Mandatory Sensitivity Training?

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Even as I type this title I am wondering why is it that people even need sensitivity training? What happened to our ability to empathize and treat people how we would want to be treated? What happened to thinking before we speak?

So, as you know I applied to a Doctor of Psychology programme and was accepted. I had originally set my start date to July 1, 2017 but due to everything that has transpired over the past few weeks/ 2 months I started to rethink that date. I though about it from the financial standpoint, since I just had surgery and will be doing a few courses of treatment over the next months. I also thought that as excited as I am to study again I need to take care of my emotional health as well before I launch into that.

Bearing this in mind I emailed my academic advisor and queried  deferring the start date of the programme and how exactly that could be done. I have yet to decide if I am going to push back to 2018 or attempt to start later this year. 2018 seems more logical at this stage.

I also queried if the university had any measures in place for chronically ill students or those who suffered from chronic pain. I just wanted to know; I like to have all the information together so that I can make an informed decision.

Anyway, she responded giving me various contacts to check for direct answers to my queries, including the university Registrar and Finance Department. She also informed me that I had been assigned a new advisor and she would be contacting me soon.

So, this new adviser contacted me shortly thereafter and the email went like this:

“Hi Lyn, I am Jane Doe your new academic advisor. I have read the email you sent to X and I think you should cancel your enrollment with the university. You seem to have a lot going on.” ;(

I was livid. I did not read anything beyond this point and I hit reply immediately. I just could not let this go. How dare she recommend that I drop out because of all the stuff I had going on? What had me even more upset was that she and I had never spoken or had any conversation, even via email, up to this point. I basically told her I didn’t understand how the response to my queries could be cancelling enrollment and from someone who has taken no time whatsoever to know anything about me beyond my name on a file at the university. I asked her what gave her the right to make any recommendation to me furthermore that one.

I then took the phone and called the university and spoke to her directly, I let her have it. I had to inform her that she was out of place as far as I was concerned and could benefit from sensitivity training. How would she feel if she was dealing with an illness that is impacting her ability to study as she wished and she was trying to find the best course of action and someone she had never interacted with told her to quit……..well then added on after saying quit………..until things have settled down a bit.

I also informed her that there will always be something going on, there will always be something to push through. If I quit at the slightest pain or struggle I will never get anywhere.

After I had said all I needed to say, she apologized profusely. Truth be told, I didn’t care for her apology. It meant nothing to me. …………This is why we have to be careful what we say to people. Once the damage is done the words cannot be unsaid and apologies do not cover the scars.

I requested a different academic advisor…..she and I will not do.

What is it that makes chronic pain/ illness synonymous with inability in some people’s minds? Why do we have to keep fighting to prove to people that we can do, be, learn, produce etc. just as well or better than those who may not have our struggle? Our process may be different and our path may have a few more twists and turns than others but we will get there.

I wish people understood the impact that their words spoken in ignorance have on others. If I was not as strong a girl as I am I probably would have cancelled my enrollment or at the very least been upset and said nothing about it.

Its about time that people learn how to relate to others. I thought it was something that came naturally to us humans but apparently it is not. People working in positions where they interface with the public and definitely in positions where their opinion has some bearing on decisions made should have sensitivity training.If it is already a part of them, great they will just be reminded. However, if it is not- as in the case of the advisor- they will do well to learn.

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30 Day Chronic Illness Challenge- Catching Up- Days 18-20

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18. Do you think you have become a better person through illness? Explain.

Yes, I am definitely a better person as a result of being ill. I was always a generally empathetic person and sought to consider the feelings of others in everything I did; this is probably what guided me to my profession.

However, I have found that illness has given me another level of empathy, a deeper level; one that can only be reached through this type of experience. This has made me a better person, it has also made me a better Psychologist.

'I see a bright future, a transformation: Beauty, wings, elegance...'

19. How do you feel about the future?

I am very optimistic. If I am honest I would admit that sometimes I get down to the point where I can only see directly ahead, the next minute or hour.However, I also see God just setting me up for greater things.

Many plans and dreams that I have had and held for years, in some instances even doubted myself; I see falling into place. God has opened opportunities and caused me to meet people and make associations that are directly needed to fulfill these same dreams. Avenues that I didn’t even know existed have opened before me.

It gives me hope. My future may not be totally pain free or disease free; but I have a future…..and it is bright!

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20. Have you met anyone with the same illness? Did it help?

I have met numerous women with Endometriosis but I have not met anyone in person who has Pelvic Congestion Syndrome. I guess this is because it is relatively new and un-researched. I think PCS is also misdiagnosed and under- diagnosed; while Endometriosis, although enigmatic is a more common diagnosis and to some extent better understood.

Meeting these ladies whether in person or online has been encouraging to me. I felt as if I was alone for such a long time. Although it hurts to hear their stories and I cry with them it is comforting to know that others are fighting with me.