I am spiraling out a bit because formal observations are coming up at work. Which is not unexpected. I have been observed before. Every year that I have taught, more or less.
And with the exception of the years that I was working under an intermittently abusive principal I received positive reviews. Even her negative reviews were not terribly personal - I was berated for having a playground ball in a box in the corner of my room. (It was someone else's box, someone else's ball and someone else's room!)
I don't need someone to tell me all the things that I did wrong, all the things that didn't work. All the plans that went awry, the students who were not engaged, the parts of the lesson that fell flat. Because I know. I am haunted by these things.
The fact that something I did or did not do was a colossal failure that was out there in the world and I could never call it back... it's what sent me home crying every night after school for my first two weeks as a new teacher.
My last boss was very good at focusing on the positive and then adding some really cool suggestion that would make some project even better. A different way of looking at the same thing. But not having a checklist of "You should do this. You should not do this. You did not demonstrate these four items of the rubric..."
I think I am a little weirded out at the idea of being observed according to a rubric. It puts all the points in little boxes. And I don't like feeling boxed in. Not that the way I teach is so out of the box, so different from how anyone else teachers. Because it is not. But I want there to be a more individual and less... flat, less objective.
Unless, of course, the person observing me is not good at observing and doesn't like me and is capricious and horrible.
The people who are observing me are not capricious and horrible so far as I know. But I am a little bit afraid that I might vomit during the course of the observation. Not while they are observing, but in the debrief.
Spouse says that I should have a way of thinking about this so that I don't freak out when things don't go perfectly. That my goal should not be perfection since that is not going to happen. There should be some other goal. Like trying something new and getting feedback on it.
At this point I think my goal should be lack of vomit. That might be setting the bar a bit low, though. Spouse suggested I figure out what I would like to get out of the observation.
And I thought, "That is what I want: to get out of the observation!"
My mentor teacher plans to do a mock observation with me ahead of time so I have some idea of what to expect. Other teachers have told me not to worry too much about the observation. Including one teacher who is in the room while I am teaching, so presumably would have some idea if I should be worried.
worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry
They say that there is a strong co-morbidity between bipolar and anxiety disorders but I don't believe that.
worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry worry
Grateful Crap: two days at home and I seem to be recovered knock wood
I'm not sure but it's probably true
I have been sidelined by the flu
Found that I couldn't sleep at all
Last night or today it's pitiful
want to write but don't think i can
getting some sleep is the plan
I was looking back over my old posts mostly to see when I got my bipolar diagnosis (August 28, 2014). Naturally I have been living with bipolar for much longer.
I realized that my more recent posts have been much more "dear diary" and less... something else. I don't know what. Largely because I am busy doing other things, I suppose. And because when things are going well I am not desperate to find information about how to make them go better or to label what might be going wrong.
But I miss the exercise of writing something beyond just the humdrum (one can only hope) day-to-day stuff.
However, I don't feel up to writing anything but the hum-drum at the moment. (See what I mean about having other things to do!)
I am obsessively and sleeplessly (and ironically) binge-watching Homeland with Claire Danes who plays a CIA agent with bipolar disorder.
Here is what I have come to believe after viewing the first three seasons:
I read some reviews that wondered if her brilliant flashes of insight were caused by her disease or in spite of her disease. This is a wonder that happens in real life. Hard to run a scientific study on that.
Here is where my soapbox sits...
Brilliance is not a feature of bipolar. It simply co-occurs.
Of course, mistaken belief in your own brilliance is a feature of bipolar.
I am looking forward to being done watching the series because I become entirely too invested in what is happening to the characters and any show dealing with international terrorism is not terribly kind to its participants.
Grateful Crap: teaching ELL (which was oddly enough the main character's job when she was fired; I think it would have made a better career choice for her in the first place, but a less compelling storyline I guess.)
sorta good sleep (but not really because I keep watching Homeland)
Didn't feel that well on Friday. Really hoped to have a fever as an excuse to stay home from school. Nope. I went to school and was fairly boring and innocuous throughout the day. Then took a super long nap, only getting up once the children had gone to bed. This is a clue to me that my feeling sick is not purely physical. It has to do with not wanting to be around people. Small, chaotic, intense, probably whiny and yelly people.
The night before I was listening to some song that isn't even sad and I couldn't stop crying. I had to listen to it a bunch of times to see if it had some secret hidden sad lyrics, but it doesn't. Just a heart-breaking sounding voice. Singing about light. Go figure.
Anyway, last night and this morning couldn't be bothered to drag myself out of bed. Didn't feel THAT bad either physically or mentally, but the combination was enough to briefly kick my ass.
Back up now.
Right. So I am working on getting my romance novel manuscript out there. Going through the depressing process of acquiring rejection slips from scads of agents. Because that is what I need to do. Already have received my first few rejections. It's not that much fun.
Hey, thanks a lot, but we really don't feel that your work is saleable. We don't feel that we would be the best people to market your book. It's a very competitive market and we wish we could say that you had a prayer in hell.
Helpful comments like that.
Here's what I need to remember:
Because I think it is a good book and worth reading. Fun to read. With characters that people will care about.
Daughter is sick. Which is too bad because she has been looking forward to Easter for ever. Which is funny, because it is my least favorite holiday. All candy and no joy for someone who doesn't really go in for the resurrection. But as a five-year-old, the "all candy" bit makes this the greatest holiday ever.
Grateful Crap: spellcheck. Because even though I spell a bunch of stuff wrong, (faciitis - which spell check doesn't know either) think of how much worse it could be! (Think of my poor students when I am forced to write on the whiteboard. [[shudder]]
slept a bunch
light exercise today
time with family
When I first got my diagnosis of bipolar (and decided that I was not going to hide it), I gratuitously shared this information with everyone I knew. Hi, nice day today, by the way I have bipolar disorder. It wasn't information that could fit comfortably into normal conversation, so I just subverted all normal conversation by blurting out my bipolarity.
Now I am more graceful about this. But still not hiding. So the whole being "in the closet" at work kinda rankles. A fellow In Our Own Voice presenter asked if I were concerned that someone from work could show up at a presentation that I do, or recognize my picture on a NAMI newsletter.
Still living my life in the way that I should be able to be open and honest. And if they are interested enough to find out about me-- especially through an event designed to decrease stigma for mental illness-- then so much the better.
I also realized that I am not stuck in the closet or out of the closet. Not binary. Not one or the other. Not black or white. I feel comfortable talking with some people about this and so I can and I do.
Like any other health concern, I suppose. Or life stuff in general. You don't go running around telling everyone that you had a skin biopsy. Or that you need orthotics due to plantar facieitis. Or that you are getting divorced or remarried or that your great aunt is in the hospital. But people that you know, that you have a relationship with, people that you do talk to about these things... that is something.
I guess what I am saying is that I am not going to make some grand statement to my administration disclosing my mental health diagnosis. But I am comfortable sharing with some of my coworkers that I am a volunteer speaker with NAMI. And when they ask about what I do, I am happy to tell them.
Already tried this with one person. She was familiar with NAMI and thought it was great that I was involved with the organization. She has a close friend with bipolar and shared that she was glad I was doing so well. That it has been hard for her friend to find medications that did not make her feel terrible and gain a lot of weight.
Getting used to thinking of myself as person first and diagnosis somewhere way down the list:
Hello. I have bipolar disorder.
Grateful Crap: planning time at school. getting to know coworkers beyond just classroom stuff
Meds (sent Spouse to pick up refill today)
sleep (slept for crap last night, though. Start of a cold. Hope it was the finish of a cold too)
exercise (waiting for fitbit to arrive. i thought what the heck. give it a shot)
healthy food. (a bit concerned that children may be getting too much variety and soforth in their diet)
Okay, so here's the thing: I have not had a 9-5 job since having kids. Still not really 9-5 I guess. More like 7-4. Still, I am discovering that it is more difficult to schedule things like doctor visits etc.
Mind you, I didn't schedule them very well or often when I had the chance to do so more freely... but now I need to schedule time just to think about scheduling things.
Made more complicated by the fact that I just started this job in February... so I have yet to accrue any paid time off. And even when I do have some (beginning in April) it just seems more complicated than not to figure this out.
So for instance: I really need to think about getting back in to see the OFP and Psych NP. I'm certainly due for a med check.
Only I know it's really hard to get in to see OFP and I don't know what I would say to her at this point other than this:
I feel like I am doing really well. I am compliant with my treatment plan. I continue to take my meds every evening. I'm getting regular sleep, eating more healthily than I ever have, and actually exercising on a weekly basis.
I went from working part time in a job that I loved, to working full time in A JOB THAT I LOVE. I could be in better communication with friends and family, but I don't feel like I am pathologically avoiding people.
I continue to be irritated with how large an impact regular boring things like sleep, food and exercise have on my mental health. I was hoping that would turn out to be a myth. Kind of. But not really.
Do I really need to make an appointment with OFP to say these things? It doesn't seem urgent. Maybe I could see if she has any openings during one of my non-school days. Or on a Saturday. There's no rush, but I suppose I really should check in just on the principle of things. Being responsible and all.
I do, however, need to schedule to see Psych NP. Looking forward to that, really. Because I will tell her all the same things I just said above and instead of trying to poke around and find something wrong, she will be happy to hear that the meds are working and that I am continuing to have a good life.
Oh snarf, there is my anti-therapy bias showing through. Not that I am anti-therapy. I just feel like I am therapy-proof sometimes. Because I know what my therapist is going to say. I can say it to myself. I can write it and then know. I am introspective as hell. And more honest than I ought to be.
So what if your therapist is used to dealing with people who maybe are not so honest. And not at all introspective. And so instead of taking things that I say at face value... what if there is an attempt to get at the message underneath. To prod and poke until you bleed and then say, "AHA! I knew there was a wound."
Can you tell I am not that excited to go talk to OFP? Unless things feel wrong. Otherwise i feel like I have to make something up... to cast around for something that is not going well so she can fix it. Because that's her job, right? To help fix things? When things are right I pretty much have her blessing not to go in anyway. Maybe just for a yearly physical. Or once per semester.
I remember, though, that there was a time that I needed to go in more regularly. Quite regularly. I have no desire to go back and read those posts at this time. Typically around changes in medication, I know. Horrible horrible things. Med changes. I hope the ones that I am on right now continue to work forever.
Here's what I will do. I will call to schedule with Psych NP and see what she thinks about scheduling with OFP. Then I will abide by her professional opinion. It's harder for me to con her than it is for me to con myself. I think. She's pretty sharp.
Grateful Crap: still like my job. like it a lot. having health care that will pay for my eventually scheduled appts.
made stressful but necessary phone calls
dinner with daughter
tickle-fight with youngest 2
still doing the "whole thirty" which will finish up end of march
Gave up my whole weekend this week to be trained as an In Our Own Voice (IOOV) presenter for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). The training was really good and I am excited to do my first presentation (as yet to be scheduled).
The IOOV program has two speakers who talk about their own experiences with mental illness: Dark Days, Acceptance, Treatment, Coping Mechanisms and Dreams and Successes. We were led through activities to develop our own stories (in three minute segments).
Let me tell you it is HARD to come up with the most effective way to communicate your darkest days in one to three minutes. It was great to hear how other people worded their stories and even better to hear how they modified them to be even more powerful.
For now I am kinda storied-out, but I think in a future post I will put together a draft of my IOOV personal story. I think writing it out will give me a chance to shape it into something that will work well for me.
I missed working out on Saturday and I really don't feel like working out right now. Maybe later today. I know that I should. I just said should. Crap. Shouldn't do that. Ha.
Family is not home now so I have some time to myself, which is maybe just right after spending two days with a bunch of people baring my soul.
Grateful Crap: being able to tell my story through to successes and dreams.
meds (lamotrigine - 300 mg)
volunteer work (meeting new people)
(managed to avoid and was not really tempted by treats that I really like. including ice cream sandwiches.)
I think that once my thirty days on this whole no grains/no legumes/no dairy/no sugar thing is done I will end up eliminating most dairy, and most simple carbohydrates. And I will carefully choose when, how much, and what I choose to eat in terms of high-sugar items. Don't want to eliminate entirely, because that is not healthy way for me to think.
Had my first brush with Bipolar Crap at work. I lost my beaded lanyard. The one that took me two weeks to bead. I didn't lose the name tag or security card or key-- they fell off. So I was just missing the decorative part of my work-related identification.
This caused me to go into a tailspin. Didn't want to go to work. Didn't want to teach. But I did.
Told my 6th graders first hour that I needed their help because I was not at my best. Requested that they be at their best. What I actually told them was, "You were not at your best yesterday with the level of noise and the disrespect that I heard. Today I am not at my best, so I need your help to make things run more smoothly." They stepped up, which was awesome.
Second hour (prep) I paced around in circles in an empty room and cried for just a bit. And texted spouse who told me that everything would be fine and that we would find it.
I told my co-worker that I was irrationally freaking out about the missing lanyard. She was very understanding and related-- everyone has lost something that is important to them. This helped too.
I managed to calm down and teach the remainder of the day without obsessing about the damn lanyard.
Then on my way out the door at the end of the day I found it. In the zippered pocket of my coat. Where I had put it so that it wouldn't get lost.
Some things have been easy to change. Before I go to bed I lay out my clothes for the morning and make a lunch. That way I roll out of bed, eat some breakfast and I am good to go. But for some reason I have missed taking my meds a few days in the past few weeks. I will go back to having them in a pill minder. Since there was just the one pill in the evening I thought I didn't need to be minded.
But here is the thing: I ALWAYS need to be minded. Need a minder.
Starting a new routine of going to a coffee shop with elder boy for a few hours on Sunday so that we can work on things for extended period of time. He can do school projects or take classes on Khan academy. And I can write.
Finished the final revisions of my first not-too-trashy novel after getting the grammar notes from Spouse. Just need to do final touch-ups on the prologue before it is Ready To Go.
Originally I was going to submit directly to a market that doesn't require fiction to be agented. But now I have decided that it would be a better plan to go the agent route if I can. This fills me with guilt over the fact that I abandoned my work of literary fiction (that has an agent already!) in order to pursue this genre for a time.
I promise that I will not abandon my work forever.
I think that the time away, the years added to my life, and the distance from actual events will make it easier to return to that book (depressing literary fiction). And hey, if I have a few things going on at once... I can always write some romance when I need a break from the bleak!
So it isn't like I am cheating on the literary world. And it isn't like my romance novel is un-literary. Hopefully it will be deemed to be smartly written.
So my job now:
rework the prologue
write a query letter
check in with my agent (as an act of contrition more than anything else)
submit to agents who rep romance novels. because mine does not.
wait for the fricken' fracken' prize patrol
I feel much more confident that my work of genre fiction will be published than my earlier literary work. Not because it is better. But because the "literary fiction" market seems much more flooded. And the writers who are submitting "literary fiction" tend to be smarter writers with a nice turn of phrase. There is so much bad genre fiction out there, that I am hoping mine (which is not bad) will get some attention.
Gonna go write now.
Wish me luck.
I bent my fingernail backward trying to peel an orange. Like really a lot back. Like maybe I will lose the fingernail. I cannot overemphasize the amount of pain involved. Worse than labor.
Okay, not worse than the labor with child number three when I had pre-eclampsia. That was more painful.
So I was trying to eat lunch and then this horrific incident with the orange. It hurt so much that I had to get up and walk around because sitting down didn't provide enough of a distraction. And I tried running under cold water. And that didn't work. And I couldn't finish my lunch.
I went up to my room early, and I wandered in circles moaning and hyperventilating, waiting for the nurse to show up with the good meds. Only that wasn't going to happen. I could not think. I could not figure out how I was going to teach.
I was this close to calling the front office and saying that I needed to go home because I was in such pain that I was incapacitated and would be of no use through the end of the day.
I decided that was unreasonable. Just because I had a bit of pain in my finger was no reasons not to teach.
Still, it is hard to engage in upper-level thinking while you are focused entirely on the horrible throbbing and unable to bend your finger due to the swelling.
Of course this is the time that the principal and my mentor teacher come by for a drop in observation!
Luckily it was nearly two hours since the onset of moaning and I was very nearly competent. Thank goodness that the students were attentive and engaged. They made me look good.
Grateful Crap: tools, which i will always use to peel oranges from now on
good food (accidentally had a mouthful of bread today. I forgot for a moment that I wasn't doing grain. I am not restarting the whole 30 because that would be ridiculous)
Writing a lot... finishing up edits on steamy romance #1. Plan to submit soon and have extended time to write during my spring break in April.
Quaker, teacher, parent,