When life gives you “storms” of unease, stress, or sadness, here’s a few ways you can make sure your stability progress stays on track.
The Grateful Dead sing a song titled “Uncle John’s Band” and one of the lyrics is “When life looks like easy Street, there is danger at your door.”
My job is a challenging one working with special education students giving them support in their classroom.
My job has been easy because of the special education teacher named Jan that I have worked closely with for the past 5 years. Jan has been so much more than my boss. She is my rock, mentor, friend, second mother, and confidant. Jan and I go together like peanut butter and jelly. I have been doing my job for 11 years and she has been the one who has most valued me most. I have been her eyes and feet as I work closely with our students and teachers. I have helped her set up meetings, write IEPs (Individual Education Plans) that each student in special education has by law. I have been a channel of communication between her and teachers that she has needed to communicate with.
Jan and I have belly laughed together on a daily basis. To the point where we might have had an accident in our pants. One of our testing specialists has had to bang on the wall we share to get us to stop laughing.
Jan has been my biggest support of my memoir “Some Dreams Are Worth Keeping” and has encouraged me as I have overcome my fear of public speaking through these last few years.
Jan went in for a procedure and when she woke up, she showed signs of a stroke.
They discovered a blood clot on her brain. They were unable to remove it. This
has impacted her speech and the right side of her body.
I had called the night of the procedure and Barbara, her partner, told me the news. We were not sure at that point if Jan was going to die. I went into complete shock and screaming “No! No! No!” on the phone. My husband looked at me wondering what was going on.
I cried so
hard I gasped for air, hysterical. Beyond tears in a state of hysteria. My
husband and I cried and pleaded to God to bring Jan through the night and days
I continued crying
my tears as I laid in bed. My cat wouldn’t even come close for a bit because my
wailing scared her. I held my rosary and managed to somehow fall asleep.
The next morning,
I was too distraught to go to work. It was a rainy and cold day. Rain fell on
my face, but I couldn’t feel it. I didn’t even notice it as I was driving. I
went to church praying to God.
I went over to my parent’s house and out of nowhere a crazy wind blew. I believe it was a sign from Jan and God saying everything was going to be ok.
and Jan’s speech began to get jumbled. I couldn’t talk to her the way I did
just days before. I began to grieve because our relationship changed so
We had a
plan. We were going to work 3 more years together. I was going to leave the
school when she retired. Jan was so sure I was going to travel the world
speaking about my passion mental health at that point. She was going to play
poker and spend time with her partner.
other plans. I just couldn’t accept that his plans were possibly better than
every morning on my way to school. She was never going to step foot in our room
as a teacher again. Her black and white over sized sweater laid on her chair. I
sobbed in it wishing that things were the way they used to be just days before.
I knew I needed to be proactive about my mental health—which felt like it was slipping away. I have learned so much about how to get through situations like these having a bipolar disorder diagnosis. It is so easy to know what to do, but when things are upside down it’s really hard to do them.
I started going to the gym. It was a struggle getting there. Being exhausted was the only way I could fall asleep without having emotions and crying hysterically. It wore me out. My brain could not think of Jan lying in a hospital bed.
I went to my Spiritual Wellness Support Group that I co-lead. I cried and people listened. People who truly care were there for me.
I went and talked to a priest. He was very comforting. He gave me some spiritual insight and we talked for an hour.
I continued to lean on my faith and spent quiet time praying in our church’s chapel.
I leaned on my mom, my husband, co-workers, my cat, and friends.
I sit here blogging at this beautiful desk. It is a gift from Jan. It is a unique looking desk just like our relationship is special and unique. Salty tears run down my checks.
I am grateful because Jan is doing well in her
recovery. Her sense of humor is intact and she is fighting hard for a strong
I am so thankful for the past 5 years we spent
working as a team.
Life must go on. I don’t know what the future
has in store for me or for Jan. No one does.
I trust in a
loving God with a plan for my life as I hold on to precious memories of the
past and trying to make peace with it.
Susan Johnson graduated from Drake University with a BA in sociology. She is the author of Some Dreams Are Worth Keeping: A Memoir of My Bipolar Journey. Since her diagnosis of bipolar I in 1995, Susie's true passion in life is to help break the stigma of mental illness and to bring hope to those who live with one. An accomplished inspirational speaker and guest blogger at bpHope Blog, Susie was the subject of a “This Is Me” Q&A in bp Magazine in 2018. Her writing also appears in the Catholic Exchange, the Kingdom Revelator, and Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine. Susie co-leads a mental health group at her church and currently works with special education students as an instructional assistant for a school district in Nevada. She will be speaking at TEDxTenayaPaseo in January 2021. And she enjoys hiking, baking, traveling, practicing yoga, spending time with her Goddaughter, and taking trips to Cancun. Originally from Thousand Oaks, CA, Susie now makes her home in fabulous Las Vegas with her husband, Gary, and Siberian cat, Angel-Ann. Visit her website, SJohnsonAuthor.com and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
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