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Tag Archives: mental-health

Slow it Down

Tick, tick, tick. I am a slave to the clock. I call it productivity. I say I am proud and feel accomplished when I get things done. And I am. Yet, I am still a slave to the clock.

I’d like to blame my mother. No, I am not in therapy. But it is true, Dr. Freud. My mother is crazed about getting things done and says the same things about her sister and her mother. I would add my brothers to this list as well. So, I guess you could say it runs in my family. I was brought up on this concept.

I wish I could stop it. There are repercussions you know.

I check the clock 50 times a day. When I was younger, I used to stare at the clock. I decided some numbers were happy numbers and some were sad. For example, the five was happy because the bottom curl looked like a smile. Now, I think the five laughs at me as I curse it every morning when it makes me up. But that’s another story.

I walk fast enough to consider entering the speed walking competition in the Olympics. This is not a good date trait. My wife rarely holds my hand. She doesn’t like feeling pulled. She goes for the arm in arm. I think it’s to slow me down.

This Thanksgiving was different. No, I don’t mean the abundant food and houseguests.

I slowed down. And I liked it.

I was speaking to a friend of mine at 11:15 on Sunday morning. He excused himself. He had to get off the phone as he and his family were eating together.

“What are you eating? Breakfast?”

“Yes.”

“At 11:15?”

“We are taking it easy today. Everybody slept in.”

“Okay.” I hung up slightly confused.

And jealous.

Why can’t I be that at ease? I would feel guilty that the day is half over, and I have accomplished little.

Well, I thought I had been taking it easy over the weekend. However, my friend’s actions inspired me to slow down more.

It was a struggle. But a worthwhile struggle.

I go back to wondering. Why am I in such a rush? Yes, I know I said it is genetic thing, but there has to be more to it.

I am going to psychoanalyze myself for a moment here. You know that bumper sticker, the one who dies with the most toys wins? I disagree with that completely. I think it is stupid.

No. It’s as if I am trying to prove something. Often the hardest person to prove things to is oneself. If I keep busy, I will accomplish. If I accomplish, I will find fulfillment. Fulfillment – isn’t that what life is about?

I don’t have all the answers. I just know it felt good to slow down. It’s something I need to do more often. In fact, I may eat breakfast at 11:00 next weekend and then go for a stroll with my wife – hand in hand. Okay, we may have to run after the kids, but I am not going to be happy about it. For me, that’s an accomplishment.

 

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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Putting Feelings Aside

My work week began at 5:36 AM Monday morning. I quickly turned off the alarm (I don’t think I have ever hit snooze in my life) and arose. As I walked to the bus 16 minutes later, I had a headache and felt groggy. For a moment, I thought it was Friday.

Three straight 5 hour nights later, and my long week is nearly over. This is my first 5 day work week in nearly a month, so I can’t complain. Well, of course, I can, but I don’t like complaining. I don’t even like hearing myself complain, so what’s the point?

Grades were due today. The first marking period is always rough. It includes less days, I take off days to celebrate the holidays, and the first few days are all about paperwork and diagnostics. Inevitably, there is a logjam of work at the end of the term.

To be blunt: my pass rate sucked! Students did not get the work done despite my extensions, pleadings, and phone calls. I am disappointed, frustrated, and annoyed. I can come up with many reasons why the students did not hand in their work. Ultimately, that is not comforting.

There is an old saying that if you reach one child then you are doing your job. It is a depressing saying and any teacher that cares would be disappointed with those types of results. I am more than confident that I have reached multiple students. It’s pretty easy to see when students want to hang out in your classroom just because that they feel comfortable. Still, it does not feel like enough. I am nearly certain that the school administration is not going to be content with that level of success either.

I can continue feeling bad, guilty, and complaining. However, I don’t want to. It’s not fair to me, my family, or my friends. I will put away the negative feelings (as best I can) and strive to enjoy my life. I don’t want to let the disappointment in one part of my life poison the other parts of my life. It is not easy to do – I am not talking about widgets here – but kids with families that love them and want the best for them.

Today as I walked to the subway, I enjoyed the beautiful weather. When October brings such a gorgeous day, it must be appreciated. Who knows how many more are left in the season?

So, you see I am learning a lesson from my students. They take bad news and seem bothered till the bell rings. At that point, they go through the halls slapping hands, talking, and laughing with their friends. In other words, they know how to put their feelings aside and enjoy the moment.

We all will worry about it till tomorrow.

I am looking forward to enjoying the night with my wife and kids.

 
36 Comments

Posted by on October 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s Not the Caffeine

Mrs. O’Donnell: Do you want some tea?

Me: No thanks.

Mrs. O’Donnell: Do you want some coffee?

Me: No thanks.

Mrs. O’Donnell: What do you drink in the morning?

This conversation took place in a small English town – Elsemere Port circa 1993.  My friend’s mother was doing her best to be a hostess – doesn’t everybody want caffeine? Well, I was just a confusing American who was content with some juice.

Odd me, I am one of those people who does not enjoy caffeine in the morning. However, we all know people who need caffeine in the morning. My wife springs to mind. You don’t want to get in her way before she gets her caffeine buzz. This reasonable decent woman is replaced by a cranky snippy thing who must be tiptoed around. Enough about this alternative personality, I don’t want to think about it.

BR, my older son, is very bright. He is sensitive. He is caring. He is silly. Now, most of the time my boys are friends with the same odd sense of humor.  Yes, of course they get into fights like brothers do – take it from someone who has three older brothers. The mornings, in particular, are difficult as the boys seem to be unable to coexist during this time of the day.  In fact, my wife typically keeps the children in separate rooms so some form of tranquility can exist. While SY can be content to completely zone out watching whatever – really whatever is on television, BR is off the wall.

You may be wondering why BR is so challenging in the morning.  No, my 8 year-old does not have a caffeine addiction. He has ADHD (emphasis on the H in his case) which affects people in different ways and often works in tandem with other issues. In the morning before his medicine kicks in, I imagine his brain as being incapable of handling all the stimuli. Therefore, his morning actions which are often unreasonable are practically out of his control. He hears my wife and I and even his little brother attempting to disciple, calm, and placate him but does not seem capable of acting upon those requests.

Once the medicine kicks in, BR’s positive traits noted above are more readily apparent. He can still be challenging, as boys his age can be, and has his challenges. So, my wife and I strive to recognize his needs and what will work to enable him to utilize his positive traits and fulfill his tremendous potential.  Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as caffeine.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on July 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Striving to See the Good

I don’t believe in bad luck. I am a strong believer in fate. I believe everything from the big things – births, jobs, marriages — to the little things – the wind blowing, the amount of the electric bill, hair color — is meant to be. This belief stems from my belief in an all-encompassing G-d who is involved and does things for a reason that is ultimately good.  Despite that, there are times and events that can’t help but leave me wondering why, what is going on, where is the good? 

A week and a half ago a good friend of mine told me that his 11-year-old daughter has a brain tumor.  This girl has an amazing spirit.  She is a positive, sensitive, caring, and spiritual child who has not let any of the challenges she faced slow her down. Now, she and her family are faced with this incredible mountain.
A little boy who resides in my community recently underwent an umbilical cord blood stem cell transplant. His parents have been trying to find a stell cell match for some time. Unfortunately, a direct match was never found. So, now they find themselves trying this risky surgery and facing a long recovery (we can only hope and pray) process.
This afternoon, a friend of mine emailed and told me she is losing her job as of August 31st. The funding was cut and her position is being terminated. She is both scared and worried. With the economy as it is, this is certainly understandable.
Lastly, a friend of mine emailed me to let me know her oldest sister, just 49, passed away last week. She was suffering greatly from cirrhosis. The pain from the disease and other difficulties she was facing in her life became too much for her to bear. She chose her own way out.
The 11 year old has come through the first phase of her recovery well and the doctors are optimistic. The three year old continues to battle, and he has had some good days. My friend who was laid off is giving herself a day to mope and then vows to network like crazy (she is definitely the type).  My other friend and her family take some comfort that their sister/daughter is no longer suffering. 
As for me, I still believe in G-d. In fact, I am using these events and others to  inspire me to pray more. I pray for recovery, comfort, understanding, and for that which only G-d knows my friends and others need.  I pray to see the good and appreciate that in reality everything is just that.
 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Mental Health Day

I am a big believer in mental health days! Thankfully, I am very fortunate in that my general health is very good (I know, I know – don’t give yourself a bad omen). Like your overall health, I think your mental health needs constant attention. So, I make sure to give myself mental health days.
 
It all started back in high school. I remember discussing my need for a day off with my mom. I clearly and rationally explained that I needed a break, have taken no sick days, and generally do the right thing.  So, as a reward for this, I wanted acknowledgement that I knew when my body needed rest and some space. After promising to make up missed work and agreeing I would not make a big deal out of our arrangement, my mother acquiesced. It was a great system. While walking to school with my neighbor and friend, I told him, “I don’t think I am going to feel well a week from Thursday.” 
 
He looked like Elmer Fudd when searching for Bugs Bunny, “What do you mean you are not going to feel well a week from Thursday? How can you know that?” 
 
With a fake cough, I continued, “I just know. Trust me. A cold is coming on.” 
 
The day after my mental health day, my friend would take note and inquire how I could know so far in advance I would be sick. He was generally a bright guy but did not seem to be familiar with mental health days. Maybe, he would have called it cutting – how gauche! I was beyond such a vulgarity.
 
Well, this past week, my nearly 8-year-old had his first mental health day. Yes, I admit it is young to be starting with such a concept though he is advanced.  My wife and I have given up all hope for the coveted “Parent of the Year” award, so we can do what we think is right (if anyone is associated with child services, please keep this between us). He actually has been asking about one since last year when he found out a girl in his class took a day off even though she wasn’t sick.  His requests grew into protests when my younger son and I both had the week off starting with President’s Day.  Around this same time, my wife and I were getting more and more exasperated with the comments on his behavior charts. While we don’t believe in rewarding bad behavior, maybe a break from school would do him good. It certainly would relieve the stress from us for a day.
 
Anyway, we allowed him the day off on the condition that he gets all his work done, that he recognize this will not be a regular event, and he does not discuss the day off with anyone. Of course, he agreed to these stipulations. I am pretty sure he barely heard the rules and would have said yes to wearing a dress and eating broccoli every day for the next month as well. Well, the very same day he returned to school, my wife received an email from the teacher.  Everyone in the class knew about the mental health day, they were very jealous, and she was concerned that he did not have the patience to listen to a crucial math concept which he had missed due to his day off.
 
Ahh to be rebuked by teachers. It makes me feel young.  It makes me feel like I need my own mental health day.  At my age, I should get more extra mental health days. After all, I’ve got seniority, and I need a break.
 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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