by Christa

–I wrote this last spring but have been sitting on it awhile– 

I recently had a meeting with my supervisor and the program manager (the highest ranking person at my office/branch) about my slipshod paperwork.  For my job I need to write a “progress note”  for every client session I have and then turn them in by 9am every Monday at the office (I work at a school and only go to the office for this reason).  The progress notes are complicated and there are about a billion rules because if it isn’t perfect then Community Behavioral Health (CBH) will refuse to pay for that session and my organization loses that money (because they are still required to pay me for that session).  So if something is incorrect they make you rewrite the progress note and turning in paperwork late is frowned upon.

Anyways, I had handed in things late, forgotten to fill out sections of the paperwork and lost some of the notes (although it turned out they had gotten misfiled and it was not my fault). So there I was, sitting with my superiors, waiting for the ax to fall.  They were actually fairly nice and understanding but the result was that I have to take documentation training again* and my job security is slightly less stable.

Throughout the meeting I felt like trying to explain myself -my mind was screaming “I CAN’T HELP IT! I’M TRYING!”- but I held my tongue because it would have been more detrimental than helpful to explain myself. The thing is, I have ADD & clinical depression.  These two things manifest in my career/job in these ways:

1) We are supposed to do paperwork during the last 15 minutes of our sessions. This is really hard for me to do in a room full of kids because of the continual distractions.  Even if I’m sitting at home with no distractions (ha!) it takes me at least 30 minutes to write a progress note properly.

2) I procrastinate like no other. Our 9am deadline is strict but I still put it off to the last minute -staying up late on Sundays, getting up extremely early Monday mornings, or on really bad weeks trying to write notes at the stoplights on my way to work.  I have even called in sick to work on a Monday because there was no way I was going to get my notes done in time.  It’s honestly a sad state of affairs.**

3) Problems with time management- I get up in plenty of time to get ready for work yet I still seem to manage to rush out the door late. Wake up half-hour earlier? Still rushing. I’m usually on time but at least one day a week I’m 5 to 10 minutes late. And its fucking stressful to always be rushing.

4) I lose things. Its inevitable. My actual paperwork, the notebook I write notes in, etc.

5) Some days I can’t go to work because I am too depressed. This may seem ridiculous to people that don’t have depression – “buck up! pull yourself together and just do it!” – but that is easier said than done.

So, lets recap. Absenteeism, lateness, and losing things. Paperwork that is less than stellar due to rushing.*** These aren’t exactly qualities one looks for in an employee. Theoretically my employers should be sympathetic to the nature of depression/ADD since that is one of the populations we work with (along with kids with ASDs) but how would one even go about asking for accommodations? Dear Employer, I would appreciate it if you allow me to be late, miss days and turn in late/shoddy paperwork??

That said, I may have some shortfalls but I am still kickass at my job.  I have a lot of great job qualities.  I’m good with my clients. I’m loyal. I love my job^ even though I have to put up with all kinds of shit, etc. I treat my clients like human beings with agency (although that is probably a more important quality to me than to my employer).

One reason it took me forever to post this was because writing this post made me feel like I was just complaining/whining, I am blaming my actions on this condition that doesn’t really exist, I am just being lazy and irresponsible.  These are the things I have been told my whole life by my family (especially my father), teachers, friends, as well as society as a whole.  My fatness intersects with my ADD/depression so that the lazy message becomes a whole new monster (i.e. -Hey fatass, why don’t you get out of bed and do something productive/worthwhile instead of being so LAZY).  I have internalized these messages to the point that deep down I still believe them even though I know logically they are fucked up.  Here’s hoping that slowly, someday I will be able to fully shed all these fucking oppressive messages that have been/still are shoved down my throat.


*its about 5 months later and they haven’t mentioned repeating the training again…and I doubt it will come up again as the program manager has quit

**since I first wrote this I have sold my car and take public transportation. It is impossible to take public transportation to the office and then to my school due to time contraints and bus schedules. So now I either need to have my paperwork done by Friday so I can go to the office then (or send it with a co-worker) or I need to borrow a friends car (thanks Robin!)

***Last week my supervisor told me I write excellent progress notes, which made me feel great, but I still frequently make careless mistakes

^Since writing this I have started to hate my job and am currently looking for something new.  The commute is long, I don’t get paid enough, hours can be inconsistent and the actual work is starting to burn me out.  My job description has changed a bit so now I have to write 3 times as many progress notes.  They will only pay me for an hour of administrative time for writing paperwork outside of school. So this means I do 2-7 hours of unpaid work per week.