It’s ok to still not be ok. We had great hopes that with 2021 would come an end to all the struggles we faced in 2020. That magically the new year would bring with it a fresh start and a new beginning. I don’t know about anyone else, but 2021 started off just as bad as 2020 ended, if not worse. For me, it hit especially hard after losing another close friend and reaching the year milestone of being back home. By the end of January, I finally took a moment to look in the mirror and honestly tell myself, “I am not ok.”
After I took that moment to come to terms with where I was emotionally everything started breaking down. All the feelings that I had kept bottled inside for the past year and all the band-aids I was using to stay positive and appear happy just fell apart. Every day I had a minimum of two meltdowns. One when I woke up in the morning and one when I settled in in the evening.
I know that I am not the only one. Other people are still not ok. You may still not be ok. For a while I felt like I had no reason to be unhappy because other people are going through so much worse right now. If you are thinking that yourself, I want to make sure you know that ALL feelings are valid. Your feelings are valid. And if you do not take time to acknowledge them, they can overwhelm you to the point where you give up.
For most of 2020 I was still going on survival mode. But with the beginning of the year came the realization that I am at a crossroads and as much as I want to go back to my old life, it just isn’t there for me anymore. Faced with such an uncertain future and a difficult last year, it broke me down.
Since January, I have learned that it’s ok to not be ok. But it’s not ok to not get out of bed. Or block out people to the point of self-isolation. These are some unhealthy habits that are my personal signs of depression. Once I saw the signs, I knew they were there and it took a while for me to reach out to someone I trust and tell them, “I am not ok.” If you see the signs. Tell the RIGHT someone. They can help you take the next steps you are struggling to take on your own.
I also learned that I was doing too much. Constantly being pulled in five different ways left little time to decompress. Everyday there was something that added stress and strain to my already frayed emotions. I finally realized I just needed to turn off my phone, ignore the outside world, and take time for myself.
This is leads to the third lesson: I choose myself. People who give so much to others and spend most of their time keeping everyone afloat often neglect themselves. For teachers, this year has been like none we have ever had before. Not only are we trying to make it daily, but we are also trying to keep our students together emotionally and academically. It is so important that at some point everyday you choose yourself. Every. Day. Whether that be taking different route home just go get a tea just because you make it through work or investing in a portable massager so you can turn the lights off and feel pampered in your own home.
Some days I’m still not ok. And you may not be either. But everyday we can make choices to help alleviate some of the pressure and emotional strain.