I'm still learning to be okay with being an okay teacher.
One year ago, I finally published a blog post that had been written in my mind for months.
It was a way for myself to admit that I had anxiety, and that was okay. I never imagined the response I would receive from friends, family, and strangers that feel like friends on the internet. The emails, the DMs, the comments, they assured me I wasn't alone.
A year later, here we are... I rarely go a week without someone new finding that blog post and sending me a DM on Instagram, or shooting me an email. Please know that I have read every single one of them. I have tried to respond to them all, but I'm sure there are some that I have missed.
I'd like to reflect on a couple things I have learned the last year. Bare with me, as I may start to ramble.
Shortly after I published the blog post, I saw this video on Facebook. I cried. I then ordered the book
I've learned, through therapy, some of my triggers. One of my core beliefs is not being good enough. Before you say "Oh, but Lindsey, you're more than enough. Look at everything you've accomplished." etc, etc. Please don't try to fix someone's struggles with comments like these. I know you mean well, but even though I have a pretty big social media presence, I don't share everything. And that is okay. I don't share when I get an angry phone call or email from a parent which makes me doubt my abilities as a teacher, and triggers me. I don't share the times when I feel so overwhelmed, I just cry in the shower, or take a nap to avoid my piles and piles of responsibilities, and triggers me. I don't share the times that I purposely cancel plans with friends because I just want to be by myself, and triggers me.
So when people tell me "Oh, but you are enough." It's almost a reminder, at my low times, of how much more I could be doing.
Many people have reached out to me for support and advice. The thing is, I'm not a doctor, and everyone's experiences with anxiety, depression, and other mental illness are different. I can tell you what works for me, but that doesn't mean it will be effective for you...and that's okay.
I subscribe to The Mighty's newsletter, and it's very helpful and reaffirms that I'm not alone. I really like this post about red flags that mean it's time to get help for your anxiety. I know therapy isn't for everyone, and it can be really scary telling your problems to a stranger (I literally had a panic attack the day of my first appointment), but it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. It has helped me to understand why I have the thoughts that I do, what triggers them, and how to cope with the thoughts.
You can have good days! Good weeks! Even good months! It is okay to celebrate the good. I try to do that on Instagram. If I shared all of the bad, I'd think my feed would become pretty sad, and I know it is a place many people come for inspiration and ideas. On the flip side of that, I don't want to give the impression that I'm "cured" of my anxiety. Even if you don't struggle with mental illness, it is okay to showcase your flaws and struggles. In fact, I think that makes you HUMAN!
It is quite the trend on social media, Instagram especially, to only show the "Pinterest perfect classroom", but that can be problematic. It can put unrealistic expectations onto your followers....and although you may not be doing so intentionally, it can happen. So I encourage you to show your stack of ungraded papers from a week ago, your hot mess desk, or your unorganized classroom library. Your followers will relate to you, I promise.
Finally, I want to reiterate a post I made this summer in regards to #okayteacher. I think what I was so nervous about last January in sharing my story was that people would think I was doing it for attention. Mental health has a stigma, and some people assume you share your story for attention. That's not what I wanted to do at all.
#okayteacher is not a gimmick. It is not a social media hack to get followers. It is not for attention. It is not for pity.
It is for awareness. It is for mental health. It is for every teacher who has ever felt like they were drowning. It is for every teacher who has ever felt guilty. It is for every teacher who is struggling with something that NOT A SINGLE PERSON CAN FULLY UNDERSTAND, because every person's battle with anxiety, depression, and mental health is different.
Mental health is not a joke. It is nothing to be made light of, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Mental health has a stigma because people don't talk about it. If people did, it would become as normalized as the flu.
If I reach out to you to explain #okayteacher, please listen. I'm trying to shed light on an issue that thousands of people are struggling with EVERY DAY. Something I struggle with EVERY DAY. So please, please, do not take my attempt at educating you as an attack. You don't have to understand anxiety, depression, or any mental health condition, but you should be able to understand why something that I feel so strongly about with every fiber of my being is being used as a gimmick upsets me, and rocks me to my core.
And before you use it on your posts, please, please, try to learn the meaning behind it.
And if you have no idea where all of this stems, please go to missjohnstonsjourney.com and read the post "Learning to be okay with being an okay teacher". If you ever have any questions about my struggles with anxiety and depression, please ask.
Please know that if you are one of the thousands struggling, you are not alone.
I am with you. I am here to listen to you.