Those of you who know me well know that I suffer from anxiety; not many people know quite how bad it is or about my lowest times, but generally I’m pretty honest about it.
But I often get asked how I can stand in front of a class of teenagers every day and talk confidently without having a breakdown, if I suffer from anxiety. Well, the first thing I will say is that I am certainly not the only one. And secondly, I do it with great difficulty, but do it because of the satisfaction that those student who say things like ‘thank you’ gives me.
In many ways having anxiety makes me better at my job; I don’t want to let anyone down, I meet deadlines (that matter), I’m punctual and even when I am ill or off cause my kids are ill, I give clear instructions for cover because if I don’t I get really worried that it’s all going to go wrong and then it will be blamed on me by all parties involved (and breath).
But yes, it’s hard. I begin every morning by forcing myself out of bed and I immediately start worrying about the day. I think about everything that happened the day before and if I made a fool of myself or said anything wrong that is going to bite me in the ass today. Did the students go home and complain about me on social media or to their parents? Did I say something really stupid to a colleague that they then laughed at behind my back?
And then I start worrying if that is all going to happen in the day ahead. Am I going to fuck up in every single little way possible? Playing all the scenarios of the day in my head over and over again until I feel sick. And eventually I have to get in the car and go to work.
After dropping my kids at their various locations, I stick on Radio 1 and these 15 minutes of listening to Grimmy is the only time I am silent for the rest of the day and listen to someone else chat shit instead of students listening to me chat even more shit.
I arrive at work and start to get that churning feeling in my stomach; it’s getting closer to 9am. Am I prepared? Do I even know what I am talking about? Are they going to know more than me about this particular topic? Can I pronounce the term correctly? What is that kids name again???
After a bit of catch up in the office it’s time to go. I gather what I need and go to the classroom to set up. They are already waiting, I say give me 5. I log in and get everything set up. I literally need 5 minutes to just stare at the screen and gather myself.
I finally open the door to let them in…and like magic…it’s all gone away. Just like that. Teacher Rhiannon appears. It’s like I am an actor…a bad one, but it’s definitely not me; it’s not the personal I see in the mirror ever morning. And at the end of the day everything that has just happened feels so surreal and I’m not sure where the time has gone.
I go home and then play the role of mum, which is a whole other story!
The vicious circle starts again…
Don’t even get me started on the weekend and Sunday nights!