All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul

Posted by: Chasity Foster | 5 months ago | 20 comments
Today I resigned my job.  First, I must say I love my job. I LOVE what I do. I am a teacher. A teacher changed my life. So I set out in life to do the same for other children.  My students are my kids. Their parents are an extension of my family. They entrust me with their most prized possession each day.  I work at the best elementary school in my county. I love my coworkers. They have been there for the adoption of my boys and through the loss of my beautiful daughter.  They are my family. Without them I wouldn't be here where I am today.
This past year has been a difficult year for everyone.   2020 was going to be a year where so many dreams, goals, and promises came true instead it hit us like a mack truck  leaving us feeling hopeless, isolated, and depressed. 
Since Shaylin's accident I have experienced depression and anxiety. Honestly, the first year after her accident Chris and I were in such a fog we just went through the motions of life. I look back on pictures and see I lost 25 lbs in 2 weeks. Chris lost 18lbs. We were just existing.  We went back to work. We are both good at our jobs. We excel at them. We have been recognized multiple times at our jobs. I enrolled in a Masters program for Educational Leadership. We stayed busy so we didn't have to focus on the tragedy that we lived everyday, our daughter was gone. Chris and I had this beautiful child at 16. Very much children ourselves but suddenly we were making adult decisions. She is the greatest blessing in our life. Not that boys are not blessings in our lives because they are. We are thankful everyday for them. However, because of her we made the choice to have Trent and adopt Jaden and Makaelis. She started us down the road of life we have been traveling since we were kids. She made us a family. 
We kept busy doing things in honor of Shaylin. That felt good because even though she wasn't here we could continue her legacy and help people. She would love that.  Doing good made us feel good too. Small acts of kindness can change the world. 
The second year without her was quite different from the first. The reality that this your life kicks in. You feel like you are drowning and you see the surface and are fighting to come to the surface of water. Yet, you realize that this is the reality of your new life, so why continue to fight? Why not succumb to the darkness?  Panic and anxiety becomes part of your identity.  Our society really doesn't know how to deal well with mental illness and people are still unsure what to say.  So it's hard to talk to people when you are suffering. I mean if I broke my leg, I would have no problem showing my cast off and passing the pen around for everyone to sign. However, how do you talk about the fact you are struggling so hard in life? That before walking in work you sat in your car and cried. That you slept on the bathroom floor because you are physically sick from all the anxiety. Or after the meeting you were in, you go back to your room and cry. It's hard to talk about it so instead you put a mask on, nod your head, and smile when people ask you how things are and reply good.  Sometimes I try to talk to about things but then feel bad because I feel like maybe I am being an inconvenience, or they seem really busy with their own life, or it's really my own problem not theirs, maybe I am a Debbie Downer.. 
I took a leave of absence in September because I was experiencing headaches, irregularities in my speech, loss of smell, vomiting, unable to sleep, and really bad anxiety, panic attacks.  My dr performed all kinds of tests and what they have concluded is I am suffering from bad anxiety and depression.  One thing that people were unaware about me was that I was hospitalized in June with depression and anxiety. It was something that I didn't want to talk about. People are always telling me you are so strong. I never feel that way. I always feel like I am a hot mess. But I gave up my will to live. I could care less if I lived or not. People say things like well you are doing amazing things, you are so strong, this is part of Gods plan. Was this part of Gods plan? For me to lose the person I was closest to in the world. I don't believe that. I don't believe God planned for my daughter to die but he did use her tragedy in the most beautiful ways. He uses her life everyday to show his love. I would think maybe I just need to get things right. I am not really strong enough. I prayed and talked with God, arguing back and forth, sick, sleeping on the floor of my bathroom and going to work never mentioning to anyone that I was falling apart. I was embrassed to say I couldn't do this.  
I would wake up each day and lay motionless. And realize the death and relief that I prayed for daily had not came. I had to face another day. The world continue to spin madly and yet I was standing still. People wishing to go be with Jesus with their kids because of politics. And I am wishing I could so I could hug my child. 
It's came to a point where I couldn't do it anymore. It's a hard decision. Because I love my job. I love my students and their families. The joy I see on their faces each day is priceless. If a child has ever told you that they love you that's true love. They are honest to a T. The relationships and trust you build with them is something I will always cherish. Kids are funny. Their humor and wit are profound. And they really seek to be change in the world. Kids are kind! I have never taught a kid that didn't have one admirable trait about them. Most parents want the best for their kids, some parents just don't know the way to do it. They may have lost themselves as kids and never had someone champion for them. That's why as teachers we need to be supportive not only for kids but for their parents too. We all have the same goals to make sure kids are successful. I have been dealing with guilt of letting my kids and parents down. I never want my kids to think I didn't care or they didn't matter. Being their teacher has been one of my greatest joys. To my students and parents, I am truly thankful for all the joy and love you have brought into my life.
When I made the decision to resign my  administration couldn't have been more supportive. When I say I have the best administration in my county. I do. I was able to seek the help I needed because of their support. My principal encouraged me to share my story. I don't know if I would have without her support. My health and my family's well-being came first. It's hard to do as a teacher. We always put our students needs before our own. We schedule doctors appointments around holiday breaks and summer breaks just so we don't have to leave during the school day. 
So I right now, I am going to focus on me. Getting better. If you have made it this far in reading this... And think WOW... I had no idea!! How many other people perhaps you have no idea about?? There are signs. Take the time to call, message, or text people. Life gets busy and we often forget to call people we care about.  You never know what that one call would mean to someone. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts... Seek help. Even strong people need help at times. It's not weak to seek help. ❤🌈

Comments

Faith Mowell 5 months ago

You have always be a strong women in my eyes. Had no clue. But know focus on you girl and get better. If you ever need someone to talk to I'm only a call away.
Love you and your family so much.

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Marsha Starr 5 months ago

I love you. You are amazing. I know you don’t always feel that way from the inside looking out, but I see you from the outside looking in. I do know how you’ve struggled and have seen you in the worst of times. The fact that I still have you and get to read this amazingly frank and honest blog is a blessing and I am thankful daily for you.

I am so proud of who you are. So proud to call you my best friend and sister. I hope you do more of this blogging! It’s incredible.

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Kendra Perbetsky 5 months ago

I have struggled for more years than I can say with depression and anxiety. I have passed these “glitches” onto my girls. It hard for people to understand what your going through because it can not be seen, but I’m a big advocate for speaking out about this disease because the more we talk about it the more people will understand. I to have been hospitalized and so has one of my girls. We all are or have been on medication for it. You should be proud of yourself for this blog it will help more people then you will every know. Speak about shay keep her alive in all our minds and hearts you should never feel like your being an inconvenience because you speak about her and if anyone makes you feel like well they have no empathy or have never lost anyone (or their just heartless). Every time I see a rainbow or a cardinal I think of lanie from now on I will always think of lanie and shay because I know in my heart shay and lanie are together and keep all of us safe. My heart breaks for you and the pain your feeling but I agree you need to take care of yourself

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Victor Valentine 5 months ago

We love you. You have been an amazing force in our children’s life. You did an amazing job pushing through. I have not experienced anything close to your loss but I have concealed my pain and pushed through until I literally cracked and attempted to end my life. Take care of yourself and your family. God has bigger plans for you. Your spirit is amazing and it will carry you through but it needs to be recharged. God bless.

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Ayşe Kirk 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Chasity,
Thank you for being so candid about this. I know you will keep helping others by sharing your story. I had tears in my eyes reading this.
Knowing Shay was knowing kindness. She was just the best of the best... The pain you are feeling is overwhelming I am sure. This year has been a tough tough year for even the happiest people on earth. Talking and especially writing helps. You have the strength within you and I know you need Shay so bad ;the world needs you,too.

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FELICIA Kitchings 4 months, 4 weeks ago

Chasity, thank you for your transparency! You are truly an inspiration to me. I could only imagine how difficult it was for you to come to work daily, smiling and encouraging others; knowing you were in so much pain. I believe that our experiences are for us to share as a testimony. Chasity you are a living testimony of God’s amazing love and strength!
I am so glad that you chose to take care of yourself. That is probably one of the most unselfish acts we could commit. You are absolutely right in saying that mental illness is real and people walk around ashamed and suffer in silence.
The words of your testimony have set so many free from the bondage of shame . Thank you for sharing your story. I love you and will miss seeing you💜

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Samantha Olson 4 months, 4 weeks ago

I love you Chasity and you will always be part of our family. I too struggle with chronic depression and severe anxiety. I understand how hard it can be. I also have PTSD and with my Chronic depression, I have schitzophrenic tendencies.. I was afraid for so long to talk about my mental health because I felt like people would think I was crazy. Sadly, in a way, I really am crazy.. However, I have been fighting this invisible battle for 15 years.. I have survived not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 suicide attempts! Before Jaxin was even a thought, I finally learned that suicide was never going to be the answer. It doesn't make the pain go away, it just transfers it to the people we leave behind. I finally stopped fighting it and went to see a psychiatrist and psychologist amd it was the best thing I had ever done. Wanting or needing help with your invisible battle does not make you weak, ot makes you strong! It makes your courageous because you know you are struggling but you are willing to let a stranger try to help you. Never be ashamed of a mental illness! And never apologize for grieving! You are human just like the rest of us and you deserve to process and cope the best way you know how. Sending love and hugs!

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Linda Olson 4 months, 3 weeks ago

This is amazing, Chasity- for so many reasons. It's a beautiful tribute to Shay, a gift from God, who keeps teaching us to be kind. It's a demonstration of courage that will give others hope and comfort. It's a lesson to help us all learn to ask for help when we need it... and to ask how we can help when someone needs us. Furthermore, it's a beautiful piece of writing from the heart. I'm so proud of you. I love you.

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