Do you know what happens to caterpillars inside their cocoons? They turn to goo. And this summer I did, too.
I am just a person who is messy and gooey and constantly forming and reforming myself. Every time I think I might actually have an answer, I realize that that answer comes with a thousand more questions.
I don’t usually struggle with words; but this school year has left me unable to describe the overwhelming stress that exists in the day to day. As always, it is never the kids. They are beautiful and sweet and fun and quirky and inspiring and the reason that I continue to show up year after year. Stress always comes from all the other stuff.
The radical changes that COVID has brought, like the major disruptions to my schedule and the triggering nature of life as a teacher right now, have made my coping mechanisms and management tool box no longer enough to thrive. I need more help.
I often say that my diagnosis set me free. Once I received a diagnosis, I finally had a vocabulary to describe what was happening to me. While this is not untrue, I also received another benefit from a diagnosis: legitimacy.
One thing that I am still learning how to do is rest. It sounds counter intuitive, right? How can rest be hard? But I assure you, learning to rest has been one of the hardest things I have ever learned to do.
I know at a certain point I will have to reveal the quirks and intricacies that come with my life as a person with a mental illness to this potential partner. But how soon do I reveal those quirks? Some of them can be scary and unpredictable. Why would someone want to date someone who can be scary and unpredictable?
The collective trauma of all of this will compound for years to come. I feel sad that so much joy has been stripped from each of our days. All of us. Teachers, too.
As I learned to be able to advocate for myself and vocalize my experience, I wanted to remain quiet less and less. I realized that without explaining the context of my requests, there was no reasonable way people would understand them. I cannot imagine a way that I can advocate for myself adequately without sharing my story.
I’m hoping since I’m 20 minutes early I will get in right away. I can pee, get some answers, and be on my way.
Boy was I wrong.
The cherry on top which makes hypersensitivity and overstimulation particularly difficult to manage during the holiday season, is the toxic positivity from everyone else to be joyful and happy.
Three reminds me that there is always room for another option. The gray area in between always exists. I do not have to force myself into being one or two.
I can be three.
After a night of disrupted sleep, when I am tired and foggy and groggy and feeling frazzled and on the edge, I have to do the most difficult task of all: complete the day’s routine anyway in order to try to stop the cycle from continuing.
Teachers give everything we have, every single day. But the more work I did in therapy, the more I realized that a lot of the reasons that I was drawn to teaching in the first place were connected to my own trauma responses: low self esteem and people pleasing made me the perfect teacher candidate.
But even when divorce is the right answer, it means your whole life is upended. You have to start over, for better or for worse. You can’t help but ask yourself how you got here.
Living with bipolar means living a life of extremes, of ups and downs, of crying at commercials, of flashes of intense rage, of intrusive thoughts, of irrational fears.
Wondering whether or not I should stop drinking has been a constant refrain in my life. In May of 2019, I finally did.
My dreams are strange, vivid, wild, and mystical. They have always meant something more to me than just a dream.
Not a day goes by when I am not digging into why I’m feeling what I’m feeling and how I can adequately process said feelings. I never just get to feel.
It’s hard to think that traits so internal, so ingrained, and so central to my personhood can actually be a result of a mental illness.
I simply cannot believe how inarticulate we are as a culture about emotional distress.