So I have another week of student teaching under my belt. It’s going pretty well so far. I am settling in, which is good news considering that I was consumed by doubts and uncertainties before taking on this latest challenge. With Dr. Levinson, I have paralleled this challenge with when I started my first graduate program back in ’05. I had been in an inpatient treatment program and was making great progress. The jump to higher education would not only mean leaving Union House, a place I had grown very accustomed to, but also academic rigors I had net yet faced. I was consumed with doubts and negativity but I decided to give this new undertaking a go. And once I got started and immersed into the program, got used to dorm life, again, and met great people; I realized for the first time what I was capable of.
Student teaching has caused another similar realization. I can be productive at 7 am after a nightly dose of Seroquel. I can be both engaging and strict while maintaining my good humor. I can discipline without being overbearing. I can be respectable and imposing at the same time, and I can help kids learn and grasp new information in a thoughtful and introspective way. If I couldn’t do any of these things after two weeks of student teaching, I would be once again, looking for another career.
We are currently on spring break and a few weeks after we return, I am going to be teaching the book Three Cups of Tea. It is about a mountain climber turned philanthropist who makes it his life’s work to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan after villagers from Korphe nurse him back to health following his failed attempt to climb K2. Greg Mortenson fell in love with the people and their customs, and believed the best way to fight terrorism and extremism is through education. He has been remarkably successful with his endeavors.
Reading the moving book has inspired me to think philanthropical as well. As I read I thought, wouldn’t it be great to give back to a community in need the way Greg gave to the people in the book? I thought about all the doctors that helped me along the way, all the people whose stories I internalized, all the therapeutic places I stayed. My road to a complete recovery was a long and at times, treacherous one, but it was a successful journey. I was able to find salvation in a mental health system that fired on all cylinders.
I was driving in the car with my dad following a round of golf on our first 70 degree day of the spring and I told him about my epiphany while reading the book. “I think that’s a great idea,” he said. “You could speak to people who are coming through the same system that you endured years ago. Maybe your way in is to write a book. You should write down your experiences and try to publish something,” he said.
I didn’t want to tell him that I already have written down most of what I went through during my psychosis and the years that followed. I don’t know if I’m ready for it to be published, maybe that’s why I kept it to myself. I do have a voice and I am searching for a forum in which it can best be heard. This is one way to get my story out, but I want to make a wide-scale difference like Mortenson has.
I don’t think now is the time to start moving mountains. Most of my focus these days is on trying to establish myself in the teaching world, but one day, I want my voice to be heard so that others experiencing setbacks due to mental illness can better cope with what they are experiencing and hope for a better tomorrow.