Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Match Result:

Match Result: Congratulations! You have been matched to: __________

I did it! I got matched for internship! I got one of my top choices too and my favorite training program! Looks like J and I are packing up our lives and moving to IOWA! Wow... never in my life did I ever imagine I'd live in Iowa in or the Central timezone at all.

The night before Match Day, despite my best efforts I got the worst possible sleep ever. It didn't help that J would turn to me every 45 min or so and say "check your email again" even though it was only 1:30am, 2:15am, 3:30am, etc. I knew the results would come in about a quarter to 5, but I checked each time I woke up anyway (you know, just in case). I could barely focus my eyes on the bright screen in the darkness of our bedroom, but then at about 4:50am I checked for the 15th time and there it was. I said "I matched." "We're moving to Iowa" J barely registered what I said before I began to repeat myself. "We're moving to Iowa......we're moving to Iowa". I had to just keep repeating it to myself because I didn't believe it. I obviously couldn't go back to sleep after that and I'm finally caught up from the lack of sleep on the days leading up to match day.

A few days before the 20th, I started to have serious doubts about matching. Not because I didn't think I was qualified, or I thought my prospects weren't very good, but because of probabilities, numbers, algorithms, and the bad taste from last year left in my mouth. I had been so sure I would match, I hadn't prepared myself for "but what if I don't?". It started to weigh on me a bit and those last few days were rough.

Matching to Iowa was bittersweet as well. It meant I wasn't moving back to the Pacific Northwest yet. It meant I'd be 1900+ miles away from home instead of 700. It meant that rent wouldn't be as cheap as I'd hoped because it's a college town. Even with all of those realities, it also meant I'd done it! It meant that I matched to an APA accredited VA internship and I'd earned it. It meant I was one major step closer to getting my Ph.D. It meant that I got matched to the program I viewed as the best possible fit for me and my training goals. It meant that the matching system worked. It meant...success. I think that was the hardest part for me to swallow. With all of the disappointments, failures, and rejections I've experienced in graduate school, I've grown to expect to be let down. I've learned that in most cases, even if I'm good...I'm not good enough. Matching to a site I ranked so highly meant that I didn't fail this one, that this site saw in me something I've wondered if it even existed.

Internship starts in July, so we've got just under 5 months left of living in California... and I couldn't be happier. I'm so ready to close the book on California and move forward into the next adventure...that we now know will be taking place in Iowa :) 

Friday, February 6, 2015

The waaaaiting is the hardest part.

Oh Tom Petty, you wise man. 
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: graduate school is just one series of waiting after another, after another... after another.
I'm currently sitting in 2 major waiting pools:
  • This week marked the submission of my IRB to my school for my dissertation. Something that should have been done a long time ago, but due to some wonderful mishaps and setbacks, is only just happening now. Either way, I've finally turned in my IRB! 
  • This week also marked the submission of my rankings for internship. No, this isn't an old entry, this is in fact the 2nd year in a row I'm dealing with this internship process.

So far, this year's internship process as been much better than last years. Last year in Phase I I applied to 15 sites and got 1 interview. This year, I applied to 21 sites and got 9 interviews. So already things are looking up. In the last few months, I've traveld to a number of places including Tennessee, Vermont, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and even my home state of Washington. I also had phone interviews with Alaska (again) and Nevada. Not to mention a price tag for all of this years internship stuff coming in at roughly $4,700. Yikes! I remember some students talking to us early on in grad school about how much money to save for this process. They said "around $2,000". So I knew it was an "investment" but I didn't realize it would be almost a $5,000 investment and right around the holidays and that last month before I get my next loan check. J was super supportive throughout the whole thing and really worked his butt off to make sure we had enough money for everything else.

My final ranking list process was much more difficult than I had anticipated. Last year was simple. I have one shot, therefore they are my top (and only) choice. This year, I agonized over it for weeks, had multiple discussions with my supervisor, my internship adviser, my fiance, friends in the program, family, and I just could not figure out what to do. Everyone just kept saying "trust your gut" and I think if one more person would have said it to me, I would have punched them in theirs. My "gut" was sending me mixed, conflicting messages that may have been written in code. I couldn't figure out if certain things I was just "over analyzing" like I always do or if i was correctly interpreting "a sign". I mean how does anyone ever decipher between the two?

Ranking lists were due on the 4th. My anxiety symptoms increased exponentially over the past few weeks and I couldn't function properly, mentally or emotionally. I'm still recovering I think. I thought it would leave me feeling relief after turning them in, but I still felt exactly as unsure and worried as I had the previous weeks. I did have a moment yesterday, where I felt a small amount of relief when I started thinking about internship. It was more of a "now we just wait to find out where we're moving!" not an "oh no, this program is so far away, or this one's (blank) rotation isn't as good as this other sites" or "what if I miss out on this place because I rank this other one higher?" it was just a small feeling of excitement about when and where we would be going. It was a fleeting feeling that was quickly washed over by impatience and annoyance with the process, but I felt it nevertheless. I'm feeling confident that I will match this year in Phase I. I'm hoping I don't have to endure Phase II again and that we can start planning for our future finally.

I read over last year's entries about this whole process. I remember vividly the feelings of disappointment, the blow to my self esteem, and the ache in my heart I felt. I also remember how long it took to rebuild my self confidence after that horrific process. That almost sounds like an exaggeration, but having been through all of that, I would say it's more like an understatement. 
I'm still rebuilding. There's still a part of me that feels angry and hurt and offended that I have to be doing it all over again. I was at one of my interviews and saw a couple people from my school and my same year. They said things like "Oh god, I'm going to be so angry if I don't match!" (mind you, this is their first year applying) I said "Uh...yeah, me too. Given that this is my 2nd time going through all of this, I'll be pretty upset too". To which one of them replied "Yeah if that happens you might as well quit and become a life coach". I said "Whoa, that's not helpful. Quitting with about $400,000 in debt probably isn't the best choice" and another one chimed in "What? Life coaches make pretty good money". Wow. These are my "supportive peers"? Just give up and become something that doesn't require the Ph.D. Thanks guys. I sat there silently wishing they wouldn't match so they could understand what it feels like, but then I quickly took that back because, no matter how pompous and ignorant these people were, no one deserves to feel that shitty about themselves.

Match day for Phase I is February 20th, 10am EST. Last year I woke up every 45 minutes to check my email on my phone, thinking they'd send it early. They did, I think mine came a little before 5am PST, but each time I woke up and checked (realistically probably about 16 times) made for some horrible sleep. I'm hoping to not do that again this year. Regardless if I read my email at 3am or 7am, the result will be the same so I might as well get some rest. I'm not sure what to do with myself during the next 2 weeks. This time, 2 weeks from now, I will know the result. I just have to "wait it out" until then. I've got way too much time on my hands from now until then.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Look Who's Talking...about birth control

I recently made a pretty big decision in my life.

After 16 years, I've decided to get off birth control.

Now, before anyone gets any wise ideas... I am not trying to have a baby, not yet anyway. 

Since the age of 14 I've been on some form of hormone-altering birth control. My mom put my on at a young age to help with my "acne". I did have problem skin, but something tells me that after raising 5 children before me, my mother was more inclined to make sure I was properly protected for whenever it was I became sexually active and just masked it with the clear skin bit. Although, my family is pretty vain and it did clear up my skin so, I may never know the true reasoning behind my mother's choices. Regardless, I have spent the last 16 years letting something other than my own body impact my hormones and body chemistry.

I never put much thought into it really, it was just a simple "I don't want to get pregnant, so I'll stay on birth control" thought.  Even when I would switch different kinds/brands and when I experienced significant side effects, I rarely ever thought about how it was really impacting my body (and my mind!).

One birth control pill I was on gave me such severe mood swings I actually had to tell the guy I was dating at the time that he was not allowed to call me for a week because I was so frightened of my own lashing out and anger right before starting my period (and the previous months were a good indication of what I was apparently capable of). That should have been HUGE red flag (some pun intended there) that something wasn't right about what I was doing.

Even when I was on another form that caused me to gain 33lb, it didn't seem to sink in that the answer may not be "switch to a different kind". That was my reaction each time. "Well, this kind doesn't seem to work well with me, so lets try a different one". Being in a scientific field, I guess I felt the need to examine and test multiple solutions? Or maybe there was something else fueling my decisions?

My best friend for years has preached about the implications of being on a hormonal birth control and has encouraged me to stop taking it. I never gave her words too much thought because I just assumed it was working "well enough" for me.

It was only in the last year or so that I started  to acknowledge what was happening to my body, gave her words some weight and really start to analyze the cost/benefits of my choice. I researched different methods and had multiple discussions with my boyfriend (now fiance), my best friend, and other women friends. I spent almost a year weighing the possibility of getting off of hormonal birth control, what it would mean for me, my body, and my relationship.

I initially felt guilty for "making" my fiance switch to another form, such as condoms. Then I started to really think about why that guilt should rest only on me? Either I feed hormones into my body, make my partner unhappy, or get pregnant? How is that a fair burden for a woman to carry?
I think this guilt is why it took me a year to make the decision to get off of birth control. 

Ultimately, I had to make the decision that was right for me, and although my fiance is part of this relationship,I had to realize that he does not dictate decisions about my body, I do and he was supportive of my decision.

It's too soon to tell how my decision will change my mind and body. I need to give it time to balance itself and get back on track. It was frightening to go through the grueling process of making this kind of a decision, but I feel empowered and if that is the only change I really notice, I think that is alright with me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bowl full of emotions with a side of sappy

Today my best friend gave birth for the 3rd time, to her first son.
It's hard to be 700 miles away when it happened.
I witnessed her give birth to her two daughters, 10 years ago and 7 years ago.
I was able to be in the room and be a part of the experience. Those two are the only live births I've ever seen, and it was absolutely amazing to be able to watch my goddaughters coming into this world and taking their first breath. Even as a 20 year old, watching that first child be born I knew it was a special experience to be a part of, regardless of almost fainting ( I handled the 2nd one MUCH better and even got to be the photographer).
It breaks my heart a little that I wasn't able to do the same for this special little man as he entered the world this morning. I even looked into flights when she texted me yesterday that her water broke, but I knew I didn't have the money (and definitely not for $500 round trip for a flight that, on a good day can cost only about $140). I know she understands. I know that little boy won't know the difference and will never hold it against me for not being there... although I wasn't there for my nephew's birth and he always brings it up (but he is doing so more to make fun of me since I wasn't there because I "ran away" from home that night...being the unruly teenager that I was).
This monumental event on the same day that so many little ones (my niece and nephews included) started school today. I didn't even know one of my nephews was starting kindergarten, and now I feel like a terrible aunt. I know that I wouldn't actually be there in the morning to send each one off to school, but if I weren't so far away I don't think it would hurt this much. Those 1st day of school photos signify that they're another year older and it's another year I'm missing out on (and so disconnected not to know my own nephew is starting kindergarten!). If I were closer, I'd know these things, I'd see them more than a few times a year. I'm envious of everyone who gets to see these rascals growing up and experience memories with them on a weekly basis. I blame my family for being so incredibly close that when you're away it feels like everyone got asked to the dance but you and you got assigned to pass out the punch. Why do all my examples refer to high school situations? I'm starting to think I'm one of those people, who never let go of high school... but those people are supposed to be the ones who never made anything of themselves, right? Oy! OR I just use high school examples because they're so easy to relate to for everyone, yeah let's go with that.
Well I'm just a pile of sappy right now.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Here's to self-care...and sanity.

Today marks the last day of my 3rd practicum in graduate school.
It is so strange to devote your time/sanity/effort into something for what feels like forever, and then to reach the point where you walk out, and just never return.
I felt a lot more attached to the residents there than I have with previous clients. I think given the setting, and the type of work we were doing it makes it that much more difficult to end the relationships. Therapy is such a funny profession too, because you're basically not allowed to have contact with any of them once you leave, its like you just have to disappear.
I know I won't just disappear, I know that I've made an impact on some of those women that will not be forgotten, and I feel similar about the roles they have played in my training.
It's just a strange feeling I'm sitting with right now.
I left, took the same route home I always do, let the dog out, and am sitting on my couch as I do most days after work. But I won't be going back next week, running my groups, meeting with residents, having supervision. It all just ended... and yet nothing feels different, except that it does.
There don't seem to be words to explain the feeling.
I had a moment on the drive home where I felt guilty for leaving. I chose my "end date" for this practicum. I started there in August, and really could have stayed on a while longer because I already started my new practicum in April, so I've been doing double time and I've been surviving. That is just it though, I've been surviving. I've been feeling overworked, stressed, at times miserable, and completely zapped of energy. I feel guilty though leaving those women when I really didn't have to, but chose to because it was beneficial for me to end when I did, for my own sanity. Self-Care they call it in my field.
I thought I'd have more to say about this day, but as I sit here I just feel brain-dead and zoned out.
I still have my other practicum tomorrow but J and I are going camping this weekend. I am pretty excited to get out of the city and be able to see the stars.
Not to mention, I am excited to have the time and energy to cook again. I've been repeating the same few meals over and over (which include spaghetti and tacos) for the past month or so just as a way to get by, but I miss being able to be creative and try new recipes. I just haven't been able to lately. I have just been skating by trying to make it through each week.
Here's to self-care....and sanity :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The BIG 3-0

I've been meaning to write about my birthday and the monumental event that took place at my party, but since we returned from our trip I've been working both practicums and feeling totally overwhelmed and overworked.
I thought it would be interesting to look back to an old journal and see what I had to see about turning 20 (and compare that to my thoughts now) but low and behold, my 20 year old brain didn't think too much about it and barely even mentioned it. I guess for my 20th birthday, I worked in the morning at the coffee shop, then had dinner with some family at Who Songs (where we did pretty much every birthday for a good 5 years, at least). I did mention that "old birthdays suck".... because apparently 20 was an "old birthday" according to me.
I have a feeling if 30 year old me met 20 year old me...I'd think she was pretty damn ridiculous. I know for a fact that if I met 16 year old me I'd have trouble keeping a straight face even having to try and take her seriously.

So here I am, 30 year old me. Strange. I don't feel 30. I don't know what 30 is supposed to feel like though.
Well, more importantly I suppose I should mention my 30th birthday. It was a 1984 themed 80's party. There was lots of food, drinks, dancing, good friends, family and FUN! The most memorable part, however, was getting proposed to. Think Wedding Singer, airplane scene at the end of the movie. after an intro from Billy Idol, Adam Sandler begins to seranade Drew Barrymore with a ballad "I wanna Grow Old With You".....In comes J, guitar, blue blazer and all. He totally surprised me and got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
Here I am crying like a baby (keep in mind, this was a 1984 themed party...I was dressed as the chick from Footloose..the original).
Now, J and I had been discussing eventually getting engaged, but no set plans for when...at least that I knew of. We had looked at rings, gone to try them on, looked online, etc. trying to decide what was right. I wanted more antique/vintage and wasn't sold on the idea of a center diamond because well, I just never really saw myself as that kind of gal. Thank goodness J listens to me and doesn't just go for what he thinks because I ended up with a gorgeous ring and a proposal with my friends and family present (also something I had said was important).
Center stone: Sapphire, diamonds, Palladium...all hand picked and designed by J :)
So apparently 30 brings BIG changes into my life. I'm pretty excited to see what the rest of 30 has to offer.
I asked my family and friends to write me something about when they were 30, as a way to sort of see where everyone was at during the same part of their life as me. Because of everything that happened with internship this past year, the disappointment, etc I was almost hoping it would shed some light on where people were at and where they are now... also, I thought it would be awesome to have sort of a snapshot about where everyone was at the age of 30 and to include myself in that.
Just thinking about my snapshot:
  • I am living in Oakland, CA
  • I am in my 4th year of graduate school
  • I have my M.S. in clinical psych (on my way to that Ph.D.)
  • I am engaged (I have a fiancĂ©!)
  • I own a dog
  • I drive a mid 90's Ford wagon
  • I've got a VA practicum 
I am hoping to add to that list over the next 11 months to include getting an internship...which will also include moving to a new place/state. 

30...I just might be ready for you.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

News on the practicum front. GOOD news!

I've been so busy jumping through hoops to get into the new system at my new practicum, I forgot to even mention the good news:
I got a supplemental practicum at the San Francisco VA!
In order to get into the VA system, you have to fill out form after form, refill out forms that have the incorrect date format or 1 or 2 words that don't sit right with someone. Complete the online trainings and wait for certain people to get back to regarding something or another. Then go into the VA a number of times for meetings and appointments that take about 10 to 20 minutes (after that hour commute to get there) then go back 2 days later for another 10 minute appointment. Needless to say, I'm still not in the system and I got approved on April 7th.

So this is apparently what Plan D looks like. I've now got a supplemental practicum and I'm starting earlier than others who will likely start practicums in August or September. Not only do I have a spot at a well regarded VA, I will get the opportunity to do assessments! Basically, the feedback I received from those I interviewed for internship was that I could use more assessments and VA experience...and viola! Look what I snagged! It is pretty much the most perfect thing I could have done for this extra year. Now, would I have preferred to have just matched this year and be off to internship in the fall, even if it meant Alaska? HELL YES....but since that did not work out, this is a pretty wonderful outcome for this forced extra year (and did I mention...a forced extra $50,000 in loans for this surprise year?)

I will get to experience the VA in all its glory, get to work with veterans, conduct assessments, and count all this time towards my hours for internships and apply this fall with a much better CV than last year. I managed to make a big difference, in a small amount of time. Now, I mean part of all this is just luck and chance, because you never know what people are looking for when you apply, but I managed to snag this one just over the phone (ironic since both my VA internship interviews were also via phone) and they did not even meet me face to face until a few days ago. The next 2 months are going to be a little hectic, since I'll be doubling up and doing 2 practicums until the end of June, which is when I've decided to end my current practicum. So double duty will be a little stressful. I did it last year for a month, and it really took it's toll on me, but I survived and it really helped my hours to be doing both.

And...somehow, I need to find the time (and more importantly, the motivation!) to get my IRB for my dissertation turned in. I've been majorly slacking, and I have no excuse at all. I could have already collected all my data by now if I just finished that stupid thing and got it turned in already. In fact, I should probably being working on that right now.