This year’s big trend in libraryland (among many other places) is to focus on self care this year. I definitely agree. To get a little personal, I have several “hidden” physical disabilities (for example, my eye), what’s now known as ME/CFS in addition to a tendency to being overstressed and depressed. Milton has created a number of affinity groups for identities like religion, ethnicity and “disabilities” (physical, psychological and neurodiverse). I’ve joined that last group, in part because when you have a hidden problem, people around you tend to not understand your limitations because they’re, you know, hidden and not obvious the way a broken leg is.
One of the things these groups are supposed to do are advocate for their members. That might mean increased recognition of events or days that are important, or working with a similar affinity group for students to present something to the rest of the community. This raises the question of how do we advocate for our group? An example might be something like asking Facilities to create better curb cuts or move the handicapped parking spaces to be more helpful for faculty in one or another building.
During our first meeting, one colleague mentioned that they would go to their car to recover from panic attacks. They can’t be the only colleague dealing with panic attacks, right? Unfortunately for most of us, we don’t have private offices with true privacy: there are windows into our classrooms or we have a group office. I don’t have frequent panic attacks (my last was over a decade ago) but I do get stressed. And depressed. And sometimes, the best way for me to survive is, well… remember this scene from Broadcast News?
Can’t do that in my library.
At the last few conference I attended before everything got cancelled, I saw some really cool “pod” seating:
And lactation pods:
Wouldn’t it be great if we could advocate for a room open only to faculty with several of these pods? We could go, have a private space to recover from whatever is going on (and it wouldn’t have to be a repeating issue, it could be personal bad news or a difficult conversation with a student or colleague) and then be better able to go on with our day. Even better, wouldn’t it be great if all schools had spaces like this, placing faculty mental health on par with physical health? Prioritizing all forms of self care, not just for the visible self but the hidden self, would show everyone–faculty, staff, parents, students, etc.–that the whole person is valued and that caring for that whole person is a priority for the school.