The meds are working. That I know.
Are they working well enough?
That I don’t.
I go in every month now and see my psychiatrist for updates. This last month he asked how I was doing and I said I felt at about 85% of what I was. He replied that by this time, maximum relief should be present.
So what now?
Ha asked about work and of course I mentioned that it stressed me out. But doesn’t everyone’s to some degree?
He said he was looking back at his notes and noticed that work was a constant stressor that never seemed to abate during the school year and he asked why that might be.
And yes, there are stressors related to last minute changes, parents, being rushed, administrators and all that, but that’s not the main issue for me.
It’s the kids.
I’ve posted about this before, but every year the kids come in with more needs than ever. They come in with tougher backgrounds, secrets few people know, and hardships beyond most people’s imaginations.
And I encourage these kids to write about it. Talk about it. Release it just a bit from their conscience and allow them to work through it safely and somewhat objectively.
So I know they have been sexually assaulted. I know their parent has committed suicide. I know their sibling has died of an overdose. I know they were hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. I know their dad beats their mom. I know they have been traumatized by gun violence. I know they suffer crippling anxiety. I know they are homeless or living with grandma because mom or dad are in prison or abandoned them or died.
And I think about how I can help them. I wonder what I can do, I feel guilty that this is their reality, I feel angry that they have had their innocence brutally stripped from them.
And my mind turns.
On my drive home. While I’m grading papers. In the middle of the night. In the morning.
I can’t shut it off.
After explaining this, he said that being in a constant state of high stress is horrible for my mental health and asked if I had considered trying anything to help buffer that pain.
Other than an early retirement? Which I can’t afford? No.
He said, I’m not going to say straight out that your job is making you ill, but…
Say no more. I know. I really do know. It’s not an accident that these episodes come at the same time every year. It’s not a coincidence that the summer and other breaks provide a temporary lift.
So what the fuck do I do?
He suggested therapy— figure out why I take these stories to heart and possibly learn strategies to buffer myself from them.
But I think I’m just wired this way.
And in my head, I don’t get how people aren’t wired this way.
I wish I knew their secret.
My school year is over. I haven’t run since a girls’ weekend in May. I had to quell an oncoming panic attack last night. Yesterday I looked around my house that resembles a city dump and felt like a failure as a mom, wife and teacher.
Is 85% enough?
I don’t know.