Nov 24, 2009

Career Counseling, Psychiatry, Group Counseling, $$$

I went to a career counselor this morning. It cost $125 for an hour, but she knew I was trying to pack a lot into one session so it turned into more like 1.5 hours. She definitely didn't have to spend that much time with me, and I think it was money well spent.

While I don't have a clear picture on what my career should be yet, she did help me clarify why I'm not happy in my current job, and common themes that have been prevalent in my life (my inability to deal with authority, my love of creative pursuits, etc.) She sent me home with a ton of reading material including a workbook on communication, which she said is a birthday gift to me (oh, yea, it's my 26th birthday today. I'm not sure how I feel about that.)

One interesting part of the session was when she had me identify, of the following four areas, which is most important to me, and rank the rest -- people, ideas, data, and things.

I ranked them in this order: ideas, people, things, data

Then she asked me what order my current job had those things...

People, data, things, ideas.

Right, so I'm depressed because what I value most -- ideas -- is least valued in my current position. The question still remains - how do I find a job that values ideas most?

In the meantime, the counselor convinced me to try to stay at this position for as long as possible, or at least until I have a game plan for something else in place. Which makes sense, it would be stupid to quit right now. And even stupider to put myself in a position to get fired.

I might go back to see her again, but in the meantime she's given me a bunch of tests and quizzes to fill out to find out more about myself and my values. I think I'm pretty aware of my values and wants, but it helps to put them all down on paper.

I also have an appointment with a psychiatrist next weekend, but I think I'm going to put that on hold because I just got accepted into the second phase of screening for a drug study on bipolar disorder. I'm not 100% sure I have bipolar disorder because I don't necessarily have long periods of mania, but my mood is all over the freaking map at any given time of day. I know I have depression and depressive episodes, I'm just not clear on the mania. I don't recall every being so hyper for days straight that I couldn't sleep or that I'd do something risky. However, I do get super manic when I feel like I've accomplished something and it usually sends me on a skyrocketing mood trip for a few hours or even a day. A therapist I saw a few weeks ago thinks I might have rapid cycling bipolar. I don't know what I have. Something is up with me and my moods, anyway.

So the option is to spend $285 on one appointment with a psychiatrist or to get screened for bipolar for free. I chose free. I have no idea what the quality of the screening will be, but at least they can tell me if I have bipolar or just depression. I can't imagine I have pure depression because I go up and down. I know people who are always down, feeling empty and agitated. That's just not me. I have my down phases, when I can barely move, I'm totally exhausted, and find no meaning in life. Then I have my up phases where the world can't moved fast enough for me. Yet I feel "depressed" in my manic phases too, it's just a total different kind of depression. I guess it's more irritability and panic than depression. I just hate answering questions about when I had a manic phase or a depressed phase and how long it lasted. I have no idea. I just know that I'm not depressed as of this second.

In December I start group therapy, which is $50 a session. I think that may help me a lot, at least with my social issues. And my social issues are a HUGE problem which hinder my ability to live to my potential.

This is all costing a lot. On top of this, I'm getting some dental work done which is costing a few hundred dollars above what insurance covers.

I just know I need to sort out my mental health issues. I've gone through so much counseling / therapy and even some medication in the past, but it's all been for anxiety or depression or ADD. I've never been treated for bipolar. Maybe that's the problem.



3 comments:

eemusings said...

Happy birthday!!

I'm really following your career counselling sessions closely- BF is at a huge crossroads not knowing where to go or what to do next (has some ideas though). 21 is still young, but I feel if he doesn't work it out soon he's going to fall so far behind. He didn't find the university careers coach that helpful, and there's no way we can afford private counselling - and I kind of think this may be something he needs to work out internally.

I hope the bipolar screening can clear up some things for you - your medical costs may be high, but it's one of those things not to take a shortcut on. Good luck!

An ostrich named Sam said...

Happy Birthday! Life gets better as you age.

Go to the second phase for the medication trial for Bi-polar, but
Please keep your appointment for the Psychiatrist. You could have more than one condition ( for lack of better words).

Group therapy works well but make sure that it's a group that will suit your needs. I'm rather curious as to what your social issues are ( or rather what you think they are). It could be linked back to your unhappiness in your job or is it something that you've been dealing with since you were a child?

Start tracking your moods. It may help. Good luck.

her every cent counts said...

@An ostrich named Sam:

Thanks for your comment. I am going to cancel my appointment with my psychiatrist but will probably end up seeing her in the long run. If I get accepted into the study I won't be able to take other meds (along with the study meds) so I'm going to hold off. At least with the study I will find out if I'm bipolar. I'm sure I have more than one condition. I've already been diagnosed, by different therapists, with a variety of disorders: ADHD, social anxiety, general anxiety, narcissistic personality disorder, major depression. No one has diagnosed me with bipolar yet, so maybe I don't have bipolar. But I kind of feel like something is up with my mood swings that's more than depression.

As far as my social issues go... I have a lot of social anxiety. I've had this anxiety since I was a kid. When I was young I enjoyed talking to adults but never kids my own age. Now that I'm an adult, everyone I have to talk to are pretty much kids my own age. I'm better than I used to be, and enjoy working in a small company where I know everyone (and with mostly engineers, who are at least slightly socially awkward more often than not). However, in order to move up in the world, I need to get past my social issues. As I worked out with my career counselor this morning, I don't know when I should defend myself versus apologize. I was raised being told that I'm pretty much always in the wrong. So I can't deal with conflict. I just say sorry. I wish I didn't all the time. I have no idea when it's appropriate to speak my mind and when I need to shut up. It gets me into a lot of sticky situations. I'm hoping group therapy will help with this.

Good idea about tracking my moods. I definitely should do this. I set up another Twitter account for it a while back but haven't been as on top of it as I should have.

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