Mental Health

I May Be Busy but Mental Health Comes First

Yes, I’ve mentioned beforehand that I am a teacher by profession and part of what I dabble with through the hurly burly of my everyday are students, colleagues, and dozens of responsibilities tied to job expectations. Now given what I have to endure—paper works, more of them, and eensy-weensy grades numbers in my excel tables, unswerving in their intentions to spite my eyes—having a sort of “me” time to rejuvenate does not sound easy. I would leave for school at about 8AM (if I would like to be early, to beat the traffic, despite my classes starting at 12:30 PM), then leave for home at about 6:30 PM. The hectic schedules can be outright draining, not to mention all the stress that I ought to face starting from the very onset of boarding the bus and painstakingly waiting for traffic jams to subside along the way (ah Metro Manila traffic can be very belligerent). Now, it’s a given that people with psycho-neurological disorders must not ever let stress enter their lives so to speak, in as much as their bodily rhythms can get skewed in the long run: for my part, seizures might occur, and of course, depression or severe mania. I have both a neurological and emotional disorder (and this I have always been very vocal about); and people, upon learning about my condition do blurt out their sentiments about how I manage. However, most individuals adjudge me being a person with disability as somehow “limited”, “restricted”, “less able” to be like “everyone”, i.e., those who live “normally.” And this is despite having an unseen illnesses, in contrast with other persons with disabilities whose conditions are very much obvious.

As I then go about all such perceptions, I begin to ruminate: do I still have time to take care of myself, especially so that I can go sometimes on tipping point especially when marred with stress?

In my previous jobs, I never valued rest. In fact, I would enslave myself from morning till night doing all tasks required of me. My usual excuse was an imminent deadline and that I have not finished everything. Add to this would be complications on how I manage my time: I could not seem to finish checking one or two sections’ worth of outputs because I would constantly feel exhausted and eventually emotionally triggered. With all being said and done, I would end up with lots of backlogs with my superiors all the more prodding me to be on time. Of course, who would want a faculty member usually late for her requirements? With all the stress building up, I would, in turn, end up either hospitalised or stuck at home just because I could neither move nor think. The epilepsy would send off its alarms, with bouts of depression running after epileptic episodes. It was because of this that I had to frequently change workplaces, the shame of not being able to make it despite others’ perceptions of me as someone with much  potential. What humiliation! Yes, I know I could be somebody in my field, what with all the roster of prestigious schools I have been to. But the same problem keeps knocking on my door, and for countless times do I always seemingly relent to letting in a wave of mishaps! Nevertheless, fast forward to 12 years hence (I am speaking of the now), it seems I have identified what made me so gullible to frustration and the curses of constantly scouting for employers:

Keeping myself ORGANIZED and a “ME” time, thereby putting mental health above all.

So I have to address all that kept me from progressing, and I started with writing down tasks—what to teach for a day, and which to check first. Thanks to my friend Lily, I began understanding how priorities are and focusing on those primordially. Little did I know that scribbling down each new responsibility for the day was one way of organizing my routines; and yes, it worked wonders. I learned the secrets behind the notion of decluttering by writing down all those notes, even hurriedly, as they became compasses on how I may progress. Until now I think I have ingrained that in myself, albeit with some unwanted swerves along the way. Thus was I able to come up with grades without much of the pressure this year… which was, for me, a tremendous feat!

Next was the opportunity for me to value time for myself. Apart from medications and visits to doctors, I began searching for opportunities to be with people I feel comfortable with or just traipse along walkways of Bonifacio High Street, Glorietta, or Market Market enjoying sights and sounds and beholding seas of people as they converge. One downside to this though is the growing fixation towards rewarding myself too much hence my constant visits to food kiosks or cafes (this I will be addressing in a different blog post). Nonetheless, nowadays, I find myself a little bit more stable than before although I know that I am still a work in progress.

Of course I cannot claim that I am thoroughly “healed” of my condition just because I have become a tad bit more spic and span than before or that I now do find opportunities whereby I may just sit down, relax, and enjoy. However, simple measures done one step at a time can be powerful enough to move mountains. As they say, there is no harm in trying.

Choleric-melancholic, blogger, teacher, mental health advocate, book lover.

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