Therapy Thoughts

The big monkey on my back for this past year has been my inability to get a full-time job. I am finally working part-time as a day-to-day substitute, but the full-time job still eludes me, and it’s freaking me out.

My counselor and I talked a lot today about taking off work when I need to due to Lyme fatigue and anxiety/depression. I often feel guilty when I do so, even though the nature of day-to-day subbing makes it super simple to take off. I realized that the reason I felt so great yesterday was that it was a day off work without any of that guilt. I wasn’t working, not because I had decided to “slack off,” as I often end up thinking of my mental health days, but because I wasn’t called in to work. The weight of that decision was not on me. Whereas today, I feel guilty because I took a day off TO SEE A DOCTOR ABOUT MY HEART, and didn’t get as much accomplished as I “could have.”

Today my counselor echoed something I’ve thought a few times recently: maybe the reason I don’t have a full-time job yet is because I can’t handle a full-time job right now because of my physical and mental health.

It’s like when I was a kid. I used to get very upset sometimes and I would get to crying and couldn’t stop. So my mother would send me to my room “until you’re quiet and calm.” It felt like a punishment–being sent to my room–but it really wasn’t: it was a health measure, because once I was in my room alone I could finish out my cry in peace and then calm myself down, something I couldn’t do around others.

Maybe this time with no work and with a part-time job is God “sending me to my room.” I can’t let myself relax, but I really need to for my health. So God is enforcing that I rest. It feels like a punishment, but it really isn’t: just a tool to help my self-management. I really have not given myself real guilt-free time off in YEARS. I always think there’s something more I could be doing. And that’s not healthy. There’s a reason God put Sabbath rest in the Ten Commandments: because some people need someone telling them they’re not ALLOWED to work before they can actually relax guilt-free. Sabbath rest reminds a people who were once slaves that their value as human beings is not determined by how much they work or accomplish. I am currently being forced to rest, and I need to accept that and try to enjoy it more. Instead of feeling guilty when I “slack off” and binge-watch stuff on Netflix, I need to remind myself that I am literally (other than my mother) the least lazy person I know, and that I need to relax MORE for my health. Doctor’s orders!

The other great thing my therapist said today was, “If I had known things were going to turn out all right, I would have relaxed and enjoyed things a lot more.” And after all, if worrying isn’t going to add an inch to your height or a year to your life, you might as well enjoy your time off when you’ve got it instead of stressing.

[Bonus: Two excellent articles on not feeling guilty about not working]

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