This is something I have had to do quite a bit these days-mostly with my internship. Stepping out of one’s comfort zone is usually pretty difficult. For me, I’d have to say it’s really difficult. I tend to get very nervous about things. Things maybe people wouldn’t normally have anxiety about or would get used to doing after a while. I wish I could say that my nervousness is just an uncomfortable feeling. Sadly, this isn’t so. I also get nausea, which brings about nervous/nauseous gagging; chills, which bring up cold gags; stomach aches, clammy hands, and a shaky voice. Lucky me. It seems I never get over my anxiety or nervousness. It was only about a year ago that I even realized I had anxiety. I thought this was how everyone felt before stuff. I realize that everyone has anxiety; I just may have it a little more than others.
Last week I had to run my own group session in Spanish. Spanish is not my strongest language. In fact, it’s not even close to being my strongest. This was really scary, especially since was my very first group ever, but I was able to calm down during the session. It went okay, but I had really hoped for better. Oh well, a part of me is just relieved my first time is over!
This week I conducted an assessment with a client for the first time. This is usually a 2-hour session in which we gather information about the client such as medical history, family’s medical history, client’s mental history, client’s suicidal ideation and whether they have any, sexual abuse, substance abuse history, legal history, and a bunch of very personal questions. I found myself giving a pause right before I asked about sexual abuse and suicidal ideation. Of course asking someone about whether or not they have attempted to commit suicide is not suddenly going to put the thought into their heads where they are suddenly, “Oh! That’s something I haven’t thought about! I think I’ll try that now”, but it is something very personal and serious. It just so happens that my client reported suicidal thoughts and had attempted to take his life about a year ago. I tried not to look panicked because I didn’t want to freak the client out. I don’t know how much you know about reporting suicidal ideation, but it is something people take very seriously and they should. I mean… people’s lives are on the line. It seems everything is handled in his situation, though. Then I created a treatment plan and this entailed creating a plan for well… treatment-so how many sessions the client will attend, for how long, regarding which symptoms, what they will work on and using which interventions. After this lengthy process, I had to record my observations of the client--How are they presenting? How is their appearance? Any nervous ticks? Are they at a normal range of intelligence? So many things to cover and you don’t want to take forever because nobody wants to sit there for 2 hours! It’s even worse when you don’t know how to work the documentation program. It’s like learning an entirely new language! My anxiety level was very high, especially with my field instructor right behind me watching my every move, but I tried to put on a brave face. I think it went well. My field instructor didn’t have anything bad to say so I guess that’s good!
Then today I had to write the clinical formulation and staff the case. This meant talking about the case in front of the entire GMH (general mental health) team and the diagnosis I gave the client. Here I was, a lowly intern, discussing the findings of my assessment with a bunch of experienced professionals! It was scary, but I managed and I think I did alright.
The point of all this jibber jabber (“I pity the fool!”) is I’m really grateful for those opportunities when you have to step out of your comfort zone. If I didn’t step out, I wouldn’t have joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and had that wonderful life-changing experience that has brought my life such joy and purpose. If I didn’t step out, I wouldn’t have played all of those sports I played in school even though I felt like puking before every game and pep rally. If I didn’t step out I never would have left Texas and attended BYU where I met and married my OH so sweet husband. We never would have attended ASU where I am now getting my Master’s and learning how to be a clinician. If I didn’t try, I’d never progress. I’d never know the joy that can come in life by doing more than what you’ve been given. I’d probably never experience that sense of accomplishment one feels after going for something and actually achieving your desired goal. Change really can be a beautiful thing.