Return from Exile

Hello lovelies!
I’m barely re-surfacing after an exhausting 6 weeks applying to school for social work. Yep, I’m taking the plunge again … Last time I was in grad school studying anthropology. That was when fibromyalgia hit and I had to withdraw. I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to figure out what could come next. It has to be something part time, that primarily involves sitting and talking. I can only do computer work with voice to text software, as my shoulder trigger points get all achy if I type. I can only read with a fancy book stand. I can hand write and text some, but not enough for extensive paperwork. I’ve thought of things like being a nutritionist, acupuncturist, English teacher and therapist/counselor.
The last one ended up making the most amount of sense. When I was a teenager I wanted to be a psychologist, and it’s something I’ve always been interested in. Generally I’ve always wanted to be in a ‘helping’ career and been fascinated by people. Before fibromyalgia that translated into international development (think organizations like UNICEF, Oxfam, Save the Children) and studying anthropology (society and culture).
Studying social work qualifies me to be a counselor/ psychotherapist/ mental health worker where I live. It also would let me continue with international development or a lot of other interesting things like immigration settlement work if I regain my health. I like not shutting doors. I found some flexible fast track bachelor of social work degrees online and one class based one at home.
It was incredibly stressful to get in touch with profs from my previous university for references. I had a terrible experience with the onset of fibromyalgia and trying to stay in school. My supervisor told me I didn’t have enough of a ‘go-getter’ attitude when I asked for accommodation! No one wrote me after I withdrew to see if I was ok. I was so miserable day after day trying to wring as much work out of myself as I could, even as I lost abilities like typing, reading paperwork without a book stand, sleeping, sitting for long periods etc. I have been looking ahead ever since I left to the future, and it was really hard to look back.
It was tough trying to organize the logistics of assembling all the documents and sending them to the different schools through brain fog. Writing a ‘personal statement’ was not as bad, but I noticed the differences in my energy and ability to think clearly and it was frustrating. I also didn’t pace myself like I should have because I wanted to get it over with!
I actually missed my ‘normal’ fibro life. I missed my weekly qi gong, stretching, strengthening, meditation. I felt the difference of not doing it too! I missed blogging, library talks, coursera courses, coffee with friends etc. But it felt good to have a challenge that would move me forward in life. I’m looking forward to taking classes online (part time of course), practicum/internships and maybe one day being a fully fledged counselor!
Wish me luck! I’m already planning my back-up for “when I don’t get in” (I’m a glass half empty type). Need to think positive!

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7 thoughts on “Return from Exile

  1. Shelley says:

    I’ve been looking into going back to school for a masters and it’s so stressful. In my bad moments I find myself questioning whether my post fibro can hack it, so good for you to going for it! Hopefully I’ll go for it sooner rather than later =)

    • Katarina says:

      I was also stressed at the thought of applying! I did a few free university classes at coursera.org that gave me a bit of confidence back. Also finding an online part time program helped too. Maybe even trying one course might help in an area you’re interested in. Either way, continuing to learn is one of the best things you can do for yourself!:)

  2. Michelle says:

    It is so great that you have decided to pursue a passion and to logically try to accommodate this life long illness we have. Very good job in your perseverance and as far as your “go-getter” attitude, I think you’re definitely showing it now!

    • Katarina says:

      Haha thank you! It has been a bit of a struggle pacing my school work and still trying to stay on top of all the self care stuff I have to do. I’m just glad that I haven’t crashed or burned … Still trucking along. Wish I could keep up with my blog more though! That’s something I have to work on.

  3. Miss Diagnoses says:

    Oh wow, I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking also (for my repetitive strain injury). I’m finishing a certificate in copyediting because it seemed to be the only thing I could do from home using voice-recognition software, and I enjoy learning about language and grammar ( I know , nerd alert.) Congratulations on finding a new field. Please be careful because some social work position involve a lot of writing and filling out forms … I’m not saying this to be a downer, I just worry about my fellow chronic illness bloggers. 🙂

    • Katarina says:

      Wow, so much in common! It’s so great that you went out and learned a new skill. Yes, I am also worried about the paperwork component. I think if I pursue counseling it will be more one on one talking. I also hope that I might be able to work in a disability advocacy organization, who might try to accommodate me. dragon has a medical transcription program which may also help me. Its definitely something we have to consider!

  4. Miss Diagnoses says:

    Oh, I forgot about Dragon Medical! Cool! Working in a disability advocacy organization sounds amazing … We need so many more advocates, especially those of us with invisible illnesses!
    What are Coursera courses? Do they work well with Dragon? I still have Version 10, because I’m freaked out about getting the new version and having to either start over again or try to transfer all my saved vocabulary. I’m going to have to cave and buy a new laptop and Version 12 soon. My laptop is dying, and the voice software on my tablet is limited.
    I am also a glass half-empty person. 🙂 I have made progress though – I used to be a glass-is-completely-empty-and there-will-never-be-anything-in-it-again person! I always had depressive tendencies, but chronic illness took it to a whole new level. Ugh.

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