great mother. I am so caring, nurturing, patient, etc. And I do love those compliments. But physically it would be dangerous to try so I don’t. I have examined adoption and find it to be supremely expensive and a social worker’s salary is not exactly top-tier pay. People say I should foster but I don’t know if I could give a child back once I poured all that love into them and they lived with me. Maybe I should look more into it. I’m not sure.

I love my job but sometimes I want to take the kiddos I work with and bring them home with me so I can help them the way they need to be. I had two parents this week really come down hard on me and say I didn’t care. After all the hours I put into these two children and their parents’ total lack of effort I felt so frustrated. I truly love all the kids I work with, even the tough ones, because every human being deserves some love and compassion. Everyone deserves to have someone care about them.

So from all the stress I have been dealing with lately, I got sick. Not like oh I have the sniffles and this sucks. I’m talking stomach clenching, turning, and worst headache of your life sick. And it won’t go away. I’ve tried coloring, sleeping more, reading, taking a bath, spraying scents I like (basically every coping skills I own) and nothing is working. My last blood tests were horrific (my doctor expressed extreme concern about me). I have to get more blood work done next week. OH JOY! (she says dripping with as much sarcasm as humanly possible).

Whelp that’s all folks! Stay blessed and try not to stress!




Some poetry

Come one, come all
Raise your hands in the air
If you have finally discovered
That life is not fair

You can whine and scream
Complain and cry
You can lay in your house
Letting life pass you by

Or you can rise up
Stare life in the face
And tell it simply
I will handle this with grace

Yes my dears
Life never is fair
So love one another
And show some care

Don’t minimize people’s troubles
But also don’t let them drown
For you know someone was there for you
When the world got you down

Life is not fair
But we should strive to be
And if we were
What a lovely place this world would be.

By: Jenny Hansen 05-03-18

Working Through Depression

So this morning I missed my alarm (apparently I shut it off in my sleep) and I woke up late. Thankfully this was a work from home day, so I just had to add on some time at the end of the day to make up what I missed this morning.

Working from home is a blessing and a curse. Blessing because on days like today I don’t have a drive to get to work so even if I’m running behind, I can just slide in front of my computer and get going. A curse because when I am feeling really low, like today, it is hard to avoid the call of my nice warm bed that promises to snuggle me in and let me escape from the harshness of every day life. But once you are there, it places a strangle hold on your motivation and chokes it until it passed out.

Some people would say that you shouldn’t admit that you have a mental illness when you work in the field of social work or mental health. I say phooey! I think because of my experiences and my mental health challenges I am able to be more patient, empathetic, and passionate about what I do. I hang in there even when others have given up. I’m not saying I don’t have my bad days but most of the time I find a reason to have hope.

Working while depressed is kind of like trying to make your brain function at 110% but it only wants to operate at maybe 25%. You will get things done. You will accomplish some work but it is not as good as when your brain is at fully capacity. Thinking is harder and slower. It takes longer to make connections. Almost as if your neurons that fire messages are covered in some kind of molasses. You sometimes walk slower. You save all your energy for your meetings because it is going to take everything that you have to get through them. When you are done you are mentally and physically exhausted even though you have not really done anything physical. You want to crawl into bed even though it is only 6pm.

Currently I have a care load of 19 families. All of their children have special needs of some sort, 99% of them being Autistic. I love my job most days but other days I want to throw in the towel and quit because I feel like I am failing the families I am supposed to be helping. There are not enough resources, not enough money, not enough support to go around, and sometimes I am the sole supporter. So when it comes time to say goodbye, it is hard to go. I give all I can every day. But days like today it doesn’t feel like enough.

The accomplishments I see are small in comparison to working with neuro-typical kids. An accomplishment for one of my kids might be they can finally spear a piece of food on a fork. A huge accomplishment might be learning to have a conversation with a peer without help from an adult to guide the conversation. Big or small though, I love my kiddos so much. Even when they aren’t doing so good. Even when I want to shake every single person in the way of their progress. Most of my parents try so hard. Others can’t be bothered and just want to collect a check from their child’s disability. These are the parents you just want to kick in the shins. But instead, you try to educate and encourage them to follow through. Even when you know they won’t, because you always feel there is going to be that one magic word or phrase that is going to motivate them. One of my kiddos, for the first time ever, patted me on the shoulder in greeting today. Normally he is not even aware I am there. It was a beautiful moment that I tried to hang on to even as lousy as I felt.

I had pizza for dinner because I did not have the strength to cook. I sat around and watched movies, and then I came here to share. Tomorrow will be a better day. And if it is not, I will keep saying that until it is eventually true. There will always be at least one good thing about every day. Look hard for that every day.

Introductions and Such

Hello! My name is Jenny and it’s currently 2:48AM. I am supposed to be sleeping but instead I am here typing in Cyber Land because my mind is going a thousand miles an hour. I attended a friend’s daughter’s communion party today. I think the combination of BBQ, Coca-Cola, and cake is partly to blame for my insomnia. But there’s also the constant anxiety I live with that makes by brain operate like an out of control merry-go-round that only the most psychotic of people would want to ride.

The reason I started this blog is because everywhere I turn I am told to “not complain” and to “reset” myself. I am not allowed to be angry, upset, or sad. I am supposed to be a bastion of rainbows, sunshine, and smiles because as a social worker you can’t feed into the negativity of parents or kids. You are supposed to be as calming as the ocean when a parent tells you that their kid just beat the crap out of them because they are Autistic and can’t communicate what they want verbally. You are supposed to just trust that God has your back even when things constantly go wrong.

Do I believe in God? Absolutely. Am I sure He loves me and always has my back? Honestly not always. But that’s why I have Pastor Thomas. He is literally one of the best people I know. He’s kind of perfectly imperfect. You can guarantee most Sundays that he will make some cornball jokes. But he never does it at the expense of the truth. And he will always tell you the truth even if you don’t necessarily want to hear it. But he is gentle and compassionate and will agree to disagree. His wife Lauren is amazing and brilliant and her faith is so strong. I hope I can be a little like her one day.

So back to “reset.” This is a term used in the Nurtured Heart Approach by Howard Glasser. This is a therapeutic approach that I and my other fellow Care Managers (as we are called) are required to use with families along with all the therapists we work with. In short you are supposed to “energize” positive behaviors (in other words give lots of attention, praise, and rewards) and refuse to energize negative behaviors (not really ignoring just refusing to engage in an argument, waiting for a moment to praise the child for literally anything they do right). You also have to have clear rules and consequences in place and you have to follow through no matter what. Resetting is when you or the child take a minute to calm down and then resume working towards whatever goals you were working towards (sort of like when you play a video game and you lose a life and you just start over and work until you beat the game).

Our whole agency has to follow this including our supervisors. In theory it sounds nice but when you have had a truly craptastic day and you are one step away from a nervous breakdown, you want someone to acknowledge you have a right to feel the way you do and not tell you to “reset.” It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even talk about it anymore because it only makes me feel angrier and more depressed. But stuffing feelings is why it is 3:18am and I am wide awake (okay and the cake and Coke).

I need a place to vent, explore ideas, discuss my craziness, and as my blog title suggests, stumble my way to a deeper faith in God. I am open to ideas, suggestions, quotes, and DEFINITELY any books that are recommended (as long as they aren’t anything too crazy like how to cook alligator or something). Thanks for tuning in this morning. Hoping to add more content on at least a weekly basis if not more often. Just hopefully not at this crazy hour!