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Teacher Anxiety

Why Telling Me to Breathe Won't Work...

I feel this topic is becoming more and more prevalent in the upcoming days. I feel that people are starting to truly come out of their shells and say, "Hey! I have anxiety too." It's not an easy thing to say nor an easy thing to admit. It's hard because very few people understand what anxiety is truly like. Until you have anxiety, you really have no idea. 

So let's start with my story...

A few years ago, I had an experience in my classroom that left me always looking behind me and always second guessing myself. The first few years of my teaching experience caused so much anxiety that I could barely function as a teacher. I was miserable. Anxiety was—preplanning a month ahead. Anxiety was—waking up at midnight soaked in sweat and hyperventilating that I left a wax warmer on AND having my husband drive me to school to check. Anxiety was—having my husband have to put me in a straight-jacket hold just because the printer ran out of ink and I had a paper due for my Masters (it was all online). Anxiety was hiding in my room when parents were in the hallways. Anxiety was forcing my husband or a colleague to walk with me into a room full of parents. Anxiety was hiding in the kitchen when it was a whole school event. Anxiety is not making eye contact when a parent is talking to you. Anxiety is rereading, deleting, retyping, and rereading your emails over and over again. 

Now, I hid my anxiety for years. The only ones who knew were my best friends and my husband, UNTIL it got so bad that I could not hide it. Social anxiety started creeping up and if it meant that I had to see people, I'd cancel. This year, it hit HARD. I ended up getting my body so stressed out I landed myself in the Emergency Room with an infection that spread to my kidneys and a possible stomach ulcer... why? Because I was pushing symptoms down and making excuses for them. I kept myself pushing forward because that's all I knew how to do. 

When I bring up my anxiety now, I get, "maybe you should put yourself on medication" or "just breathe, you'll be okay." Excuse me, it doesn't work that way. 

I have thought about medication, but the idea of putting things into my body that I don't want in there worries me. What I have done is lessen what's on my plate. I don't take on more than I can chew and I've started taking time for me. I am one person and one person only. I have one body and one life to live. I can't push myself that far. 

So now anxiety looks like mapping my life out so I can plan for any add ins or any crazy schedule changes. Now I let myself cry it out when I need to. I let myself have my free time and take it how I need to take it. I know as a person I can get things done so I take my time to do it. I sit and color or read or watch a movie. I do mindless activities where I can slow myself down. 

So if you're living with this anxiety and you're a teacher who double checks and second guesses everything... know it will get better and you can be in control. You are your own medicine. 

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