Putting The “Mental” In “Mental Health Day”

Sometimes, a blogger needs a little help from her friends.  Today, I got just that from a friend who emailed and asked if I’d decided to take a bit of a blogging hiatus.  Decided might be a strong word, but, as anyone who checks the date of my last post can tell, life of late has proved to be challenging enough all on its own.  Writing about things at the end of the day is officially that “one more thing” I haven’t been able to force myself to do.

Truthfully, the old adage, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” explains most of my silence.  All-American Public Schools did not escape the rash of school finance problems that swept the country last year.  While we avoided the mass layoffs many districts experienced, saving jobs meant eliminating raises.  No raises makes for unhappy teachers unions, and–four years after my move from a school site to central administration–it’s crystal clear that I’ve now become “them” in the eyes of many of my colleagues.  As in “they” aren’t giving us raises, and “they” just don’t understand what it’s like here at the schools.  I wish this transformation had come with some sort of actual loss of feelings on my part, but that did not occur.  So the criticisms and the realization that many people I’ve worked with for years no longer see me in the same light hit hard. 

Things came to a head after I spent Monday evening listening to a scathing report to the Board by the head of the teachers union, Tuesday morning dealing with the media regarding a decision made by the Board at that same meeting, and Tuesday afternoon in clear disagreement with several teachers and one of my fellow administrators.  Tuesday night, I cried.  A lot. 

And then I decided the time had come to move on.  The weather here in Suburbia could not be more beautiful.  It’s a sunny, warm, Indian summer, with blue skies and just a hint of a breeze.  I spent Wednesday and Thursday knowing one thing for sure:  on Friday, I would not set foot in the office. 

After yet another media interview, plus an appearance at an evening PTA meeting for one of my elementary schools on Thursday night, I officially went on vacation.  I spent yesterday sleeping in, finishing the second installment in the Steig Larrson trilogy, and actually seeing a movie in the middle of the afternoon.  I can’t explain how much I needed that day. 

By dinner time, I found myself ready to enjoy dinner with my family–one which I actually had the time and inclination to cook–and, even better, I know I’m ready to embrace the challenges that are sure to continue when I return to work on Monday.  There’s definitely something to be said for taking a good, old-fashioned mental health day. 

That’s a lesson I hope it won’t take me quite so long to remember the next time around.

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