One Year Later
Where am I?
Here I am, in the quaint town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I flew down here 1 year ago this week, ready to take on the world by teaching math to children with learning disabilities in an economically disadvantaged middle school, by continuing to build my jewelry business, and by helping my family adapt to southern living.
Just a few little things.
Most of us know how the teaching gig went, right? I always had the utmost respect for my children’s teachers – but now?? HOLY FUCKSHIT THEY NEED TO BE CANNONIZED.
I enjoyed teaching very much. I LOVE the kids, even the ones that I’m sure were trying to kill me slowly, But my biggest challenge was dealing with an administration that did not have a strong special education background (not that I did either), and was fighting me to the hilt on everything.
Most of my time was spent speaking to other special education teachers to get their opinions, ideas, suggestions, and borrowing materials in order to be successful. Methods I garnered from special education veterans were disparaged by administration.
Simple example – kids with learning disabilities benefit from repetition. One of my methods of implementing that was something akin to a game of telephone.
I asked, “What is the formula for perimeter, Jose?”
“Add all sides!” he proudly replied.
“Great! Now tell your neighbor, Jonathan.”
“Jonathan, the formula for perimeter is add all sides.”
I then said, “Jonathan, please tell your neighbor, Daniel, the formula for perimeter.”
This would go around the class and the last student would then repeat the formula to me.
The principal stated that instead of doing that I should’ve had them repeat it in unison. And she deducted points off my rating for that.
Really? Having the class repeat in unison where maybe three kids actually say it, two kids lip sync it and the rest of the class just sit there is more effective than having each student accountable for repeating it and being actively engaged in an activity??
This is just one of many examples of how the administration made it impossible for me to do my job.
I was teaching a Life Skills class, switched out of said Life Skills class into resource classes, then criticized 5 days later for not making significant impacts in the resource classes. After teaching these children less than 1 week.
I began to dread coming in to school. I was leaving my home at 5:45 every morning, getting to school at 7am, working nonstop until 4:30, then driving home for an hour and then continuing to work from home on lesson plans and activities, trying to run my business which was floundering, and deal with the fact that my husband, who suffers from bipolar disorder, was not adjusting well at all to our new life, AND let’s not forget I’m a mother with 3 young kids at home (and an adult kid that I miss terribly) really hit me hard.
I began to have panic attacks several times a day every day. I was having nightmares every night.
My anxiety and depression was triggered anew. I had to leave the job.
Most of you who know me know that my childhood was shit. I lost my mother under dubious circumstances when I was very young and then dealt with an unstable and very physically and emotionally abusive environment at home from the time I was 9 until I was an adult.
I will never blame my circumstances on the past. But I will say the past helped mold me and played part in decisions I’ve made, both good and bad.
The past destroyed my self-esteem and here I am at age 44 still trying to build it up. I was on an upward swing because here I was, accepted into a prestigious program that tens of thousands of people were vying to get into, hired by a school I thought was going to work well for me, and giving my husband and kids the better quality of life they deserve.
And then school happened and I felt myself slip backwards into a quagmire of self-loathing, anxiety, depression, and a constant fear that something bad was going to happen. It was debilitating.
Always Keep Fighting and I am Stigma Free
At VegasCon I had the privilege of speaking to Jared Padalecki about the Always Keep Fighting campaign. Jared had just launched the campaign and was selling shirts to raise funds for the cause.
I had designed a bracelet that I felt best represented the message: an aluminum cuff stamped simply with the words “always keep fighting”. I had chosen aluminum because it’s lightweight and meant to make us feel as if burdens are being lifted away by the message; it wasn’t weighing us down.
I explained to Jared that I wanted to sell these bracelets and donate a portion of the proceeds to the cause and his words were, “This is awesome! I say go for it!”
With his blessing I began to make the bracelets.
The response from all of you has been so overwhelming. I am beyond grateful for your support!
In speaking with Mitch Kosterman, I realized that not only do we need a message to remind us to always keep fighting, but we need to address the judgment that is passed by those who don’t understand mental illness. The assumptions that are made.
“Oh, man up and get over it already.”
“He’s just being lazy.”
“Throwing a pity party.”
“Looking for attention.”
“Trying to get out of working. I saw him laughing earlier, there’s nothing wrong.”
These are all things I’ve heard either about myself or a loved one that is suffering from a mental illness.
Mitch really helped me understand that it’s a widespread issue and not just my own isolated experiences.
So I introduced another piece, I am Stigma Free. I believe that both messages support each other and that we cannot be successful in fighting if we don’t shed the stigma that comes along with our illness.
I am donating 50% of the proceeds from each and every Always Keep Fighting and I Am Stigma Free bracelet.
To date, we have raised $1,208 for Always Keep Fighting. I am so proud of us.
Paying it Forward with Rock the Monkey, Homeboy Industries, & SupportSPN
Rock the Monkey:
Part of what helps me heal is doing things for others. I have a Random Acts approved fundraiser called Rock the Monkey where I am donating 100% of the proceeds to the cause. Here’s Osric modeling one of the barrettes (coming soon!).
Available right now are earrings and necklaces!
The lovely Lauren Tom introduced me to Homeboy Industries at SeaCon several months ago – the good that this organization does defies description. They provide so many free services to former gang members in the LA area. You can help by donating to my Homeboy Industries page where I am raising funds to benefit this awesome organization! View my page here: https://support.homeboyindustries.org/fundraise?fcid=449205
This site is a plethora of support for Supernatural fans and their friends and families. I designed a bracelet where a portion of the proceeds is donated to this wonderful group: http://t.co/LkMVAaCBUv
I finally got it through my head that the only time I work well is when I work for myself, so I’ve thrown myself full time into my jewelry. I’m determined (desperate??) to make this work.
If you want to know how you can be a part of making this happen and also to earn gift certificates towards my jewelry, you can do so via my GoFundMe page:
My Go Fund Me campaign allows me to buy supplies, cover travel expenses so I can vend at conventions, and keep my business afloat until it’s strong enough to sustain itself.
I also have a livestream show, So Get This on my YouTube channel where I chat with you about Supernatural, being a Supernatural fan, and sometimes have kick ass guests such as previous guests Briana Buckmaster, Nicki Aycox, Ruth Connell, Lauren Tom, Katherine Ramdeen, and YOU! Shannon Price of Chickie and Bean, Carrie Anderson, and Debbi Bachman have all graced me with their presence and you can catch their episodes here on my YouTube channel:
I’m still struggling with anxiety and depression. I always will, it’s engrained in who I am. I’m not apologetic for it – I refuse to be. Are people apologizing because they have heart disease or diabetes? Of course not.
I am not apologizing for being sick. I am stigma free. I will always keep fighting, thanks to you, my #SPNFamily.