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Dear Sara: Leaving NQT post due to panic/stress - how to quit?

Discussion in 'New teachers' started by cb1415, Sep 24, 2007.

  1. I have been signed off sick by my doctor due to anxiety and panic attacks and also prescribed anti-depressants. I have only worked for 4 days at my school. I'm not sure quite how I coped - my partner did most of my prep for me as I was such a wreck and I spent most lunchitmes crying. I have had my sick note extended up to half term. I really don't feel that teaching is the right job for me, certainly not this year anyway until I sort out my problems (which I am also receiving counselling for). I met with my HT and NQT mentor who said they want me to get better no matter how long it took and don't need to make any "big decisions" (such as leaving) yet. Trouble is, I think I made the decision the day I decided to see the doctor (and he recognises this too) and the last thing I need is people telling me not to give up when I know it is making me so ill.

    I know being signed off entitles me to pay but I feel that in a way being expected to return to work after however long I have off sick is making me worse as I really don't feel I can return to teaching now. I feel that I need to just make a clean break and do something else. Do I need a further note from the doctor saying the job makes me ill full stop or can I just leave?

    Would really appreciate any advice anyone has - I feel in such a limbo situation at the moment....
     
  2. I have been signed off sick by my doctor due to anxiety and panic attacks and also prescribed anti-depressants. I have only worked for 4 days at my school. I'm not sure quite how I coped - my partner did most of my prep for me as I was such a wreck and I spent most lunchitmes crying. I have had my sick note extended up to half term. I really don't feel that teaching is the right job for me, certainly not this year anyway until I sort out my problems (which I am also receiving counselling for). I met with my HT and NQT mentor who said they want me to get better no matter how long it took and don't need to make any "big decisions" (such as leaving) yet. Trouble is, I think I made the decision the day I decided to see the doctor (and he recognises this too) and the last thing I need is people telling me not to give up when I know it is making me so ill.

    I know being signed off entitles me to pay but I feel that in a way being expected to return to work after however long I have off sick is making me worse as I really don't feel I can return to teaching now. I feel that I need to just make a clean break and do something else. Do I need a further note from the doctor saying the job makes me ill full stop or can I just leave?

    Would really appreciate any advice anyone has - I feel in such a limbo situation at the moment....
     
  3. Are you in a union? Best thing to do is to get in touch with them for advice - they can tell you the best thing to do. If my union rep's phone was on that's what I'd be doing right now! :p
    I know EXACTLY how you feel - I've been off with anxiety/panic attacks since the beginning of this term, and don't seem to be getting better because all I can think of is maybe having to go back to the school again. You've trained to be a teacher - that puts you at a great advantage over other people when you go for jobs in the future - think of all the skills you have - time management, people skills etc etc. If you want to go back to teaching in the future then there's nothing stopping you, really. No job is worth being ill over - I should know - you should see the state of me!
    At least you have a supportive partner, which is something. Mine's just had a right ear bashing as well!
    Explain your story to the union rep (call the main switchboard if you don't know who they are) and they should be able to work out what's best for both you and the school.
    All the best! Keep us posted how you get on.
    Len :)
     
  4. Thanks for your help Len, makes me feel less alone with my problems...

    I phoned my union and they said basically I need to tell the school I want to leave and hopefully they'd be able to release me early (i.e before 31 Dec). I guess if they say no the worst that will happen is they'd say I had to serve my notice, but at the moment it looks like that would probably just involve getting more notes from the doctor. Not sure I'd get paid but at the moment money is not the main issue, my sanity is.

    So the main problem is now how to go about telling the school when they'll most likely tell me not to worry about it yet (but the problem with anxiety is that its ALL about the worrying). I do feel like I've let them down as they keep telling me they think I'm capable of doing the job, which isn't much help as I'm currently finding it difficult to leave the house. It took me 5 days to pick up the courage just to let them know how I was!

    I'm sure it's best for the school to let me go early as at least they'd know where they stood then in terms of employing someone else. Sure I'm making not much sense right now - Mondays seem to be the day when I'm thinking about all this stuff most and probably going round in circles...

     
  5. OP - Is it the job getting you down or something personal?

    If you feel like this so early on in your career perhaps teaching is not for you.

    If it's the school, then see it through until Xmas and look for another job. However, at the moment you probably cannot see as far as this.

    I would decide whether teaching is for or not, if not, do something esle.
     
  6. cb1415,

    I'm not sure if I can help but I can completely sympathise with you, so am posting to say you are not alone. I'm in my 3rd week of my second term, at a school where I should have never agreed to stay at and am completely unhappy and depressed. Being an on/off depressive I recognise the signs of depression, and know that if I approach my dr, he will most probably sign me off (I don't have a good history with depression and have the scars to remind me).

    I spoke to my NQT mentor today about it, who completely trivialised the matter, saying i'm probably feeling this way as I am fasting (apparently that is the cause of my oncoming cold, and my clinical depression and any minor headache that I have) and that everything that I am struggling with at school, i.e. trying to deal with parents who come in everyday to moan at me about something or the other, can all be sorted.

    She said that I take things too personally (which at the moment I am as I feel worthless) but she does not seem to understand that this isn't stress that I am suffering from, it is depression. I realise that depression is a tricky thing to understand and I don't want her to say to me I know what you are feeling, but it'd be nice if people could differentiate between stress and depression.

    I am sorely tempted to hand in my resignation, my partner teachers are telling me to not do that, but I know that it is the school that is partly to blame for how I am feeling, as I am just really unhappy there. Too be honest, I can't explain what it is, but I just feel it is the wrong envioronment for me, and don't think I'll get the support I need, (I haven't so far).

    I don't know what to do, it is only a 1 year contract anyway, and although my health is more important, I don't want to be without a job. I do really enjoy teaching, I'm just not sure why I feel like this.

    This probably isn't the most supportive post, but I just wanted to reassure you that you are not alone and I understand how hard it is to make a decision, especially one that is so important.

    Let us know what you decide to do.
     
  7. I can also say I know how you feel. I recently put a post up here, and for 3 years now have tried to convince myself to get that NQT year. I myself suffered from anxiety and depression due to the fact that teaching was just not for me. I felt like a failure to myself and others having trained but not completed that NQT year. I was signed off sick from the doctor and had to leave a school due to a horrible experience there. I've realised if it's not for me to just leave and do something else. The question is what else can I do? All I know is that I can't teach cos it makes me miserable. You either love it or hate it....

     
  8. mancminx

    mancminx New commenter

    Both of you take care.
    Its only a job, not worth making yourself ill over.
    x
     
  9. There's no doubting that you're capable of doing the job, the point is at what cost?

    There is a danger that support/'you'll be fine' comments will make you stay longer in the job then you should.

    I think you're absolutely right to go with your instinct. Tell the school that they've been wonderful etc: but you know that this just is not right for you at this time. Perhaps even see if you could continue on a part-time basis (ie: 1 or 2 days a week) as a job-share if they and you are willing to consider it.

    I finished my PGCE earlier in the year and have decided not to go straight into my NQT year, as it has made me very undecided about teaching, and I'm a classic worrier type. I could see myself getting swallowed up by it all. So now i'm doing something completely different for the moment.

    There's always a way back into it.

    Do what's right for you and don't worry about the school - they sound like they'll absolutely understand.

    Good luck with it all! G
     
  10. OP- you've made a bigger leap than I have so far by phoning your union. I'm going to do that tonight (with OH holding hand and passing tissues, no doubt!) - been saying that for the past couple of weeks now. If you can't face contacting the school yourself to explain the situation, I guess the union rep could do it for you? I'm not sure. I'm pretty frightened of my HT, so am hoping the union peep can help me out that way (I could face the HT if I wasn't so messed up at the moment).
    You need to get things sorted - I've been off for 3 weeks now and it hasn't got better - I had three nightmares last night about work, because I'm still technically 'there' and might have to go back one day. I'm sure that's the case for other people in the same situation.
    Most schools will negotiate early releases with unions if they can be convinced the teacher will not be going back - saves on a lot of supply.
    Keep us posted.
    Len :)
     
  11. As someone who takes an interest in situation liek this from personal experience, best wishes to everybody in this situation.

    Its really true that if people do things they are not made to do, they will start to go wrong, just like if you used a piece of paper to patch a hole in your roof, it will leak soon (sorry, terrible analogy!).

     
  12. ((((Big hugs to all))))

    Teaching is a tough job and if it's making you that unhappy that you're getting seriously ill you must leave. cb1415, I should consider handing in your notice asap and asking for notice to be waived because of your illness. Once you've broken all ties I think it might be like a huge heavy burden being lifted off your shoulders. Then you can set about getting better.
    Sara
     
  13. Just want to say thank you to everyone for all the supportive messages. It's really good to hear from people who actually know what teaching is like and that you can't just get through the NQT year feeling like this! I do feel like I might start to feel better if I wasn't thinking about school.

    So I have decided that I am definitely going to leave - when someone asked me yesterday what I do for a living, I didn't say "I'm a teacher but I'm off sick" I said "I was a teacher, but I'm looking for inspiration for the next thing". Guess that speaks for itself.

    Will let you know how the HT takes it...



     
  14. mancminx

    mancminx New commenter

    I was at a school last year that i found very difficult. It was only a temp contract and i felt very happy when it ended. Im back to supplying now and even though the work is in short demand at the mo I feel much better and far less stressed.
    If you want to chat, email me on samanthahornby@hotmail.com
    x
     
  15. cb1415 are you planning to leave teaching altogether?
     
  16. Hey

    I think you should be able to negotiate an early release for your contract after all, if you aren't going to go back it is hardly worth them paying you!

    With support from my union (I never went back to the school) I got out of my contract early. In some ways, maybe the school will be releived, they may think if you come back you are likely to go off sick anyway,

    I'm sure they will appreciate your honesty, its better to hand in your notice NOW, say you can't return, so can you terminate your contract NOW. Otherwise, you could have months on sick pay, then half pay.

    good luck xx
     
  17. physphobic - did you look for another teaching job once you'd left ? If so how easy did you find it? x
     
  18. I started to, I had one interview but didn't get it then decided it was for the best and decided to leave teaching.

    I'm now retraining to do garden design but getting voluntary work in a childrens centre so may do that someday?
     
  19. As an NQT you don't get months on sick pay, you end up on SSP quite fast. cb - quit, if you hate it as much as you describe then there's no point. I went through exactly the same thing, but after 7 years of teaching. My school didn't try to get me to change my mind and they released me early, I just sent a formal letter of resignation for the proper date, then requested release at half term. I've now got a new job and am about a million times happier, it's the best thing I ever did. If anyone takes the mickey or makes you feel like a failure then bear this in mind - I bet they wouldn't have got as far as completing the PGCE year. Good luck x
     
  20. True,
    its 5 weeks full pay, then 10 weeks half pay in year 1.
    The sooner you leave, the better, it is of no benefit to anyone to keep you employed at a place you have no intention of returning too.
     

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