It seems like the content of my recent posts has shifted from teaching ideas and lesson content and moved towards emotional and mental well-being. And I'm OK with that. I have not shied away from highlighting and discussing my sordid history with depression. Not coincidentally, one of my podcasts is called "The Hilarious World of Depression." Some of my favorite people have been guests on the show: Chris Gethard, Peter Sagal, DMC from RUN-DMC, Margaret Cho, Gary Gulman. They talk openly and funnily (is that a word?) about their mental health struggles, and I believe it is helping to #endthestigma.
Every episode of THWoD starts with this question: "Is depression funny?" Inherently, I do not think so. But there are times and situations in which it can make us smile or laugh.
Earlier this week, on a drive from my official residence to my temporary home, I was in a bad headspace; I have spent the past two weekends "visiting" my house, and it has become a challenge. Being in an empty house for 48 hours to grab some things and do some laundry took its toll on me. (I'm not sure when I'll be able to go back there from an emotional standpoint, and that saddens me even more.)
As I drove west along the southern border of Vermont on Tuesday, I needed something to make me smile, but also something that would speak to me and help me. So, I turned to THWoD. (I am proud to be a THWoD-ball, and I really want this shirt! My birthday is in August, hint, hint!)
The episode I chose was entitled "A Message From Inside John's Closet. I Mean, Office." It's raw, honest, and it addresses the challenges that everyone is facing during this time of uncertainty, but is particularly challenging for folks who suffer from mental illness. As John says, those of us who fall into that category don't have the reserves that the "normies" do. Nonetheless, he brings up six points that we all need to keep in mind right now, and I'd like to highlight three of them.
There is no normal right now. For anyone. Keep that in mind.
5. Maintain previous self-care protocols
In addition to all of the ridiculous curve balls life has thrown at me in the past month, I received news that one of the most important events of my year, the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon, had been flat-out canceled. 2020 was going to be my sixth consecutive year running on the Upper Valley Haven charity team. I was devastated. But a friend of mine said, "Hey, why don't you still raise the money and 'run' the race?" So I have decided to do that. It will give me something to focus on and work towards (physically). I am thrilled; the Haven is an important organization, and I'd be honored to have your contribution to the cause. (I plan on running on Sunday, 6 July, exactly one month after the date of the original race.)
Stop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Open your eyes. Breathe. Repeat.
Another fabulous blog post on this topic comes from my dear friend La Maestra Loca, who, at the beginning of these crazy times, wrote about the need to "put your oxygen mask first." This is a parallel idea. So put that mask on, and don't beat yourself up if you can't figure out exactly how to get it on the first time. We're all figuring stuff out right now, and it's going to be messy.
What are you doing to be kind to yourself and keep self-care a priority?
Allison Litten, the 2019 VFLA TOY, teaches French at the Marion Cross School, a public PreK-6 school in Norwich, Vermont. This is her twenty-third year teaching, and twentieth at Marion Cross.