On Tuesday I started a new job at the local hospital. I am a Central Supply Technician, which involves stocking supply carts on all the units, cleaning equipment, and delivering equipment when it is requested. That’s the simple version. The reality is that the job is extremely complicated. In all my previous jobs, I have started with one simple task that I repeated for weeks on end before being taught a new task. In this job, everything is being thrown at me at once, and I have 6 weeks of training in which to learn it all.
The first day was a nightmare. It was the day after a holiday weekend, and all the carts were low on supplies. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was lost everywhere we went. The hospital is like a giant maze and I was one very confused lab rat. Also, the reality of working in a hospital did not sink in until I looked at my first supply cart and saw cadaver bags. Also, also, it is very uncomfortable seeing the hospital as an employee when I was a patient there so much last year. Finally, I was humiliated in the cafeteria when I brought my food and debit card to the cashier only to be told it was cash only. The cashier ended up letting me have the food for free, but I nearly cried through my lunch break and felt guilty about eating it.
Had I not signed the agreement with Vocational Rehab promising not to quit, I would have quit by the end of the day. I saw my employment specialist, Joan, in a different context that evening and she did not even say hello to me, let alone ask how my first day went. So I e-mailed her that evening. Joan typically replies to e-mails very promptly, but I reached the middle of Thursday without a response.
I did receive a response to my e-mail to my therapist, Sadie, though. A response which completely pissed me off. She told me that she would now be copying Joan and the group therapist, Sierra, on all the e-mails I send her, so they would “be on the same page”. I don’t trust Joan or Sierra. Now I can no longer e-mail Sadie, and e-mailing her has been very helpful in the past, especially when I send her links to blog posts so we can discuss them later. I certainly don’t want Joan or Sierra reading my blog.
Sadie also reminded me to use emergency services, because e-mail is not efficient in a crisis. I had said nothing to indicate I was in a crisis, and she knows how I feel about emergency services, so it felt like she was telling me to stop e-mailing her. If that’s the case, I wish she’d just say so directly.
My next appointment with Sadie was scheduled for Friday morning before work, and as I finished up my Thursday and the job was going slightly better, I realized that I did not feel comfortable even speaking to her. I called her office after work and cancelled the two appointments I had scheduled. The receptionist asked if I wanted to reschedule and I said, “No, thank you.”
I had some errands to run after work, so I didn’t get home until nearly 2 hours after work ended. I came home to answering machine messages and e-mails from Sadie, telling me that she would be sending someone to do a wellness check if I didn’t reply. Initially the deadline was 5 pm, but she spoke to my mother, who gave her the phone number of the friend I was visiting. When she called there and my friend said I’d just left, Sadie extended the deadline to 6 pm, her quitting time.
Mom called Sadie on my behalf and assured her that I was fine and did not need a wellness check, but that I had no interest in speaking to her at this time. I received one additional e-mail saying that she wasn’t sure what was going on and to let her know when I’m ready to talk. In response, I e-mailed Sierra to drop out of DBT group, and failed to schedule an appointment with Brent, my psych APRN, to get new prescriptions for the medications I will run out of in 2 weeks.
The next morning, I called and left Sadie a message, saying that I was angry about her e-mail and didn’t want to talk to her, but would if she called back. She didn’t call before I had to leave for work, so I reluctantly sent an e-mail detailing all the reasons I was angry with her. I knew this would be a bad idea, given that I was saying something negative about the people she intended to share my e-mails with, but since I had no intention of seeing any of them again I took the risk. I told her I was angry she was going to share my e-mails with people I don’t trust, angry that she nagged me about emergency services, angry that she spoke to my mother and friend, angry that she said I “refused” to reschedule when I politely declined to do so, and angry that she threatened to send the cops after me. Then I said I was done with therapy, group, and medication; that I had done fine without it all for 33 years and could do so again.
I kept telling everyone that nothing bad was going to happen as a result, but I knew I was lying. I felt like I was standing outside my body and watching myself self-destruct. I’ve always worked out my problems with Sadie in the past, and resisted the BPD urge to push her away over the slightest conflict. I don’t know what changed that made me so willing to sabotage myself. By Saturday morning I was e-mailing Sierra to ask if I was still welcome in group, and Sadie to say that although I was still angry I was also scared that I was self-destructing and wanted to reschedule. Hopefully I will hear from them both on Monday, and also be able to schedule an appointment with Brent. I don’t have much hope of hearing anything from Joan – even if my e-mail didn’t get to her, she should have contacted me to ask about the new job by now.
And the job? That’s becoming the least of my worries. I’m doing well with anything computer-based, I’m starting to know where things are located in the store room, and I’ve learned my way around enough of the hospital that my coworkers sent me to do some tasks alone on Friday. I only got minorly lost and was able to ask random employees for help. There’s still a lot to learn (and I need to get over my fear of answering the phone), but I no longer feel like I can’t handle it.