If this sounds jumbled, it's because it's still jumbled in my mind, but I still wanted to reach some people......Please bear with me.
This post is for all the teachers who have taught during the pandemic…
You might not know it, but you may struggle with PTSD & triggers related to your job….this includes the ones who are still currently teaching.
To the 2019-2020 teachers……are you suddenly feeling very anxious & emotional and you don’t know why?
How about your students (more than “normal” spring break behavior & acting out...which was never actually "normal," but alarming to begin with)?
It could be that spring break is a trauma anniversary for you, as well as for your students…(and other human beings). Spring break is the time where we lost contact with our students due to covid shutdowns. Sure, we may have been there online with them, but that wasn’t normal/the same….to them or to us.
Some of us are overfunctioners during chaos…while others are underfunctioners. I was definitely an underfunctioner….and being the team leader, I was very grateful to my grade level team for stepping in and doing the necessary work for virtual learning.
In addition to work, I was dealing with other traumas going on at the same time and I struggled to function at all….it was all too much for me and I felt like I was drowning…..not only for myself, but for my students…I knew they needed so much…way more than I had to give, or for that matter, they needed way more than anyone could give. I was not the teacher that I wanted to be….and I battle with that a lot. However, I am learning to forgive myself…..I know I was doing the best I could do at the time.
At home, I was stuck in an abusive relationship that affected my whole psyche….and I know that I wasn’t the only one…..domestic violence rates have been higher than ever than before during this pandemic (my state of Oklahoma being #1 ).
Did you know that domestic abuse affects children as well? I began to see the trauma-responses play out upon our physical return to school in August 2020…..which made me see my childhood trauma through them. To put this into actual words is hard because it is so complex. But I also felt that no one else could see what I saw as a teacher (even other teachers/faculty)….I was hypervigilant & felt alone in my thoughts & worries….I stayed to myself as much as I could at work & in my personal life. It was rough.
Summer 2021, I was actually diagnosed with PTSD (which is actually CPTSD)----this was both a relief, a shock, & a grieving process. Not only that, but I began to see how the actual PTSD was playing out in my life….and how hard it is to “get back to normal.” I also saw it in my past.
With March around the corner, I am finding myself in this same internal panic and shame. I am no longer a teacher, but that doesn’t make it go away. I have learned that trauma anniversaries are very real, even if you try to avoid thinking about them. Your body always remembers them…..be it sensory triggers: the feel of the weather, the blossoms on a tree, the smell of spring weather, etc, physical reminder triggers: the world declaring the covid anniversary, picture memories that pop up on your phone via iphone, social media, timehop, etc….or internal triggers.
There’s this big misconception that flashbacks always have a visual component. Many times they don’t….many times it’s a feeling, a sensation, a sense of panic or urgency.
I write this so that if any of you teachers out there (past & present), are struggling right now, know that you are not alone.
Our students are still struggling as well. In fact, the CDC confirms this…..although most teachers knew this already since we’ve witnessed it in the classroom. Children are struggling with anxiety, depression, suicide, self-harm, substance abuse, avoidance, distraction, procrastination in higher rates than ever. I do not know the answer to these issues, but I know the first step is acknowledging that there is a problem. I believe we have a growing amount of students, teachers, parents, adults with PTSD…..but the world simply doesn’t understand the signs of & complexities of PTSD. The world needs education on PTSD now more than ever….and I hope they can see this sooner rather than later.
This post can apply to any other person regarding Pandemic-related PTSD….not just teachers & students. Know that if you are suddenly feeling on edge this month of March, you are not alone….March is a triggering month, a trauma anniversary for many people. Please know that you are not alone.
#PTSD #CPTSD #pandemic #Springbreak #COVID19 #mentalhealthepidemic #astrugglinggeneration #ptsdeducation #triggers #March #march2020 #DomesticAbuse #Students #Teachers #Parents #Poverty