Friday, September 3, 2010

Today was hard

I woke up early, as usual. Got the kids ready, kissed the family, and set off for an easy Friday. I stopped to buy cookies for a potluck lunch. Even so, today was a hard day.

It's been a trying week. I've been disillusioned by the way people are treating each other. I've been frustrated by the inmates and their overall lack of motivation. I've been frustrated by my coworkers and their overall lack of motivation. I'm angry because sometimes it all seems so futile and I don't want to become jaded and cynical. I'm angry because of how people feel like they're entitled to treat other people like shit.

On top of all that, and likely a causal factor, is that I am tired. Capital T Tired. I wake up every night at 1:00, 2:00, 3:30, and then the alarm goes off at 4:00. I've been keeping up with the running, but with little progress to show for it. I got on the scale this morning to find I haven't lost any weight at all in the last week. So tired, AND frustrated.

So I get to work today, hoping for a typical Friday. Most people work 4 10 hour days so Fridays are very short staffed. Which means a very quiet office. Most weeks, except of course this one, I've finished most of my work so Friday can be dedicated to studying, hanging on the unit, and getting a headstart on the next week. But not this week. I started off behind, hoping to catch up today. I came into the office to find out that one of our long standing patients had attempted to kill herself the night before. This happens quite a lot, but usually is more of a gesture than an attempt (think scratching your arm with a piece of plastic vs. slitting your wrists). This time though it was a serious attempt and she likely would have died if she hadn't been found. While I and a couple coworkers were talking about the suicide attempt, we got a call that there'd been an attack on the unit. We had a conversation about which inmates' crimes really got to us, and how I could work there with little kids at home. Later I found out one of my favoritite inmates had also tried to hurt herself.

Today was one of those days that reminds me that I don't work "in the real world." I know a lot of murderers. I even like quite a few of them. I carry an alarm, a whistle, and a huge key ring through doors that have to be remotely opened for me. People regularly flood their cells, smear poop, and cut themselves open. Yesterday I took brooms off the unit because a woman keeps threatening people with them.

Because of all these things, I find it hard to relate to people sometimes. I pick up my kids from daycare and look at the other moms, in their workout clothes, cute sandals, "business casual." I think, "I spent three hours with a woman who stabbed her boyfriend, I worked my ass off to get someone to take a shower, I watched a woman fight an endless battle against unseen demons, I listened to a woman who killed her kids talk about what a great mother she is. How 'bout you?" We ask how each other's day was and I give the standard "Great!" or if I can't muster up the enthusiasm "Busy!" Today I couldn't even do that. Today I was sad. Just plain sad.

In psychology we talk about "self-care" and "burnout." It's especially important when you're doing psychology in prisons. Luckily I recognized it before it got too bad. I needed to come home, veg out, sleep in tomorrow. I'm getting Syd's picture taken, hanging out with Eli, maybe going to the beach. And I'm going to recharge my batteries so that Tuesday I can go back and start again. Because I love my job. Today was hard, this week was hard, but I love my job.


  1. I wish there weren't so many miles. I'd love to hang out with you or gift you with a day to yourself to mingle with the "real world" or spend a jammers day. I love you.
    p.s. In my "real world" people also treat each other like shit and hurt themselves, and it is sad.

  2. I know you'll get up and do it again on Tuesday, and I know you'll find the love again. I also know how hard days like Friday can be. I hope you have a good colleague or college friend to talk to about it. That's what helps me when I hit the wall of exhaustion and despair. Try to remember the little steps of progress; step back and look at the forest and not each tree. It's very hard, I know. I totally know... {{{hugs}}}