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0545 hours: The alarm goes off. My sleepy head rises from the depths of the pillows and the doona to hit the snooze button.
0555 hours: Beep…beep…beep…beep. It’s off again. Once again, I hit the snooze button.
0605 hours: BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…BEEP. Snooze button. Hit again.
0615 hours: BEEEEP….BEEEEP….BEEEP…finally, I respond.
Waking up. Getting out of bed but not really awake. I stumble to the bathroom.
0630 hours: “What do I wear? I better check the weather report….“
0645 hours: “Damn…didn’t pack lunch last night. This is what I get for being lazy! Why don’t I ever learn?? Where’s the bread….“
0655 hours: “A ham, cheese and tomato sandwich all ready to go. Now for my COFFEE (my injector of life!) and brekky….“
0700 hours: “What’s the news for today? I can’t stand Karl Stefanovic! Why do I even bother watching this trash in the morning…“
0715 hours: “Shit….running late!!! Still have to brush my teeth and hair”
0720 hours: “House keys? Check. Car keys? Check. Work keys? Check“
0725 hours: “Why, why, why? Every. Single. Time. I’m running late and there’s traffic. I really should try and leave by 0715“
0800 hours: “Made it. Found a parking spot. Awesome.“
0805 hours: I enter my office. And the day begins. “So who am I seeing today? Oh crap. I can’t believe I have client X today! So not looking forward to that. Ah well…better get down to sending out the appintment notes“
0830 hours: Appintment notes given to the secretary to hand out to the clients for the day. The bell goes off. The day has officially begun.
0845 hours: In the middle of writing my report on the assessment conducted last week. A student comes over… “Miss, can I see you sometime today?” Ah yes…I do have a spot free. And the student can make it.
0900 hours: A chat with one of the staff. There is a student giving a lot of trouble (Surprise, surprise!) Can I fix the student? Why, of course! Now let me just get that magic wand of mine….
0915 hours till 1700 hours:
I work with kids or teenagers who suffer from Anxiety. Worried about their performance. Worried about the future. Worried about their parents having separated. Worried about being away from one parent. Worries about what their peers think of them. Worried about what that one boy or girl in their year thinks of them. Worried about a presentation they have to make. Worried about their weight. Worried about the ghosts in their house. Worried about the dark. And I give them strategies to face their fears. To expose them to their anxieties. To manage the separation difficulties.
I work with kids or teenagers who have Depression. Who think that nothing good will ever happen in their lives. Who think that school is not worth attending. Who think their family doesn’t care about them. Who think that no one will miss them if they are gone. Who don’t sleep very well. Or who sleep too much. Who don’t eat very well. Or who eat too much. Who don’t bother going out with their friends any more. Who think they have no friends. Who cry themselves tos sleep at night. Who put on a mask for the rest of us. Who cut themselves. Who withdraw. Who hurt. Deeply. And I listen. And I give them strategies. To challenge their thoughts. To not believe those negative thoughts in their minds. Because there are people that love them. And care for them.
I work with kids or teenagers who have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Who have the need to wash their hands for fear of germs. Who cannot eat food prepared by anyone other than their mother. Who have to count and recount and recount before they start an important task. Who have to organise their clothes in colour. Who freak out if someone mixes up these colours. Who have to walk by stepping over the cracks on the pavements. Who have to pray if they get intrusive thoughts. And I give them strategies. And expose them to their anxiety-provoking thoughts and situations. And not let them engage in their compulsive behaviour(s).
I work with kids or teenagers who suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Who have been physically abused for years. Who have been sexually abused. Who have witnessed domestic violence. Who have been neglected and cannot understand why. Who blame themselves for all of this. Who have witnessed an accident. Where someone died. Who have been molested. And have not told anyone. I work with them by challenging that guilt. Because they are not to blame. I provide them with strategies to ground themselves. I expose them to the situations that they have avoided talking or thinking about. But most importantly, I try to be that one person they can trust. That person who is genuine. And that person, who is there to listen.
I work with kids or teenagers who have anger management issues. Who think that everyone in the world is against them. Who think that nothing is fair. Who explode and swear and get into trouble. Who
never rarely ever come on their own accord. And I challenge them. Are things really that unfair? Who said everything in life has to be fair? And I get them to see the consequences of their actions. And I try and give them strategies to calm themselves down.
I work with parents of kids and teenagers with ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or ODD (Oppostional Defiant Disorder). Who think that their child or teen is the problem. Who complain that their kids never listen to them. Who yell at their kids who are defiant. Who scream at the impulsive child. And I give them parenting strategies. I talk about rewards and consequences. And most importantly, I talk about consistency.
I work with kids and teenagers that have Asperger’s Syndrome. Who cannot handle change very well. Who can have outbursts within the classroom. Who have difficulties with their peers and initiating social activities. And I teach them social skills. And I work with them to manage their outbursts. And I talk to the teachers about managing these kids. For after all, it’s not their fault.
I work with teenagers who have borderline traits. Who self-harm. Who threaten suicide. Who have difficulty regulating their emotions. Who get close to people and push them away. Who have difficulty trusting. Who engage in risky behaviours. Like drinking too much. Or doing drugs. Or having multiple sexual partners. And I attempt to give them strategies to ground themselves. To manage their emotions. To cease self-harming. But more importantly, I try to be a person they can trust.
I work with kids and teenagers who are being bullied. Who are having lewd rumours spread about them. Who are having others ignore them. Who are having other gossip about them. Who are being used. And pushed around. Who in fact, fear telling anyone they are being bullied. On MSN. Or Facebook. Or MySpace. Or Bebo. And while I try and give them strategies to be assertive, I am no match for the bullies. Who don’t care about consequences. Who don’t feel guilty for their actions. Who don’t seem to have an ounce of empathy. And I am at a loss.
I assess kids and teenagers with learning difficulties. Who have difficulty reading. Or difficulty with maths. Or writing. I write reports and provide recommendations for their parents and te
achers to assist them. But more importantly, I tell the child or teenager what is going on. That they have a reading disorder and it’s not that they are dumb as their parents imply. That they have a mathematics disorder and it’s not that they are not trying as their parents and teachers imply.
Amidst all this, I listen to staff that are stressed. Or parents that don’t know what to do with their teenager. And I provide strategies. I try to work on reports. And update my notes. I work with a crisis if there is one. Like a child at risk. Or someone threatening suicide. I sometimes have to listen to a parent having a go at me. Because, after all, what would I know about what they were going through when I don’t have kids of my own??? (despite my 6 years of training and 2 years of experience)
1700 hours: I have wrapped things up and I now get to go home.
1730: I actually finally leave for home.
1815 hours: I am home. After being stuck in traffic.
1900 hours: Dinner (which I have to prepare). And then down to work on those reports.
It’s all in a day’s work.
And each day, between 0900 hours and 1700 hours, is never, ever the same.
And while it can be stressful as hell, I wouldn’t trade my profession for anything else.
I love being a psychologist. Despite the crisis. Despite the stress. Despite the accusations. Despite the unpredictablilty.
Because I think that I may be making a difference even in one kid or adolescent’s life. And that keeps me going.
All in a day’s work.
Until next time,