The Job Search (and some Wild Things)

wild-things2-small1Hoo boy! Where to even begin with this post? Two nights ago I woke up at 3am with a burning pain in my chest and thought I was having a heart attack. I wasn’t (thank goodness) but it did make me realise that I need to make some inroads into this job search in order to bring my anxiety levels down. I also need to exercise more, cut down on the sugar and the caffeine and study for my board exam. But you can’t study on an empty stomach, right? And the caffeine is fuel for the brain …

So I’ll keep this post brief. My superego is already telling me that I’m wasting valuable time and that I should be doing x, y and z (tidying, studying and applying for jobs). Not to mention the tax. But there are so many questions. Do I stay on in the military for another year? Work in a prison for a year or so (interesting connection)? Police? Locum at a hospital (if it’s even available)? Take the plunge into private? Start approaching anyone and everyone I know connected to Psychology? Not being in any hurry itself could be a problem. The temptation is to take things one slow step at a time rather than rush into anything. But I also need to be aware and open to any possibilities.

On the reading front, I’m almost finished with Sexing the Cherry and I’ve had very mixed feelings about it. In other words I loved it and hated it. I found myself drawn more to the Dog Woman than to Jordan. What an amazing character, and the fact that I’m reading a Vintage Classics series that twins this book with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein draws attention to her as a ‘monster’ (but one that’s quite easy to relate to). I saw the very grounded Dog Woman and Jordan as two sides of a single personality. The flighty, slightly manic, head-in-the-clouds Jordan and the earthy, massive, violent but also tender Dog Woman. Winterson provides a very unexpected take on gender and sexuality for a start. Will be interested to see what others thought.

Yesterday I also had a charming (and short) visit to my local library. The librarians there usually make me feel like a) a leper; b) a book-thief-just-waiting-to-happen or c) a very small boy who’s done something wrong. Admittedly these could all be my own projections but the woman in the children’s book section was quite different in that she was helpful, chatty and just generally nice. I was looking for kids’ books to help someone who suffers from anxiety. One of my child patients had a bad experience with a ‘evil spirit’ and has not been able to make progress in getting over it. I’m a great believer in talking things out and was looking for some well-illustrated stories to help her to start constructing her own story. Top of my list was the wonderful and brilliant Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak but I also took: In the Night Kitchen (another one by Sendak); Some Things Are Scary by Heide and Feiffer; The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote; and Catkin by Antonia Barber and PJ Lynch.

Not all of these deal with anxiety but I want her to see the progression of these kinds of stories. Basically the beginnings, middles and ends so we can start drawing up a story of her own. My supervisor might well tell me that I’m interfering in my patient’s process and that I should stick to open-ended play therapy and provide paint, playdough etc. I’m certainly not trying to prescribe what she should do, but I think the narrative approach could be a useful one.


7 Responses to The Job Search (and some Wild Things)

  1. Good luck with the job search! I can’t imagine how you begin to decide with all those options open to you. As for your client, I think she is very lucky to have such an intuitive and thoughtful psychologist helping her and the idea of helping her see her experience as part of a narrative is brilliant.

  2. Evie says:

    How wonderful it is to see that great children’s books can be so therapeutic. I can well remember how comforting books were to me as a painfully shy child :).

    I finished Sexing the Cherry for Slaves of Golconda a few weeks ago and my thoughts echo yours. I am not sure whether I like the book or not, but I find that I am still thinking about and its images remain vivid. I’m surprised that I didn’t hate it has strong elements of fantasy and historical fiction and those genres are usually anathema to me. Dog Woman, the giantess (is she a giantess?), was the character I most related to. This was the first Winterson I have read but it strongly reminded me of Angela Carter, especially The Bloody Chamber. They are both interested in the exploration of gender, sexuality and violence in vastly similar ways.

  3. Pete says:

    Charlotte – Thanks, you are so sweet! As for the job, I’m a big avoider so quite likely to take none of the options for as long as possible.

    Evie – Hello! And I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who had a mixed reading experience. I think hate was too strong a word but a lot of the fantasy stuff left me a bit cold. But I can also appreciate how it fits into the book as a whole. Perhaps when I’m anxious I have less time for flights of fancy. I’m interested to read some Angela Carter now.

  4. litlove says:

    Poor Pete – your anxiety levels are worrying me, too. I guess the anxiety here can’t stem from the obvious fear of not finding a job as you know you have plenty of options. So it must (she says from her wholly untrained position) be the old chestnut about whether you are good enough to branch out, to try something new, and to show your abilities to strangers. I don’t think anyone reading this blog would have a moment’s hesitation in declaring you were way more than good enough. So, put that thought aside and wait to see how life unfolds. The opportunities will come if you are open.

    I think the story books are an excellent idea – a way to hold menace in comforting words and images – it’s what narrative’s there for! Do say how you get on – I’m most curious to hear part 2 of this.

  5. Dorothy W. says:

    I’m planning on starting Sexing the Cherry soon, and your discussion of it here is certainly intriguing! It sounds like it will be a great book to discuss. And best of luck working out what you want to do with the job search. It’s good to have options, right? Even if they are a little bewildering?

  6. doctordi says:

    Pete, I am beyond startled by this coincidence: I haven’t owned a copy of Where the Wild Things Are for a good many years, but adored it as a child, and for a variety of Darkling/MS-related reasons, bought a copy on Saturday that I read and reread and fell in love with all over again. At first it was a kind of memory ecstasy, and then it was something else that was just as potent, if not more so. I’ve no doubt your patient will benefit from these monsters rolling their terrible eyes, and gnashing their terrible teeth.

    On the job front, I say slow and steady is sometimes a sneaky method of procrastination. I think you’ll feel a lot less anxious if you take charge of the situation promptly. Being decisive about your own future is incredibly satisfying – it becomes its own enablement. Good luck!

  7. Pete says:

    Litlove – I think the anxiety is a combination of a lot of things – job, exam and a whole lot more. Even though I know I’m very well qualified, the jobs are surprisingly thin on the ground. If I was in the UK or Australia say, there would be apparently be more on offer but here things seem more restricted. The fact that the government doesn’t fund more psychologists in a country which has huge mental health issues is really odd to me. Thanks for the good wishes and will let you know how the other anxiety narrative works out as well!

    Dorothy – Yes, I think Sexing the Cherry will provide lots of interesting discussions. And thanks for the good wishes re the search. At this stage it’s about seeing what options there might be.

    Di – I love the rolling of the terrible eyes and the gnashing of the terrible teeth! I think I should do a post where I just describe one of these brilliant illustrations. Thanks for the good advice re the job search but I think the dragging of the heels shows that I’m really ambivalent about jumping into another job quickly. For my own health, I should also try to get through the exam first (but still send out some applications).

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