So, it has now been about 3 weeks since I took my test and passed, becoming an official "Marriage and Family Therapist." The day after I passed, I emailed my once supervisor to tell her the news. Her response, along with hearty congratulations, included the following words: "don't be dismayed by the "post-par-tum depression" that often comes after a huge accomplishment that you prepared so long for."
This idea took me by surprise, and I quickly dismissed it into the "well-meaning warning of something that happens to other people" category. Until a few days later, when I knew what she was talking about.
3 YEARS of preparation. A total of 8 MONTHS of studying and preparation between the two tests. And then, success! And what do you know? Nothing else changed. All the stress I was still experiencing from other areas of my life did not dissipate. My job was still hard. My present options were still limited. And to top it all off, I was super exhausted and emotionally bankrupt. I was struggling to be emotionally present in sessions and struggling to stay on top of the workload that had blossomed while I was studying.
Thankfully, I have a kind and wise husband who expected this (he is irritatingly good at predicting what things are going to be hard for me). He summed it up really well, saying something like this he folded laundry and I multi-tasked at crying and making the bed:
"People get disappointed because they have delayed gratification so long that they expect everything to get better all at once. Things do get better, but its a gradual improvement. Getting your license isn't making as much immediate change as you would like, but its making a lot of long term changes which will improve your life and mine. Maybe things feel the same today, but you will be reaping the rewards for years to come."
Can you see why I married him? Since that tearful conversation, I am beginning to be more like myself again- less anxious and on edge, and more emotionally present for the people around me. I have also gotten to start going back to the gym, something that hadn't happened since I started the testing process. I am feeling my energies freed up to work on other things, and I have a spring in my step again. Best of all, I'm not as aware of myself because I'm not always having to self-monitor my negativity. I went hours this weekend without having to introspect anything:). I'm sleeping better, and don't seem to "need" to eat sweets to feel better.
Long term, there will be huge benefits. In the short term, I am getting a pay raise and my picture up in the office. Not too shabby for my first 28 years:).