It's been a big week here... Sometimes I would prefer to have nothing to write. Nothing disastrous, just eventful.
Part I: The Flood of Tears
I met with my supervisor for a pre-observation conference. This is not a stressful thing. Even the observation is not technically supposed to be stressful. However, I was not as prepared as I wanted to be and in the middle of the conversation with her I unexpectedly burst into tears.
Not burst exactly, more like just trickled. But then I couldn't stop. It was like the reverse of having a case of the giggles.
She felt terrible and asked if there was anything she could do... Like to stop me from crying? Because that, I said, was the main problem. The crying. I wasn't upset about any particular thing. There was no problem with the class she was coming to observe. No issues with my co-teacher. Nothing I was inordinately concerned about. In fact, I couldn't think of why I might be crying.
Straight-up stress and nameless anxiety. That was it.
I managed to say (with my typical sense of humor) "Hey, on a related note, I'd like to talk about asking for an accommodation related to a disability."
She said I'd need to run that past the director. So while I was feeling all brave I sent an email to director requesting a meeting. That will happen next week. It should be a short meeting.
I don't anticipate a problem getting the accommodation I am requesting (4 scheduled observations instead of 2 scheduled and 2 SURPRISE! observations per year). I realized that for the two week window in which the observations could take place I would be essentially incapacitated by stress and anxiety. And probably the week prior as well.
So for a cost of $0 they can make me a functional teacher for the whole year OR commit to having a crap teacher for six weeks out of the school year.
The only real question I have is if they will want to have a doctor's note on file, which is probably more up to whatever policies HR has. Or maybe it is up to the discretion of the director. I don't know.
Regardless, I am a little nervous about the meeting and the uncomfortableness of disclosing a mental illness to an employer... but I am not worried for my job. And I am not worried that my request will be denied.
They like me. They want to keep me. My request is reasonable and appropriate and free of cost.
Part II: The Peaks of Anxiety
Younger boy (who has a diagnosed anxiety disorder) had an underlying worry about being called on when he hadn't raised his hand. Which just kind of sat with him in class all day every day.
So spouse and I decided to email the school nurse so she could communicate this to the teachers. Which was a good plan, I think.
Unfortunately, spouse and I didn't communicate about the particulars in which youngest son told me that he didn't want me to talk to his teachers... which was the reason I wanted to go through the school nurse. Also, once it occurred to me, it seemed like a better plan. I know, sneaky underhanded loophole since his teachers would find out anyway.
Unfortunately, for this to help him decrease his anxiety, he needs to be aware that something has changed... so he doesn't have to worry so much about having focus on him that he hasn't sought out. Keep in mind, this is a kid who knows the material and raises his hand pretty much all the time.
So we needed to let him know that nurse/teachers would be aware of how it made him feel to be in class. But telling him about this (especially since it involved letting him know that his teachers had been told-- even if it was through the technical sneaky crappy parent trick of going through the nurse) made him have a panic attack.
Not really. But kind of. SUPER STRESS.
This of course happened the morning before I was to be observed.
I talked him out of his episode thusly:
Do you think a teacher should know if someone in their class has a peanut allergy?
Do you think a teacher should know if someone in their class has asthma?
This is kind of the same thing. Your teachers want everyone in their class to be safe and be able to learn.
I am dealing with my own anxiety at school. I started crying during a meeting with my supervisor. And I realized that it wasn't fair that I hadn't told anyone at work that I might have very different reactions to stress than other people.
So I made an appointment to talk to my director so we can make a plan that will work for me so that I can be an effective teacher without getting so stressed out that it makes me sick.
What I am doing is called self-advocacy. At school, the nurse is acting as an advocate for you.
Do you know the nurse?
Do you trust the nurse?
Do you trust that she will be able to communicate with your teachers in a way that won't cause problems for you in the classroom?
I want you to know that we did not talk to your teachers after you asked us not to. But the nurse had touched base with us before and wanted to be aware of anything that might be causing stress for you at school.
It's her job to make sure that all of the kids at school are healthy and safe. You aren't the only kid at school that she is helping. There are a lot of kids who have worries and she is working with all of the teachers on these kinds of issues.
Then he just freaked out because he noticed that his meltdown had taken up quite a bit of time and he was ten minutes off his usual morning routine.
ob·ser·va·tion / äbzərˈvāSH(ə)n/ noun
1. the action or process of observing something or someone carefully or in order to gain information.
"she was brought into the hospital for observation"
synonyms:monitoring, watching, scrutiny, examination, inspection, survey,surveillance, consideration, study
Of course I spent the morning just before going to school trying to calm a hysterical child. And then I went to school WITHOUT WEARING A BEADED CUFF.
This is only a big deal if you know that I beaded my first cuff as an anti-anxiety measure and that I wear one EVERY DAY and it is a way to keep myself grounded. A talisman I guess.
So instead of taking my time preparing the lesson materials and checking in with my co-teacher and I don't know... meditating? I was figuring out a workaround for not having a cuff on me.
Solution? I went to my beading website, printed a black and white image of the first cuff I ever made, and made myself a little paper bracelet with some clear packing tape. It was hidden under my professional blazer so I didn't need to worry about looking terribly unprofessional.
I removed it after the observation since it was not necessary as a coping mechanism for the rest of the day.
The observation seems to have gone just fine. I didn't burst into tears or vomit. I'm not looking forward to picking apart all the things that I think I did wrong... or things that could have gone better. It's not such a great way for me to operate.
Maybe they should just assume that I think EVERYTHING could have gone better and just ask me to identify the few things that I thought I did well. Of course the problem with that is they are supposed to then go through how I could have improved on the things that I thought could have gone better so I don't think that will work...
Part IV: Mr. Watson... come here... I want to see you
I managed to finally make a phone call to my Psych NP. She called me back after 5pm today. Verified that I should continue to take the lurasidone and will send in a regular prescription for me.
During business hours i will call and try to get in to see her soon. If I can't schedule a meeting in person we may be able to have a phone appointment. But I would much rather go in.
Part V: To be continued
Grateful Crap: being certain that I will not lose my job or my reputation for requesting accommodation at work
meds 20mg lurasidone, 200mg lamotrigine
talked to Psych NP
requested a meeting to request accommodations
made plans to do something with family
got mostly good enough sleep
Was NOT so good at actually having meals with people in the evening. Was quite tired/kinda sick most nights. Once again, I think stress related to observation etc. And this was for a SCHEDULED observation. Sheesh.
Quaker, teacher, parent,