After my first week of my internships, I am exhausted both physically and mentally. At work, I was in a pretty good mental space except for the usual social anxiety and inability to speak much, but now that I’m home over the weekend, I’ve had time to think about past therapy sessions, and all the things I want to talk about with friends as I haven’t talked much to anyone because my anxiety paralyzes me. I’ve thought about my inability to talk and how it has really been hindering me at work.
Even after all the work I’ve done in therapy and counseling over the past two years, I am still almost completely silent at work, and it’s really bothering me. I wish people didn’t just think I was shy and quiet; I wish they’d understand and know that it’s anxiety and uncontrollable which I know is unreasonable to want, and I wish that I could give it the definite diagnosis of Selective Mutism if that’s what it is because maybe it would give me some closure or certainty that it’s really as bad as it is and an actual problem. I’m constantly worrying that I’m just making it all up to get out of doing things I don’t want to do, but I the only reason I don’t want to do them is because they cause me so much anxiety that I can’t do them. I know this is all unreasonable and annoying; I don’t know even know why I’m mentioning it.
I’ve been noticing recently how drastically my energy compares to others/those I work with/neurotypicals. An 8-5 day five days a week is normal for them, and they seem to be functioning so well, meanwhile by the time I get home, I’m about to pass out from sheer exhaustion from being around people for 9 hours. I don’t even have to do anything else when I get home, but my coworkers all have to take care of their households, and they seem like they’re normal functioning human beings. Maybe I’m just not used to this type of lifestyle, and I just need time to adjust, but being an introvert, I’m exhausted by all these people, and it doesn’t help that my mental problems drain me even more. I want to be a normal, functional human, and I am trying, but I’m nowhere close to being at that point.
My internship at the local Circuit Court showed me that I belong working an office job somewhere. I enjoyed it so much, the tedious, monotonous filing, scanning, sorting, and data entry gave me something to do that engaged my mind just enough that it wouldn’t go off wandering but not too much that I would be overwhelmed. I had the opportunity to observe the clerks and the work they do; I got to sit in on a few courts, help in archives, and most importantly, give treats and pets to the K-9 Deputy Clerk, Annie (she even has a badge and a certificate saying she is sworn in as a clerk). The clerks absolutely loved having me work with them, and almost every week, they joked about how they wanted me to quit school and work with them. Several of them told me that I was made for the Clerk’s office. I’ll hopefully go back next year to intern. I learned and now know that an office job is where I belong.
On my last day of this internship, the clerks I worked with threw me a little party type thing and surprised me with pizza, cake, and a card signed by all of them, including Annie, saying how much they enjoyed working with me and how they were sad I was leaving. They were all so sad that my internship was over, and they told me that if I wanted to come back and volunteer I could and that they wanted me to come back to see them.
My other internship was with an organization where they provide all kinds of services and consulting for pregnant women and women with young children in need. The building they are currently in used to be the office building of the adoption agency we adopted my sister and brother through. When I walked into the building, I got to see the waiting area that I vividly remember holding my brother when he was two weeks old right after we had this little party sort of thing (I also saw the room that took place in) where we were getting to take him home. It had been almost eleven years since that day. Then as I was being shown around, I saw the office where we met with our social worker and first met my brother’s birth mother. I remember both of those experiences very well, and it was so neat to be working there.
The work they assigned me was mostly just data entry, nothing exciting, except for one of the staff’s stories about her childhood. Those were entertaining. I haven’t worked that many jobs, but every one that I have worked, all the employees loved having me there and working with them. They all say how hardworking and diligent I am, though I don’t really understand why. I just do what I’m told and if I understand what I’m doing well enough, a little more. I try to do things in the most efficient manner, which I guess is a relatively rare attribute to employers, or at least that is what I’ve seen in the jobs I’ve worked. Whatever they see in my work ethic must be desirable; I’ve received nothing but praise and favor from the owners and employers I’ve worked for.
I’ve also been thinking quite a bit about dropping out of college. I really don’t want to, but I don’t know if I can mentally handle finishing school. I’m barely passing my classes, and if I can’t even do well in classes, I shouldn’t be spending so much money on it. But then there’s also the fact that I can’t move completely back home. My life is in my school’s town and the surrounding area, as are my mental health support system and supporters. My mental stability will plummet, and I need to be getting better and working through recovery and I don’t think that will happen in my hometown.
Halfway through June, I kind of shut myself off from people. Normally I have snap streaks, and sometimes when I’m feeling particularly low or anxious, I’ll text a friend, but I cut off contact with people; I lost all my streaks and instead of messaging, I internalized everything while trying to stuff it in the back of my mind and ignore it. I didn’t want to talk to anyone or bother anyone. I ignored emails and social media notifications because I didn’t want to have any contact with anyone as I thought I was just burdening everyone and anyone.
I’ve continued this for the most part, and I’ve only hung out with friends maybe five times this entire summer. I usually go to a Bible study on Monday nights with friends and students of the local university. I went all summer last year and became somewhat close with one of the leaders, Ella, but this summer, the only time I heard from her was when I asked if there was Bible study on that night. She told me they decided not to meet over the summer, and I never heard from her again after that.