I rarely write about my job. Since I work in special education administration, nearly all of the cases I work with are confidential in nature, plus my job is filled with lots of legalese and jargon that make it cumbersome to talk about with friends who aren't in the field. But this week was particularly tough and I need to talk about it, even in the most general of terms.
I started off the week sleep-deprived because I'd spent a wonderful weekend at the coast with some women friends. It was a relaxing and rejuvenating time but not very restful because the bed in the rental cottage was not my pregnant-body's friend. Not the best way to start off on Monday. It was also one of those weeks where I started the week with a long to-do list and even though I worked diligently each day, by Friday the to-do list had grown and was even longer than when it started.
The worst day was Wednesday. I had four emotionally-exhausting cases in a row. The first student is trying to escape an alcoholic abusive father but is caught in a custody battle between the parents. The second student was a former junior high student of mine re-enrolling at the high school after a long absence who was clearly "using" (looked like those before and after meth addict pictures in the newspaper and the parent looked exactly the same way) The third student was one I'd worked with for a long time who is part of a verbally and emotionally-abusive family situation. It finally got to the point in which we had to make a report to DHS. The fourth student was a perfectly healthy student who had a mental break and now is actively paranoid and schizophrenic.
Kids with learning problems don't get to me. I like that challenge. We make good progress and we know what to do to help them. Kids with family problems and kids with mental health challenges get to me. Their problems go above and beyond anything we can do to help them in school and I know the mental health care they need is not readily available. These are the kids who haunt me. I would not make a good social worker.
On a good week these cases are the ones that get to me. On a bad week with too little sleep and too many pregnancy hormones, these cases wreck me emotionally. I could barely hold in my tears as we worked through bad case after bad case. I had to leave to get lunch and to just let myself cry for a while. I said a few prayers of thanks because I am immensely grateful that my parents were mentally stable people who parented me consistently and logically. I made a little promise to our unborn child that I will be the healthiest parent that I know how to be.
And then I launched into my Radical Self-Care regime. That's what I do when I know that I am at the bottom of my reserves emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Here's what it looked like this week:
--Pre-natal yoga class, absolutely essential for me to quiet my mind and body. I do my best praying and meditating in yoga class.
--A long walk with the dogs
--A nice dinner and conversation at Country Cat with my husband
--A new pair of Earth shoes, the only ones that are still comfortable for me by the end of a day at work
--Going to bed a little earlier--always easier said then done since Nate and I are both night owls
--A long bath in Epsom salts to work out the soreness after the massage
--A talk with a friend who understands
Now it is Sunday afternoon and I almost feel ready to face another week. My question is: What do YOU do for self-care? Do you feel guilty when you spend time and money on yourself or do you see it as absolutely essential for your health? What works for you to help calm your mind and spirit?