Today, I went to school to pick up my parking permit. According to the orientation packet I was supposed to go in person. First, I do not like driving in the area and I do not like to park in a parking garage. Then I have to walk through traffic and people to get to the building. My anxiety is already through the roof and my heart is pounding. Then, I get into the building and need to interact with a security guard. I have a fear with police. After that, I went to the office to get a parking permit as the orientation letter stated.
When I asked about the permit for the semester, I was told that I needed to complete the form on the computer and come back to pick up the permit. Umm, let me see, I drove here, walked to the building, came through security, and now I am being told to go home and fill out the form online so I can come back another day and pick up the permit. I became irate and had a meltdown in the office. If a parking permit is this hard, how is the rest of the semester going to go??
My anxiety is so bad at this point. I am scared that I am not going to fit in or say the wrong thing. Words tend to come out and then I think. It needs to be the other way around. I sent my disability letter to my professors. Are they going to think anything different about me? What about field? My instructor knows about my diagnosis. Is that going to be used against me or will that not matter? How am I going to get all of this done. What is bad is that the semester has not even started and I am freaking out.
There was a time when I just thought that people could see. That by looking at me, they could tell that I had PTSD or depression. I dreaded going into someplace new because of the thoughts that others would just know by looking at me how messed up my life had been.
The reality is that those around me cannot see. Maybe that is a blessing in some ways. In other ways it is a curse. Hearing people talk about parents with mental illness should not be allowed to have their kids, people who self-harm are weak, and the worst is that my mental health diagnosis does not exist.
If that is case then why do I visit with my kids on a regular basis, how can I be sitting in class and they not know, and how do they know what is happening in my head. Most classes I actually forget. My memory was affected by the ECT and has not fully recovered. I can have a flashback sitting in the middle of class. Topics such as molestation and physical abuse trigger memories that I would rather forget, yet seem to be etched into my memory.
What if what I saw in my mind could be projected onto a screen. A mother yelling at her daughter that she wished that she were dead, a mother who broke one curtain rod while administering a beating going to get another curtain rod, a small child going as far as possible into the corner of her bed so that the beating only hurts in certain places, a child being molested by a family member, a father holding his child by the neck, a mother putting a pillow over her daughters face…. I could continue, yet I won’t. By this point many people would have walked out of the room. Either they feel uncomfortable, they cannot believe abuse exists like that shown to them, or they have experienced the abuse and cannot bear to see what is up on the screen.
Instead, I sit in class. Another student. Another number on another day. People are not aware of my past or the reason why I want to be a social worker. They do not see the struggles that I go through just to make it to class and look “normal.” Sometimes I want to say something, to be able to let it go, yet I have been told to keep most of it inside.
People like it better that way. To pretend that the world is ok and good. All have their reasons. Maybe, I would like people to be honest. Hurt sometimes strengthens us. Those who are going through it need to know that there is hope and a future on the other side of the nightmares. That sometimes for a few hours a week, they could have the opportunity to focus on something else.
I want to become a Social Worker. Even more specific an advocate. A voice for someone who may not be able to speak up for whatever reason. This all began around 5-6 years ago when I started standing up for people that I was hospitalized with and then began to want to make a larger change. Policy changes.
Right now, I am in school. It is frustrating in some ways. I have a degree along with some other other education, yet that degree is not a BSW. I wish that colleges gave credit for life experience. I am pretty sure that I would not have had to take two of my classes this semester. I like the classes, it is just that the information presented are theories and practices that I am already familiar with.
This is where the frustration comes in. Why can I not be out there practicing? Why do I need a BSW? It really is only three letters. I have completed research in the past and I have interned in some of the same places that are available to intern as a social worker. Are those three letters going to make me any better at interacting with those that need assistance. Are they going to change my motivation for wanting to work with people and make their lives better. What are those letters going to do for me. Sure, my resume will have them on there and an employer can see them. All they mean is that I have a degree. Sometimes, I feel like I already have the degree. I have been in hospitals with patients. As an intern, I have worked with children who have questions to be addressed. I have seen elderly patients who need a higher level of care. I have seen drug addicted mothers who need treatment and a place that accepts them. In fact, I helped them. Three letters!
So why should I have to wait. Because for some reason, having those three letters behind one’s name suddenly makes all of the difference in an employers eyes. Even an MSW program prefers those three letters. Personally, I would prefer the person with experience and empathy. The person who can get down in the trenches and hear the stories that make others cringe and know what to do. Unfortunately, that is not the way that the world works!!