Sunday, April 01, 2012

At the weekend I attended the GiftEDNZ Conference (Professional Association for Gifted Education) in Wellington.

 Maybe it was being surrounded by so many 'like minds', or maybe it was my own brain observing so many passionate people pursuing their personal dreams or maybe it was the realisation that I need to do something (else/more/different/special/for me-delete as applicable) but I came away with a hunger. I say hunger, maybe it was more of a craving. Being a bipol, I sometimes find myself noticing, from a distance, what I am thinking. I envied certain of the speakers for their eloquence, I envied some for their commitment to their subject, for their creativity, for their confidence. I wondered why it was that I was not pursuing my academic goals, my creative dreams, my personal desires. Of course it helps to know what these are! Being overwhelmed by choice and then not doing anything about it has sort of been the story of my life, I guess. I could be anything, do anything, but what? The conference has got me thinking- as you'd expect from a conference on gifted education. But more on a personal level than a professional one.

Since I last blogged on this site (I think) I have joined an organisation called Gifted Kids and now work as a 'one day a week' facilitator (note not teacher) of a group of wonderful year 8 gifted kids. Thing is, whilst as a teacher I can teach just about anything,  this job is teaching me sooooo much about me.

I react quite emotionally to things at the best of times. At a PD (professional development) session a while ago a colleague was talking about the social and emotional needs of gifted kids. I read the slide on her powerpoint, about introverts, and nearly burst into tears ( which would have been a great look in front of 30 teachers!) because there I was, on the screen, in black and white (well pale blue and dark blue!)

This weekend, it was about perfectionism, resilience and again the social and emotional needs of the gifted; concepts I should be covering with my kids but which I am still trying to deal with myself. I was moved by discussions on excellence, trying to be the best you can be or just better than the rest (me or Caitlin?)or just giving up because you can't be the best (or just can't do it?).

The greatest effect however was a paper delivered by Dr Deborah Fraser of the University of Waikato, on Depression and Creativity: LIberation from the Noonday Demon. The paper itself was ok, informative though I would have liked  it to have been more child focussed. She dwelt on famous depressives-Dickinson, Plath etc but then mentioned Kay Redfield Jamison who is something of a hero of mine. She is the chair of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins ( inspite of being a psychologist) and a famous bipol. So of course my brain went into over drive, bipolar disorder being mentioned in a talk at a gifted ed conference????

Then came a list of Do's and Don'ts...not all of which I agree with

Quieten the Mind (meditation etc)
Develop self acceptance
Go into Nature
Seek Social Support (BUT I'm an introvert so I don't like to be social)
Reframing (going to have to look that one up)
Be Daring (does jumping out of an aeroplane count)
Express those strong feelings (in art or something creative)
Orient yourself to the future
Take drugs (I mean meds)
Find a purpose ( but which one?)

Read about it, it will only depress you ( but what about those feelings of...thank god some one else feels like me?)
Listen to the "You MUST" voice (ok I agree with that but that voice shouts real loud)
Have analysis (controversial?)
Talk about it (very controversial)
Time Management ( I find this very helpful)
Reliving the emotions
Doing Nothing (so all of the above things are better thn doing nothing at all?)

I tend to take a lot of things on face value so rarely disagree. But here I have to, because the benefit I gained from the session had nothing to do with the talk. You see, I suddenly became an expert. Some of my colleagues know I am bipolar (the whole of West Auckland does since my number plate says so!) and I was able to share with them afterwards my thoughts, feelings and knowledge. It was the first time I had felt energised in the company of these wonderful people. Instead of envying their knowledge I could share mine and not be judged, and as often happens, it freed them up to share their concerns and issues. So we talked ( not recommended), I relived some of the emotions (again not recommended) and I have been asked to share An Unquiet MInd with a number (um shouldn't be reading about it should we?)
I advertise too :-)

I have come home desperate to DO something. Should I take a paper or two in gifted ed? Should I look into psychology? Should I write a book (or blog) about my experiences? After all the emotions and memories are so clear in my head. Should I? Could I? 'Should' is banned in our house but I felt/feel that I haven't fulfilled my potential. There is more I could do. Perhaps I need to do more? Or just different? So here is a new start, a rebirth of this blog. Maybe if I free my brain from its own restrictions and let loose, something will happen? Who knows?

It has to be better than the homecoming was. Caitlin and I talked for hours about the conference and what I had learned about her and me. She's 14 going on 43, gifted, hard working and intense. She rocks! That part of the homecoming was awesome.

The following day however was back to drudge. I have a brain the size of a planet (thanks Marvin), a degree from Oxford and so much potential yet Sunday was full of drudge. How can I reach my potential if I am expected (or expect myself) to cook, clean, garden, support others and do tasks which overwhelm my emotional brain (like gardening which is neverending, imperfect, so tiring) which leaves me exhausted and with no time to do anything else? So seeing Time management on the list of Don'ts doesn't work for me. I will garden for an hour and then I will do something for me, maybe, if it's ok with you.

Even writing that makes me emotional. Like I don't deserve to have the time to do 'my thing', if at times I knew what that thing is. I am suffering today from the physical aftermath of a meltdown yesterday. I feel as though I have a cold but I know it is connected to the events of yesterday. I essentially had a meltdown over the fact that no one else bothers. I came home to a house messier and dirtier than I had left it and which I was expected to clean. No one mentioned all the effort I had gone to to make sure the weekend ran smoothly for everyone (making dinner before I left, tidying up, leaving lists, forms and money out for kids' activities). Why did I bother?

I sought out that support Fraser mentioned yesterday and was knocked back. The kids were great in the end but my husband the psychologist just sat there and essentially told me to pull myself together and just go away! I thnk on the Don'ts list there could be "Don't marry a psychologist! They just don't understand!". Thank god for my son who joined me in the garden just as I was melting down and stayed with me til the end of the tree decimation. Hopefully he won't become a psychologist because at the moment he knows exactly what to do!

So my time management list says I need to finish now, or my brain will allow me to carry on for hours and the drudgery won't get!

Maybe this is the beginning of something? Maybe it is just something different? Who knows? We shall see!