STF

Live from the Government Tower

Posted Nov. 29, 2023, 7:43 a.m. by Captain Eela Dasca (Lt. Governor) (Lindsay B)

Posted by Civilian Eddie Caldwell (Media Personality Journalist) in Live from the Government Tower

Posted by Captain Eela Dasca (Lt. Governor) in Live from the Government Tower

Posted by Civilian Eddie Caldwell (Media Personality Journalist) in Live from the Government Tower
Posted by… suppressed (6) by the Post Ghost! 👻

(snip)

“Did you come to benefit from mental healthcare before or after joining the field yourself? I’m curious because there’s a way people who share a line of work speak that’s different from how they might speak to others.” Eddie asked.

“Oh, during and after for sure,” Dasca said without missing a beat. “I joined Starfleet at seventeen and pursued psychology right away. Both my undergraduate and Masters degrees are granted through Starfleet Medical. When we’re in training, every mental health professional has to go through their own counselling to help them understand how they think, their biases and dig at any issues that might later be triggered by a patient’s issues. Awareness is key. The more aware you are of something, the more you can take steps to ensure it doesn’t interfere with how you work with a patient. But for me, I needed help after a really stressful and difficult time. I was going through a lot and not coping, nor did anyone expect me to be able to shrug it off and carry on. But at the time I was the head counsellor for our ship, so I had support from other therapists, including my assistant counsellor. And there is indeed a difference in how we communicate with each other in sessions. We re trained to dig deep, to be able to identify things clearly. That doesn’t make it easier, and it doesn’t mean we won’t be avoidant of difficult things, but I grew up with a scientist mother and a herbalist father. Being curious and digging deep were a part of my upbringing, so at least for me personally I’ve always been very self-aware, even if I can still be a difficult patient. The difference is I know I’m being difficult,” she said with a throaty chuckle. “But sometimes that’s just where you are at and that’s okay. We’re all allowed to struggle, to have low moments, to just have days where you don’t want to do what you should for whatever reason. It’s a part of being alive in a universe that is complicated and rarely straight-forward.”

~Eela Dasca, Lt. Gov.

He nodded thoughtfully. The Lieutenant Governor’s lengthy answers were solid gold. “Curiosity and deep digging have a lot of applications. Any particular reason you pursued Counseling?”

-Eddie

Eela allowed herself the time to think despite the quiet it would produce in the recording. She had actually asked that they not cut out the pauses because even though it might make for a faster listening experience, the pauses were authentically her and if she was going to show up truly as herself today then she wanted everyone to know what that was, not some fabricated version. “I mean, I’ve always been fascinated with the mind, but there wasn’t a point growing up where I thought, ‘ahhh, I want to be a therapist’. I did gravitate towards healing though. My father was a herbalist and I spent a lot of time in his shop watching and listening to his conversations with people. He was approaching things from a medicinal perspective, but his first inclination always seemed to be the internal world of the person he was talking to. What they were thinking, feeling. What was going on in their life. And then my mother was a forensic anthropologist. She was a very pragmatic woman but she paid close attention to the tiniest of details. She always said that people left clues about their life sometimes where and when they least expected to, but that those could be the most valuable. I think by the time I took a psychology class at Starfleet Academy, it was primed to want to explore the workings of the mind. I took that class and it just felt like an amalgamation of everything I had experienced growing up. When I talked to support staff about what path I wanted to take, psychology seemed a perfect fit. And I apparently was right since I got two degrees in it,” she said with a light laugh.

~Eela Dasca, Lt. Gov.

“It certainly sounds like you took to it like a duck to water. In all your time training and in practice, did you consider any other paths? I guess you must’ve considering you took on a command post.”

-Eddie

“Hmmm, well, for the first ten years as a psychologist I really couldn’t have imagined doing anything else, but eventually I did make the decision to train for Command,” Eela said, almost with a sigh. She paused again briefly before continuing, gathering herself. After all, how did one summarize such a complicated situation? “It was my third assignment with Starfleet and my first one where I was the head counsellor. About six months in, I was in a senior staff meeting that had been rather contentious. I had been helping with some interdepartmental issues, and at the end was feeling pretty good about the work I was doing there. As an aside, you also have to keep in mind that these were still the days where not every ship had a counsellor as standard and I had felt like I needed to prove that they really did need me there. So, after the meeting, our captain asked me to stay back and we talk. He asked me if I had ever considered command. I hadn’t at all. In fact it surprised me completely and I had to ask him to explain why he thought I would be good at it. He said that in the six months I’d been on the ship it was clear that I had a great number of skills that I wasn’t really using to their full potential. That I was a great counsellor but that he had worked with many officers over the years and he knew I was capable of more.”

“I was flattered but wasn’t really sure what to make of it and I didn’t speak of it to anyone else. But our first officer who I had become dear friends with was over for dinner one night and he asked right there if I was considering it. Well, I hadn’t said anything to my then husband so it took him by surprise. Frankly, he wasn’t a fan of the idea and pointed out that the timing was terrible. He wasn’t wrong. I was pregnant and we already had a four-year old. Life was about to get even busier. He worked away at times, and so I’d be working and solo parenting two kids. So I set the idea aside and frankly didn’t give it further thought.”

“Fast forward another few months and I was quite pregnant and…” Eela paused and gathered herself. It still wasn’t something she spoke much of, but it was a critical piece of this story. “I get the news that the Borg destroyed the New Providence Colony on Jouret IV. The colony where my parents had moved to temporarily for my mother’s work. And…” She shook her had again. “It changed everything,” she said, unable to keep the emotion out of her voice. “We were very close, and it was devastating news.”

“We think it was the stress of grief while I was also juggling solo parenting. My spouse was away when the colony was destroyed and just barely made it back before I went into premature labour with my son. Our doctor tried to stop it, but he couldn’t and I gave birth quite early. It was… a terrifying time, because we didn’t know if he would make it. But he did great and after in time we got to leave Sickbay and bring him home to our quarters. But I was not the same woman I was before all this went down. Something shifted. I was knee deep in grief, and then after a couple more months was solo parenting again and struggling to function. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression soon after and I really was not okay.”

Eela took a moment to sip on her glass of water. “It wasn’t exactly a sudden decision, but I remember sitting in our quarters with my son sleeping on my lap and I was thinking about my parents when my captain’s suggestion came to mind. I went through all the reasons he said I should consider command, and all I could think of was how fleeting life can be, that we can so easily take it for granted. I did have to wait until things stabilized in my personal life a bit more, but when I was ready I went to my captain and said, ‘If not now, when? At what point in my life will it be okay? I’m never going to be less scared to take a step like this, so I might as well do it now’. But more than that, I wanted my children to know that these sorts of leaps are the ones most worth doing and that sometimes, despite imperfect timing, it’s exactly what we need.” She smiled and it seeped into her tone. “And sometimes you need a mentor to kick you in the rear and shake you out of your complacency.” There were layers to this whole story that Eela couldn’t convey in such a public forum, but she hoped that people could understand how monumental a shift this had been for her, and her family.

~Eela Dasca, Lt. Gov

“Are you at a point where you think all of these events had to happen this way to get you where you are?” Eddie asked further. The Lt Governor was a gold mine, and one he was going to get every scrap from.

-Eddie

Something about all of these revelations she was offering were tugging at something within her and it took Eela a moment to figure out that this was about her telling her story, and not letting someone else craft the narrative as she realized had happened more than she was comfortable admitting. “Absolutely. I mean, not all Haliians follow our cultures spiritual practices, but I am one and I know after all these years, that the things I’ve been through, the challenges, the traumas, the choices… they all played a role in my being the Eela Dasca in front of you. Some, like the ones I just shared, and the accident that necessitated my retirement from Starfleet, were at times in the moment ones I wasn’t sure how I’d get through, or what lay beyond. I do think there is a core part of me that fights for things and doesn’t shy away from challenges, even though some of the personal ones can take more encouragement to tackle.”

Eela folded her arms on the table and smiled. “Do you know how many details had to fall exactly as they did in order for you and I to be talking today? Even if I had been of a mind to have this conversation, because mental health is so vastly important to me, I think it took the recent incident with my ex to push me to speak more for myself, and about myself. Because I’m still picking out what’s been true in my life, what were fabrications, and what I might have to accept as being less than ideal. And the more I do that, the more I can move forward and be the leader I want to be for Oed, but also be the person I’ve always been but has sometimes been overshadowed by other things, people, and circumstances.”

~Eela Dasca, Lt. Gov.

“Do you think becoming the leader you want to be and the Eela Dasca you want to be are the same or separate processes?” Eddie asked, hoping that tied in vaguely to their original intended topic.

-Eddie

Eela considered this for a moment, trying to search for that moment again where she had truly slipped from Cory Fletcher’s grasp. “I think it’s all the same. I can’t be a good leader if I’m not being my authentic self. I’m sure many will disagree, and will prefer to craft a version of themselves that fits a certain image they want to portray, but that’s never been my style. And some of that might be cultural- Haliians are all about connection, as we spoke about earlier, and you can’t have connection when you’re hiding behind a facade.”

She tapped her fingers on the table, thinking more. “The process I’ve been going through since coming to Oed feels very much like an unravelling, but in the best possible way. I’ve been stripping back the layers I built to protect myself from things I didn’t or couldn’t see were happening to me.” She leaned in slightly. “And this is where I want to make a little public service announcement…

Eela gathered herself, gathered her courage, and her fierce protectiveness for others and channeled it into something she had known needed to be said. “When I replied to that video and told everyone it was my ex, there was a discussion in the comments. I did see later when I read them at someone’s suggestion, the exchange between an Oed citizen and the Police, and I am so very grateful they had the courage to say something. To ask for help. But they correctly pointed out that I have certain things that others on Oed don’t. My job requires a level of risk that others don’t, and so yes, I am very fortunate to have a security team who can respond quickly to a threat. So yes, that day I had the privilege of a very rapid response to my ex trying to control me yet again and for the first time it turned physical.

No one should ever feel unsafe in their own home. If you do, there are resources available to you. You can call the police, and they will respond and take your situation seriously. You do not have to be the Lieutenant Governor to have protection. And there are other services available on Oed to help those that need a way forward. And it doesn’t have to be about domestic violence. If you are struggling with your mental health, even a little, and want someone to talk to, there are people who will listen. If you are struggling with an addiction of some kind, there are resources to help you. If you’ve come to Oed as a refugee, escaping a life that is unsafe, we’ll protect you and help you make a life for yourself here. Whatever your struggle, there are people on Oed who want to help you. I know how hard it is. I’ve been the one struggling, and honestly, it’s probably only because all of this with my ex went public so quickly that I’ve been really able to admit the challenges I’ve been facing and how it’s all shaped who I am. And I haven’t been working through it on my own. I have a therapist and a group of amazing people in my life who look out for my wellbeing. All of it. I’m very fortunate, but I also don’t believe that is something only a few people can have. It might look a bit different, depending on your circumstances, but if there is anything Oed has taught me it is that we stick together. And when we do that, we are all the better for it.”

“And I do believe my team has put together a comprehensive list of resources for people seeking help for a variety of issues, so we’ll make sure that is publicly available and updated often.”

~Eela Dasca


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