Got to Work


Yay! I finally got back to work!!

The Good: I was giddy driving in to work today! 🙂 I really missed everyone. I was bored at home. That feeling confirmed that I love my job even though I’ve felt inept and disliked lately. When I got there someone who isn’t in my program asked about my absence and then my health. That made me feel noticed. Next, a co-worker gave me notes the kids and staff wrote for me. Every single staff person in my program said they were happy to see me and asked how I was, etc. Many of the kids had heartwarming reactions too. There is one kid that I worked with for a year straight and when he saw me, he ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. 😀 People kept asking about me all day. Therefore, I felt noticed and missed.

Also, I advocated for myself and asked for a day to be put back in my paid time off account because school was unexpectedly closed one day last week when the air conditioning broke. Everyone got paid for it as if it were a snow day. First of all, I hate asking for things. Second of all, I felt guilty for taking Monday and Tuesday off and I’d decided not to ask for it back because I felt like I didn’t deserve it after taking more time than I originally said.

The Bad: I self-injured on the clock. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve done that. There were 4 distinct times I had urges. Oddly, it wasn’t during one of those times that I self-harmed.

1. A student said he hated me and he wasn’t in crisis. Usually that stuff doesn’t bother me. Idk if it was my anxiety about being back or something else. It occurred to me that maybe I feel like I’m always doing the wrong thing with him and somehow that transferred over. Perhaps I feel he should hate  me if I’m always messing up? I worked with a different student for a year straight (mentioned above) and there were months when every time he’d see me come to the bus he’d say he hated me, why can’t he work with someone else, etc. That never bothered me. In fact, the student who said he hated me today has said similar things in the past and it hasn’t bugged me. Later he said more insults and it didn’t matter as much. *shrug* I feel bad about feeling triggered because we’re not supposed to be bother by that type of thing. I feel like a childish baby.

2. I disagreed with my boss on data. I’m a perfectionist, so I hate being wrong. However, in this case, I think I was frustrated because I still think I’m right. I worry because if we’re all operating on different definitions of eloping, property destruction, etc., then the students’ behavior data is meaningless.We track how many times each behavior occurs per hour so we can see if our interventions are causing a decrease in behavior, but if we’re using different definitions, the data isn’t showing us anything because we’re tracking different things!

3. Then it was lunch time. I already toyed with the idea of restricting, even though I’ve been super good up until this point because of healing from surgery. I was a little late (like 1 minute) because only 1 out of the 6 kids had data filled out, even though there were 5 staff working during their lunch period. So, I filled out all of their data. However, as I walked to get my lunch, I saw friends leaving without a word to me. Yay, rejection. I know it was likely unintentional, but despite the probability it was unintentional, that is not how I think about it. Then I said screw it to food and napped in my car.

It was on my students’ 1st break after lunch that I started self-injuring (scratching, plausible deniability). That break was an hour and a half after I saw my friends leaving for lunch. I wasn’t emotionally overwhelmed. I had the skills to deal with my distress; after the 3rd trigger, I guess I gave up because low grade distress all day wears your defenses down? I knew I could sit with the feelings and survive, but I decided sitting with feelings was stupid. I was sick of feeling crappy. I think boredom was also a factor because the kid I worked with today had no behaviors and didn’t interact on breaks. I like working with challenging kids. I have self-injured purely out of boredom in the past. So maybe that was an unconscious trigger.

Shame on you_Willow_Buffy

4. At the end of the day, after the kids left, we had a meeting. The girl who got all those accolades on Facebook came to our meeting. Then I asked a (stupid) question because I’m stupid, lol. The worst part is people started expanding on the topic as if I was doing something wrong (which I’m not). I asked a question about data, unrelated to the earlier data issue, and it was answered. Then they (my boss and behaviorists) said something else about his behavior and our reaction to it, but it was directed at me.

Writing the 2nd and 3rd reasons makes me want to SI again, so I’m clearly still not over it. I made it through the way home though. I still feel guilty for SIing at work…Yet, after going back and adding the “good” part of the post, my current SI urge decreased to a manageable level. Emotional reactivity is awesome. -.-

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Success!


Last night I posted about self-injury urges and honestly, I didn’t plan on fighting them much longer after I posted. However, I didn’t cut! Behaviorism helped. I’ve been cutting for 14 years now…Wow, that is more than half my life, sad… Anyway, cutting implements (razors, box cutters, etc.) are conditioned reinforcers for me. Simply seeing a tool makes me feel a little bit better. I held the box cutters for a while, set them next to me, and then drifted off to sleep. Yay, classical conditioning!

A reinforcer is anything that increases the likelihood of a behavior occurring again. That could be positive reinforcement, giving something a person wants (Ex. When a student answers a question correctly, giving them a piece of candy), or  negative reinforcement, taking away something they dislike (Ex. The car obnoxiously beeps at you. Once you put it on, the beeping stops).

Primary reinforcers inherently make people happy like water, food, or lack of pain. Other things are neutral (Ex. Money, grades in school), but they can be paired with a primary reinforcer. If a neutral stimulus is paired with a primary reinforcer enough times, the neutral stimulus starts to elicit the same response as the primary reinforcer. In Pavlov’s  famous dog experiment he rang bells while presenting food. Eventually, the dogs salivated when they heard the bell, without the presence of food. Before the experiment, hearing  a bell did nothing, but seeing food automatically made them salivate.

Dollhouse_everybody's programmed

If you’re wondering how pain can be an automatic-primary reinforcer… Some people don’t feel pain when they self-injure. I do. For me, pain distracts and obliterates my negative emotional state. I believe the pain distracts me and the neurotransmitters’ responses replace the fear/ worry/ anger/ sadness/ etc. with positive emotions.

Conditioned Reinforcement and Response Strength

Characteristics and Functions of non-suicidal self-injury in a community sample of adolescents

Perils of Room Cleaning


I just realized I missed a fun day with the kids at work. Everyone seemed so happy. I’m disappointed I missed a good chance at bonding with the students. I work with autistic and behaviorally challenged kids. So, sometimes our interactions aren’t positive from a relationship building standpoint. Therefore, it is important to be there for the special events and field trips.

I also feel like I’m not needed there, like I don’t make a difference.

What does this have to do with cleaning my room?

I found a bunch of old box cutters. Bad timing. I haven’t cut in months. I’ve only scratched lately. I found them again. Idk if I’ll bother trying to resist much longer. I’m trying to resist burdening my friends by continually reaching out for emotional support. This solution is easier. Perhaps, in time, journaling will help. But for the moment, it isn’t good enough.