Back to school can be such an infuriating time for someone who struggles with mental health issues. For me in particular, it fills me with such a mix of strong emotions; I often end up conveying the “wrong” ones. When I was a kid, the return to school was panic inducing. The night before would usually find me in a fear stricken ball in bed. Suffice it to say, I was not a popular kid. Overweight, too eccentric and smart is not a good combination when you’re trying to fit in. However, there is also the start of something new. A fresh beginning that is so utterly irresistible that I can’t help but get swept up in it. Of course, my daughter has no idea what’s going on and is simultaneously dreading waking up early again, and thrilled to see her school friends.
Even as an adult, I dread back to school because it means once again feeling inadequate at my lack of “room mom ability” and the awkwardness of the bus stop pick up. When you’re bi-polar, it’s difficult to commit to things such as volunteering in the classroom. Usually, I laugh off my unwillingness as just being lazy or afraid of kids. The truth of the matter is I am terrified of disappointing people when the depression hits. The day that I’m supposed to be at the school sharpening pencils and cutting out cardboard circles will instead be the day that my blanket is a lead weight on my chest and I can’t handle putting on shoes, let alone handling scissors. My daughter wants me to help out so desperately and I have no idea how to explain to her that sometimes Mommy’s illness gets the best of her.