In addition to Better Hearing and Speech Month, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Now, I am not, nor do I claim to be, a mental health professional. I am a speech pathologist, but as someone who has her own share of mental health needs and works with children with a variety of needs, this is something I wanted to talk about.
If you are in my life in any capacity, you are wonderful and I don’t want to change anything about you. You’re you, and you are the reason I’ve chosen to hold you in my life and in my heart. I always want to hear you, I want you to know I see you. I want you to know I am accessible to you–my readers, my students, my friends. You matter.
I know it’s easier to say that than to accept that, because I don’t always accept that I matter. Cards on the table, I struggle with anxiety, depression, body image issues, panic attacks. It’s my reality. I know that logic and emotion are two different aspects of my life that I work very hard to balance and maintain. I believe in transparency, and am always honest with my students. They can always tell I’m having a tough day. I don’t hide it from them. I will tell them that “I’m having a hard day today, but let’s see if we can change that.” More often than not, I’m met with a hug or “Maybe you just need more coffee. You really like coffee. I think it will make you feel better.” That last line was said to me by a first grader, as I’m rarely without my travel mug. And with that, you get to laugh.
There are days when nothing seems to go the way I want it to, or when I can’t find what will work for me in my self-care routine and I feel lost. The thing I try to remember is that it will pass and to just ride my emotions out. It does me no good to keep them bottled up. These are the days when I can’t hear anything positive, no matter what amazing thing has just occurred, I can only sit and stew.
I want you to know: I see you. I understand you. I am with you. I want to hear your voice tell your story.
My challenge to you this week is to find some strategies that work for you that help you in these tough moments to actualize your value, validity, and importance. Please share your strategies in comments below.
Keep playing with words and see what your message creates!
–Stef the StageSLP