As long as I can remember, I’ve been afraid. I’ve been afraid of getting in trouble, afraid of being a burden, and afraid I didn’t fit in. I constantly felt overwhelmed, not just because of what I had to do but by everything in my environment..sounds, other people’s energy, and what other people said.
I was a teacher of students with special needs for 5 years. My last three months in the classroom were overwhelming, to say the least. When I went into my classroom, I felt so much fear. I was scared of not being able to do everything and I wanted to do it all. I wanted to teach my students their IEP goals and the general education curriculum. I wanted to monitor and analyze data, keep students safe, lesson plan appropriately, and manage behaviors appropriately.
I wanted my students to reach their highest potential and I felt like I had to do all of the above to help my students reach it. I felt like I should already know what the students needed to learn, how to teach it, how to come up with new ways to teach the same concept, what steps to take next, and what steps to take after that. I felt like I was failing as a teacher in spite of working 80 hours a week…and I’m not exaggerating about the number of hours I worked. I could not ever complete everything I needed to, and I was constantly exhausted. Due to all of the stress, I could not sort all of the info given to me and make decisions for my students appropriately.
I was so anxious trying to meet the students’ needs that I likely caused anxiety in my students. My stress led to the students’ stress, which led to adverse behaviors, which in turn led to more stress for me. The cycle never stopped. I was on high alert 24/7, afraid that something was going to happen to the students or to me.
The stress was killing me. I had no appetite, no enjoyment, and essentially no life outside of work. I was not going to get what I needed in that situation, nor were the students.
I had to leave. Not in a million years did I ever think I would leave the students in the middle of the school year. I was adamant that I would not leave in the middle of the school year. BUT what was happening was not healthy for me or for them.
My last day was the day before Thanksgiving break. My school accounts were deactivated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving break. I removed myself from any other school communication the next day.
I tried to write this first blog before my last day. I could not write anything because I was so stressed-out. I did not know if I would ever become unstressed. But I’m taking steps to become less stressed or not stressed at all.
I do not know where my journey is going to take me. I’m focusing on healing, one day at a time.
I invite you to join me on my journey. With much love, Alyssa