Looking Back

The other day I had a look at some of my older blog entries and the contrast between the feelings, thoughts and behaviours I expressed in them and how I am these days astounded me.

In some entries I talked about experiencing deja-vu.  I used to get a lot of those “I’ve lived through this exact same moment before” experiences they call deja-vu and I used to believe deja-vu was caused by having dreamed the future.  In an entry titled Paranoia, Panic, Self-Talk and Persistence I went into complete melt-down over an episode of deja-vu!

I had forgotten how often I used to get flashes of deja-vu and how sure I was they meant something.  I haven’t had deja-vu for ages now and I am wondering if those flashes were actually caused by my chronic anxiety.

In another entry titled Pessimism, Paranoia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I described my reaction to finding a virus on my computer.  I went crazy and almost ruined my computer trying to clean off a virus my scans said was gone!

The other day I got another nasty on my computer.  I still have a slightly paranoid suspicion it might not really be gone but I have cleaned it off and I am trusting my virus scans when they say it is gone.  My reaction has been nowhere near as over the top as it was when I wrote that entry.

In several other entries I wrote about, actually I ranted about, junk mail and credit card offers.  I read those entries and cringed with embarrassment.  I can’t believe I got so upset about such silly things.  In one case my reaction was so over the top it was clear, even to me, I needed to seek help.

These days my only reaction to junk mail and credit card offers is to check them for personal details and make sure I shred any that have my name and other personal details on them.

Some things never change I suppose.  I will never be able to believe bad things cannot happen to me so I have no intention of making things easy for identity thieves hehehe.

As I read through an entry titled I’m Still Standing and compared how I felt then with how I feel today I realised I have come a very long way.  The contrast is huge.  I feel strong and ready to tackle life head-on not weak and scarred forever.

I’ve done a lot of work on myself that I don’t think I would have had the courage to do if the antidepressants had not lowered the level of my anxiety and pessimism.

I took a leap of faith and trusted my work supervisor with who I really am and she came through for me.  She has been encouraging me to test my old beliefs about myself, my abilities, my method of dealing with authority figures and so on.

With her support and coaching I have confronted superiors, tested negative beliefs, taken chances and trusted people who have power over me and it has all paid off handsomely!

The other day the big boss had to do a night shift because of a scarcity of counselling managers.  I knew he was rostered on with me days in advance and I was a bit nervous but nothing like how I would have been once.  Once I would have been so frightened of saying the wrong thing on a call and getting the sack I would have gotten ill and called in sick!

I turned up for the shift with only slight anxiety and I told myself it meant absolutely nothing when he seemed to ignore me as I came in.  Even when he approached me and seemed to have something on his mind I stayed fairly relaxed.

I was right.  He did have something on his mind.  He made it very clear to me he believes in me and would love to promote me as soon as I feel ready for it.  He also wanted to know if I would be willing to take charge of the shift so he could go home early and get some sleep before coming back to do his real job.

I told him I can’t afford to be promoted because I would lose the extra money for after hours work and he said if that’s all that is stopping me he can sort that out.

I asked him about training for the position of Counselling manager and he said to all intents and purposes I am already trained and all I would need is a couple of hours learning about the paperwork that is required.

I agreed to take charge of the shift and he came over to give me his home phone number to call him if anything came up.  He started to give me instructions then stopped, looked at me, laughed and said “Ah forget it.  You know it all already.  Just call me if you need me.”

It was such a buzz I floated through the rest of the shift but there was one more hurdle to jump.

Our calls are being recorded for quality assurance these days and I listened to one of mine and felt I had done about as bad a job as I have ever done in it.  I had an appointment the next day to talk about the call with my supervisor.  I wanted to test my belief that, if anyone knew how badly I perform sometimes, I would get the sack.

She asked me what I thought about the call.  I said I let the caller manipulate me, I self-disclosed, I crossed the company line several times and lost control of the call and it was a completely inappropriate call for the service.

She asked why I did it then.  I said because every now and then I see an opportunity to “plant some seeds” in a caller that might help them change.  I said I know we don’t do treatment – we do crisis management on the lines but I can’t resist treating a caller when I see a chance to do some good.

She asked me to tell her how I see it.  I said it was a dreadful call when viewed in the context of the job I am supposed to be doing but an excellent call if viewed in the context of treatment.

I said one half of me is expecting you to say I should be sacked and the other half of me thinks you are more likely to say I made mistakes and this is a chance to learn from them and do better next time.

She laughed and said that is exactly what she wanted to say.  She said she has so much faith in me and my professional abilities she was not even going to listen to the call.  She said before she was promoted to her current position she spent many long nights as a counselling manager listening to me on calls and she knows my work.

She leaned forward and said “I trust you even if you don’t.  I know you and I think, if you chose to break the rules, it’s because the rules should have been broken!”

She advised me to discuss the call with the team leader and get his opinion on it.  The team leader happened to be in the next room when I left the supervisors office so, on the spur of the moment, I asked if I could talk to him.  He jumped at the chance and said he had been wanting to talk to me.

We went to a private room and I told him about the call.  He said that caller is exactly the one I wanted to talk to you about!  He said that particular caller has been causing a lot of problems for the service as other counsellors were struggling to cope with his abuse.

He said the only time this caller has an even half-way decent call it is with me.  He said I am doing something different with him and it is working and he wants to know what so other counsellors can learn from me.

I said I am breaking the rules and trying to treat him and that is what I wanted to talk to you about!  I said I was wanting to know how you were perceiving my performance with him.

He said, and I quote, “Some people are special and you are one of them.  He said officially you are not allowed to break the rules but special people are above the rules in some cases.  In the case of this caller – keep doing whatever it is you are doing!”

I came home on such a high I am still floating hehehe.

None of this could have happened if I had not sought help.  I got counselling and went on medication and that lowered the level of my anxiety enough to take risks and let people see who I really am.

I’ve always believed if people know who I really am they will reject me but I was wrong.  The more my superiors have gotten to know me the more they have come to believe in me!

Some things never change.  I still can’t believe this has happened because I am actually as good as they say.  I think I have simply found an extremely supportive and wonderful place to work!

It is, however, hard to continue believing I am as bad as I worry I might be when people with the knowledge and experience to judge me accurately hold me in such high esteem!

Part of me is amazed they would say something so controversial and dangerous.  I’ve never heard of superiors telling an employee they are so special they are above the rules and can decide whether or not to obey them.

The other part of me realises my reaction to them telling me that is proof their judgement of me is accurate and their trust in me is well placed.

I will continue to work at obeying the rules exactly the same as I have been doing so far.  I won’t take advantage of what they have said.  The only difference is I will stop savaging myself so much when I slip into treatment mode with the occasional caller from now on.