"Nothing is more terrible than seeing ignorance in action"
Angela talks about how self stigmatisation prevented her from getting the help she needed for a long time
12th November 2018, 2.31pm
Today, I was drawn to one quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and even though it was written over 200 years ago, it still has relevance in our time.
I printed the words out and then used Ohto Graphic Liner pens to draw the illustration around it. After scanning the image in, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to alter the colour and add my watermark.
A nice way to spend a damp, sometimes drizzly Monday morning here in the UK. The schools return, the teachers at least for their day of training/preparation for the return of their students in the coming day(s), the interminable meetings where so much information is passed on it’s hard to retain it, let along digest it!
I do not miss this one bit. I loved teaching – the actual teaching, helping pupils to grow and develop, not only as little scientists but also as human beings and in confidence and self-belief.
I do not miss the huge number of meetings, the constant change, the challenges of behaviour/attitudes that changes in society have wreaked, the homogenization of teaching strategies…and so much more.
I’m feeling grateful this day that I get to do what I love, to make a new career from it, to continue to help people through my colouring books, and in other ways too.
I was once ignorant of the fact that I could do something else with my life, I thought I’d be a teacher until I reached retirement age, and that I would struggle more and more with my mental health and emotional health over time. I was also ignorant of the fact I had depression, anxiety and more – willfully ignoring the signs, denying that it was a problem, that I was just tired, or it was the result of a verbal attack or poor behaviour or even a physical threat at the end of my time teaching.
I was ignorant as I chose to ignore the facts of what was happening to my mind and emotions.
It must have been a terrible thing for those who truly knew me (not many, one maybe, thanks to the carefully crafted mask of happiness and jollity that I wore all my life when with people, very different behind closed doors with no one around to observe) to see how I was plummeting downward, to have me dismiss their observations with the excuse ‘I’m just tired’ or ‘I’ve had a tough day’ or ‘So and so did such and such yet again today and it got to me. I’ll be fine after a good night’s sleep’.
Eventually I had no choice but to get help, to have months and months away from teaching so that I could recover just enough to return and last another eight months.
I know now my ignorance of my own well being wasn’t out of innocence about mental health issues; instead it was borne out of the messages I had as I grew up from the mother, from society, that to have depression, to be anxious, was a shameful, weak thing and there was something wrong with you if this was you.
I stigmatized myself, and prevented myself from getting the help I needed for a long time.
I was ignorant as I willfully ignored the facts, the evidence that was right in front of me, staring back at me whenever I looked in the mirror. It wasn’t innocence. I knew about mental illness, mental ill-health, depression, anxiety, but I refused to consider that was what was wrong with me.
Ignorance, ignoring the facts, the knowledge or applying it as it didn’t suit what I wanted to believe.
To give myself a bit of a softer time, I’d never known anything but depression and anxiety, ever that I can recall. So, to me, the worsening state of my mental/emotional health was just me being worn out by the day, the week, the term (semester) or academic year.
It took a very skillful and understanding GP to help me see that I needed help, and I took it, and still am with my weekly therapy sessions.
Beth talks about opening up and embracing her difference, and provides some strong advice on talking about your mental health at workFind out more
This #StressAwarenessMonth, Kim speaks out about her experiences of stress and anxiety in the workplace and shares her top tips for managing thisFind out more