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Thursday, October 2, 2008

We all need somebody to lean on

Being unhealthy both physically and mentally is teaching me new things. I have been holding on to control for so long that I don't even know how to take or receive help. It's actually rather pathetic considering I spend most of my time giving to others but there's my pathology in a nutshell. I always have to be able to take care of all my committments and responsibilities alone. It is not ok to bend and it is certainly not ok to break. Yet I find my barriers are now worn to tatters and just a mere acquaintance asking, "How are you?" brings me to tears. I am so vulnerable. I am a tiny, rootless leaf on the wind and I am easily blown into a tumultuous state. I have held on so hard and so long and taken on so much and now I am seeing that I just cannot do this anymore. It doesn't mean that I will never be competent again. It means that I need to accept all the help and offers being made to me without feeling guilty.

I had a complete breakdown at work today. Actually I had two mini-breaks and one big one. I went in late and skipped my plan period because my anxiety was out of control. Everything I eat has been rushing through me and I frequently dry heave in the morning. It feels horrific. I did make it to work but this was one of those days I probably should have just taken the day off.

First, I cried over my lunch to my sister in law. Then, when kids came in I dropped a tear or two when they asked if I was angry. Then, I dropped another tear or two at their compassion. I was a soggy wreck and PMS was not helping.

During the next class the big meltdown came. I caught a student throwing paper and when I tried to send him to the class next door, the rest of the class got out of control. They started making a ton of noise and then giant balls of paper whizzed through the air. They even threw a couple dictionaries. It was like a war zone with me in the center. Rather than assuming control, I just started crying and cleaning up the mess. Two of my students went for adult back up at that point. Security showed up and I sobbed to him about how embarassed I was and how awful the situation had become. He called the assistant principal and the dean and they came in and restored order with sterness and threats. I was mortified. Never in my whole career has it come to this...

Now when I look back, I am not sorry or ashamed that any of this happened because others around me saw I needed help and came to the rescue. The dean said she was going to start coming in to help me here and there. My assistant principal was very understanding and said I need to take care of myself. He got my friend to ask the principal if it's ok for me to start work an hour late when I need to since I have first block plan and feel the worst in the morning. My principal agreed. My friend also helped me solve some other work issues and my department head also asked how she could support me. All the caring and support I got today went a long way. I am glad to know I am not in this alone. Now I just need to learn to manage my anxiety and ask for help when I need it instead of waiting until I have a crisis.

10 comments:

Merelyme said...

You have such a hard job...I can't even imagine doing what you do and having MS too. Yes we do all need help sometimes and there is no shame in that.

I remember breaking at work once...I used to work with folks who have multiple disabilities. I had just had a miscarraige and I came back to work emotionally...unprepared for the rigors of the day. I just started crying one day and I couldn't stop. My boss didn't know what to do with me...stuck me in a room by myself. It was a really tough time in my life.

You are gonna make it. Sometimes it is an achievement just to survive the day...and you have. I am so glad that you do have folk you can lean upon.

Joan said...

Oh dear, as always you write about events in your life that mirror mine. I, too, have experienced these breakdowns more than once. The first one was during a major international conference with a team from people all over the world that I was meeting face to face for the first time. I was the leader of this team so was horrified that I broke down so publicly. Lots of people helped me, but I was then horrified that I needed help. I then proceeded to beat myself up for not being strong and confident. I suspect you might understand these feelings too.
Thanks for validating my experiences, and know that I'm thinking about you.

Jen said...

Nadja--

I've subbed a few times and I wanted each time to run screaming out of there and never return. So I have a hint of what it takes to manage a classroom. I don't have that talent and I'm impressed by your abilities.

So this whole thing of trying to adjust to MS, overwhelming fatigue, depression/anxiety, and trying to maintain control over students is a whopper of a task. It's okay to ask for help and it's never a crime (no matter what the work politics are) to be emotionally vulnerable around others. We're all human.

Serina said...

Sending you a hug...

Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks for all the encouragement and support ladies. I had a better day today just knowing that there were other people at work willing to help me out. I don't feel quite as low now and having the breakdown somehow took off a bit of the pressure.

Shauna said...

It's very hard to give up control when we feel that's all we have left after a diagnosis of MS. By giving up control we actually gain control, though...we can more easily recognize our limits and ask for help before the crises demand it. Then WE determine who and when to ask. Of course, this is one of those things we only learn after an initial crisis.

Glad you have help around you and can avail yourself of it....

S.

Diane J Standiford said...

James Taylor sang it best---"...and take your soul if you let them, but don't you let them."

Kelly Siobhan said...

You are fully entitled to some tears. With a job that difficult on top of the stressed you're dealing with...sheesh! Try to cut yourself some slack, you're not weak. I cant even imagine being in your shoes and I cry almost daily! You have a right to break down and cry and just get it all off your chest. I think its good. :) Sending you a HUGE hug and lots of support. Your my hero- working with kids AND dealing with M.S- girl you are made of steel!

Denver Refashionista said...

Thanks kelly. You just brought a smile to my face.

thedaythatidie said...

it is bad tho. how people look down on us.