Placement at RPH

My apologies for not writing any blog posts this past fortnight. It grieves me to recall I once had the freedom to write blogposts every day I so chose, but of late most my every spare moment has been hastily spent on more important things, like sleeping or cooking or living. You see, I’ve finally started my 14-week placement with the Social Work department of Royal Perth Hospital. And I’m afraid that I only have about eight minutes before yoga, taiji and karate (a triple lesson today, about 4-5 hours of training).

In brief, it has been exquisitely affirming, and soul-crushingly depressing. Most of all it’s been highly educational.

I’ve learned that I have a highly specific preference for learning, requiring me to read about something theoretically, understanding it conceptually, then seeing it physically, before attempting to express it myself. I will hoard all available information to read through before I attempt to do anything practical with it.

I’ve learned that I still have a deeply ingrained fear of boredom, and this anxiety has been with me in my last few placements, my last few years of life (perhaps since I was 12 or younger). This fear has led me to draw out almost every activity for as long as I could justify it- if I had to see someone, I would read all about their history, plan out on paper what I’d have to say to them and spend up to hours of preparation for a five minute chat.

I also realised that I have a presumptuous ego that is repelled by the idea of working against my will. That is to say, I don’t like work or responsibility or challenge, and so I’ll avoid it as much as possible while still getting paid for it. I might spend hours going through email, typing up notes, researching medical terms on google etc. in order to avoid “real work”. Realising this, I made a conscientious decision yesterday to stop being such a selfish brat, to stop caring about myself so much, and to ask “What can I do for the hospital? How can I spend the precious resources (potential wages) that they’ve given me, in order to best help people?” This has brought about a remarkable change in my attitude, and consequently, in my personal satisfaction, levels of energy and joy from the work. Yesterday was the best day ever,  brimming with energy and able to tackle any problem with confidence and reasonable competence. It’s reaffirmed that I can do this, and what’s more, I want to.

I’ve learned that I still take criticism poorly. In a recent supervision session, my two supervisors gave me some feedback that I was being unprofessional in this way, that I hadn’t been accountable for that amount of time while they were trying to get hold of me etc. It made me feel like they were monitoring me, spying over my shoulder to see if I was doing the right thing, always looking for mistakes. I knew it was irrational and the critique would make me a better practitioner, but I felt so alone and unsupported that I felt like crying.

I’ve learned that cloudy days make me terribly SAD and it can be impossible trying to rouse myself to any kind of inspired motivation. But I can’t just go home every time it rains, so persisting and doing my best despite my low energy/mood is for the greater good.

Alright, running late. I’ve been reading the Tao Te Ching every morning, but I haven’t got time to share any of its amazing insights with you. Perhaps I’ll flood you with them later. Hope everyone’s been keeping well, and miss you all <3

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