This week I’ve had to take some time away from twitter. My anxiety surrounding returning to work has been growing and growing for the last 2 -3 weeks and reached an unbearable level at the beginning of this week.
You see recently I’ve been spontaneously emotional to the point that I’ve burst into tears twice just in the street with no obvious reason. I’ve had palpitations, restless night sleeps and hours of not doing anything because the anxiety I’m experiencing feels debilitating.
My anxieties aren’t so much about going back to school, I’m really looking forward to it but about whether I will be able to manage my mental health, wellbeing and work-life balance as well now that I’m not longer on medication.
As I pondered about the world, my thoughts turned to the anxiety and the causes. It’s partly the fact that I’m no longer of anti-depressant medication but also the fact that I surround myself in education for too much of the day. I realised I was spending 5 or 10 minutes here and there on Twitter reading notifications, browsing my twitter feed and following links to interesting articles and blogs. I was continuing to surround myself in education when what I really need is a break. As a result I decided to sign out of twitter on Tuesday 28th August and didn’t sign in again until Friday 31st August.
The break has helped, I’ve managed to put things into perspective and consequently I’ve also decided to no longer have twitter signed in on my phone to stop the incessant desire to check it.
You might be wondering the relevance of this; well on Saturday 15th September I will be attending and speaking at Pedagoo Hampshire for the 3rd time running.
My first session was on Less is More: Marking with a Purpose, my second Less is More: Strategies to Reduce Workload and this year I’m going to share something a little more personal, Less is More: A motto to live by.
In my session, I’ll be sharing my journey with mental health from breakdown to recovery and the 5 strategies I try to live by to maintain a work-life balance; it’ll be part self-help, part pedagogy.
The whole signing out of twitter isn’t one of the 5 strategies, so you’ll have to attend to find them out.
But what I want to share is how having gone through a breakdown as a result of work-related stress, I’ve developed the ability to see patterns, to identify characteristics and too hopefully take measures to step back and recoup. That there is importance in understanding yourself.
(Note: However I can only say this though because people remind me that I do, that I have done over the past two years and that even now that I have come off of medication I can and will).
The other thing I want to highlight is that its okay to not be okay. I have the knowledge now that if I need to there are people to help; I’ve opened up the dialogue and can continue it whenever I need. I can go back on medication if I need to. I can get through stress and anxiety; I’ve shown that already. Relapses are not a sign of weakness.
The reason I’ll be sharing my experience is because too many others are experiencing similar circumstances in the workplace; pressure, accountability and high levels of stress. But there are also those going through depression, stress, anxiety and other mental health issues as a consequence of work. But no matter your experiences with mental and physical health in schools, I want people to know they are not alone. That there is help and support available.
We can insist on change, we can implement change and we can create change in our schools.
I look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones in the Library at 11:15.
Until the 15th, best wishes for the new school year.
p.s. For some reason I can’t get this to flow right, I hope it makes sense.