Health First #IMMOOC
The title of this post was originally “Mental Health First” but I changed it, because taking care of our overall health should always be our priority – which mental health is certainly a huge part of.
There were so many amazing parts to this week in the #IMMOOC, but I especially loved the live episode with George Couros, Katie Martin, and special guest Dwight Carter. Dwight’s openness to share his ups and downs, his struggles in learning, the process he’s gone through, and the lessons he’s learned was simply beautiful. The vulnerability and humbleness that he showed made it so easy to feel a connection and to relate on so many levels. It was evident from Dwight, as well as from George and Katie, that reflection is key in order to learn and grow and that looking inward is where it needs starts.
During the episode, George shared a story that really stuck with me. Earlier in his career, he had to take some time off to work on himself. Once George was well enough to go back, he was very worried about how people would perceive him. What completely surprised him was when he was asked to do a keynote immediately upon his return – something that proved that they clearly focused on his strengths. George shared that “one thing, one person believing in you, can make the world of a difference”. #powerfulmoment
This story reminded me of one of the hardest moments in my life. It was winter break and just before school started again, I miscarried. My life was in pieces and I found myself bawling my eyes out in my principal’s office that Monday morning, explaining to him that the conversation we were having was supposed to be a happy one with an exciting announcement, but that instead, it was an excruciating one. Not only was my heart broken from the loss of my babies (I was carrying twins), I was also sick to my stomach thinking about my students and how it would impact them if I was absent for a while directly following the break. That is one of the most beautiful things in our profession after all – we get attached to these kids, so naturally, we worry! In the end, I knew that being at school wouldn’t be right nor fair to them or to me. I took four days to grieve, and to feel and work through my emotions (nothing was wrong with me physically preventing me from working, it was all mental). On the Friday, I was ready for a distraction and went back to school to be with my students. Some moments were still hard, but I could manage and seeing my students again definitely helped me to heal. And guess what? My students that I was so worried about… they were JUST FINE! So what’s the point of sharing this story? I learned a lot from it, which George, Katie, and Dwight reminded me of this week.
If you need a day (or more) to work on your mental health – take it. You’re better off doing this than to come into work and be a negative force. Or as George so eloquently said, “take a day instead of being grumpy for a week”. We have an even bigger impact on kids than we realize, so we have to be very mindful of what we’re putting out there. I loved this question by Dwight: “Are people mentally present?” Every little interaction matters, are you making the most of them?
Closing thoughts: you wouldn’t muster through the pain and come to work without going to see a doctor first if you broke a bone. You wouldn’t come back to work the second you came out of surgery. Remember this when looking at mental health too. Mental health matters, it is just as important as your physical health when considering your overall health. Being an educator is hard work, and we are programmed to put others first, but we are no good to anyone else if we are not well ourselves. Health first.