Day 11: Mental Health Awareness Week

I’ve been thinking about what to write, or how to begin, a post about mental health awareness – and every time I start this post there’s voices saying “don’t do it, don’t say it out loud”. But I know that’s probably the reason why I should.

A very simplistic summary of my well-being is that I was “fine” until December 2016 when I got my first car. Since then I’ve been struggling with panic attacks and extreme anxiety, that were rooted initially at the thought of driving, but then developed into anxiety and panic attacks at the thought of travelling anywhere by any mode of transport.

As I still don’t know the reasons behind the trigger of my anxiety and panic attacks, especially as they suddenly appeared so late in life, I can only share what I go through. Spoken word and poetry is becoming quite cathartic so here’s something I wrote earlier today.

I’m irritable and quiet
Don’t want to hear a sound
No questions or discussions
When my mind is spinning around
The aftershave is too strong
And it acts as a trigger
I feel the worry building up
As I get my things together

The sweat trickles down my neck
And onto my back
My breathing becomes heavy
As my feet start to drag
I want to give up
Go home where it’s safe
But I’ve got commitments now
And there’s no escape

My mind begins to race
And thoughts want to enter
I consciously ignore them
and then I remember
Distraction often works
And helps me forget
The tightness that I’m feeling
The heaviness in my chest

The whispers get louder
They wrap around my neck
I’m tired and exhausted
I don’t want to fight back
It’ll be over soon
And I close my eyes
They said it gets easier
But that was all lies

I want to be “normal”
And I want to be free
I hate that these chains
Have become a part of me
I clear my mind to focus ahead
The journey, the road
The break lights, so red

I’ve made it to work.

Without a scar, or a scratch
A bruise, or a patch.
The voices have silenced
The whispers gone back
Nothing to show
For the trauma that engulfs me
The stress or the panic
Or the anxiety that drowns me

I walk into work
Put a smile on my face
I start conversations
And breathe freely throughout the day
I teach, I meet, I discuss, I laugh
I leave work and am back on the road
But this time it’s different
As I’m going back home

I put the key in the door
And transform into me
I’ve entered my safe-space
And finally I’m free
But as the evening progresses, and I plan for tomorrow
The voices creep up and tap on my shoulder
The whispers get louder
And the battle begins
To do it again…

…and not let it win…

Mental Health Awareness 2020

Day 10: I Don’t Present, I Teach

I don’t present,
I teach.
And sometimes that’s messy
With parts that are structured
And sometimes that means we
Diverge from what was thought of
We’re constantly assessing
Responding and progressing

I don’t present,
I teach.
So I responded, I adapted
I re-planned it all and reacted
I changed the way I taught
I tried to be interactive
I transferred it all online
And a new classroom was created

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Day 9: Self-Care

“The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” (Oxford Dictionary)

Since my last post, I deleted all the social media accounts related to this blog. It was a conscious decision and it felt good! The reason behind this, though, went beyond surface level emotions and focussed on the impact these new accounts were having on me and the intention behind creating them in the first place.

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Day 8: The Pressure to Procreate

I always wanted a big family, ever since I can remember, and I used to wonder why my parents only had 4 children especially when they married so young. I had envisioned that after finishing studying, I would get married and have lots of children, and it never crossed my mind that things might not be as straight forward as this.

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Day 7: Why do we “Social Media”?

It’s been 7 days since I switched off from my personal social media accounts. I have a Facebook account, but it’s been stripped down to only one friend and old statuses, so I rarely go on that anyway. I also have Instagram and snapchat, both of which I would endlessly scroll through day and night.

It’s been interesting to see how much more time I’ve suddenly gained, as well as mind space, having switched both off. I’ve also been less irritated 👀. That being said, however, I did create a Twitter, Instagram and YouTube account for Aniqa’s Attic. Part of me had decided that because I don’t use my personal Instagram account to engage with “influencer” posts, I would instead use my public accounts for that purpose only.

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Day 6: Work-Life Balance

I’ve spent the last 16yrs working in some form or another, bar 9 months I spent learning Arabic in Alexandria, Egypt. I’m a trained secondary mathematics teacher, but have worked across the phases (primary, secondary and college), and have spent a decade or so in Teacher Education. Working in HEI (university) has always suited my lifestyle, with the flexibility of working on and off site, as well as allowing me the opportunity to travel to schools across London.

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Day 5: Enchiladas

Today we made enchiladas…we’ll sort of. The first time I had enchiladas was at my brothers house and I was intrigued as to how this wrap, chicken, cheese and tomato dish was baked and tasted so good. On further investigation, it turns out that my sister-in-law had bought the “kit” and said it was quite straight forward to make. So I took it upon myself to buy the Old El Paso enchilada kit a couple of months later from my nearest store, only to find they were out of stock!

My only other option was to buy the ingredients separately and just make the sauce myself. And thus was born, “chicken and cheese wraps filled with tomatoey sauce and baked in a dish with more sauce and a sprinkle of cheese”.

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Day 4: Working from Home

I’ve been “at work” since about 8am this morning (having only switched off at around 1am last night from student messages)…team meetings, live teaching sessions and student phone calls ended at around 6pm, but since everything has moved online “work hours” have disappeared, and I’ve already had a number of messages and queries from students since then…and now my brain is like mush. It doesn’t want to think and it doesn’t really want to be staring at another screen either.

So today I’ll leave you all with a short poem I’ve just written about how I’m feeling:

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Day 3: Weaning

There really should be more support in weaning babies. I know there are some mother and baby classes for this in my area, but I really think there should be more support out there for those babies who don’t enjoy food or just don’t tend to gravitate towards it as much as we do as adults.

Baby A was born with a heart condition (more on that in another blog post) and before the surgeon could operate on her she had to be a certain weight. The only issue with that was, as a result of the heart condition baby A struggled with breathing and feeding at the same time. So inevitably the minute she would struggle with the breathing she would stop feeding.

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Day 2: Reflection

So it’s fast approaching the end of day 2…and I think it’s probably safe to say that today has been an exhausting day. But let’s start with an update on day 1…and how well I’ve been sticking to the goals I set!

The first fast started off with my husbands alarm going off for so long that baby A woke up crying her eyes out. By the time she had settled and fallen asleep again suhoor had ended and we hadn’t even managed to have some water.

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