I was asked by a co-worker to be a volunteer for a program my employer had brought in to a local school last week. The program was called Challenge Day, and was designed to help high school students bond and prevent bullying and other problems schools struggle to deal with. There are 100 students and 20 adult volunteers for each program, and it lasts for the day.
What I was not prepared for were the emotional heaviness that the program tends to bring out. I was not prepared for such heavy topics to be disclosed by two students in my group. I was not prepared to share something so personal with the students (it was about how I wish I was the one who raised my niece and I wished I had custody of her). I was not prepared about the toll it took on me mentally. I was not prepared for the heaviness and the cloud to follow me around for several days. I was not prepared to keep the depression at bay because I had skipped taking my medicine for a couple of days.
While I did preform some self care, I struggled. I did not share anything with my husband, and did not ask him for comfort. I thought about scheduling an appointment with a therapist just to get the cloud over my head to turn sunny instead of dark, but finances would not allow me the luxury to spend $75 for one hour that may or may not help. And if I needed more than one session, I couldn’t afford that either.
Instead, I began watching the Sleepy Hollow TV series on Hulu. I played Chicken Invaders on my tablet. I talked a little about it with a couple of co-workers who have gone through the program themselves, and I began expressing my hurt about how many students crossed over the lines during one specific exercise, and how I couldn’t believe such a small town had such huge problems.
It is getting easier for me to function again. I did not have to resort to alcohol or doing anything stupid in order to cope. I made it through, for the most part. But I can assure you that I will not participate in another Challenge Day ever again. The emotional toll was too high and is not a price I want to pay again.