You never realize how bad things were until they're not bad anymore. That's the understanding I came to a couple of weeks ago. I noticed I was no longer answering the question, "How are you?" with "OK" or "Upright and breathing." I actually responded to that question last week with a "Great!" that was verging on Tony the Tiger. And the little things that built up as an indication that I was in a distressing spot were shifting. My house was back in order. I was psyched to work out again. I walked away from NECTFL grateful for the connection I had made with the other regional TOYS, not overwhelmed with imposter syndrome. I was actively thinking about work. But, there's a hiccup...
I am now wrestling with the fallout of my weeks of depression, which is manifesting itself in multiple ways, but the most significant is professional. I feel defeated in the classroom because my energy level hadn't been there and I let some routines and expectations slip. A HUGE indicator of my ineffectiveness or level of frustration is quantifiable: the more English I speak, the worse my headspace. This is so distressing, and it hurts. I internalize all of this, blaming myself as I deal with something that was out of my control. When I take a step back, I recognize this isn't 100% my fault. But embracing this reality is really freaking hard. After a long conversation this evening in which I was able to process a lot of my thinking, I'm realizing that what's missing is trust. I don't trust myself, I don't trust where I'm headed. Thinking about the time I've lost because of my depression sends me into a spiral of negative thinking. But again, I try to close my eyes and breathe.
I'm someone who has always needed control. And I feel like I wasn't able to control my life for a little bit. Now that I'm regaining the ability to manage how things are playing out, I don't want to lose that. I'm hoping that with time I will be able to let go a little, and recognize and embrace that there are people who love me, respect me, and have faith in me. And then take it to the next level and feel the same about myself.
(One thing's for sure: I'm not going to monkey around with my meds again. It's not worth it. Again, for those of you who struggle mental illness, YOU ARE NOT WEAK! I have embraced that, and I hope you can, too.)
So where do I go from here? Up. I want to find confidence and faith that things will improve, and recognize that I can't control everything. (Additionally, I'm hoping Boo's current health issues are temporary!)
If you're still reading, thanks for sticking with me. I appreciate all of y'all's positive thoughts and encouragement. I know, in my heart of hearts, that I'm a good teacher and a strong person, both physically and emotionally. I'm generous, caring, and enthusiastic. And I look forward to embracing these aspects of my personality and shushing the loudness of my imperfections and gremlins.
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.