When I walked into class this morning I noticed that I wasn’t the little fish in the sea anymore. Five new timid, unassuming students had joined ‘save your life school’ today. As they sat there staring at the table or their hands, all I could think was, I SO know how they feel right now. They probably think they don’t belong here…that they won’t like talking in a group…that there was nothing some silly class could do to help them…that the stigma they are use to using as a shield between themselves and their voice would never disappear. My heart went out to them, but I knew from experience that regardless of how uncomfortable they felt now, they would eventually see they were right where they needed to be.
‘Self esteem’ class was first on deck today. “Anyone want to tell me about something positive they did this weekend?” asked our teacher as her first icebreaker at bat…Crickets… None of the new classmates were budging so I ‘chirped’ in, “I had a great night with some friends watching movies, eating junk food, and drinking cream soda!” (Big smile on my face). “Very nice”, replied my teacher. Then she tried another swing. “Anyone want to tell me who they think determines your self esteem?” Blank faces and uncomfortable coughs. I guess this one’s up to me again. “We determine our own self esteem”, I answered confidently. “Correct”. I’m such a prized student now…lol. Ok, last at bat, “Can anyone tell me a goal they have in their future?” Awkward stretches and coffee gulps… Don’t worry everyone, I got this. “I would like to have my Masters Degree completed by 2018″. Homerun?..Welllll maybe not so much. My teacher smiled, but a new student a few seats over mumbled, “Wow, Masters Degree…my goal was to step outside of my house today.” Awe crap…maybe just getting on base would have been a better choice Natalie; (I wasn’t sure). All scores aside, the morning class was primarily made up of the teacher asking questions, followed by me answering them to end the awkward silence. Never-the-less, I understood SO well what the new students were probably feeling; like they didn’t even know who they were anymore. (And they definitely didn’t know who the punk with the short black hair and the tattoo was.) 🙂
The teacher then went on to discuss that, “We are who we see in the mirror. We determine and control our own self-image. If we want to change our life, we must change our vision of our life”. How true! And fitting for the day. Three weeks ago I saw a scared, anxious, guilt-filled mom/student in the mirror. I was the coffee gulping, awkward stretching student who had no idea how this class would affect me. My reflection in the mirror back then, was probably what any one of the new students saw today. And that same reflection of myself probably would have rolled my eyes at anyone who mentioned that a Masters Degree was a realistic goal…at that time. 😉
It’s all perspective I suppose. I didn’t need to feel bad for saying that I wanted to complete my Masters in four years, because that’s who I saw in the mirror today. (I may not have seen it three weeks ago; not crying each night was a good goal back then.) And the new student saw going outside and facing her anxiety as her goal in her mirror today. Both the new student and I gave correct answers to the teacher’s question about goals. And I think BOTH goals and their equally evolving perspectives were home runs!
True side note: My fortune cookie tonight read,” Vision is not seeing things as they are, but as they will be”.
October 28, 2014 at 3:45 AM
Hey Natalie its Iain. I dont know if you remember me but I was a student at OSMH with you 2 years ago. I found your blog on accident but reading it has really been an eye opener. Your strength through all this, the ups and downs has been amazing. I wish you the best in your recovery and hope you keep trying and keep your chin up. You are a amazing teacher and clinical instructor!
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October 28, 2014 at 12:03 PM
HI Iain. Of course I remember you guys. 🙂 I’m happy you found my blog and that it opened your eyes to anything mental health related. I want you and all of my students (past, present, and future) to see that everyone is human, and to let all of you know that talking about how you feel is the best medicine. I hope you’re doing great! Say hello to everyone for me. ~Nat
October 28, 2014 at 8:17 AM
I’m a medic from the service just south of you. We’ve met a few times in passing at the hospital. I wanted to take a moment to say that you helped me in a huge way.
You recently mentioned being accountable in one of your posts. That stuck with me all through a terrible day in the worst bout of depression I’ve had and was the push I needed. At the end of shift two days ago I told my partner that I hated myself and that I was beginning to feel like I didn’t want to be alive and that I was going to chicken out on telling my Doc at my appointment the next day. Being accountable to someone I care about was the push I needed to tell my doc anything other than “yep I’m managing okay. Just need a refill.” I’m still in a really bad place but I’m starting to feel less alone.
Thank-you! I hope to see you on the road again to thank you in person.
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October 28, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Hello 🙂 I’m so happy to hear that you are opening up to your doctor; it’s a perfect first step. I hope you are doing well. Keep pushing forward (easier said than done I know) but you are stronger than you give yourself credit for 🙂 I hope to see you on the road one day as well. ~Nat
October 28, 2014 at 1:05 PM
Holy crap!! What an awesome post! This sounds like a serious stride ahead … maybe you found that sledgehammer I spoke of a while back.
Whatever it is, whatever you did, whatever you found, keep going!! Small steps take you a long way. This completely made my day as I’m off to the aeroporto 😛
Congrats! And as always, be gentle on your soul 😉
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October 28, 2014 at 2:53 PM