I've been writing this blog now for just a couple of weeks, and I find that at times it consumes me. I've never really been much of a writer. I avoided writing at all costs in high school, and thanks to a great city college instructor I learned to at least gain a little confidence with writing throughout college. However, other than writing in my journal and sending personal and professional emails I haven't really written anything in the 20 years since leaving college.
So how does it consume me? I find myself thinking about things I want to write about all the time. Multiple topics float around in my head, but there are so many different topics that focusing what I actually want to say is not easy. I suppose with practice I may get better at organizing my thoughts and getting them out in a coherent way. I've never thought of myself as a perfectionist, but I find myself not wanting to "publish" anything on here until it's just right. Well, not today! Today I think will be more about what's been going on in my head and whatever else I seem to be thinking about.
I start thinking that there is somehow a "right" way to be doing this. It's been great that I've been invited to this mental health bloggers group on Facebook. I'm learning a lot, reading some great articles, and realizing how many people are out there working to reduce the stigma and raise awareness about mental illness. The other side of this coin is that I tend to compare myself to others a lot. When I compare myself to others, I'm always the one not measuring up. I tend to look at their blogs searching for the correct way to do it. But the reality is I am going to find my own way, find my own voice, and write my blog the way that fits for me. I have to remind myself it doesn't have to be like other people's writing.
The other thing on my mind is that I'm going back to work next week. Well, one of the other things on my mind... I am an elementary school teacher. For the last four years I have taught 2nd grade, and I'm very excited to be teaching 4th grade this year. I do better with kids a bit older, so I think this will be a positive change for me. I also will know many of the kids because it's the same group that was in 2nd grade two years ago.
The other part of going back to work that's on my mind is that I started writing this blog over the summer and many of the people I work with have read it. I know many of my coworkers as well as some of the parents are aware of and have probably read this blog. There's a part of me that really doesn't give a shit to be honest. What I write is simply the truth. I'm perfectly clear on why I'm doing this and I'm committed to bringing light to depression, anxiety, and mental illness in general. But that doesn't mean it's not scary. That doesn't mean I don't worry that others will think badly of me or wonder why I would want to share such personal things with the world. I'm back and forth between these two sets of thoughts and feelings constantly.
This line of thinking reminds me of another blog post I read just the other day. It was about stigma and the shame that those of us feel when telling others (either in person or in writing) that we have a mental illness. The point was that we have to keep working at it until that shame and stigma is gone. The article reminded me why I need to continue to putting myself out there to the world to show both myself and others that there is nothing "wrong with me". I can have anxiety and depression and still be an effective teacher. Actually, I feel that my experiences with depression and anxiety have made me a much better teacher. And as that sentence makes it's way to the screen, my mind begins racing about how I can write a whole entry about how fighting depression and anxiety has made me a better teacher. But I'll save that for another time, no need to worry about that now.