#193: The Tunnel

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I have carpal tunnel syndrome. No, I’ve never been officially diagnosed with it, but I’m confident that I have it. My hands are weak, my joints are twisted, and my fingers feel pain as soon as I start typing or using the computer at all. It’s an unusual feeling, but it’s something I’ve grown accustomed to. Like how people with disabilities or diseases acclimate to the new normal of their lives, I’ve gotten used to feeling a slight twinge in my fingers after typing for long periods of time. It’s worse when I write physically, though. That’s part of the reason why I’ve moved on from my personal journaling and have started writing my blogs on here instead. It helps me relax my fingers, while keeping the blogs to a steady 300-word minimum allows me to stop myself before it gets too out of hand (get it?).

According to orthoinfo.org, “The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist, about an inch wide. The floor and sides of the tunnel are formed by small wrist bones called carpal bones. The carpal tunnel protects the median nerve and flexor tendons that bend the fingers and thumb.” Before doing some research, I never actually knew what carpal tunnel was named after; I assumed it had something to do with the wrist, obviously, but nothing specific came to mind.

When I play video games, that’s usually when I feel the pain the most. My hands can start to fall asleep in the middle of playing games, and if I hold onto a grip for too long, my hands start to feel pressure and pain. It’s not a good or pleasant feeling, that’s for sure. I don’t think I could ever play a game like Starcraft 2 again, at least without damaging my hands even more. Or Super Smash Bros: Melee. Not that I ever was good at those games, but it doesn’t hurt to have fun with them every once in awhile.

#163: The Dentist

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Going to the dentist is one of my least favorite adult activities, because I always know what they’ll say to me, and I always know that I need to do better. Unfortunately, knowing isn’t the same as doing. It isn’t as easy as it seems. Though I could just be making excuses for myself.

Here’s the thing. My teeth aren’t in fantastic shape. After forgetting to wear my night brace for over a year, my teeth regressed to the shape and form they had awhile ago, when I was younger and before paying for the orthodontist to do work on my teeth. I wish I took some of that stuff more seriously as a kid, then I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in now.

Going to the dentist gives me the chance to sit back, relax, and watch a trained professional stick pointy, sharp tools in my mouth and around my teeth, poking at my gums along the way. It’s created many memories that involve someone trying to strike up casual conversation with me — about the weather, sports, school, work, et cetera — while sticking those tools at me. It’s hard to swallow it all and not mess up their groove while still holding up my end of the conversation. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I find the dentist to be so unpleasant; they never seem to know when to just chill and not talk. I’m fine with going about my dentist appointment silently; the casual conversations don’t add anything to my enjoyment of the experience, if anything they detract from it.

I haven’t gone to the dentist in a bit, and I recently had an appointment scheduled that I needed to cancel on. It’s about time I find a new dentist.

#136: The Mental Health Day

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In continuing my trend of discussing personal issues, such as my health, I’ll today be discussing mental health and what it was like last year, when I decided to take better care of my mental health.

When I used to work in Milford, I would make sure to take time off for my mental health. Little did I know that working in that place would actually deteriorate my mental health to the point of an actual breakdown and collapse of sanity, but I’m sure my decision to take mental health days contributed to the preservation of my sanity in a temporary sense. Taking mental health days helped me stay afloat, basically.

I highly recommend you make the decision to take mental health days for yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, and for some reason we only equate sick days with being physically ill. If someone is mentally ill and is in need of immediate help, then taking a day for yourself is a great way of getting back on track and resetting things. Not just for yourself, but for the good of others, too. If you’re mentally ready for things, the people at work will benefit from your aptness. If you’re not mentally ready, you risk alienating and making things worse for yourself and others. Think of it the same way you think of physical health!

I’ve tried to convince Alex to take more days for herself, similarly to what I did, but it hasn’t been super successful yet. It’s still a work in progress for sure.

Plus, above all, I get to spend days with Angus, my best friend and greatest companion of all. Nothing compares to the benefit of mental health bestowed by being with a dog companion.

#7: Mistakes

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It’s easier to make mistakes repeatedly than to learn from them. A part of my mind always presents to me the easy option during a judgement call. When the going gets tough, when circumstances are dire, you can guarantee I’m looking at a morally correct decision and the easier decision. Of course, I’ll choose what’s right the majority of the time, but I cannot deny that the temptation towards ease and convenience exists. This feeds into mistake-making.

People make mistakes despite learning from them, too. I don’t think it’s as simple as saying that knowledge itself prevents mistakes from reoccurring; in some part of people’s minds, knowledge exists but is not acted upon. For whatever reason, whether it’s leisure or a general unwillingness to comply, people can know better but still act worse. It’s a puzzling conundrum faced by new teachers all over.

I saw this a lot during teaching: students would act up during class, but they clearly knew how to act appropriately. They acted fine in many other classes, so the ability was present. When I would talk with other teachers during lunch, you could almost feel my confidence wane as I tried starting up conversation about a student giving me trouble who, to some of the other teachers, wasn’t a troublemaker for them at all. Something about how “students just act up around younger teachers, even if they know better.” Even if they know better.

Irrationality is something I had to wrap my head around, as a teacher. Humans are not rational beings who always make the logically appropriate decision at every opportunity or interval. There are dozens of other factors influencing human decision-making, especially adolescent decision-making, such as social skills, environment, time of day, class history, and background. Nothing comes easily in teaching.

Mistakes are easy to make, difficult to learn from, and even more difficult to fully comprehend enough to make a meaningful difference in one’s character. I hope that by writing these blogs I am, in some way, atoning for a mistake I hope to learn much from. When staring down a mistake from years ago, with roots traced into the present day, anxiety comes from looking too closely at it for too long. I hope not to make that mistake, as well.

#5: Smiling Away from Work

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So much is communicated with a smile. But not enough to judge a person’s mental health.

At my last job, I tried to smile more, hoping it would make me happier. Much of my personality was communicated through personas and body language rather than authentic emotion. You can lead and laugh through a wonderful class while still feeling an overwhelming disappointment in yourself. No simple mistake, no factual error, no awkward gaffe escapes your ever-present self-loathing. It provides ammunition, evidence to support the thesis that you are woefully unqualified and unworthy.

You wonder whether your mind even wants you to enjoy this, whether that’s a possibility at all. Your mind is too preoccupied with its escapist visions of the future to be satisfied with the present. You remember the ones who enjoyed what you did for them. Compliments bounce off your outer shell, heard and appreciated but not internalized enough to make a difference. You remember the ones who dreaded you more clearly. They left a more indelible impression in your brain, and every little piece of those memories is brought back to the surface when you think about it long enough.

And yet I still smiled all day. I left meetings alone with a weight on my chest. I remember hearing about community-building exercises, networking opportunities, icebreaker activities. Every word worsened the sting. I remember pitching these opportunities to others, hoping someone would like them, even though I had no interest in them myself. It was an obligation. What I really wanted was to feel listened to, or heard in some way.

My heart nearly burst through me the first time I had to explode at someone. I could still feel my chest pain hours later. But that’s another story for another time.

I will continue to smile for no reason at all, even if it changes nothing. My depression does not mean I cannot find enjoyment in simple things. In fact, it’s the simple things that keep me falling off the deep end. It’s when I finally discover an outlet for my creativity that I realize I can beat this back. Thanks for reading.


They say every person needs a partner

Every life needs another;

To seek, embrace, complete it.

But I don’t buy into that gypsy philosophy,

Practiced by fools and wayward spirits.

Heart’s weren’t made in a lock-and-key fashion,

Never have I noticed my heart missing

A second half, atrium and ventricle absent.

Love has never soothed my soul’s worries,

Nor has it fixed anything troubling going on.

It’s only brought more worries, more trouble

And more anguish and foolishness.

Synchronicity is overrated because love,

Love makes no sense…

But maybe it doesn’t have to.