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
- No way for me to keep up-to-date on my emails unless I killed my phone battery
- No way for me to finish my October lesson plan (to submit for my teacher program)
- No way for me to write any of my essays (though they aren’t due until March)
- 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.
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!