THE PANIC ATTACK, THE BREAKING POINT, AND THE SUDDEN MELTDOWN

I don’t know how to tell you this, but…I think I’m suffering from the mental breakdown. I hope I’m not depressed again like I was before.

I’ve recognised these symptoms before. These are the signs of stress – or maybe my general anxiety disorder.

Then again, I don’t know. I’m not an expert psychologist or a therapist here. I can only analyse and speculate.

I’ve been overwhelmed. I’ve had several panic attacks which – somehow – led to physical illnesses quite frequently.

“You hardly say a word or talk about what’s bothering you so much. You’re just like him.”

Yeah, Ma. I’m aware of that.

Last Saturday, I had reached my breaking point and had a sudden meltdown at work. I think I kind of shocked Tony B., knowing that I’d never cried in front of him like that before – two years of us working together.

The stress had been affecting my teaching really bad that I’d screwed up a session with Tony B. observing me.

In the end, I broke down and cried during the feedback session. He asked me what was wrong and I simply answered: “Everything.”

“Your work…or personal life?” Tony B., the ever-understanding Tony B., asked me gently. He looked really concerned now as he patted my cold, shaky hand on the table. When I shook my head, he urged me: “It’s okay. Tell me.”

So I did. I realised that somehow, my life still has ‘loose ends’. There’s still some ‘unfinished business’ in my head. No proper ‘closure’. I took the job for the wrong reasons, so that’s why I’ve never really enjoyed it.

I thought that if I’d kept myself as busy as possible – there wouldn’t have been any room in my head for sad thoughts. That I wouldn’t have to think about missing Dad so much.

“I’m sorry.” I shook my head again, feeling utterly helpless. “I know I sound unprofessional. I’ve tried not to complain so much.”

“No, no, no,” Tony B. objected, shaking his head. “It’s only been six months. Why beat yourself up? It’s your father. I’d gone through hell myself when mine died years ago. Of course it’s not easy. It never is.”

“I thought that job was really for me,” I said. “But maybe I’m just not for the job.”

“That happens to everyone, even those who work really hard.” Perhaps I’d only been burned out, but I silently listened to him. He was right about a lot of things – especially since he’s had more work experiences and I do look up to him.

In short, Tony B. asked me not to be so hard on myself and just take it easy. We’re only human. I’ve always tried my best, but there are times when I do need to ‘call for help’ – and that’s okay too. People are different and they cope with things differently. That doesn’t always mean something’s wrong with them or their true quality at work should be questioned or second-guessed here.

“Sometimes it’s not the job; it’s the work culture.” Then he added with something else that has always rung my bell: “You need to talk about this if you feel uncomfortable. We can switch your classes with another teacher and that’s okay. Just don’t keep on waiting until there’s a complaint.”

Right, I’ll keep that in mind.

In the end, since I was still an emotional trainwreck, Tony B. offered to cover for the first hour of my last class. I nodded. I told him I could still do the last hour and he just nodded too. Then Tony B. went to my classroom and I was on my own at the meeting room, regaining my composure.

I had to ask Johan, one of the office assistants, to fetch me my shades on my desk and he did. (Later on Sunday, after a backpackers’ seminar, I dumbly left them on a restaurant table! Oh, hell. I was exhausted.)

I talked to Janey for a while that day. She had another argument with D. about their relationship. My God, girl – just break it up with him, will you? I know D’s my best friend and that I love him like a little brother, because he’s always been nice to me. I’m going to miss him too when he’s not around anymore, but…please, he’s just not worth it. He’s still a kid. He’s my best friend, but – as a boyfriend – he’s an asshole! I know the type.

Still, can you ever convince a 21-year-old gullible girl madly in love with a player? No such luck. She thinks she can change him, which is such a pity. Just another Cinderella-complex sufferer that I’ve come across.

I know, I know – I’m such a mean skeptic. I’m romantically-challenged and reality speaks.

Oh, well. I’ve just got to get through this, eh? The show must go on…

R.

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