I am so sorry to post again, I just don't know where to turn to help myself in my situation. I have previously mentioned that I have started a course part-time and some volunteer work.
I am three weeks in on the course and two weeks in volunteering. The course is a struggle. It involves a lot of practical work with working in two or threes. A lot of focus on what the other s saying and having a response. It is something I wanted to work towards career wise, but wonder if it is a little too far to reach. I have had some people think it is a good idea to do the course and others who think it is bad choice. So at the moment I am doing it day by day, but feel concerned that I will one day quit.
The volunteering as I mentioned is with children. There are two of us and the other person leads the session, so does all the explaining of tasks and summarising what they are learning. From day one I have struggled to interact with the children. It may seem silly, but I find even the smallest interaction is difficult. For example a child may say their leg hurts. I just don't know what to say, yet the other volunteer is so natural and may ask "oh I am sorry, do you know why it hurts". There are all of these small interactions, my mind is just blank. If the children are doing a physical activity. The other volunteer may give small instructions "keep head facing straight ahead" or "well done you are doing great". None of this comes to mind. Very rarely I may be able to say "you are doing well", but it is very rare. I just find it so difficult. I mentioned briefly to the lead volunteer that I struggle to know what to say and when to say things. That I was stressing out. They were great about it and said I was doing good and that I should just be myself. That if I need prior information on what the next session is then she can let me know etc.
I thought it would help, but I have just come from a session and I feel awful. It has been a huge shock struggling so badly. Now I feel deflated and feel I am just going along to make numbers up. That I am not really volunteering because I am not joining in. It is horrible to feel this way.
I don't know what else I can do. The thing is if I stop the course and the volunteer work it will have a bad effect on my mood and I know I am just holding it together now. Not sure who to turn to because those closest to me already expect me to quit and I cannot mention my struggles. I have often been told that if I don't change my life will always be this way.
It has taken so much for me to even study and volunteer. I am just scared that if I can't maintain it my mental health will suffer. I just don't know what my options are. I mean obviously I am hearing the interactions between the lead volunteer and the children. I can see how the interactions work, but I cannot do it myself. I feel like a loser who can't even hold a conversation.
I am really sorry for posting again.
No please don't apologise for posting again. It's absolutely fine, really it is. First of all you had a goal, you worked towards it and you're actually doing it. That's great. Really hard to do but you've done it. Secondly, you're doing 2 newish things at once, studying and volunteering. You've given yourself a lot to do and a lot to get used to. Again, that's great. Thirdly, everyone takes time to settle into something new but we often take longer and that's ok. And you are learning new skills which again take time. Listen to your lead volunteer.. be yourself and you're doing fine so that's ok they can see your potential. So if you can don't stop just yet, give yourself a bit more time, tell yourself it's ok you are learning, when we are learning we can't do everything naturally straight away, we have to practice, so remember that you are practicing. It's really hard when the session hasn't gone well and you know it and you feel like not only have you let yourself down but others too. I have an more than one horrendous teaching practice one of which I failed but I had others that I really enjoyed and in the end I passed. So is your goal something you are still keen on? And if this is one way to achieve that just keep reminding yourself you are on a stepping stone. You are doing this for you not for those who think you ought to change. Change can be good and positive and helpful but enforced change to please others is not. Is this a permanent volunteering role or does it have a specific time schedule? If it's permanent you know you are giving yourself a good chance to learn and you can give yourself time. Or you can tell yourself I'll give it a chance til Christmas or Easter to see if I feel more comfortable. If you are still uncomfortable then don't stay because that's not good for you either. How often are you going? Is it for a couple of hours, daily ? Sometimes on placements I found going one day a week harder than being there for a full week because it gives you a better chance to settle in. What are the parts of the volunteering you can do? Can you be the one to get everyone drinks and snacks? Can you be the one who tidies away and cleans up? Can you be the one taking the children to the loo if they are little nursery age? Are you out doorsy.. are there things outside you can do? Are your interests something you can share? Is there a way you can contribute sort of more in the background or could you try reading stories instead of conversation? I hope your next volunteering day is better. Let me know how you get on.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and offer of support. You have made some valid points. Thank you for sharing that you yourself have had experience of both good and bad with teaching practice.
In terms of my goal and if it is something I still want to work towards I am not sure where I stand. I was at a point where I wanted to work in a role that is offering support to others in terms of developing themselves. I am better one on one than large groups and I have to be somewhere with facilities. For example 5 years ago I qualified as a personal trainer. I wanted to use exercise to help others develop themselves not just their weight/fitness etc. To me exercise is so much more.
However I have never done anything with it. Part of me wishes I had. Sport has always been a big part of my life and I know it can help with a lot of things. Due to confidence and self-esteem I doubt I will ever go down that route.
So I ended up signing up for a Counselling course, which I am doing now. It seemed like a good option, but as mentioned in the above it involves a lot of interaction in terms of conversing. It is harder than I imagined. So this I am having doubts with.
The volunteer work is for 1 hour on one day and 2 hours on another. It only runs for 8-10 weeks and won't know if it will be long term. So it isn't actually a lot, well to me it feels like it. In theory this volunteer work is something I have wanted to do previously. Combining exercise with self-development for children. It is ideal. However again I am shocked at how difficult it is.
I am scared if I quit the course it will send me in to a negative place and it will cause friction with family. I have not mentioned any of my struggles or anxiety, because with them there is never any place for it. If I quit I will feel like a let down and that I can't manage much.
It is really hard. I want to get back in to employment and earn a living, this course and volunteer work was to build experience and confidence. Oh I don't know anymore.
I think it's different for everyone and everyone finds change places an extra mental load on themselves, so you launching into two at once is a bit of extra pressure, but like any new job or course (and as Misfit has already said), it takes time to settle in. I remember when I started a new job at 22 and I was coming home from work every day exhausted, ended up being in bed by 7 before getting up at 7 again the next morning but after a while I adjusted and it became easier.
You could set yourself some minor improvement goals if that helps, one specific small thing you need to improve on and work out how you can do it, that way the goal is achievable. I'm currently learning to play golf and I'm not out there trying to play a course and go round on par, I won't get perfect straight away (and probably ever), but I'm practicing my swing, improving my putting, reading the green etc. That's being done with a professional but it's little things, a weeks lesson will focus on one small area, get that to where it needs to be and then set the next area. I've got from never having swing a club before to being able to comfortably hit a ball 150 yards with a 7 iron and land the ball in an area wide enough to be a fairway nine out of ten times in four weeks. On putting I've improved my make percentages by 20-50% depending on distance of the putt but that's all been by little things not large improvements.
That way you can set little goals like you want to focus on being able to compliment the child on a specific skill or thing that they are working on etc. that way it's achievable and you can hit the goals which is always a confidence booster in itself.
You started doing it, that's a big part of the battle, you're still doing it even though you're finding it difficult, that's an even bigger part, you're doing the hardest bit, the rest will get easier.
So your volunteering is 3 hrs a week for a further 6-8 weeks. I think if you can keep going just until it gets to that point you would feel so much better about yourself and it just gives you more of a chance to see if you think you have made self improvement.
you didn't say how long the counselling course lasts but again if it's just a matter of weeks rather than months I think it's worth trying to keep going. However I still think 2 new things at once is a lot. Even if you don't go directly into counselling, you can use what you do learn in other things. I would really appreciate someone like you, who is keen on sport, health and development working with me. That is one of the things I really need. So if you think you could I think it's worth looking at that again. Personal Trainer/coach..(maybe even shadow someone already doing it) it is personal but it's practical too. So the emphasis is on the practical. Counselling needs a lot of intuition, body language skills, confidence, knowledge, life experience.. it's a lot more than following the rules in the book and expecting the client to talk. My advice would be to hang on in there if you can, learn as much as you can, listen and talk to fellow volunteers and students and see how you feel in a few weeks time. there any YouTube videos on counselling training and teaching exercise so some of those might help. Keep asking and posting on here too.
Yes the volunteering is for another 6 weeks. Even though I recognise it is difficult, I do feel less stressed and anxious than at the counselling course. The counselling course is for another 16 weeks. Counselling involves a lot of skills. Like you mentioned above it isn't just about following the theory and expecting the client to talk. I have the dilemma in that most people think they know what is best for me. That I would be a good counsellor, but they never take in to consideration about the areas I struggle with. The tutor mentioned that to do these courses you need to be emotionally and psychologically robust. This is an area that I know I am struggling with. Aside from the ASD I have long term mental health difficulties. I have a lot of issues that need working on. I feel that I am not in a stage in my life where I can support others with their difficulties. I know the studying would be longer eg another 3 years and I may improve by then, but that is if. At times I think I am just about holding myself together. like hanging by a thread. Even now whilst being more occupied I get the odd moment where I have dark thoughts.
I guess an option I have right now is to stop the counselling course and possibly look at maybe volunteering once a week alongside my current volunteer work. I feel it may help in learning through experience rather than study.
I have had a quick look around some fitness courses, which I could possibly look at. They are home study with just three days attendance for practical assessment.
Not decided fully yet, but I am due in tomorrow for the counselling course. We sometimes have to attend twice a week. Scared about telling people if I quit because of their reaction.
counsellors need experience seems obvious doesn't it.. not only or theory and passing, not only of experience of counselling but also what it's like to be on the receiving end of personal issues what ever that may be whether is neurological like asd or depression and anxiety or any number of other things, of working and not working of relationships etc etc I personally wouldn't want a counsellor who has gone from school to course to consulting room. I had one once it was awful. So for some clients like myself who has similar issues someone like you would be ideal. There are asd counsellors and those who have struggled with depression. You need to do what is right for you but that's not easy to tune into. I know the feeling of hanging on and dark thoughts. I expect like me you acknowledge those times and wait for them to pass. But you would have to be resilient to be a counsellor. I think for that role you need both study and experience which is what you are doing they interact don't they but also it depends on the way you learn best. Don't think of stopping something that's not right for you at the moment as quitting. You know your difficulties some of which others won't see and you know the toll it takes and then time to recover. Which is worse someone else's reaction or your well being? If you do stop you're making a well thought out decision for your own welfare if that's what you choose to do. The fitness courses sound good. I did go to Pilates and it seems quite a few instructors start out with an injury themselves. They are teaching and enabling with some interaction but not deeply personal and definitely beneficial.. something like that seems to encompass what you are aiming for. If you did something like that using it as a stepping stone then you could branch out to do more of your other ideas. It's much easier replying to you than sorting out my own tangle. So what I've said is just food for thought. Pluses and minuses for all your ideas.
Thanks for your thoughts on the situation. Also sorry to hear that you sometimes you also struggle with difficult feelings. In the end I decided to pull out of the counselling course. I am trying to not look at it as failure. Right now I am trying to get my head together and think of what my options are moving forward. My awareness of certain difficulties is very apparent. My mood has been low these past few days. I have kept busy, but sadly some of the activities have just reminded me of how little I have done in my life so far. I am just feeling very negative about things at the moment.
If its the right decision for you then its not failure but recognition that its not right for you or not right for you at the moment. Getting our heads sorted to move forward is really difficult..something I am working on very slowly too. Whilst we analyse ourselves we do notice our short comings, its hard to focus on our more positive aspects ( if we can recognise what they are). Its continually a comparison game... little in terms of what others have done or little in terms of what you would wish to have done... I do that all the time and its not good for us. I heard recently on one of the adhd expo videos that any change can create a low mood whether its a change for the worse or better. we just have to give ourselves time to work through it. easier said than done I know. Its hard to read on here too, that some have got their lives together sufficiently to have a job/ a professional job and or have a partner/spouse and or children etc etc. But we are where we are they say depression is thoughts about what has gone wrong in the past and anxiety is fear of the future so if we can get somewhere in the middle its a better place to be. Again easier to have heard it that to help assuage our feelings and thoughts. For now you can just focus on doing one new thing which is ok I think because working at one new thing is better than not doing.
Dear Smile, I'm not surprised you're feeling negative, the stress of trying so hard is very great. Are you able to feel any relief at having removed yourself from at least some of the stress? I have long experience of trying different further education courses, trying to find a place in life. Some I've stuck with, some not. I'm 'meant' to be doing one now! But since I started wondering about being autistic a few weeks ago I feel I don't need the extra strain. Even those I have done well with I look back upon negatively because I can see that I must have been a pain in the neck to be around and teach. At the moment I'm in a position to take a step back from things and try to ease up a bit, maybe be a bit more realistic about my capabilities. Anyway, enough about me; please try not to think of your decision to withdraw from the counselling course as a failure. As Misfit says below,(amongst a lot of other wise words) "we are where we are", and you're not alone.
Thank you both for your replies and sharing your own experiences. I am sorry that you both have difficulties with different aspects, especially fitting in. I hear what you are both saying and you have a good way of seeing it. "we are where we are". I struggle with this majorly. I feel I just have never got anywhere. I have desires and sometimes that includes functioning at a level where I can be employed, be in a relationship, travel etc. However it is something I feel may not happen. I have so many anxieties around different things and over the years of different experiences have totally lost any confidence. Perhaps for now I just have to stick with volunteer work and see where that goes.