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Dear Cap,

I recently graduated as a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA). The entire time I was in school I always felt that I didn’t deserve the grades I got, that I wasn’t trying hard enough, and didn’t know enough. But I kept passing with some As but mostly Bs (a failing grade in this program is anything less than a 75). I had 3 clinicals in 3 different settings for a total of 17 weeks and got high marks in all of them.

I got my first job in a nursing home, which was my favorite setting out of all my clinics. I apparently made such a good impression on the rehab director that she cancelled her other interviews and offered me the position 45 minutes after my interview. On my first day I trained with a seasoned PTA. This PTA’s caseload had some of the most difficult patients I’d ever seen; people that couldn’t follow directions and resisted me during the treatment. By lunchtime I was in tears because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and that I was doing a bad job. I tried to quit but the rehab director encouraged me to go home and think about it. I came back the next day and asked to not go around with that PTA, to be given a small caseload of simple patients and to go out on my own. I had a good day and was told I did well. That was a Friday. By Sunday night I was having a panic attack (I have a long history of anxiety/depression which had been well controlled with medication for many years). I woke up Monday, had a panic attack and quit.
Now I have zero confidence in myself and I don’t know how I can take another job if this is how I handled my first one. The entire time I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and I was bad at the job. Choosing another career is not an option. I don’t know how to become more confident or at least fake it until I make it. The only advice I’ve gotten is “go see a therapist”, but I have no job or income. How can I be successful in this career when I don’t believe in myself?

-Zero
(Pronouns: she/her)

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Dear Captain Awkward:

Since the new year began, I’ve been having some fairly serious life issues. I had a major panic attack in January, and then my house caught on fire at the end of February. I’ve been really struggling to keep my head above water. I finally started seeing a therapist, changed my work schedule to accommodate my needs, and moved into a new place. During this time, I definitely had some tried and true friends support me, but it felt really scattered and only as a response to the immediate incident, but not the after effects.

I ended up meeting up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years (we had a falling out, then reconnected on Facebook, but hadn’t actually met up and hung out together in about two years), and she was talking about some difficulties she’d had recently with an increasingly abusive ex-partner making threats against her and her new partner. She started talking about her community, and about how they rallied around her as a support system. One of my flatmates who was living with me in the house that caught on fire also seemed to have had a big community support system come out to help her through the emotional aftermath. I know that the former friend’s community is revolved around the queer community in the bay, which I’d love to be involved in, but again…I don’t know how, and then the latter friend’s community is largely built of lifelong friends and friends from her Aikido group.