For almost 50 years, I’ve always been the person who’s had my shit together. No matter what happened, I could handle it. Until now.
Here’s the backstory. In a previous blog, I explained that I’m an attorney for the feds, and what it’s like to work for the federal gov’t because of changing administrations, etc. Well, since March, our caseload has gone through the roof. That’s pretty normal behavior when a Democratic Administration takes over the White House. But, what makes this especially stressful is the fact that during the 4 previous years, we weren’t given the budget to hire. Granted, we didn’t really need to because we didn’t have the ginormous caseload, but…planning ahead is always wise, yes?? And, to make it worse, my Denver office lost 2 employees this year. That means we are down at least 2 people, and we have enough work for 10 people to do. Seriously. And we have 5.
For the past 2 months, I’ve noticed a change in my behavior with our clients. I’ve had much less patience than normal (which is very minimal to begin with), causing me to be very snippy and almost rude on the phone. Because I know I don’t have a lot of patience, I’ve always worked very hard in my job to learn patience, and to be more of a teacher than an attorney. But recently, that’s been nearly impossible. I’ve had to check myself more times than I can count, or care to admit. Last week was my breaking point. I had several people arguing with me over silly things, and then I had an absolutely mind-numbing teleconference with a Judge for a pending trial. Suffice it to say that he created completely unnecessary, additional work for me, at a time when that’s the last thing I can handle.
I called a co-worker last Friday, who listened empathetically and told me she’d never heard me talk like that. She then suggested that I call the Employee Assistance Program to get some help. The EAP is a program offered to all federal employees struggling with mental health issues. It’s great because it’s free for the first few sessions. I agreed, and that’s exactly what I did. The therapist they put me in touch with is not seeing any new patients, so I called back this morning (November 15). The woman who answered the phone was super-nice and she forwarded my info to a local therapist who works for Federal Occupational Health. I should hopefully hear back from her this afternoon. And I also took the initiative to make an appointment with my Sports Psychologist for this Thursday (up until this morning, I completely forgot that he also addresses behavioral health matters). So, I am doing all I can right now. I took this afternoon off of work, and will probably take tomorrow off as well. I called my boss, and told him what is going on and how I am feeling.
This is such foreign territory for me, folks. It is VERY hard for me to admit that for once in my life, I am struggling and I don’t know how to deal with it or even how to fix it. Thank God for my friends, my colleagues and of course, my husband, for helping me through these unchartered waters. Don’t get me wrong–I know mental health has been an issue in this country for quite some time, but I’ve never felt the impact. Until now. I am glad we can all talk about it, and address our feelings out in the open, instead of being scared and ashamed. I will keep you guys updated on how this progresses, and how I am feeling in the coming weeks.
Morale of the story: if you’re feeling off/not yourself, or if you’re under enormous amounts of stress, please get help. Go talk to someone. There is NO shame in that. None at all. It’s OK not to be OK.
Thanks for reading. Paige xo