Monday, October 30, 2006

Shine On You, Crazy Diamond

That was a worse retirement than Jay-Z's. I'm sorry, I'm back.

I am convinced that I have developed or acquired some mild form of bipolar disorder.

At least once a day, I am overcome with feelings that I have chosen the wrong profession, and this scares the shit out of me. After a couple hours of inner monologue, I calm myself down, realize that I have a better handle on things than I think I do, remember how I always overreact about everything, and smarten up.

I'm taking three classes this semester (stuttering, neurogenic speech disorders, and clinical practicum), I've got two clients at two different preschools in the Worcester area that I see once a week (been there for 6 weeks) and I'm screening hearing in elementary schools for the little childrens (two down, one to go). I'm still working a couple hours a day at Tatnuck, and then it's off to the old schoolhouse for the rest of the day and early evening.

It's accurate to say that I am struggling right now. I enjoy the two kids I work with right now and their classes are always entertaining, but I still feel lost most of the time and my confidence in what I am doing comes and goes. I bombed my first neuro exam, yet I think that can be salvaged fairly easily. I assume I'll do well on my fluency midterm (it would make goddamn sense) that has been delayed so long that it should be called "Chinese Democracy," but who knows. My case manager has told me that I have been making progress and my sessions get better and better, yet she also informed me that I am picking things up slower than the other clinicians. I always walk into a session thinking it will go terribly, and I walk out of it thinking I am the greatest of the great. I can't make up my fucking mind about how I am doing. Essentially, when I describe to people what exactly I am doing in grad school, I am completely talking out of my ass, yet it tends to sound halfway intelligent.

What worries me the most is not the fact that I am not a expert yet, it's that I don't find genuine interest in most of our field. I am interested in stuttering and stuttering alone. Some day I will have a private practice and specialize in fluency, but that will not be for a long time. Today in fluency class, we had a guest speaker who was a regional director of the National Stuttering Association. He talked about his past therapies and how he has improved over the years. Listening to him talk reminded me of why I am in this profession. Unfortunatly, so much of speech-language pathology is child language and articulation, and I flat-out don't like it. For years I had assumed that once I began working with people, that attitude would change. "Wait until you get into clinic, you know more than you think you do. You'll love it!", they all said. That has not happened. I feel that I know less than I thought I did, and I certainly do not love it. I hope some day this all changes. Maybe with time and experience it will, but right now I'm not thrilled.

So what are my options for changing these feelings? Basically, I can suck it up and be a man. Grad school sucks a fat one for everybody and there's nothing noble about suffering through it. I've got friends doing braver things than I'll ever do, (namely Dan Teles, History's Greatest Hero building houses in New Orleans) so I should shut up now. Time to take off the dress and end this tea party.


Surprisingly, despite the disdain for my profession right now, my stuttering during my sessions has been a non-factor. I thought that would be the main problem going into this year, but in the 21.5 hours of therapy that I've accrued so far, I have counted only 3 times where stuttering affected the session. I practice on and off, but for most of the time I have been able to control it. I've leaned more towards stuttering modification techniques in those situations rather than fluency shaping.
I'm fluent in the times where I need to be fluent, and that's all that matters to me.

Aside from school, the rest of my life ain't bad. Work isn't bad, the Patriots keep winning, the revamped Celtics are about to start, and I am completely head-over-heels in love. I've taken a real shine to politics, Radiohead, wine, cooking real food (celebrating my 100th fleeting hobby of the past year!) and classic movies. I actually kind of feel like an adult.

Now if I could only start acting like one in school.