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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Me...

I've avoided my blog for awhile...there have been several attempts to sit down and write something meaningful, poetic or life changing and in the end...it's all just crap.  Perhaps the reason I have found writing so difficult, is because it has been ME who is the one who has struggled the most.  I find it easy to write when the stories are about my kids.  Luke's newest need, or Grace's struggle or Bella's difficulty...but when the table turns and all eyes are me it has been difficult for me to be open and transparent.  I've held my cards close to my chest. 


So here is goes...honesty, transparency and openness from the one in our family who has struggled the most this past year...

A year ago, I almost had a breakdown.  Like really close.  I recall days of crying and crying and crying and just not being able to stop crying.  Bella would look at me and say, "mommy, it's ok...I love you." And then I would cry some more.  I would cry because she deserved a mommy that wasn't crying all the time, and her pure, simple, real love touched my heart.  I was under tremendous stress at work.  I had little to no control over the students in my classroom and it wasn't my first year teaching (it was my sixth).  Several students on behavior plans a few kiddos developmentally delayed, students being hurt on my watch, and there I was trying to manage it all by myself.  I had no aide, no helper and no one to relieve me when I needed to go to the bathroom.  I consider myself to be a very good teacher, with a strong skills set, and I was drowning in my classroom a slow painful, suffocating death.  I had been asking for help since October, begging for assistance in November and December.  By the time we had come back from spring break, I had lost the ability to tread water in my classroom.  I was just sinking. 

I finally swallowed my pride, and reached out to anyone that would listen.  I.WAS.A.MESS! I scared my mom and Mark as I teetered on the edge.  I called friends and cried, I talked to co-workers and cried, I found a therapist and cried and I prayed.  I counted down the days till school was out.  I had a dear friend that would text me everyday after school to check on me, and remind me that it was one day less.  I looked forward to her texts and the emotional support it brought me.  I got up each day and took a 1 mile walk.  I knew I had so much stress going through my system that I needed to do something with it.  It helped me focus.  By God's grace, I made it through that school year...barely.  I have never felt more relief than I did on that last day. 

Summer brought with it challenges.  Several horrible episodes of vertigo, left me again worrying about my health and dying.  I was afraid of the upcoming school year, as I would be returning to the classroom, and I was scared.  Everything inside of me told me not to do it, but it was the only way financially we could afford to pay for the kids to go to private school.  So as I geared up to go back to school in August, I began spiraling downward once again.  I felt the heaviness and darkness creep back up, and I wondered how I would be able to make through a week of school...let alone an entire year.  So I decided to visit my doctor and tell him EVERYTHING.  He said I had an anxiety/depression disorder and also was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from my last two teaching positions.  I left the appointment armed with an incredibly understanding doctor and two prescriptions.  One for anxiety and one for depression.  As nervous as I was about starting Effexor it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  I continued with therapy.

I made it to Christmas and I had been enjoying my littles in my classroom, when Mark received a job placement change at work.  We decided I wasn't going to live in survival mode till June and I gave my resignation.  It was a difficult decision for me, but ultimately my own kiddos needed the structure of one parent available to them.  So I hung up my teaching hat.  It was the right decision.

I am still in therapy today.  It will be a year next month, and at this point still don't feel that I am ready to be dismissed.  It has helped in so many ways than just what I went to originally see her for.  I have learned so much about myself.  I continue to feel myself climbing out of what I believe was years of depression/anxiety disorder.  I am surrendering to the process and not rushing through (which is what I have a tendency to do).  I still struggle, but not everyday and not with constant anxiety.  My main struggle right now is not having an official "title" anywhere.  Being "teacher" defined me and gave me purpose.  I realize that I have the titles "mom" and "wife" but it is weird to have so much education and be on the sidelines.  I find it difficult some days, but I don't regret my decision. 

I also struggle with guilt.  I have learned that I sabotage my own happiness.  Not on purpose, but just something unique to the position of growing up a pastor's child.  We always had enough and a lot of our wants, but because my parents were pastors we were told to keep things "hush/hush" if we carpeted the house, or got new furniture.  The pastor's salary was always "fair game" in the world of it's parishioners.  We could be happy but not too happy.  It has led me to experience guilt/shame in my adult life when things are wonderful.  Just being real.  This battle has been a difficult one and it is sometimes hard to be open.  But I am in a better place now, and if by chance there is anyone left reading my blog you know where I have been and what journey I have taken.  :)
Blessings to you all~Carissa

2 comments:

Shelly Cunningham said...

Oh Carissa, Bless your heart! I am so glad you are on the way to feeling well again. Stick with everything you are doing, and know that you are not alone in suffering from these things AND having to parent at the same time. It's so hard! But God's got your back. He sees you. And I'm here if you need to vent!!!
I can't wait to see you!

Carissa Dahl said...

Thank you Shelly. I appreciate the encouragement. Some days are more of a struggle than others. I can't wait to see you too!

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