Monday, December 18, 2017

'Tis the Season (for Sadness)

I've been open about my battle with Depression and it's ugly cousin Anxiety for a few years now and I like to touch base on it publicly because there are so many stories to tell about it that are so similar to others out there. One of the things I've learned about sharing my struggles is that there are many people that reach out to thank me for sharing the story they are not ready to share themselves.

The holidays are a time filled with joy, happiness, and other nice things for most people. For others, the holidays bring lots of dread. While many people deal with the stress of family and friends at this time of year, many others, myself included, feel the pain of anxiety at trying to balance all of these different things in life and trying not to let anyone down, but ultimately feeling like everyone has been let down. The anxiety brings on the depression and the Winter Break for a teacher designed for relaxing and recharging becomes the opposite. I'm lucky to have great family and friends who have been supportive as I figure out what works and what doesn't for me.

For students, going home for 10-14 days could be the worst thing in the world for them. Sometimes, school is their safe space. It's the place where they can count on a meal. Their friends are there to comfort them after a rough night at home. They look at the break as dark period of time before school starts again and they can escape their home life. While dealing with those issues, students can deal with severe anxiety leading up to the break and might act out at school. Students need so much empathy and compassion during this time because they are scared. Teachers need to be a rock for them no matter how crazy life is for them.

If you have loved ones in your life that deal with Anxiety and/or Depression, know that they might need an extra hand or just a nice hug when things seem a bit crazy. For your students, offer them a safe spot to talk before or after school and help them find things to keep them occupied over the break. Focusing on the anxiety and depression will only make it worse.