The anxiety that I have built up for myself in sharing my voice with the world via social media hit an all time high throughout the month of December. It did not matter that those that I have met online supported my efforts to be part of the changing shape of education, it more so mattered to me that those whom I see face-to-face where, in my mind, I would be judged for the change I was co-creating with my students. I had sleepless nights, moments of erratic breathing, a feeling of not being me. The built up emotions blocked my mind from attending several staff functions. In one particular instance, I sat within my classroom providing feedback for students work submitted online versus heading to the staff room for a breakfast celebration.
I have been through this before, it is nothing new to me. It ebbs and flows in my life and rarely takes its true form at school. My profession almost always drives me to be through the roof excited, truly.
Fear not, I sit here today feeling strong, happy, and back to me; it just took a few weeks to get here after putting myself in a place of discomfort.
However, I did manage to reflect on a few instances that made me think how hard it is to share what goes on in my brain with those around me. I still see clearing a colleague, who had great intentions, tip toeing around me after I shared my story with many staff members and students. It was the exact response that I did not want, that nobody wishes to have.
It is with that sense of wanting to feel ‘normal’ that I continue to delve into a world of discomfort by doing exactly what put me back into a place of anxiety, sharing thoughts/ideas/experiences on social media. It was not my idea, it was my students.
I am proud to share my story with them, to tell them that I still have these ‘swirly’ issues that sometimes hold me back, but that when all is said and done, I still come out okay. I want my students to know that talking about it truly is a stepping stone in healing what it is that is perceived as wrong, that it helps break the stigma associated with mental illness no matter that severity, and that it helps foster the sense of community that is required to help each of us heal.
I am beyond grateful for the students I have taught over the years who have willingly embraced the learning process associated with ending the pattern of misunderstanding where mental illness is concerned. Imagine what could happen if every student was educated on mental illness/mental health? The stigma certainly could be wiped away.
I implore you to talk to your students, to share stories, to remind them that it is okay to talk about what goes on in their creative minds, and to most importantly, truly listen to their needs. Perhaps if I was more readily exposed to such a way of thought, it would not have taken me so long to talk.
Yours in learning,
The Enthusiastic Learner