Tag Archives: Anxiety

Advent or Adventure?

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I know I keep talking about me in all of my posts. There hasn’t been much mention of teaching or anything else lately. To those who follow me for those reasons, I apologize for not providing. However, today I want to look a bit more closely at this Advent season and what it is meaning to me. 

Yesterday, I realized just how low my life feels at moments lately. I know I’ve written about this often, but on Friday it all came to a head and I truly realized how saddening and frustrating my life can feel right now. In my opinion, it’s for good reasons. Though I want to be happy, I just have so many negative things on my mind. I wish I were one of those positive, always happy-go-lucky people that you see out there; unfortunately, my anxiety makes that a super difficult pursuit. I still try but I find myself wondering right now, is there more meaning to this than what I’m seeing and feeling right now? Is there a deeper reason for all of this negative and horrifying news? 

I even posted to my Facebook page at one point that I find myself wondering if just simply knowing more people means that I am going to encounter more negativity. Surely that would make sense right? If I only know, say 5 people, the chances that bad things happen to those 5 people will probably be much smaller than the chances of something happening to people I know if I knew, maybe 20 people. Plus, being a teacher means I know just 120 kids from this school year. Let’s not count my kids from previous years, my coworkers, my family, or my otherwise known friends. It’s actually kind of scary to think about how many people I know. My anxiety does not do well with the thought that I am a bit of a social butterfly now that I have grown up; I’d much rather still sit at home in my pajamas reading books and playing games with my sister. But I digress…

On Friday it came to my attention that knowing more people is probably the reason why so many more negative things are happening right now. I also know that my grandmother’s illness makes any negative thing seem 100 times worse. (Anyone with anxiety can tell you that you become overly dramatic in stressful and tense times in your life. Sitting here, I’m even aware of it, but that doesn’t mean I have the full power to stop that dramatization.) 

So I thought about my list, the list of “bad” things. Without going into detail, here are just some:

  • My grandma is dying of cancer
  • My husband’s grandma is sick
  • My husband’s aunt is sick
  • My coworker just had some kind of procedure done. While I heard it wasn’t a big deal, it hit me kind of hard that something was wrong and I had no idea.
  • One of my students lost their home on Thursday to a house fire. Officials said it easily could have started with her in the house. Thank God everyone is okay, but they’ve lost everything.
  • Three families that I know of have recently lost young children, less than a year old. 
  • I have watched friends mourn for loved ones lost in the past month more times than I can count.

It’s just now that I’m starting to put this picture together, to see the whole story. The illnesses happening in our families right now are unfortunate, but God has given my grandmother such a full life. At least she is not scared of dying, worried about missing out on adventures and things she could or should be doing yet with her life. My husband’s grandma is doing okay for now, and we aren’t even sure that it’s a terminal issue. My coworker emailed me yesterday to let me know that all was well with them. While my student lost her home, no one was injured. She was even strong enough to show up to school the next day to carry on as best as she could. While the families that I know of who have lost children and homes recently may not be close friends, I also know that I have been able to help them through my fundraising efforts. And I know it takes a community to raise the funds that will truly help them, but I am happy that I can at least advertise these events to our student body and get the word out about these families needing help. These actions I take in my own little way will hopefully make their lives better somehow. 

So maybe instead of sitting around being all gloom and doom during this Advent season, I should turn these things into an adventure instead. Instead of hanging on to every Christmas opportunity to try and cheer myself up with twinkling lights and extra cheerful songs, maybe I should really be embracing these negative items and these struggles. Organizing fundraisers and talking to those who have lost doesn’t make me feel like some kind of hero, but it gives me this boost of positive feeling like nothing else does recently. In my time of desperation and worry, helping others makes me feel like things will be okay. It reminds me that at some point, there is light at the end of the tunnel. While I’m not saying this will be the best Advent season ever, this is a great time of change and promise for the Church. Hopefully this is God’s way of bringing my life great change and promise for the future as well. 

I am going to do my best over the next few days to keep my head up. I feel like it’s important that I work harder and stay even more motivated to help others. I have another fundraiser to organize for this week, and even if we don’t raise a ton of money, I need to remember that there are other ways that I can help out as well. Through my actions I am beginning to learn that helping others, donating even a few dollars, and organizing groups of people to do good makes me feel good, makes my life seem good. I hope that this is the path God is asking me to take right now, I hope that I serve all of these families well, and I hope I can find other ways to do even more good in the future. 

For now, this is just an experiment; just a way for me to find some happiness and test the waters of being a truly selfless and giving person. I guarantee I won’t be perfect at it, but I hope that I can find a way to stay positive and incorporate these actions into my life all the time. I hope those around me can see how much I’m struggling and yet how I am still trying to be helpful. As I’ve always said about teaching, if I can affect even one student in the end in some positive way, I have done my job. Maybe now this is the job God has for me. 

If anyone else has gone through similar times or has any advice for me, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you. 

~B

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Stress Headaches and Holidays

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I know that I have not written on here for a while. To anyone who tries to follow me, I apologize. My life has taken many roller coaster style turns recently, and I’m lucky that I’m keeping up. Right now I’m sitting in my kitchen trying my hardest not to think of all the things that I need to get done tonight. And you know what I really want to do? Nothing. I want to do nothing. In reality though, my list looks something like this:

  • Check the mail
  • Feed the dogs
  • Clean the dishes
  • Collect the trash
  • Put out the trash and recycling
  • Make something for dinner or pray my husband wants to cook instead

So I guess the list isn’t too horrible. I’d be done in an hour or so if I tried really hard to just get it all done. But in the life of a teacher, I’ve already done these things today and don’t feel like doing more.

  • Taught 6 classes
  • Graded 60 or so papers
  • Updated all student grades
  • Checked Khan Academy for missing assignments that students turned in late
  • Wrote a list of all ineligible students and not only their current grade in my class but WHY they are failing
  • Covered a class for a coworker, though they just got a study hall so that wasn’t so bad
  • Skipped lunch because I was too busy trying to get the grading done by the end of the day for the ineligibility list (Note: I did manage to snag a piece of carrot cake from the faculty room in about 5 minutes, thanks to my desperation for food and my need to eat something; not the healthiest meal I’ve ever had.)
  • Planned an impromptu review game because suddenly my class wants to play review games instead of going over examples and notes via group discussion
  • Use part of my only free period of the day to help tutor kids who aren’t even in my class (and yes, I still think Precalculus is gross). 
  • More and more and more and more… 

I’m sure my list could go on forever with how many times I ran to the office to pick up paperwork, how many of my kids lost papers today, etc. but that’s not the point here. The point is, in the grand scheme of things, this job can be one of the most exhausting and demanding jobs that I’ve ever had. It can also be the most rewarding, but I know that come December I NEVER want to come straight home and get right back to work with household chores.

Another thing that has been driving me crazy lately is the impossibility of working out! One of the ways that I deal with my anxiety and stress is to exercise, release all those endorphins and things. This has not happened in the past month or so. Not only am I being totally unhealthy (again), but I’m also stuck in a rut where I can’t actually exercise if I want to. I was sick for 2 weeks in a row, and now the cold is either still lingering in my sinuses or I am having major stress headaches. For the past 5 days or so, I have had headaches. To some extent, I’m not surprised, but on another hand it truly pisses me off that having a headache and exercising would just make me feel worse instead of better.

I’m not really sure the reason for all of my stress. I guess I can easily say it’s because my grandma has gotten worse and worse over the past few months. What I cannot determine is why that is suddenly stressing me out so much more now than it has in the past. I guess it’s just really frustrating when people are trying to tell you to prep for a funeral and yet the person in question is still sitting there, living and breathing, even if she can’t remember who you are because she’s so drugged with pain pills. 

I have also recently noticed my insane inability to cry. So many sad and stressful things are happening to me right now; it used to be that I would cry to relieve some of that stress and anxiety. Lately, I have not been able to shed a tear. What makes it worse is I have no idea why I cannot seem to cry. Though I know crying is not a solution to an anxiety-related problem of any kind, I do think not being able to shed a tear is extremely strange and concerning for me. To anyone who knows me, I could be considered a human fountain. I cry often when in stressful, sad, or maddening situations. I’m even one to cry when something makes me truly, overly happy! 

Combining my not crying, my stress headaches, my lack of exercise, and my high-demand job, I am surprised I have not fallen apart yet. I would like a few months to just sit around in my pajamas and watch endless amounts of TV for no apparent reason. Yet I know that won’t be a reality anytime soon, nor will I actually want to waste that much of my life just watching tunes. Still, I’m sitting here coming up with no feasible means of relieving my stress and lessening my anxiety. I have a feeling just that fact alone is making me feel worse. 

I guess I’ll end here since my mind is spinning in circles and I don’t have much else to say. I think I’ll just do what I always try to do and run through a list of anxiety aides that normally help me overcome these issues. Maybe, even if none of them are seeming to help me right now, they can help one of you. 

  • Journal your thoughts, no matter what they are or how horrible they might sound. Even if you sound crazy, the relief after putting thoughts on paper is exhilarating.
  • Exercise- Releasing endorphins really does make you feel better. (I do not suggest this if you have a headache already; I’ve tried, it does not help much.)
  • Read a book- Again, not a good idea with a headache
  • Play a game that will distract you from your reality for a while or find someone else who can simply make you laugh over a joke or something fun
  • Talk to someone- Super good idea if you have the ability to go and see a therapist, but if not confide in someone who you can fully trust to keep your confusion and upset feelings to themselves; no reason to go telling everyone you have anxiety problems. 
  • Cuddle your animals- Except for the fact that my dog just came inside and is muddy almost from head to foot. Looks like I need to add bathing her to the list of things that need done tonight.
  • Watch TV- Mind numbing TV often helps, as long as you don’t watch a show that has someone dying in it while you are concerned about your grandma dying. I’m sure this same idea applies to being anxious about a job and watching a character have the same job as you, etc.
  • Take a nap- This is my go-to when all else fails, but then I realize I won’t sleep well that night if I nap too long. I also know my reality is that the dogs won’t let me sleep or I’ll be so worried about the things I need to do that I can’t get my mind to stop running.
  • Throw yourself into work- This is the best immediate fix that I have found.  By finding something to work on that involves your mind (and your physical being as well) you can check things off your to-do list (which releases stress about the length of your list) and have a good distraction from your own thoughts (which will relieve your anxiety in general). Please note: I have found the downfall of this idea to be that I overwork myself, get too exhausted, and end up having an anxiety episode that I like to call the anxious exhaustion. This occurs when your body and mind are both exhausted but while your body just wants to lay around and rest/sleep, your mind is so tired that it acts like it’s malfunctioning. At times, instead of feeling better or just simply tired, anxious exhaustion makes even the simplest things feel like the end of the world. I’d use this one with caution! 

My Shoes

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I haven’t had the chance to update my friends and family lately about what’s been going on with my life. This is mainly because school is back in session full force. It could also have something to do with the amount of stress that I have been feeling lately; sometimes the last thing I want to do is focus on my own personal life (and problems) by discussing them with people who either try to understand or are going through similar.

I have been wanting to write ever since yesterday morning, when I almost didn’t crawl out of bed. I wanted so bad to call into work. Though I’m not sure what I would have told them, my excuse probably didn’t fall under sick. It was more like I needed a mental health day after having a torturous dream that left me feeling pretty horrible.

I don’t really remember all of the exact details of the dream itself; all I remember was that I woke up scared to death, worried about moving or starting the day. Why? Because in my dream, my family and I were dealing with the death of my grandma. Even though it was just a dream, the “day” didn’t go too well.

Needless to say, maybe grandma being sick is bugging me more than I am letting on. Some days I feel like I should go and see her no matter what else happens, but some days I wonder if I can bring myself to sit there with her, in her home, while she’s getting sick and I’m just trying not to act any different than normal. (People with anxiety often get really quiet or strange in tense situations; unfortunately, visiting grandma has been one of those situations lately.)

In any case, my week has not started off in the best way. In fact, it pretty much sucked to wake up like that on a Monday morning before heading off to a drama-filled, intense day at work. Some days, especially yesterday, I wish my kids could see, could at least try to understand what I’m going through outside of work. They mostly see teachers as these beings who don’t do anything outside of work. You remember being a kid right? When you ran into a teacher in the grocery store or at Walmart, it was weird; why would your teacher need to ever leave the school, right? I remember those days. I wish I could tell my kids, tell their parents exactly what I am going through. I wish I could give them some insight into my personal life, explain to them why I may not be performing at my best right now. Because I am a wife, with two dogs to look after, and a family that I am concerned about 24/7 these days. This is what happens when someone in your family is so horribly ill. Mom has been spending all of her energy keeping her emotions in check and watching over grandma multiple days a week. Dad is so upset and stressed by grandma’s sickness that I don’t even want to see what kind of state he’s in half the time. My sister and I are to the point that we are just trying to keep it together. There are honestly days when my husband doesn’t know how to deal with my emotions… mostly because neither do I.

So as a human, I wish these kids could understand: I care about each and every one of my kids, but in the grand scheme of my life right now, I cannot give them my usual 110%. I wish I could. It kills my heart not to be able to. Yet it upsets me that, even though they may not know what is going on in my life, they can’t take the second or two to realize that maybe there is a good reason why I am not as caught up on my grades as I normally am. Maybe there is a reason why I have stopped sending my work emails to my phone on weekends. Just maybe, there’s a reason why I cannot handle their own personal issues as if they are my own kid. Maybe it’s because I currently cannot handle my own personal issues.

I get it, I do. I want what is best for each of my kids. I want them to know that I am there for them no matter what. I also want them to learn some responsibility and how important it is for them to help themselves. With this said, I just wish I would have been able to explain that yesterday as a kid approached me about grades. But this entire conversation, telling them anything about my personal life right now… it just felt too personal, too unrelated to what was going on with them at the time.

You know, I worked my butt off last night to get grades updated. I probably should have been doing so many other things. Which is why the phone call I got this afternoon as I was packing up my things at work blew me away. Over the weekend, my grandma was taken to the hospital for dehydration, dizziness, etc. She was sent home within a few hours. What I hadn’t realized at the time was how extra sick she had gotten over the past few days.

I won’t go into details about her personal issues right now; I doubt she’d appreciate me sitting here telling the world about her problems. Just trust me when I say she was not doing well. Is not doing well. She told my mom today that she didn’t want her grandkids to see her in her current state. After dad saw her this weekend, he agreed that my emotional state was probably not a good mixture with grandma’s current problems.

I’ve basically been told that it’s best if I don’t see my grandma for at least a couple of days. The doctors and my family are hopeful that the medication she is taking is the reason why she has gotten so much worse. They are hopeful that her sickness should improve at least a bit in the next few days. If so, I should be able to go back and see her.

Yet all I keep thinking tonight is, what happens if they’re wrong? What happens if grandma is just getting worse because she is so burdened with cancer that it’s just going to get worse? What if there is nothing that a doctor or a family member can do, no matter how much we try, how much we care, how much we love her? What if there’s nothing left for us to do?

So I started listening to Christian music on my way home, praying in my head throughout the whole trip. When I got home, I took the dogs on a 3 mile jog to release the tension building up in my mind. After that, I was able to get distracted by some new game my husband showed me in his attempt to make me feel better. (Thank God for him, I think the game helped at least a bit to get me out of my funk.) I haven’t cried, I haven’t fallen apart. Not yet.

Even though today I heard about my mom’s horrific day, how she was almost crying as she talked to me over the phone… even though I found out that even my uncles are having a hard time dealing with seeing grandma so sick… even after I found out that grandma doesn’t really want to see me (even if she’s trying to protect me)… I still haven’t really cried.

I worry it will hit me at one point, hopefully not while I’m at work. I pray that grandma heals and gets better, at least enough that I can go visit again. I pray that the last time I saw her won’t be the honest-to-God last time I ever see her alive.

This, unfortunately, is my current reality. I know people have it worse; my grandma sure has it worse right now. I bet Mom and Dad have it worse right now; she’s their mom for one, and they are the caretakers who see the illness and are exhausted by it first-hand every day. I know there are people who are homeless, who are hungry and ill. I know I am not in the worst situation possible. I, for that reason, am still trying to be grateful. But it’s so hard right now to be grateful for something that still seems so unbearable.

So I guess my message for the day is this: while people going through a rough time often find it hard to complain or discuss their issues, we all have to remember that anyone around us could have it worse off than we could. I need to remember this too, even when it comes to my students.

More than anything, I wish you could take a walk in my shoes. If we could switch for just an hour or two, so that someone without anxiety could see how heavily these types of family-situations can feel so extra horrific, maybe they would better understand why I am so emotional, why I am not my best at work, why I am still trying my hardest but seem to be failing miserably.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

~B

My Life as an Anxious Overachiever

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There are very few people in life who cried over actual spilled milk, yet I bet there are even less who cry over a grocery store flyer and a TGIF ad for two-fer deals on entrees and appetizers. I actually wonder if there are any people who cry over the mail when the mail is such inconsequential papers in the grand scheme of life. These junk pages aren’t even worthy of their own envelopes.

Then I remember: just a few short hours ago, that was me; I was the girl crying over the flyer and advertisement. While I didn’t have any spilled milk, let me just say I did not need one single thing more to set me off. But let’s start at the true beginning.

Last Saturday I got some weird news. A distant relative had a major health issue that landed her in the hospital. She and her family ended up having to mourn the lost of one of their own. Why weird you ask? Not because the relative was so distant, not because it was so shocking… it ended up being real weird because it affected me more than I ever thought it would.

To anyone reading this, I hope that didn’t just sound super selfish. I didn’t mean that I got nosy and pried into their lives; in fact, I haven’t really talked to any of the family much since. I’ve been giving them space. Instead I spent time thinking of them, wishing them well, and praying hard that everything would be alright for them. Let’s face it; we aren’t the closest people ever, but their tragedy touched my heart because in some way, they welcomed me in to parts of their own lives. Even more, the devastation that a person becomes aware of when tragedy strikes anywhere close to home brings their anxiety up and their confidence down.

I trudged through the weekend, trying to enjoy myself and think of things other than the horror that probably ensued that day for those people I care about. Monday came and things at work were strange. Everyone wanted updates and to share concerns. (Long story how that connects to work, but believe me, it encompassed a large part of my conversations that day.) When I made it home, I realized that my husband and I had made plans to go buy a new dryer that night. Our’s had broken sometime over the weekend and we were about to be in desperate need of clean work clothes.

It was about 8:30, the parking lot was dark, the stars may not even have been out. I surely didn’t notice any constellations. My phone kept vibrating; I had been having a text conversation with my sister while we shopped and waited for the Lowe’s appliance guy to run through his paperwork. I finally got tired of it moving in my pocket, so while we were waiting for the dryer to come out to be loaded into the back of the pickup, I pulled it out of my jeans to see what was going on. A family member had texted me to tell me some contact information for the relative I spoke of earlier. I had called my grandma’s house for the number earlier in the day but there was no answer. Not only did I never receive that number from her, but the relative also continued to text me about how bothering my grandmother with things like this while she was trying to come to terms with her disease and inevitable death was something I needed to realize was inappropriate.

Crying my way home on my husband’s lap as I laid across the bench seat of the truck felt like the stupidest thing I had done in a while. I wished many times I had never made that phone call, left that message on my grandma’s machine. The contact information wasn’t that important; in fact, I wasn’t even sure that was the only way for me to get that number. (I ended up getting it from my Uncle later that night as it turns out.) I just couldn’t think how my one phone call had to be such a big deal though. How did the idea of leaving a message turn into me crying over the idea that I had made my grandma sick? How did my outlook on her illness and my relation to her change so suddenly with just some simple words on a screen? The answer is this: I was tired, I was worried about the wellness of others already, and I was stressed after having slept poorly the night before.

In the end, it was silly of me to have broken down like I did, there in the dark Lowe’s parking lot. Yet it made the events of the rest of the week seem even more important, maybe even worse.

Tuesday I spent all day trying to figure out how to stop thinking of my grandma every second. I went through teaching my classes as best as I could, but the thoughts lingered. When I realized it was time to go home, all I wanted was a break. Then I remembered I had to go to see my therapist immediately after work.

I won’t retell the events of that hour-long visit I had. All that’s really important is that I don’t remember ever walking out of therapy feeling worse than I did that day. It wasn’t my therapist’s fault; she was trying to help me get through the thoughts and issues I had been having, she was trying to prepare me for reality as best as she could. Unfortunately, that did not help to alleviate any of my worries or fears.

Going into Wednesday morning, I didn’t think much more could happen. Then we got the news that a coworker had to leave suddenly because of a family emergency. At the time, I could only guess what had happened to their family; unfortunately, the guessing made the anxiety worse. I continued to talk to my family and friends about all that had transpired so far during the week while simply praying to find an escape when I got home that night. I guess it wasn’t the worst day of the week, but I felt the stress climbing like my acid reflux climbs up my throat when I’m feeling particularly ill.

I thought Thursday would be settled enough to help me become less anxious; I was wrong. Thursday was the first day in my recollection that I had cried at my job. Well, at my current job. You see, I had made a mistake; I’m not afraid to admit it, nor am I afraid to tell you that I had been kind of immature in some of my actions. You see, my students continue to leave their lockers hang wide open all day long. Many of them leave their cell phones in their lockers, open for any eye to see. Even more of them leave other valuables unlocked without the realization that anyone, even a visitor, could end up taking something of their’s without it ever being returned. I’ve spent almost the past year and a half closing lockers on a daily basis. Always the same kids, always the same valuables, always the same lockers between every period of the day. Students say they don’t have enough time to unlock their locks in between classes though I’ll never understand why that means they can’t at least close the door…

In any case, my coworkers and I had started to move things. We never removed things from lockers, we just moved a textbook from one shelf to another. We zippered up a backpack that had a calculator and a brand new iphone peeking out of it. Then we closed the door and made sure it was latched just like we have done every other day for years. Maybe this was our way of teasing our kids a bit, but I’d like to think that it was my way of trying to get them to realize that someone, anyone, could be touching or removing their things. Some kids did start to get it; some kids thought the idea was funny. If they forgot to close their locker, they’d have to spend extra seconds finding the textbook that used to always sit in the top left of their locker. It may have been annoying, but they saw the lesson, they tried to learn. There was one kid who wasn’t so understanding… Needless to say, boss man ended up in my room that morning telling me that it was inappropriate for me to touch the kids’ items regardless of whether I had removed any of them or damaged them or not. It was really the first time that I had gotten in trouble at this job, the first time I ever felt a large level of anxiety within this classroom of mine. Along with everything else going on that week, I broke.

I spent at least 30 minutes crying silently to myself, with my husband working on the other end of the speaker phone as I tried to grade some quizzes for my students. It wasn’t so much that I had been yelled at, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t get what he was trying to say… I think I had finally realized the stupidity of the situation, the fact that I had actually spent time trying to teach these kids a lesson about valuables, about material things when all I wanted was for the people around me to be healthy, happy, and safe. At the end of the day, I may sound callus but I don’t really care about any of those cell phones, any of those backpacks or textbooks. I care about my family member who had a funeral to plan, I cared about my grandmother and how she had either gotten more sick or I had missed something in recent weeks that would have helped me to know how sick she truly is, and I especially worried about the coworker who was out of work again on Thursday for some unknown family emergency. I didn’t care about these phones, but I took the time to try to teach the kids (in what I thought was going to be a fun and carefree way) that their lockers needed to be locked. Really, I thought that was an open and shut case. A story that quickly should have ended. I thought the kids would be refreshed by the fact that I hadn’t yelled or babied them like normally happens when an adult tries to teach a teenager a lesson. I know now how it could have been perceived differently, but I wish someone (that kid, my boss) had realized that my actions were honestly not to make their day worse, to break any rules, or to do the wrong or immature thing. It was a bit of inane movement that I thought would result in giggles and lessons.

That day was clearly not the best; I spent the rest of it feeling like an alien in my own classroom; what other actions could be perceived as immature or incorrect? Would I run into my boss again? Would any random meeting be awkward? My anxiety was in third gear, maybe fourth, by that time. I got home successfully but I spent a good long time doing some more crying when I got home. I couldn’t manage to put this into words that day, or any of the other days earlier in the week. I couldn’t explain to anyone how these individual incidents kept piling one on top of another.

Friday was my glory day; Friday was the day things were going to be different. I didn’t think I’d end up saying the same about Saturday… maybe even Sunday. At this point, I just wanted to make it to three o’clock. I wanted a junior to come in and clean my room faster than ever so I could just go home and be away from humans. I think I had started to realize that the more I tried to converse with others, the more stress and issues there were. Friday was not to be my day either… another coworker was called out on family emergency (seriously, does anyone else believe in coincidence or things happening in groups). Then there was the last period class who tried to give me all gray hairs in a single 30 minute period. I had to end up assigning them the extra homework of explaining the word respect and how they had disrespected one another and myself. I asked them to think this weekend about what they needed to do better during their class next week. I had tried moving seats, I had tried gentle reminders, circulating the room… these kids were extremely distracted and extremely hyper that afternoon. I should have done the normal teacher thing and just gave them a Friday afternoon off; stopped teaching either out of the kindness of my heart or because I had reached an unsafe level of frustration. What I did instead was assign them more homework, more grading for me, to try to teach a lesson. I hope they take it seriously. I hope they realize that I’m trying to do good by them. Each and every one of them.

I did make it home finally, and I was able to have a relaxing evening with my mom. We attended a small play based on the story of Anne Frank. One of my students performed as Anne and was ABSOLUTELY amazing. The stress and fears lingered with me that night but I thought some sleep would help.

Today, Saturday, was going to be a good day. I had an event in the morning and a whole span of afternoon hours in which to relax, sleep, and be okay with me. I never thought the walk to prevent suicide would hit me so hard; side-by-side with my sister-in-law and my husband, we walked those two miles. I listened to stories of people who had died or almost killed themselves due to depression and suicidal thoughts. I listened to one man discuss how his major social anxiety led to him attempting to take his own life. I guess I realized then that all this stress isn’t good for me. I realized how desperately I just wanted life to pause for a minute, to just give me one second of rest without a single thought of all of this negative and horrifying news. I just one wanted minute, maybe sitting on my couch, where there wasn’t a thought in my brain or a single image on the TV screen. I wanted just a little bit of time by myself, no human interaction at all. As much as I care about those around me, I wanted for just a bit to truly take care of me.

I got home from the walk today; there was an envelope in the mail from the state tax bureau. They thought I hadn’t paid our taxes in full, that we had lied on our return from last year. I spent probably an hour with my husband trying to figure out where the “missing” money was. Luckily, we found out that it wasn’t missing at all. Unluckily, I finally reached my breaking point. As I cleaned up the papers from the tax debacle and prepared to mail the paperwork in an envelope, I could not find a pen that wouldn’t stop dying on me. I was on the phone with my sister at the time; she probably thought I was insane. I started yelling, pretty sure I threw that pen up against the wall. Then I told her I had to go; I hung up, looked around the room, and realized this: my life was a mess, my week had been one huge snafu, and even worse to me at that moment was the fact that it was a never ending feeling. Even the dog hair on the floor was a nuisance, the mail laying in haphazard piles just more mess to add to my extremely messy life. It was there, standing looking around my kitchen, that I broke.

I think I’m okay now. My husband made me lay down with no option of getting up, doing anything, or seeing any of the mess of my life (physically or in my head). He kept me distracted from the stresses and let me talk out things whenever I felt like voicing my thoughts.

I can’t say I feel better at this point but what I can say is this: my life has been worse, my life has gotten really rough at times. I thought many times in life that my days would be difficult, maybe impossible to get through. Yet each time so far, I have been wrong. There’s always been a tomorrow, there’s always been a light at the end of the tunnel.

I can say right now that I don’t see the light. I don’t think that working an open house at school tomorrow is going to brighten my future or bring me out of my funk. I’m not even convinced that someone will not have another family emergency this week or an issue that stresses me out. Instead, I’m just trying to go with it… I’m going to turn this computer off, lay down on my couch, and relax with my dogs. This is my evening, and if it’s the only evening of relaxation again for another whole week, you’d better believe I’m going to try to make the best of it.

If you suffer from anxiety too, just remember you aren’t alone. If you don’t have anxiety and now think I am totally out of my mind, I’m sorry. I guess detailing every minute thing that happens in my life is just one way of saying to others that I understand, that they can be okay too, that they are not alone. You. Are. Not. Alone.

 

When it RAINs, it Pours

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This has already been an extremely busy week at work. Disregarding the fact that the Internet wasn’t cooperating for half of the day, the academic gradebook site was also broken today. So what that meant for me was

  1. No way for me to keep up-to-date on my emails unless I killed my phone battery
  2. No way for me to finish my October lesson plan (to submit for my teacher program)
  3. No way for me to write any of my essays (though they aren’t due until March)
  4. A stack of graded papers for which the students have no clue what they scored

It was a long day to say the least.

Actually, though classes have been running smoothly, it’s just been a really long week. And it’s only Tuesday. Go figure.

Though I wanted to stay home tonight and do my own thing, I had a few responsibilities. The main one was to go and see my therapist. (The other was supposed to be to run the dogs, but it’s a good 100000 degrees outside right now, so my breathing is just saying no to that one.)

I don’t know how therapy works for anyone else, but I’ve been going to see someone to talk to every month ever since I was in the sixth grade. That’s when we realized that anxiety was really an issue for me; that’s when we realized I couldn’t just sit by and have these bad days and even worse nights because of my fears about school and death and other weird things that no other normal 6th grader would ever think to worry about.

Needless to say, I think my therapist knows me truly better than anyone else. Even my husband and my parents. Even my best friend (my sister). It’s weird to say that; it’s not like we’re Facebook friends, work together, or even go to the movies on a Friday night. But she does know a TON about my life.

I think she also knows that as the years have progressed, I probably don’t need to talk to her for an hour every month anymore. Sometimes I think she wonders why I bother to show up. Again, I’m not sure how therapy works for anyone else suffering from any type of mental differences, but there are sessions where I just sit and talk about my life the entire time. Sometimes I walk out of that office wondering why I just paid someone so that I could update them on my life without feedback or really much response at all. Then I reflect and realize that sometimes I just need that someone that I can talk to about anything (and honestly everything) in my life. A therapist by definition is someone you can talk to about anything; she not only allows me to do that but knows when I am seeking advice and when I just need that unbiased shoulder to lean on a bit.

**With all of the above being said, my life would not be the same in ANY way without my amazing therapist. So even though I downplayed her part in my health just there, I’m only doing so because some days that is my perspective. She does a lot more than I ever really recognize.**

I guess tonight’s sessions was one of those times that I actually needed some advice. After everything that happened this weekend with my anniversary and grandma’s health, I needed someone to realign my thoughts back to their “correct” path. I needed someone to sympathize with me a bit and remind me that it’s never going to be possible to eliminate these stressors entirely, but there are plenty of ways to handle them.

My current issue? Dealing with the stress that is lingering in the back of my head while I’m at work. For example, teaching a class today, I wanted to yell at a bunch of kids who would not stop messing around and chatting when others were trying to pay attention. By yell, I don’t mean I wanted to tell them to stop (as a decent-ish teacher, I definitely did that); what I mean instead is that I wanted to yell at them to get the heck out of my room and not come back until they realized that they needed to grow up and that not everyone can deal with their immature crap! Obviously, as a teacher, I cannot let that irritation and anger show at any time.

What I realized tonight was that I wasn’t actually angry or upset with those kids. Were they more annoying than I may have liked? Possibly. Could they have been quieter so as not to distract the rest of my students? Definitely. But was my anger actually directed at them? No. At some point today I found myself thinking about all of this weekend’s events and looking ahead to this weekend coming up. All I was craving at the moment was some peace and quiet; no running around for errands, jobs, and puppy playtime until all hours of the night. What I needed at the moment was to know there is a time coming (soon) where I will be able to sit back and relax for more than 20 minutes at a time with no one else on my mind but the book I’m reading, the TV I’m watching, or the adventure that I’m going on. Unfortunately that backfired as I remembered how hectic and sort of messed up this past weekend was. Looking ahead, I realized I’ll spend this entire Labor Day weekend tearing down my old kitchen and replacing it with our new cabinets. (Even the thought of this last makes my stomach twist. I hate change, and while I know we need new cabinets and we are getting exactly what we want for our kitchen, I’m also nervous to see if the change in our own home causes me some anxiousness for even a few days.)

My therapist says it’s okay to have these stresses in the back of your head and to try to cope with them, even while at work. Even though my main responsibility is a bunch of young kids, I need to remember that I need to take care of myself first or I’m no good to them. Even more, I need to realize when things are going awry (as in the above example) and be able to step back and hit a refresh button or to just take a deep breath until I get my head screwed back on straight.

So I was reminded tonight of a method that I was introduced to when I was in sixth or seventh grade. The RAIN strategy.

Image result for rain acronym                                      Borrowed from mindful.org!

 

In any case, I have come to the realization in the last hour or so that I have started using RAIN subconsciously whenever I am having trouble with my anxiety. What I need to remember to do in the future however, is to use RAIN even when I am just feeling slightly stressed or “over” whatever the current situation is that I find myself in. Even my attempt at good happy thoughts today took a sideways turn for the worst; it would have been the perfect opportunity to remind myself of RAIN. Unfortunately, until tonight, I had forgotten to purposely force myself to think using these four steps.

So tomorrow my goal is this: Go into my classroom and find a place to store the RAIN sheet that my therapist gave me. It’s just a tiny slip of paper that can easily sit in my desk drawer or be taped under my keyboard. Yet just knowing that it’s there makes me hopeful that tomorrow will be filled with less negative thoughts and more positive re-directions for my kiddos and my brain. Here’s to hoping!

If anyone reading this has any trouble with anxiety or any other thought processing issue and uses RAIN, I would love to know how well it works for you! I’m looking for advice and examples all the time, so feel free to comment. Until then, I hope this reminder comes to you much faster than my therapist’s reminder came to me. Let’s just hope it’s not too late!

~B

The Beginning of the Second

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Today is a new day. While I don’t often blog two days in a row, I felt I needed to today. If only for the purpose of letting everyone who read yesterday’s post know that things do get better.

That’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve learned with anxiety; even though it may seem like your world is ending or will never feel right again, it always ends up getting better.

I’m not really sure which of my many strategies helped me last night to get over the shock of grandma’s change in condition or my husband’s seeming lack of care about our anniversary. It may have been the writing, it may have been that I picked up a good book and got lost in it for a while. It may even have been the fact that I had a decent cry as I talked to my husband about grandma last night. What I think may be more likely though is that time helped to heal.

As I had time to reflect, I realized my husband would never blow off our plans on purpose. In reality, we didn’t have anything set in stone, so my assumption that we would hang out all weekend was confused with his assumption that we would spend all day together on our actual anniversary. Plus, as I talked to T last night, I realized that time flying by when people are having fun had a lot to do with it too. He actually admitted that he would not have been away from me so long yesterday, but he totally lost track of time. Even more so, I think time had a way of calming my nerves and making everything seem a little more manageable.

You see, sometimes an anxious brain will jump to the craziest conclusions. For example: my husband not spending a few hours with me means he clearly does not love me as much as I love him. Or better yet, the fact that my grandma is running a fever clearly means that she will suddenly die before I get to see her again. It might sound crazy, but anxious brains often travel to the very worst (and possibly most outlandish) assumptions ever.

Luckily, I’m here tonight to say that things did not go as horribly as I made them seem yesterday. Giving my brain time allowed me to come back to the truth of reality and to see that things aren’t all as bad as they seem. I was also able to talk things out with my husband so we could make anniversary plans for last night and today. He also convinced me to leave him at home for a few hours this afternoon to go and see my grandma. I tried to resist at first because I felt bad for being away from him on our anniversary. He didn’t let me get my way though, and I’m glad he was there to remind me what is most important.

Last night played out pretty well. I was still pretty upset when my husband got home, but he decided to take the four of us to our favorite state park. We had a picnic (though we didn’t have picnic food, so we improvised by picking up pizza from a local restaurant), watched as our youngest pup, Zoey, played in the creek for the first time, and took a short hike that we have taken on occasion before. Doing things as a group of four helped me realize how close of a little family I have and how fortunate I am to be able to spend any time with them at all. Going to the park also reminded me that even the simplest things mean the most to me, no fancy food or events required for my happiness.

This morning we woke up and looked through a box I had stored for our first anniversary. There were guest books, cards, and relics from our wedding day and honeymoon to look at. Then we cut our anniversary cake (for breakfast no less!) and found out that it wasn’t as dry and horrible as we thought it would be. As I gave T his gift, he started to light up and smile. Though he didn’t get me anything (miscommunication on both our parts), I was happy that my idea worked out well. Every time I asked him what I should get him, he told me the traditional first anniversary gift was paper. I could not think of a single thing to get the man that involved paper! So I finally settled for writing him a bunch of “Open when” letters for times when I am not around to remind him how loved he is. He opened the first today, which included a summary of our first year together. He has others, which he quickly put in order of how he assumes he’ll end up opening them. (One of the top on the list is “Open When I become anxious and you don’t know what to do about it. Shocker there!)

Around 10, we decided that we wanted to visit the restaurant we ate at on our first “dating” anniversary. We enjoyed the meal that evening and decided to go back. Unfortunately, when I called to reserve a table, no one bothered to tell us that it was a brunch buffet until 2pm on Sundays. When we showed up, we were invited to get our food off the buffet. Not only was that buffet expensive, but it had the weirdest combination of breakfast and entree foods. I am glad to say that my stomach is no longer cut out for buffets (yay for losing weight) but I also feel as though I wasted some of T’s hard earned money by not eating my money’s worth. Oh well…

Though I went to visit grandma tonight (she is doing better than she was yesterday), I came home so we could light our unity candle together and spend some more time before our hectic workweek starts again in a few hours. So overall, though it wasn’t anything super special, I have to say this was a great anniversary.

The thing is, I need to remember who I am. Who we are. While my brain was so muddled on our wedding day because I wanted everything to be so perfect and to feel so happy the entire time, I have to realize that we had a small family wedding for a reason. I have to realize that going to the park yesterday was one of the biggest highlights of my first anniversary. And more than that, I have to realize that there’s a reason that my favorite parts of life are the simple, relaxed, things that we do together. The more I got worked up about trying to make plans for our anniversary, the more fun I think I sucked out of myself in preparation for a weekend that ended up being special anyway. The more I tried to do “fancy” and “special” things, the more my anxiety built up and I got too nervous to want to do much of anything.

So for next year, I need to remember this: my husband loves me and loves doing the same things as I do. We could have taken a bike ride to the shore or even sat at home in our pjs all day, and he would have been just as happy. Though you often think it sounds cheesy in the movies, it is honestly true that all I need, and all my husband needs, in life is to have quality time to spend with each other.

Here’s to another happy year! Thanking all of you who helped me pray yesterday and continuing to ask for prayer in my grandma’s name. Thank you!!

~B

First Week is No More!

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It’s official; I’ve survived my first week of school again for the fifth year in a row! This one seemed extra long and drawn out, but I have to say that part of it was my fault. Who schedules an eye doctor appointment for the evening of the third day of school? And who then follows it up with Back to School Night on the fourth evening? I am exhausted.

I think that’s why I’m sitting here writing at this point. Because I get extremely tired and then I get extremely emotional. You see, this is the weekend of my first wedding anniversary. I have been anticipating this weekend for weeks. Did I think we were going to do anything super special? No. Did I even think I’d want to do ANYTHING this weekend after how long this past week was? No. Yet I didn’t think that I would spend this entire day with just my two dogs, my sister, and her dog. Nor did I think that today would be the day that I would get some horrible news from my family.

So as I sit here, at home, I’m reflecting on everything that has been going on in life, and I wonder, when do we take time for us? I know as a teacher that I did not choose the best weekend in the world to be married. At the time I was questioning whether I was even going to return to teaching after a horrible experience back in 2016-2017. I never knew that I would be this exhausted and unable to plan anything super special because no teacher in their right mind wants to take time off during the first or second week of a new school year! But I’ve adjusted. Or so I thought…

The other thing that happened this week is that my husband bought a new truck. Well, new to us… more like a 1990 Ford pickup that had problems with the light system and the brakes. I wasn’t worried about it at all; I have an uncle with a garage, a lift, and plenty of experience fixing up pickups. I also know that my husband can figure most anything out on his own if given the time. What I didn’t know was that, in our state, you must have a newly purchased vehicle inspected within ten days of purchase. Quite a bit of a problem when there are issues that clearly cause it to fail inspection. My husband has spent almost every night this week at my uncle’s place working on this truck. I am excited to be able to use it next weekend when we install our new kitchen cabinets and remove our old ones. I’m also excited about it because the vehicle search is finally over! What I didn’t anticipate was that my husband would plan to spend this entire day also working on the truck.

We had discussed minor plans for our anniversary, just small relaxing things that would allow us to feel like we were away from our normal reality. Maybe a motorcycle ride to a new location, dinner at a fancy restaurant, a hike, or a trip to the movie theater. Nothing huge. Just special little things. I picked up our wedding cake tier and planned to pull out our wedding album, cards, etc. to look through. I got him a small gift.

So now I sit here waiting for my husband to return. I shouldn’t be upset at him for trying to get the truck done. It needs inspected in the next four days. But with this being our anniversary weekend, our FIRST anniversary, I at least thought there would be a bit more effort on his part. A bit more… care? I know he cares for me, and I know that he likes spending time with me, but he’s a guy. He wants to play with his new toy. I feel dumb for even putting blame on him because I know that deep down.

I think the real reason that I am upset is because I just got back from my parents’ house. I was picking up my wedding cake, but while I was there my dad gave me some news. Apparently my grandma’s cancer has spread so far into her bones that even a single fall would break most any of the bones in her body. While it cannot be fixed, they are at least helping her to manage the pain and trying to stop any further damage. Yet for the past few days, grandma has also been running a fever. She is showing signs of infection, but there is none to be found. So the doctors are guessing that she may have cancer that has traveled through her bone structure and into her brain. It’s the only part of the body they have not yet examined to check for why this fever and shortness of breath is occurring. To check the brain, an MRI needs to be scheduled. Except grandma is 84 years old, gets claustrophobic, and swore she would never have another MRI done in her life for any reason. So we aren’t sure whether she’s even going to allow them to check her brain. Plus, with her shortness of breath appearing for no real reason, no one is sure that anything is going to help at this point. Her bones are weak, her body is weak, and I think she may be tiring of this long fight with her cancer. The one thing I know about my grandma is that she didn’t spend so many years in this family with all of these other stubborn people around her to not have picked up some stubborn of her own. For that, I am fearful.

I know I spoke with grandma many times over this past summer. We mostly discussed the gossip of the town and our family, just because that’s what is most comfortable to talk about at this time. But there was one conversation we had about how far grandma was willing to go to beat this disease that has taken over her body. If she is sticking to any part of that conversation whatsoever, I have a feeling she won’t let that MRI happen. I am so grateful for the fact that grandma is at peace with what is happening. I may have my own personal regrets (being too busy to visit her often over the past few years for starters…) but at least she knows that I love her, that we all love her and she is still the one making the best decisions for herself. At the end of the day that is most important to me.

Except now that I am home, waiting for my husband to want to do something for our anniversary and thinking about my grandma being so suddenly sick compared to the last time I saw her, I cannot help but have all of this built-up emotion that I’m not sure what to do with.

The thing about anxiety is that it manifests itself in so many new and different ways that it could take a lifetime to learn how to deal with every reaction my mind decides to have. Just when you think you have it all under control, you realize you really don’t. At the end of the day, I know other people have gone through similar things to this. Yet this seems like a horrifying thing to me right now.

The important thing is for me to remember my coping strategies and for me to find the one that works right now, in this moment. While writing helps, I’m not sure this post will be enough this time. I may need to do more to find peace in my own current situations.

In the meantime, I hope anyone reading this will send a prayer up for my grandma. While I know time is limited, I also know that showing up at her doorstep so soon after hearing this news is the wrong thing for me to do. So I just pray that she makes it longer, even if it’s just a bit longer. Just enough time for me to get to see her again, have another one of those amazing, eye-opening conversations. Maybe one more episode of the Price is Right. If that can’t be, then I at least pray that she is still in that mode of peace, that she is still okay with everything that is going on. I’d appreciate anyone willing to help me out in prayer too.

~B

This Funk that has Me

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This Funk that has Me

Oh Lord guide us. Show us Thy Will and Way in everything.

This is the quote that comes along with the devotional I read for yesterday. Though it’s a day old now, I feel like it’s no less important to me at this moment. It seems like every year around this time I go through the same stages. There’s excitement that I get my student rosters and get to go back to being a bit more social than I am during the summer. Then there’s the anxiety and nerves; what am I forgetting to do? What if this group of kids is practically uncontrollable? What if, like so many jobs before this one, something goes wrong and I cannot bare to work under the current circumstances and need to make drastic life changes again? What did I do with my whole summer and why did I waste so much time? This list goes on and on…

I don’t think I’d be struggling so much with this right now, except a few things are colliding together this year. First, there’s the normal end-of-summer emotions (see above). Then there’s this horrid drenching downpour that has not ended in the past five days. Even when it’s not raining around here, the clouds and sky are so dreary that it just puts you in a mood. I have an older cousin who has to use a special lamp to give himself a certain amount of sun each day. Sometimes I feel like I have this same issue (sorry, I don’t remember what it’s called) because the lack of sun after a day or two is so depressing to me that I just get into a funk. Right now I’m in a big funk. Finally, there’s the fact that I did a lot of physical work and tasks this weekend and slept horribly. We all know how humans are on barely any sleep; if you aren’t sure, let me just say that I am the worst person in the world to console or talk to or try to get to accomplish anything when I am tired. My anxiety lashes out and I’m just useless.

I am in a major funk.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Sometimes I feel like I am overreacting to everything around me. Take the other night for example. My husband and I were making dinner. Normally we cannot be in the kitchen together at the same time because we each have our own method of madness and they clash horribly. However, he was making something on the stove and asked if I’d mix up some chicken salad. I said sure, an easy enough task right? Once I had it mixed up, I covered it and put it on the counter to wait a few more minutes until he was done with the cooking portion of the meal. As I’m sitting in my living room, I hear a spoon clacking against the glass bowl I had used to put the salad into. I called to him and asked if anything was wrong. He simply said, “The salad is too chunky.” Any normal person would probably be responding with a simply “oh okay” or an “I’m sorry”, but I’m no normal person. I am the person with anxiety who is currently in a major funk. What seems like the easiest task in the world has now been done incorrectly (by me) and I am not too happy about it. So I take a deep breath and let it pass.

The week has been going like this, including its fair share of stupid, silly examples of things that are irking me. While it seems like many of them revolve around my husband, I can assuredly say that he is not the main problem in any of these circumstances. It’s more like… the husband or the dog or the other dog… the other day I was upset at my phone because the battery ran dead too fast for my liking. It’s quite ridiculous. I see now that the problem is more than likely just me.

So I try to step back. I try to remember that years of dealing with my anxiety has led me to a point where I have plenty of strategies to combat this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. I know the triggers (or at least most of them) and I can do a pretty good job of either avoiding them or meeting them head on. Right now, I’m just trying to step back.

Yet sooner or later everything just gets to be too much. It’s nearing the end of July and school mode is here. Then there’s the tiredness and the anxiety. Then there’s the simple every day communication that sometimes just doesn’t go as planned (again, see above). Sometimes it just feels like I’m not where I’m supposed to be in life and that I’m not doing something that I should be accomplishing. Now I’m not talking about chores or tasks, I’m talking more about the thing that is missing in my life that would help me to get rid of this funk. I’m not naive, and I know my anxiety will never be cured. We’ve been there and done that with those thoughts. It’s not happening. I feel like I’ve mostly come to terms with that, but right now it just feels like there’s this big black shadow lingering that I need to try to get rid of. This funk.

So I found myself trying to get some exercise today (strategy #1) and that didn’t work because the weather was still sucky and now I was outside in it. Plus the dogs were begging to go along, so I took them… Zoey doesn’t always like to walk on a leash like a proper girl, so that wasn’t much fun. Strategy #2 was to just buck it up and get the stuff done. So I took a list of the things that were bugging me and I just started knocking them out. Though now I feel more tired than I was before and no more happy to know that those tasks ended up leading to more tasks (go figure). Strategy #3 is to talk it out, but sometimes it’s impossible to just tell someone else how you are feeling and have them comprehend it like you feel you need them to. So we went, we tried, we lost that one…

Welcome to Strategy #4, where I read and I write and I try to stay away from anything and everything that will make me more tired or more upset. Let’s face it, a piece of paper and pen or this blog is not able to talk back. So unless my brain conjures an issue, this time should remain fairly peaceful.

~~A pause here to encourage anyone struggling with anxiety to try some of these strategies!!!~~

Which is how I ended up reading today’s devotional and reviewing yesterday’s. Though today doesn’t come with a direct scripture or any special quote, I still find yesterday’s pretty significant. Oh Lord, guide us. Show us Thy Will and Way in everything. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this is a thing. I’ve been a Christian for a very long time, but sometimes it is so difficult to remember that God is really in control here. While my body might feel like crap and my mind might seem to be in an even worse place, I need to try to remember this. That God has a Will and a Way. That He is trying to do what is going to be right for my life in the end. He knows for sure that I’ve been here and gone through similar before. He also knows that even in times of these difficulties, I always end up finding the light at the end of the tunnel. The only real problem here is that I hate being in the tunnel and just waiting for the light to come around. I can’t stand it that I have no control over certain things, and even my mind likes to take its own little field trips to anxiety land sometimes. (I also hate how this might be making me sound crazy, but what am I going to do? I need to be honest here or this post is not going to make me feel any better.)

God has a Will and a Way. I need to remember this.

Also in the devotional book God Calling by A.J. Russell is today’s little blurb:

I am your Lord. Lord of your lives. Controller of your days, your present and your future. Leave all plans to Me. Only act as I bid you.

You have entered now, both of you, upon the God-guided life. Think what that means. God-taught, God-guided.

Is anything too wonderful for such a life? Do you begin to see how wonderful life with Me can be?

Do you see that no evil can befall you?

Let’s just say that as much as I want to believe no evil is in my life right now, I’m having a hard time seeing it. I’m having a hard time feeling as though the sadness and destruction in not only my life but our world right now is not somehow evil.

shallow photography of usa flag

Photo by Sawyer Sutton on Pexels.com

Yet I do recall times when I felt like this before. I remember feeling like there was no hope for us or our lives would be changed for the worse forever when the war against Iraq started after 9/11. I remember thinking that it would be like World War II all over again. While it hasn’t been some fun happy thing, I can at least say that I watched as God guided us through some of those terrible war times without having it result in quite as much evil as my mind had originally concocted.

I recall being engaged to a man that I was not meant for and trying so hard to please and to fit in when I wasn’t supposed to… though I didn’t know it until the whole thing was over, I was led to a better place in my life. To realize the horrible mistakes I could have made or the realizations that I may never have… I have to believe that God had His Way with that one.

I think I’m getting it now; I’m getting to a place of peace and to a place of realization. That even though I may still be in this funk later, I am okay with it for right now. I am just going to put everything to God and do some praying and just hope that the funk goes away soon. Even if it’s only here for one simple reason, I am going to try to believe that it is here for a very important but small reason. While I may never see directly what that reason is or understand why this time in my life had to happen, I’m going to try my hardest to just let it be. To not fight it, to not anguish over it, and to try not to really make it any worse with my anxiety.

To anyone who is still reading up to this point, I thank you so much for listening to my rambling. I’m sorry this post was more for my benefit than anyone else’s. If you did read this far though, know that it means the world to me that someone was willing to try to put themselves in my shoes for a few minutes here. Like I said, it’s not always the anxiety that is all the trouble in my life, sometimes it’s just trying to get someone else to understand those feelings.

So here’s to getting out of that funk and to hoping none of you are currently in one. If you are, feel free to reach out because I’m sure that if I can’t help you with your own problems, we can just be together. In our funk. But never alone.

~B

Step One: The Exploration

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Step One: The Exploration

I’ve decided to try to keep up with my writing now that so many interesting things are going on in my life right now. Hopefully I’ll be able to do so. I’ve been so busy that some of the only time I have to myself to write is my lunch break at work. A measly 25 minutes to myself that I am now going to use to communicate here, with anyone who cares to read my blog. Before I run out of that time, I should probably get to the point…


 

I have finally succeeded in my evil plans to convince my family that we need another dog. Some of my motives for this plan are selfish and some are completely selfless. The biggest reason that I want them to get a dog is because I love dogs and cannot wait to have an interaction with another one. That’s the mostly selfish part speaking. The other side of me has so many selfless reasons for wanting a new pup in the house. Mainly, T and I are thinking about moving in together sometime this year. Well, he wants to buy the house and I will slowly transition to that house. So it may be sometime this year or it may be early next year at the latest (unless our plans fall through). In any case, my family would be left without a dog in the house, because there is no way I am allowing them to keep my pup in their home without me! (Sorry, but there’s me being selfish again.) Plus my little Jasper is still such a puppy that his energy is outrageous. I wish I had enough time in a day to fully wear him out like I can do during the summer time. Unfortunately, with work and my long commute, that’s just not possible right now. I do the best I can and appreciate my family’s help so much, but with us all having jobs and him being super hyper… I’m thinking another little pup will help to play with him and wear him out. (Maybe that’s selfish again?) One thing I know is unselfish though is that the vet is always concerned about how shy and timid Jasper is. Surely this is because of his background of abuse and shelters, but still. They would like Jasper to be a little more outspoken (if you can imagine that) and a little more playful with other dogs. Anytime he’s around another one, you can tell that he’s curious and interested, but that doesn’t always mean that he is willing to play or even sniff at them before hiding behind me or trying to run away. I guess it all really depends on the dog that he is around. Dogs that bark louder are scarier to him, smaller dogs are ones he thinks he can at least run away from faster than their little legs can carry them. But I digress…

I have been spending time posting pictures of pups to Facebook and tagging my family in them. I have sat down with my sister and told her all the reasons I want her to get a puppy. Then, since we had to get permission from the parents, I sat down with my mom and tried to convince her that when I move out the house will be too quiet. Once she saw the light, it was all over…

There are two applications pending right now, both for two little male terrier mixes just like my Jassy. They are brothers, named Danny and Duncan, and they look exactly like Jas. I really hope one of them comes through for us, but we’ve been told they have other applications in line ahead of our own. *Fingers crossed* This adventure is a fun one all in itself. Too bad I can’t help all of the little animals that need homes. 😦


 

Now for the even bigger, newer, scarier exploration (what I was supposed to be blogging about this whole time)… THE MOVE

Yes, that’s right. It is looking more and more like T and I may find a house that we both like and agree to move into. I’ve previously been spending my lunch breaks researching: financing, steps for finding a house, actual houses and lots, etc. I think I’ve spent over 10 hours in the past three weeks or so doing some sort of housing or mortgage research. Since we don’t live real close to each other to begin with and we both commute to work in the opposite directions, our possibilities are highly limited. Right in between our parents’ houses are those lovely little places called HOAs, which we are totally not interested in dealing with. Then there are the super over-priced houses smooshed beside each other in a teeny weeny development. Let’s just say it’s not going to happen.

So yesterday I came across a tiny little gem; with barely 0.4 acres of land and just over a 1,000 sq. ft. home, I was skeptical that T would like it as well. But he said that it looked like a decent place to start: in our price range, in the right geographical area, and not so completely run down that we would spend the next 10 years fixing it up.

Luckily through all of this, my mom has a realtor for a friend. She has been so amazing. She’s always willing to answer our questions for free, wants to suggest lenders and brokers to us to help us save money on the mortgage, and is willing to show us any house that our little hearts desire to look at.

Which brings me to my biggest piece of progress in this entire thing… we are looking at our first house this SATURDAY! Wow, I can’t believe I said it out loud. The thing is, I’m super excited because for once in my life I can actually imagine completing this step of maturing. Yet it makes me nervous to think about this huge step and to anxiously await to find out how perfect for us this house actually may or may not be. If that isn’t enough, T is semi-nervous too. I’m glad he was willing to admit it to me, but at the same time, I can’t help but feel that our nerves may play off of each other’s. So I told him that I would support him and he says he’d do the same for me. And even if we find we aren’t ready for the big move yet, I guess only time will tell and we will be stronger for any of this anxiety we have felt.

Need to go eat lunch now before I’m late for my next class. I feel so much better having written (gotta love anxiety like that!)

~B

I am ashamed…. (and I wish my coworkers would know)

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This is me. This is my story.

When I was in first grade, teachers and my parents started to notice a change in me; I didn’t want to be anywhere but home, and I hated school for all it was. I was the weird kid that no one really understood and yet I was the one who had a ton of friends. There were instances that year where I would feel so sick to my stomach that I would request to go to the nurse. Sooner or later everyone decided I was faking it because I wanted to go home. But you know what? I wasn’t faking.

When I was in second grade, I had to make all new friends. Very few of the kids in my first grade class were in my same second grade class. But that was okay; I knew how to adapt and I knew how to be friendly. Those, I guess, are two traits that I’ve always had going for me. At least until I started to feel homesick. Then it was right back to people not believing that I felt sick to my stomach all the time. And still… I wasn’t faking.

Third and fourth grade passed in a blur, but I remember that fourth grade Math teacher. I actually think I learned a huge life lesson from him as I look back on his class today. But then, then all I saw was someone who was out to make my life horrible. He gave me my first (and my last) B on a report card. Everyone thought I was a perfectionist. And guess what? I may have been, but I was more than that.

In sixth grade, peers started to think we were old enough to date. I was part of this popular clique who thought it was a great idea to hang out with “boyfriends” and talk about our “love lives.” Oh how naïve children can be! By the end of that year, a boy had “broken my heart” so badly that I had even more problems than I had in any previous grade. I would be up all night crying my eyes out, begging not to have to go to school. Any time there was a test, I would get so nervous that my hands would turn clammy and my stomach would knot. Everyone still thought I was being a perfectionist. Truth? That wasn’t even the half of it.

By the end of that year I had started to see a therapist. She helped me work through my emotions and finally let everyone know that I was not some unhealthy, weak child. No, I was suffering from anxiety disorder. Talk about a shocker there. And yet: It’s not like there was a cure.

By seventh grade, my friends decided it would be cool to play sports. I did too, at least that first year. But as my grades rose above the others’, they started to look at me like I had five heads. Their solution was to cheat off of my tests and talk crap behind my back. Why? Because they thought it was the cool thing to do I guess…

In eighth grade, I still dealt with the drama, but even more than that was the teacher/field hockey coach who screamed in my face that I ran “slower than her grandmother, who was 90!” Needless to say, that sport dropped out of my playlist. It’s not like I had asthma or anything…

Also in eighth grade was the flight of the friendships. I literally had to make all new friends as my old ones thought it was cool to treat me like I was a leper just because they were jealous of my grades. The teachers’ solution? Just ignore that anything is wrong.

By my first day of ninth grade my anxiety was so bad that I knew things weren’t going to work out in my favor. On that first day, three main things occurred.

  • The PE teacher called me out for trying to “skip out of” gym class activities. Why? I had broken my finger playing softball that summer and it was still in a cast. But apparently playing volleyball was still expected.
  • The English teacher asked if we had any questions about our summer reading. I had a question about whether we were allowed to combine our own notes from the stories with those from spark notes. Her answer? I had better not be planning on cheating my way through her class because she could see right through me and I had another thing coming if I thought she was stupid enough to believe that I was innocent. The truth? Someone else mentioned spark notes to me and I just wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing by not including those notes in my essay.
  • The school might not have been big, but that didn’t stop me from being late to the bus that afternoon. The bus driver’s reaction? I better learn to carry all five hundred pounds of my textbooks with me if I intended to ride her bus this year…

I had a complete anxiety attack the minute I got home. Things were never really looking my way, but that day had been beyond ridiculous. If the kids could gang up on me, and now the teachers too? I had zero hope of ever surviving my life in high school.

My parents’ solution was to speak to the counselors, have me tested out of grades and courses so that I could avoid those teachers who had bullied me into submission. The guidance counselor had a lovely reply; stay in your courses or leave. We won’t switch your courses and we won’t allow you to prove that you’re smart enough to skip a course.

My solution? Leave school and do it my own way.

Three years later I was in the top ten of a graduating class of seniors where I was technically only supposed to be a junior. A few months later? Instead of spending all of my hard earned money on a private institution where I had received almost full scholarships, I applied to an online school where I could work and pay my own tuition.

The result? I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in teaching like I had always dreamed but never thought possible. Less than a year later, I had a full-time teaching job and even a year after that, I had graduated with an MA in Physics education.

If you think I’m stupid, you have something else coming. But even more important than that, if you think that I don’t care about my students, you’ve lost your mind. If you think I don’t feel their pain when the boys give them cat calls in the hallway, think again. If you think I don’t know what it is to be embarrassed by a superior, a leader, a teacher, an administrator, you’re wrong.

What ashames me most now is that I’m part of a system that I never really believed in. I’m part of a school where these things are actually happening to students every day. No, our kids are not perfect. They are far from it. But the reality is, that’s how they are supposed to be. They’re kids. Yes, they want to learn. Yes, they want to be leaders (at least most of them). But many of them just don’t know how. And if any of them are anything like me, they just don’t have the confidence in themselves to call out their peers and deal with the repercussions.

That’s why we are supposed to be there; to support them, to guide them, and to gently correct them along the way. But what I have been hearing lately pains me. For not just one, but for many of my kids, they feel as though they have been yelled at over issues that are trivial compared to other things. Some feel as though they have been sexually bullied by peers who are even younger than themselves. I’ve heard from the little ones that language has suddenly become an issue, and even more than that, I’ve learned that those who used to trust us barely trust us anymore.

While I don’t know what all has changed and I don’t understand why we are all struggling to adjust, I just want it to be made clear that this school is struggling. The students are struggling because the teachers are struggling. And that is only true because they are trying to juggle the administration’s changing and the changing of some of the most important parts and people in their lives. And truthfully, it’s not administration’s fault by any means, but when everyone looks to them to be the leaders and things don’t work out… where would most kids want to point the blame? No, not just at administration or the teaching staff; our kids point it at themselves too. That alone should show you that we have kids who are unique and one-of-a-kind where I work. That should show you the good that is in them.

But until something changes, until someone up top starts screaming from the rafters, nothing is going to change. We’re stuck in a tornado where we cannot climb out. And my only feelings on the issue are not that I am struggling or that I have no communication with the other teachers anymore. It’s more that I’m scared; scared for the kids who have anxiety like me, scared for those who need to focus on their work and not all of this drama. I’m scared for the students who now believe they’ve done something wrong when all they’ve done is try to hide in the shadows so they don’t become a laughingstock to their peers.

My kids give me hope. My kids give me happiness. To know that none of them at work are suffering the way I did; that fact used to propel me through my job each and every day. But now… now I fear that some of them are feeling the stresses and anxieties that I used to feel (and am feeling right now too). I fear that I’m doing nothing to protect them from what should never have to happen to anyone else but me. It’s my duty to say something, my duty to let everyone be heard. I might not be able to change anything, but I sure can lend an ear. And, if anyone important is reading this… I just ask that you take the time to self-reflect some too. We’ve asked the kids to do it. Now let it be our turn. Just to make sure that we aren’t the field hockey coaches or English teachers of my past. Because if I can stop just one child from feeling the way that I felt growing up, then I’ve changed the world.