(Long post ahead)
This morning I woke up to what was a typical Tuesday morning. It felt more like a Monday though, with July 1 being a stat holiday. (Happy Canada Day!). The past weekend was pretty relaxing to say the least as well, some good time well spent at Pat’s family’s cottage. When I tumbled out of bed this morning – and usually like every morning – I’m dehydrated, Pat’s getting ready for his Tuesday morning class, and I’m still trying to become awake for the day. Pat’s almost out the door, kisses me goodbye and I have the morning free to do what I like. Usually it’s yoga and meditation, or running some errands. But today, I felt productive, so I started to plan my classes for the coming weeks.
Everything is still going smoothly. A little different, but smoothly. This confuses me now because in just about an hour, things take a turn for the absolute worst.
I started to get ready for my afternoon class. Things still as peachy. I made and ate my lunch, I even pre-made my coffee to-go, and I still had time to have a shower (and even wash my hair!!!!!). At that moment I said to myself “hell yes! I got this.”
I was when I started to get dressed, I noticed it was pretty hot outside and it was going to get hotter. I check the weather and it was clear blue skies all day! A day for sun screen, I thought to myself. I get dressed, and put on my sunscreen. I was still making good time at this point until….
SUN SCREEN GOT ON MY SHIRT.
I don’t know what happened to me after that. I felt myself short-circuit and explode with frustration. I started yelling, and furiously scrubbing at my shirt in the bathroom sink. The stain wasn’t coming out. I had stained clothes before, and my brain just lost it this time, I suppose. It was then when it all started spiraling out of control. I felt myself so dizzy with anger, that I felt sick to my stomach, and other thoughts started streaming through my head as if I was panicking. Now, I was going to miss my bus, so that got me more upset. I suddenly thought of hating to go to class. The thought of my student debt came rushing to me and then I had feelings of wanting to escape everything… It was so unnatural of me that I had to call Pat and cry because I was so defeated.
I was like this all day. Irritated, not only with myself but with everyone else. Luckily, I was able to pull it together before class, and teach. But afterwards I just kept breaking down. The feeling of wanting to escape kept racing through my mind, among all of my other worries. All because of a stain on my shirt, and apparently other shirts too. A simple stain that can be washed out, or clothing even easily replaced allowed me to spiral out of control. At the end of the day, I started feeling better, but not only did I feel awful, but I felt awful because I was feeling so awful and it made Pat feel awful too!
We slowed down and chatted. What was the root of this problem? So many things came out of me just from one simple little accident that would usually be written off as “whatever” and moved on? How did one little thing let so many other bigger things out?
Pat told me to stay strong, and above all else, he dropped the “d” word on me. He said to me that he was disappointed in the way I acted, and the fact that wanted to escape everything made him scared. I told him that it was the prolonged pressure to work to afford living, to be happy for the both of us, and also teach a vulnerable group of students – all that progressively tugged me down.
We came to the conclusion that it was a matter of two things at play. The physical health of me, and the mental health of me. We looked at physical health first: Was I active? Yes. Was I eating right? Yes. Was there anything I was consuming that was different than usual? Yes – cottage weekend means lots of wine. Was I taking my vitamins properly? No…
Now for the mental health of me: Was I meditating? Not in the past week or two… What was my perspective, and was it positive? No, I let myself become vulnerable to negativity and my class took the tole on this front.
After going through the motions of my emotions, I made an appointment with my supervisor about the way I was feeling. She was happy that I came to her about this. She had experienced the same thing and told me it was a matter of internalizing other student’s vulerabilities. Since I work with Syrian refugees (people who have gone through war, had to leave their homes and also for some, experience gunshot and other weaponized wounds), it started to make sense. I was letting myself do more than I could and was taking it home with me. It was interesting to know that something was affecting me and I didn’t even realize. All those times I didn’t want to go to class. But why? I knew now.
The meeting went smoothly and we got to the point where we are going to organize someone from the trauma centre to come talk to the teachers. I think it will be beneficial to know how to leave things at the door, learn how much I can give at a time, and also how to decompress after working with these special students.
If you are experiencing something like this: stress or being overwhelmed, please talk to someone that you feel comfortable with. Some people you may talk to have a world of experience that could help you. It doesn’t have to be a mystery – once you know what the problem is and identify its cause, it’s easily solvable. You are loved and people are there to help!