What to say

Thursdays are my busiest days. It doesn’t change whether it was 7 years ago working in senior day facilities, running substance abuse groups for teens, or the past 6 years in school based services. Now, working in an office with scheduled clients, a hair-breadth away from private practice, it’s the same deal.

Clients cancel 1-24 hours in advance, don’t show up at all, or reschedule early in the week. Mondays are notorious for being empty. In the therapeutic line of work, empty is boring. I plan sessions for my clients, questions to push them towards progress. I create home practice to be completed between sessions and built upon the following session.

On the internet you can go to any search engine of choice an type in “therapy client no show” and get advice. Many of the results present advice for ffs clients (fee for service). What about medi-medi clients who have no co-pay?

I make a phone call about 15 minutes into the missed session. I offer them an opportunity to reschedule the following week. I ask about problems arranging transportation and make recommendations. If I end up leaving a message, it’s “Hi XYZ, it’s Megan from [insert employer here]. You missed your scheduled session with me today at 9 A.M.. You can call me back at 123-456-7890 to schedule a different time.”

At my previous employer we worked with Medi-Cal clients alone. This enabled us to discuss the 3 consecutive no-show policy held by Medi-Cal which resulted in termination of services if they did not respond to a mailed letter reviewing the policy and their endangered client status. At my current employer I review the policy at the initial session, and the policies are posted at the receptionist.

What about Medi-Medi clients who do not have a co-pay?

Sunshine

image

I was hoping to sit by the bank of windows, their light murky and scattered by years of grime. Ceiling tiles overhead have been removed to reveal years of dry, and maybe, wet rot. A spare classroom. Used for students who need extra testing time, the afterschool program’s space to complete homework, or on Wednesdays where I unglamorously provide mental health services to kids. Here I sit across the room next to the electrical outlet to charge the phone.

The sound of students reaches me: running in the halls, shoving each other in the cafeteria line, the dull thud of soccer balls.  I try not to think about who sits alone at lunch or who is bullying to the point of being sent to the principle’s office.

I want to sit against the window pane. Instead, I stare at the little table at which I do all my work covered by my lunch bag and coffee mug, the EBP model booklet, coloring pencils, collage materials &c. The vestiges of last cling to me: dry eyes and a headache, perhaps a resurgence of a pinched nerve; more likely holiday dread. My own, but also the kids whose heads swim with financial dreams their parents can’t meet; dreams of hover boards, happiness, fully attentive parents, family trips.

I’ll hold them, but Jesus, are you holding them too?

Substandard

Since my last post, my financial issues have continued to get worse. I continue to pay in excess of 360$ for car insurance. I learned this is due to my insurer coding the scrape I incurred from my then-new garage as an accident, instead of hitting stationary, inanimate non-vehicular object. No injuries, no bodily injury, no collision payout to a non-existing second party. Thank you, Farmer’s Insurance Exchange. You’ll be losing my business once I find someone to replace my policy at a slightly lower cost.

I’m looking at other positions in the mental health community. I have started to dislike my job very much. Since the company picnic for it’s community services sector, the supervisors have been embarrassed by how it was presented:

  • no hired entertainment: we had a theme, each team was to dress and act it out.
  • dessert were those little plastic cups of ice cream that usually come with a wooden spoon; except there was no spoon.
  • Vegetarians received a flattened sandwich from Subway (creepy, right?); meat-eaters got what looked like a kid’s meal with a thigh/leg/breast from KFC, with cole slaw or Mac & Cheese
  • There were $5 Starbucks gift cards for winning a water balloon toss, party hat made from the animal/long thin balloons

I don’t want cookies, or a water balloon toss. This company is an embarrassment to itself. On their career page they say “join one of California’s  largest and most awarded behavioral health companies” and boast of being selected as “Best Places to Work” in 2012 by L.A. Business Journal. How can you expect to be seen as awarded and best when you treat your own employees as children? How can you strive to be a local industry leader (they tell us this is their goal in staff meetings) when you treat your employees in a substandard manner? I have been with this company for four years, and I’m still paid below entry-level for a full-time, 401(k), health benefits position.  When I’m done paying rent, car insurance, car payment, student loans, internet, gas, gasoline, Water & Power, and my out of pocket therapist (nearly no therapist is covered by the insurance provided to us; I checked): there is  no money left for me to buy food. Let alone things like car batteries (I had to get a new one the previous week for $200, which led to me cancelling my therapy for two weeks), shoes (which have holes and are falling apart), birthday gifts for family members, Christmas gifts, co-pays on medication for migraines (I haven’t  been able to take medication for years due to this).

I’m embarrassed by my employer: treatment, lack of appropriate income/compensation, pressure to take PDL if we don’t meet productivity quotas, etc.  I can’t even talk about this with friends or family members whose own employers host parties and company picnics with catered food, provided entertainment, give a raise that’s worthy of being called a raise.

Coiled

 

rattlesnake
rattlesnake

I went hiking this past weekend for 2 hours (hiked 4 miles). I like to hike the hard way in and the easy way out, that way I get my exercise in, my rest period with a snack, and some creating (i.e. photography, drawing, thinking), and lastly my cool-down period. On the way back to the parking lot along the deteriorating fire-road, just past the ruins of the Keller cabin, the wind died down. The woodpeckers stopped jostling their brains. I stopped and then I heard it, the rustling of the leaves like a ball was rolling in the brush. I looked closely, and saw this guy ^ gliding on by. He/She’s a rattlesnake, about 3 feet long but not very thick, and the rattler didn’t look very well formed.

The imagery and experience of watching a snake in the grass seems to be a good metaphor of how the month of August has been for me: I was on a monastic visit and I don’t know what to make of my experience; my Spiritual Director quit; gossip at work encouraging/pressuring me to date a male colleague; slanderous gossip at work on a different matter which is abhorrent in nature, & more. As it is late in the month, I’m getting to the point of just watching the snake in the grass. I take a step closer because I’m curious, but I use my zoom lens to get a better look. I stand around to make sure it goes into it’s hole in the ground, and I go on my way. I’m just watching all this “danger” come at me and I’m TRYING to let it pass.

My thoughts since learning of the slanderous gossip at work are as follow:

  • if you have the luxury of enough time to conjure such abysmal stories about me, perhaps you need more clients.
  • I only speak negatively of the people who’ve done me wrong (i.e. my direct supervisor calling me a lesbian).
  • I’ve been honest about my family, why make up more horrific stories – the truth isn’t enough? (verbal & physical abuse)
  • Do you actually desire that kind of trauma to be upon me?
  • Is this a reaction to the fact that I’ve made statements that I’m Catholic and therefore will not have strange unmarried men spend the night in my apartment?
  • Is this a reaction to the fact I’ve stated numerous times that I do not date people at work?
  • Is this a reaction to the fact I’ve stated “I’m Catholic”?
  • Driving into work today, I’m was still furious. I frequently talk to myself in the car at times like this. I explained to myself that my life does not exist to please you, to appease you. I am not standoffish about sex, but I will not engage in sex outside of marriage, I will not masturbate, I will not procure abortions or contracept. Not because I’m afraid of sex, but that these are the teachings of the Catholic Church. If I did not want to have to follow these teachings, I’d go find a religion that does fit my thoughts. For example, if I thought children should not be baptized prior to the age of reason, I’d be a Baptist, if I thought modernity were completely of the Devil, I’d be Mennonite. However, these are man-made constructs. I’m Catholic because that is the Church Christ established through Simon-called-Peter/Cephas. If I were to run around to find a religion that fit me, that wouldn’t be Faith, it’d be Pride. I’m Catholic, I follow what Mother Church teaches since She can only speak the truth of God. I don’t attend the Church of You wherein there’s practices of masturbation, abortion, contraception, fornication, emotional extra-marital affairs, loose associations, and Soul-selling for a few moments pleasure: Let’s see, maybe 20 minutes of sex in exchange for eternity in Hell, or I can forego sex outside of marriage between the ages of 13 to 30ish, and have better hopes of going to Heaven. I submit to God. My life is created for the glory of God. I’m made by & for God, so I’m Catholic. I follow what God teaches through His established Church. I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU.
  • If you’ve never had the experience of seeing a real bonafide Catholic and that scares you to the point of committing slander and defamation, I don’t think I need to say which situation is more foolish.
  • I don’t want to know who this person / whom these people are. Really, I don’t. I’ll lose so much respect for them. I’d loathe calling them colleagues. Their minds are pure filth. Additionally, knowing your name(s) opens you up to a lawsuit.

 

Posting while Nervous

“Is this the last day before your vacation?” Asked the roommate as she stood in the partially open door, on her way out to supervision at the office, later into the field. I stood over the cutting board with my diced apple prepared for submersion into hot bran cereal.

“What?”

“Is this the last day before your vacation?” She repeated.

I shrugged in response, “Yeah, I guess.”

It’s not a vacation. It’s a trip to a very particular monastery during the next four days. It’s a dry run of living the nuns’ lives to see if that’s to be my life until after I’m dead. She doesn’t know this, and all of my colleagues, coworkers nor my supervisor are in the same boat as she. The agency I work for openly embraces the LGBTQ community, evidenced by the spectrum of people employed & the clientele served.
Life is somewhat awkward now. People want to know where I’m going, and I offer information such as “a retreat with my church”, thinking that I’m Catholic and the Church is very large, with lots of property, so nosey people can’t begin to guess. This spawns more questions such as “Oh I did one of those. What lectures are you going to?” To which I reply is a “quiet retreat”. “So, like, you won’t talk?” No, I have little interest in talking, despite what I do for work.

There’s a new male employed in the office in the past three weeks. Males are somewhat rare after the feminization of the therapeutic/counseling/psychiatric field. I’m the last woman on my team who is seemingly unattached. Everyone else is married, divorced, dating, or engaged. Due to the aforementioned issue of vocation-must-not-be-named, I’m the crowd favorite. It ticks me off, this truly pushes my buttons, especially this week. I don’t want gossip mill whirling and churning; plotting out whether I’ll hook up with this man or date him. (The Rolling Stone’s She’s So Cold should be my theme song).

Anyway, my monastery visit begins tomorrow with my supposed arrival at 10am and ends with my departure from there Sunday at 10am. I was looking at the Liturgy of the Hours booklet/guide and saw this weekend is chockfull with glorious saints like Edith Stein.
Happy FEAST of the Transfiguration.

Americans remember that novena of fasting from meat for the following 9 days begins today along with a consecration of your hunger with a Rosary & prayer to St Michael the Archangel, ending on the 14th for the intention of ending the Black Mass scheduled for Oklahoma next month on Sept 21st.