Under The Surface

Onyx Contributor:  Fatima Gaskin (@Fatima_2_2)

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!  I am screaming on the inside but no one can hear.  I am standing in a room full of students.  I reach my hand out to welcome the newest student with a smile when really I want to be baled up in a corner crying.  My chest feels heavy but I take each breathe slowly and count.  I have counted to 10 about 150 times since the work day started.  My assistant instructor gives me a questioning look but I wave him on to finish teaching the lesson.  I walk to the back of the class and start into another counting session.  I look at my wrists and remind myself of poor choices.  I can make it out of this.  I will be ok.  I won’t go back down that road.  I feel like I’m in a pool treading water and I’m tired.  My body just wants to rest.  It hurts.  I can slip under the water for just a second.  I won’t stay under long.  Just a little while.  But I know once I’m under the surface it will be even harder to come up.  It will be easier to drown.  To just give up.  I reach 10 in my counting and start over.  I have no idea what my assistant instructor is saying or what the lesson is when a student raises their hand and asks me a question.  I ask the student to repeat the question.  Thankfully I have taught this class numerous times and it was a standard question.  As I’m answering the question I am trying my hardest not to let the burn that comes before tears take over.  I’m hoping my face is not hostile or distraught.  I finish answering and nod to my assistant to continue teaching.  It is going to be a long day.

How many people show what they are actually feeling outwardly all the time?  Who knows what is swirling around in their mind or hearts at any given time?  It is important to know resources available if things become overwhelming.  It has been my experience that people self medicate their problems whether physical or emotional.  If they can handle it personally they will choose that course before reaching outside of their comfort zone.  This is why it is important to deal with things that can cause emotional or physical stress in advance.  Stress management is a crucial life skill.  Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life.  Identifying these sources are not as simple as it may seem initially.  Is there a death that recently happened in your life?  Are you so far in debt you don’t know how you will keep the lights on and food in the fridge?  Once you identify what these sources of stress are, managing it in a healthy way is the next step.  There is no one answer on the correct method on how to manage stress.  What do you do when you are in an emotional crisis?  A very simple method that I incorporate is counting.  I will count to 10 and start over or count backward from 10 for as many times as I need to.  I apply this when upset or I feel things are out of my control.  Another effective stress management tool I use is exercising.  There is something about leaving your body physically exhausted that gives your mind a temporary reprieve.  All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release “feel good” chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress.  If you suspect someone you know or may even be close to is depressed or going through something that is effecting them negatively give them resources that they can find help.  Encourage them to talk about it.  Suggest they make a table with stressors on one side and a plan to manage them on the other.  Keeping problems wrapped up tightly internally is like an open wound that never gets to scab over properly.  At any given time it can be fatal.  In the United States there is a National Crisis Hotline you can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-TALK.

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