As I pondered what on earth to write about today, I decided to glance through my old blogs to see what stone I had left unturned about me and my psychic world. There is a large doozy of a stone left unturned, and that is why I do what I do. What would make one want to ditch her hard-earned master’s degree and the career she was so excited about to do this instead? I have three answers: 1. Government policies 2. insurance companies. Number three shall show herself a little later in our blog.
The career I had practically drooled and frothed at the mouth to have was that of a clinical social worker. A counselor, to be exact. For many moons, I had dreamed of having my own practice, helping clients with whatever. For many moons much longer than that, people had spontaneously told me their troubles. And I was happy with that. I loved (and still do) when someone shared their heart and soul with me, maybe seeking advice, maybe not. Didn’t matter; I still enjoyed the dialogue.
After deciding to exit retail (my first degree was in fashion merchandising), I earned my second degree in psychology. And then I learned that I would for sure need that master’s to do any job counseling people–ye old bachelor’s degree doesn’t move your ass far, trust me.
Grad school sucked. Let’s not beat around the bush here; I loved learning, but…working, grad school, a 10-month-old puppy, and my grandfather dying during that time were all a bit much at once. Many times during those 3 long years, I would tiredly scribble, “Annie Sever-Dimitri, MSW” over and over again to motivate myself to continue. I was so excited to sign off on professional paperwork with those initials MSW perched cozily behind my name.
As graduation finally approached, I felt it would be a good idea to get my counseling feet wet working at a community mental health center. HA HA HA HA! Until I learned that the quality of the work I did meant not shit, zip, zilch. What mattered was billing the government, getting those juicy “billable hours”–that was the most critical aspect of the work at the community mental health centers. Having high billable hours was how one earned pay raises, not how you treated your clients. So see ya to that idea! I couldn’t treat people like a dollar sign.
Being unable to see other humans as a dollar sign eventually caused massive burnout only months into my career as an intake clinician at a psychiatric hospital. Let’s be honest; I was horribly burned out on social work by the time I left school! Spending 3 months as a PRN social worker on a trauma unit was the icing on the cake; spending any time as an intake clinician was the ice cream on top of the cake.
My job was to evaluate folks seeking services, recommend level of care (inpatient, intensive outpatient, etc.), call their insurance company to seek reimbursement for treatment, process the paperwork, and walk them down to the inpatient unit. I also got to call the police if someone suicidal didn’t want to be admitted. Talk about a zoo. I was glad I never had to do that.
What I did have to do, A LOT, was tell parents how to keep their children from committing suicide until the child could return for day treatment the following morning. Insurance companies will do ANYTHING to keep from paying for inpatient treatment. It was hell. Many suicidal people will hint, but not give anything concrete, on which to provide a diagnosis of active suicidal ideation. Without that, it didn’t matter what the child was saying or doing, those parents were going to be taking that sick kid home with them and keeping their fingers crossed until the next day. My heart broke daily watching how these families suffered, and my ethics were kicked in the crotch routinely too. One of the older employees delighted in seeing our schedule book full, not caring particularly how anyone was scheduled on that book. They were just there, and the hospital was going to make money. Luckily, I had already given my one-month notice when I discovered that our child psychiatrist had been ordered by company executives not to increase children’s psych meds more than a certain amount daily. Why? They were being released too soon, causing the hospital to lose money. I wanted to bitch slap someone; what was best for our patients didn’t matter, just bring the damn money in.
My health was totally in the crapper by the time April 24th, 2006 rolled around, which was my last day as a social worker. If I hadn’t worn a skirt, I would have turned cartwheels down the hallway as I trucked it out of there my final shift.
I continued cleaning houses (was never able to do social work full time and cleaned houses the days I wasn’t working at the hospital), and I found a truly hilarious and lucrative job as a server in a tiny cafe. My coworkers were SO funny, something I had needed badly for years–there is absolutely nothing funny about social work. Well, sometimes, but not that often. As I regained my health and considered what to do with myself, I decided I would learn life coaching and image consulting. Well, well, well, those aren’t really up my alley. I am too quirky for such staid employment. As I learned to accept my psychic abilities, I found that the third reason I left social work was that I had never felt comfortable or right with it. I didn’t even want to finish my degree but did it anyway with only two semesters left. I discovered the reason I chose to help people and animals with my psychic self was because it felt.so.right. Social work had never felt this good. I would stand on my head and spit nickels in order to be a psychic and an animal communicator. I simply adore helping clients with whatever is happening in their world–be it grief, calming down, healing old wounds—and I am thrilled I get to spend the rest of my days on the planet doing this. I feel about my work the same as I do about my husband. He always felt right and good, even during our first conversation. Doesn’t mean my career or my marriage are always a stroll in the park…..nah, we’re human, and I hate computer work. But they always feel right, good, and worth the effort.