Well hello. It has been over 2 years since I posted anything. I wrote a few posts in between with updates, but never published them. It has been a rollercoaster to say the least.
I started this blog to spread positivity and to push myself in the right direction. I thought I had things figured out (kind of), and that things would get better along the way. Fake it until you make it, I guess. At the time of my last post (May 2019), I was already relapsing for months. My new job as a teacher turned out to be a major trigger. It came with a LOT of evaluations. What were my strengths? What were my weaknesses? What was I going to do to improve this? Over and over again. And there was this other problem; I was unable to let anyone observe me in my classroom. Just knowing that an observation was coming up made me unable to do my job entirely. Lucky for me, teachers were scarce at the time, so I was allowed to film myself. Also extremely stressful, but doable.
And then there was my class. An explosive 4th grade. I loved them, but they were SO intense. Although no one ever criticized me, I never felt good enough at my job. I feared every day and I couldn’t sleep at night.
Anyway; I finished it, almost an entire year, 4 days a week. I chose to stay with my class because I was more afraid of new kids, than I was of my explosive little hooligans who I knew like the back of my hand. Also, I switched to only 2 days a week. Compared to the previous year, this must be peanuts. Well, it wasn’t peanuts. They had transformed into impertinent teenagers overnight, and 4 (!) kids were added to this already full class. I gave everything I had, but it wasn’t enough. Every day ended in tears. I had to quit, this would kill me.
Then a miracle happened; a kindergarten colleague became ill and I had the chance to take her class for the time being. I said yes, and omg… not in a zillion years could I have imagined how amazeballs these kids are. They are funny, they are SO imaginative which is awesome, and above all, they are pure and real. Boys and girls play together and hug each other, they are not ashamed to sing or dance, they like everything, and they are super curious. I loved every minute of it, whether it was reading to them, playing guitar, or transforming my classroom in a winter wonderland. And the best thing: I could cure myself through them. If I gave them what I needed myself as a kid, I felt like I was healing.
In the meantime, I was actually dying. At the end of 2019, I had lost almost 20K, I was pretty underweight, my labs were getting worse every month, and me watching over 20 kids just wasn’t safe anymore. I had to quit again, although I would still work at school for a few hours a week. But then came Covid. Homeschooling meant we needed a website for the kids, and guess who was the only teacher with web experience.. Before I knew it, I was working 5 days a week while on sick leave, and even before sick leave I was only working 3 days a week. All voluntarily though. I felt like a burden, so I had to pay it back with a ridiculous amount of service.
Since my ‘sick leave’ *on paper* in January, I signed up for treatment at an ED clinic. I would be admitted at the end of April, but due to Covid, I started at the end of May. I can be short about the clinic; I hated it and it sucked. The other patients were sweet, but the atmosphere was often tense and I can’t deal with that. I had to eat a ridiculous amount of food, and gained a ton in only 5 weeks. Almost all of the therapists were awesome, but my 2 therapists were not. The things they did and said were only pulling me back. I quit after 4,5 weeks, because I felt like I would relapse even more if I stayed. This admittance would have been unavoidable though, and I got back on track food-wise. I broke my tailbone before the 2nd week during skating, and I tucked away so many proteins everyday that it had almost healed in 3 weeks. Summer vacation followed, we went to Spain for 3 weeks and I was doing amazing!
August 2020, back to teaching. I would work 1 day a week as a teacher, and spend 1 day a week on education. With my Educational Sciences background, this was perfect for me. I had an awesome new co-worker and looked forward to a new start. BUT. A week before school started I heard that we would get a kid with certain special needs. This news freaked me out, because I had zero experience with these kinds of special needs in my class. But I had no choice other than to wait and see. Two days before my first day, my co-worker told me that this kid had an assistant.. Who would be in my classroom the entire time. Omg. The one and only thing I couldn’t possibly handle: someone watching me.
If only they had told me or asked me.. I could have told them right away that this was not going to work for me. As soon as I heard this, I was in a constant state of panic. But I had a job to do, so I tried it for 2 days (so 2 weeks in a row). These 2 days made me 10 years older. My kids were awesome as always. The special needs kid was a cutie. The assistant was nice. But I couldn’t deal with these 2 adult eyes watching me the entire day.
If it would only be for a few weeks, I would have pulled through. But it would be like this for the rest of the YEAR. I had to quit AGAIN, and it broke my heart in a 1000 pieces. I needed those kids so bad. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make in years, but this was my worst nightmare and I couldn’t do this.
More partial sick leave. I got other tasks assigned but I felt like shit, my ED got worse again, and other things also weren’t as I thought they would be (team-related). Another lockdown happened, the homeschool website-thing happened again (me working 24/7 included), I was restricted to only 8 hours of work again. I see a pattern here. Then the school-project was coming up; a yearly 3-week theme with fun activities and lots of hands-on learning. I was in the project team, I was the only one with time, and this was totally my thing. I asked my work supervisor permission to give it my all because this would be my only chance to gain experience with a school-wide project like this.
I worked my ass of for weeks and weeks. I think I worked 80 hours a week for 6 weeks, followed by more ‘normal’ 40-hour weeks. All while I was actually still restricted to 8 hours a week, with a 16-hour contract. I made an entire picture book for the younger kids, I made a website for every grade, which was actually very nice in my opinion, and several extensive lesson series for every grade. I made a Youtube channel to store all the videos I also made myself. And I spent a lot of time figuring out how to include external professionals while being heavily restricted by Covid rules. I was a bit tired and overwhelmed, but satisfied, until the moment I had to present everything to my colleagues. Verbally they didn’t say much, but they clearly didn’t like it. I felt a wave of negativity and it defeated me instantly. My lessons were too much, or too hard, and suddenly everything I made sucked in my eyes. I tried to help in every way possible but they ignored me for weeks. They cancelled things here and there which made the entire educational setup fall apart. Several lessons for the higher grades that had taken a ton of effort (and money) were never used. I sat it out but I felt horrible. I was clearly redundant here.
This was it, I was done. I didn’t see a future in which I would be of any value for anyone at this school. At this point another relapse was around the corner, so I had to pull the plug. Since May, I’m on sick leave, 100%.
I don’t work at all at the moment and it’s weird. This will be my fifth week. The first 2 weeks felt like empty nothingness, neither good or bad. After that, it felt like I could finally see beyond the Kryptonite in my life that’s called (work) performance. I finally feel space in my head to deal with issues. It was inevitable. I was never going to get things fixed without this space and time. So, in the end the shitty project was a good thing, and I made a fricking picture book that is actually potentially good.
I see things very different now than I did 2 years ago.
I was never recovered, or mentally healthy. I thought I was because I had done so many things to fix it, and everyone around me expected me to be. I now know that I cannot force certain things. Things that work for others don’t automatically work for me. Some things I do or feel will never change. The other option remains: adjusting circumstances so they will meet my needs. My best friend called it “falling forward” recently. I like that description. I want to pick up blogging again, but it will be different.
I will continue my blog, mostly for myself. Without the need to prove myself, or deadlines, or expectations, or high standards.