Hubris indeed!

Source: Hubris indeed!


Hubris indeed!

I was just congratulating myself on achieving calm and order in my mind. My last real attack was back in October and finally writing about it seemed to be a turning point as I’ve had very little to deal with since. One up to me!

Last night I had the worse attack I think I’ve ever had. Certainly rivalled the tearing off of the wedding outfit one. Absolutely no rhyme. No reason. I had a very relaxing evening. A bit of Twitter. Watched rubbish TV. Did jigsaws on the iPad as I watched. Nothing stressful. Just chilling.

Plucking my eyebrows before bed, as you do, it hit me. Wave after wave of anxiety. Unable to move. Couldn’t breathe. Nauseous.  Shaking. None of the coping mechanisms I’d developed working. I lay on the cold of the bathroom floor praying for it to end. Weeping with the utter helplessness I felt.

In time it passed. A long time. Much longer than previous episodes. Is this my punishment for daring to believe I’ve conquered this debilitating condition? How dare I!  How very dare I!

I awoke this morning still feeling shaken by it. Family coming today though including my beloved Toots. Get up and get on.

I start a course on Monday with FutureLearn on Mindfulness and I am hopeful that it will provide other strategies and techniques I can call on in the future. As a good friend keeps saying to me ‘onward and upward.’ I will keep travelling forward. I accept there will be delays on my journey but I will get there!

More hubris. I’d better be careful.

The Punch That Ali Never Threw

Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

It was another time, another place and I was another person. Way before I was a teacher and I could sit in the pub in the afternoon. This time in London, somewhere, I can’t remember, wasting time with an old friend. The radio played a local station and we more or less ignored it. Until, after a sports report which told us nothing, we heard that Mohammed Ali was signing books in Tottenham Court Road that afternoon. An opportunity not to be missed, we finished our drinks (probably) and got a ludicrously expensive cab across the city. Sure enough, half an hour later, a large man shuffled out off a limo and blinked in the afternoon sunshine. It was Ali. We turned into little children in his presence.

I’d never been so close to greatness since – as I found out later – I’d barged passed a young Diego Maradona…

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Some commentary on History, progression and the Social Studies benchmarks

Excellent and thought provoking article.

Professor Mark Priestley

The following is a guest post from Dr Joe Smith, University of Stirling, on the assessment of History using the new benchmarks.

Curriculum for Excellence is presently being equipped with ‘benchmarks’ to clarify what a child at each ‘level’ might be expected to know and do.  In terms of history, this means that Education Scotland have addressed the messy question of progression in historical understanding.  This blog posts explores some of the problems with the proposals. (NB. Some of the arguments here are similar to those I raised in The Curriculum Journal 2016)


There exist several models for progression in history education, but all are based on the uncontroversial premise that ‘getting better’ means something other than ‘knowing more’.  There is, after all, a literally infinite amount that one might know about the past and so to say that, ‘I know more history than you’ is to say…

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A Lifetime of Resentments and Insecurities

All too true for too many of our children Kenny.

Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

tazOften like a whirlwind, often like a Tazmanian Devil, he storms, belligerently out of my class on the bell in the same rebellious manner as he enters: with somewhere better to be and another fifty minutes chalked off from his day. Negotiating six periods daily is a constant battle for him. What has changed is, in his developing maturity, he now doesn’t fight as much, knowing that this is something he must endure until he can leave school. He does what he needs to do, avoids what he can avoid and gets out of here as fast as he can.

For kids like him, school has been an abject failure. Education has never been respected in his family – what has it ever done for them? – and we have whole-heartedly failed to change that for him. Counting the days, looking at the clock, biding his time. He’ll leave school…

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In the midst of peace, chaos and in chaos, peace.

Strolling along a beachfront. Sun shining. Cloudless blue sky. Windsurfers and wave surfers. Children having fun splashing and swimming in a beautiful sea. Grown ups relaxing. Chatting and laughing. Work and the daily grind a long way away. No stress. An idyllic scene. Peaceful. Not a care in the world.

In the midst of all this and for no rhyme or reason, without any warning as always, panic strikes.

Debilitating. Frightening. Nauseating. Uncontrollable. Made all the worse by being far from the security blanket of the familiar. Not that that always helps. Only behind the front door of home is there safety.

How and why has it come to this? I wish I had the answer to that. For all of my life I’ve been in control. Organised, efficient, independent, smart, intelligent, a good manger and problem solver. (Modest too!) A listening ear and words of advice for all sorts of people with all sorts of issues. Always believing that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to and encouraging others to think the same of themselves. No problems only challenges. No barriers that could not be overcome with effort and determination.

Then one day, it all fell apart. With hindsight, the crisis was a long time in the making, I just didn’t see it coming. A series of unfortunate circumstances, personal and professional all finally combined: the unexpected and harrowing death of a dearly beloved friend; 15 months of dealing with the fallout of being horribly and viciously betrayed and abused by a once trusted and respected friend and colleague resulting in an investigation and a hearing, to list but two. The result? Crash and burn! One kind word at the wrong moment (or right moment depending on your viewpoint) and all the control, all the holding it together, deserted me and I wept. Uncontrollably and relentlessly, I wept.

(That’s apparently a unique experience for me. Ask my family and they’d tell you I never cry. Only twice in their memory: the unexpected arrival home of my son and on holding my granddaughter for the first time)

There’s no way of describing adequately how it feels when an attack hits; it’s something you would have to experience for yourself. Nights out with family, close friends, familiar and safe surroundings. Hogmanay spent in the car in a hotel car park when the family is inside partying. So panicked at my son’s wedding I literally tore my dress off to get into a cold, calming shower. Days when I’d actually manage to get dressed and make-up on to go out, reaching the car door and having to come back inside. Made it out to church no more than a couple of times. Didn’t work for four months. Couldn’t even go in with Fitness to Work line. Made no difference the who, the why and the where. No rhyme. No reason.

Four months of very little motivation. So tired but sleeping badly. Anxious about everything and nothing. Anxious about being anxious. Endless jigsaws and reading. Slowly trying to pull myself together. Exercise some willpower. Not easy. Fortunately I have a wonderful GP who has helped me tremendously. Yes, there’s medication too and I’m grateful for it. Most helpful of all was the support of family and friends. Twitter friends who shared what they had gone through. Caring and compassionate. Understanding without judging. Learning I wasn’t alone in my experience. The people who have come forward to share with me. People I thought were “least likely” candidates for mental health issues; just as they thought of me.

The feeling of helplessness, that you’re not the person you thought you were is a salutary experience. I’ve never been, or felt, so helpless before or so hopelessly inadequate. Will I ever have the strength of mind and resilience I had before? Will I ever be free of these unprovoked anxiety attacks? These aren’t questions I can answer yet but I’m making progress and I’m learning coping strategies.

Eventually I’m going to be fixed. I’m determined on it. Whatever broke me will have been resolved or I’ll have come to terms with it. Learned to live with it. In some ways I believe it’s made me a better person. More equipped to ask for help. Not afraid to say I need it. This enables me to understand and accept more readily the shortcomings I once perceived in others.

Fragile and imperfect but getting there.