Yes, teachers with OCD are a thing! In this inspiring story from Headteacher Julie Cassiano, you will learn to see OCD as a strength and not a weakness.
During my late teens and early twenties (some time ago now, haha), I began to find ‘daily’ routines and general ‘living’ a little tricky; I had no idea why. I would spend lengthy periods zoned out in my world, overthinking everything around me. I was later diagnosed with OCD and acute depressive mood swings. I was prescribed, offered counselling, and sent on my way…
No one around me understood, and I was told by people I cared for and professionals that I should not discuss my diagnosis with anyone as it would limit my life chances and opportunities. Some even threw the old mental health quote, “Be careful you do not want the man with the white coat to come and take you away.” All of which was throwing fuel to the fire – I felt monsterised! Had just boarded the life train, and already I wanted to exit!
After the birth of my two sons, I became very ill, and intervention was required. Welcome to the story’s ‘kindness’ and ‘happy’ part. This desperately low point in my life came with a positive, and I was fortunate enough to receive care from a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) who specialised in post-natal care and CBT. Until now, counselling had no impact, and I could not connect with psychiatrists. The CPN changed everything! She was a turning point in my life – she began the process of rewiring me. The first step she took was to CONNECT with me – building mutual respect and TRUST.
She visited me at home weekly, listened, and learnt about me to personalise my care. She taught me important facts about my illness and how it manifests. She was POSITIVE and eradicated all my misconceptions about my illness. She made me feel like I could achieve anything. She was KIND, and her EMPATHY was authentic.
Together, we built a survival toolkit personal to me. She was firm, too and challenged my negative thinking. She worked with my partner (now husband), ensuring he better understood my illness. She encouraged him to step back from his carer role and trust I could manage independently.
This was a big ask, but I made rapid progress with him taking a step back. I listened to her therapy sessions inventively and always worked hard on what she taught me.
Lifestyle changes, exercise regimes, relaxation techniques and thought processing were all refurbished. A year on, I was discharged – a day filled with mixed emotions, a sense of pride, and great sadness knowing I would never see her again.
This was the greatest GRADUATION…being taught to survive.
Some may say she was doing her job. I know this was more than just a job to her! She deeply cared and was fully invested in me.
A happy ending
I still relapse occasionally, but I have learnt to manage the relapses independently and have not sought medical intervention since. I live a whole and meaningful life with great purpose. My CPN’s greatest strength was her ability to EMPATHISE, SHOW RESPECT, and PROMOTE POSITIVE THINKING.
Additionally, she did not judge. This enabled me to grow in my personal and professional life. Since then, I have achieved so many things I never thought possible.
I have learnt one’s wellbeing is at its best when more of our human interactions are positive and kind – something that sounds obvious, right? But unfortunately, this is an area we all need to be more consciously aware of. I am now very selective about who I allow to influence my thinking.
I now ensure I pay this kindness back. My role as Headteacher is not about me…it is about those I serve. When I say serve – I mean serve!
Conclusion: Teachers With OCD.
In conclusion, my journey from struggling with daily routines and battling mental health challenges to finding hope and empowerment through the guidance of a compassionate CPN has been transformative. My pivotal role in connecting, understanding, and guiding me towards a more positive and meaningful life cannot be understated.
My unwavering empathy, respect, and commitment to promoting positive thinking became the foundation upon which I built my survival toolkit. Through lifestyle changes, therapy sessions, and the gradual dismantling of misconceptions, I learned to manage relapses and embrace a life filled with purpose.
My story is a testament to human interactions’ profound impact on wellbeing. The kindness, understanding, and non-judgmental support I received allowed me to survive and thrive. This experience has shaped my journey and influenced my role as a Headteacher, where I prioritize serving and uplifting those around me.
Ultimately, my story highlights the transformative power of empathy, respect, and positive thinking, reminding us to be conscious of our impact on others and the potential for positive change when we show kindness and understanding.
Headteacher – Julie Cassiano
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