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Depression/Sickness/Existential Crisis/

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by redpepper9991, Feb 23, 2018.

  1. redpepper9991

    redpepper9991 New commenter

    I have decided that I need to leave teaching before it destroys me.

    Bit of context: I am in my third year of teaching. I have handed in my notice three times ( to two different employers) and have always felt trapped and depressed by teaching. I am the breadwinner for the most part and have felt numb for the past three years of teaching. I have had a bad habit of handing in my resignation (feeling relieved) but then panicking because I fear applying for other jobs/ references/ making a leap of faith into different employment and so I go back into teaching for the stable income and what I perceive to be a solution to the problem. I don’t drink but I have been smoking 30 cigarettes (chain smoking on the way to and from work and having 3 cigarettes on my lunch break at school). I was also regularly extinguishing cigarettes out on my arms/legs that I didn’t tell my partner about as a way of relieving the numbness/stress/pressure of school). I would also never eat until 6:30pm because I knew I would be sick if I ate food whilst in full teacher mode. I was just trying to bring in the income and keep calm and in control.

    In January this year [This comment/section has been removed] whilst waiting for the bus to work (the fear, panic and dread of going back in again was getting too much). I was admitted to A and E after confessing to my headteacher. My partner was devastated. After we walked back from A and E together I confessed that I felt trapped by teaching/income/fear of not having another job and he was pretty devastated that I had not told him sooner. I am currently off on the sick with my doctor strongly advising that I do not return to teaching. I have not handed in my notice in at present. I thought that in being off sick I would miss the job and get restless but I am not. I am getting one hour a week therapy (provided by the school). I am learning and reflecting on how much mental and physical damage this ‘profession’ has done to me over the years. My partner thinks I may have some form of PTSD (every time I get a letter from school I fly into panic and struggle to catch my breath and start sweating profusely before having thoughts of self-harm. I also start shaking and my toes go very numb which is weird).

    I have finally decided that enough is enough and for once in my life I have put my own mental and physical health first. I need to admit to myself that my life is worth more than a job. I am applying for any type of job I can- be it retail or cleaning. Yes it will not be as much money but I feel like I am doing the right thing for my health. I really really wanted to honour my commitment to these kids and their education but I cannot do it anymore. I have been in this duality of mind for the last three years going back and forth between “I am a teacher. I can do this. It is a proper job. What else are you going to do? You were always meant to teach” and on the other side “ You hate every single waking second of this. You are fooling yourself. What are you doing. This is not you”. It has been exhausting and demoralizing. The constant prressure/ the constant scrutiny. I genuinely believe that I have moments where I would black out (running around in a haze/ feeling numb and not knowing what I was saying to people when they were asking me questions)

    I don’t have a job to go to yet but I am trying to do the right thing for me and my health. I am posting this on the TES forum for mostly cathartic reasons and just for general advice if anyone else has been in this position before and what they did. And the elephant in the room/ what is obvious is that I am seeking validation that I am doing the right thing.

    Interestingly there are a lot of newspaper reports recently about epidemics of stress. Weird coincidence.
    sbkrobson likes this.
  2. felicity5183

    felicity5183 Occasional commenter

    Hello! I want to start this off for saying good on you for finally realising that you deserve to be out of teaching.
    You sound like you have been through some pretty horrific stuff, and you sound incredibly strong to have gone through what you have done. I agree with your doctor that getting out of teaching is probably the best option.

    Don’t worry about other jobs, there are oodles of opportunities to be had that don’t require the stresses and strains of teaching.

    I left in January after I had recently become an RQT. In my first school, I was fine until I went off with depression halfway through the year. This was a complete shock to me as apart from being diagnosed with anxiety during my teacher training, I had never had any mental health issues before this. I went back to school and coped quite well, and moved to another school because I was on a fixed term contract to complete my NQT year. To cut a long story short, the school I moved to was hell upon earth and I found myself having panic attack after panic attack driving to school, in school, and driving home from school. I ended up on an increased dosage of anti depressants and thought to myself that I can’t carry on like this.

    I too thought that teaching is all I had ever wanted to do and therefore all I could ever be good at. But then I thought to myself what’s the point in going to work day in day out for the rest of my life if I don’t agree with any of the policies or ‘protocols’ that I have to implement in order to get these kids to ‘make progress’. I went off on sick for 3 months, handed my notice in and never looked back!

    teaching now is bullcarp. It’s a shambles. I dare say it ruined my life for a good two years. I am now out of teaching, still in education just in a different environment, and I have NEVER been happier.

    I get paid time to research in order to do my job more effectively, I start at 9 and don’t go in ANY earlier, I can have a lunch without being bothered by people, I can leave at 5 and anytime I am not working... I DO NOT HAVE TO THINK ABOUT WORK!

    It’s fantastic. You do what is right for you. But just know that there IS light at the end of the tunnel and people have come out on the other side pretty rosy.
  3. Tinycat1234

    Tinycat1234 Established commenter

    What do you do now? Brilliant story!
    pepper5 and redpepper9991 like this.
  4. felicity5183

    felicity5183 Occasional commenter

    I am an education assistant in a museum. I run workshops for primary, secondary, further and higher education. I also deliver talks in the galleries to the general public. I can research whilst at work, therefore I actually get the time to learn my craft and gain a passion for it. No day is ever the same, and it is brilliant to still be able to teach but without the paperwork and hassle that comes with it! Don’t get me wrong, I do miss the relationships that I had with my students but I do not miss the feelings of guilt after snapping at them because I found myself at breaking point.
  5. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Find a better school who wants you then quit. That's the trick.

    Try giving the Samaritans a call, too. Proper conversation. 116 123 (UK & ROI), keep the number handy.
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You're doing the right thing.

    Look, I was a teacher from 1980 to 2013. I retired then. At 57. Because it wasn't the job it used to be.

    I used to be trusted.
    I used to be appreciated.
    I used to mark my way.
    I used to plan my way.
    I used to decide what was important and what wasn't.
    I used to have discretion to treat kids as individuals.
    I used to just get on with it.
    I used to be able to be creative.
    I used to be innovative.

    Slowly it changed.

    I didn't want to be a drone that basically was a mouthpiece and stood up and did things according to the book. It didn't satisfy me. So I got out.

    You are not alone. People are leaving in droves. You are treated appallingly and have far too much to do. Nobody is afraid of hard work but hard work that seems not to help the kids is pointless! That's what is soul-destroying.

    I couldn't do it. Not these days. I applaud you. If you can pack it in then do so. Your health is more important than money.
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    OP I "liked" your post, even though I don't like your situation and what it has done to you, because it is very honest and lucid.
    There are some lovely responses already-people really do get you.
    I wont comment on what I think you ought to do, because I have no clue. You are you and I am me. You need to find the best thing for you, not the best thing that I think is for you. I do think you may have more options than you can see at the moment though.
    I always think that the deepest thinkers, the most analytical, and the most conscience ridden are doomed to suffer from an inability to state "I don't like this, I don't want it, so I'm not doing it any more".
    Maybe that's you.
    The catharsis, if you achieved any, is poignant reading, probably cathartic for some readers themselves; thank you.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2018
  8. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Good advice already given above - I can only add that I'm sure there are other jobs that will suit you much better than teaching.

    Best wishes.
    felicity5183 and pepper5 like this.
  9. Hairymclairy12

    Hairymclairy12 New commenter

    My heart goes out to you! I did a similar thing to you in that in less than 3 years of teaching I had 3 different jobs. I left each job thinking things will be different and I will enjoy it more in the 'new school'. What I came to realise was that I was a very good teacher but the current climate makes it impossible. It's not you, it is the system.

    I was signed off with WRS in my mid twenties. I could have felt like a failure but everyone close to me made me realise it wasn't my fault.

    I had great support from my family, a counsellor and my union. Sharing your feelings definitely helps.

    Within weeks of resigning I had a few job interviews and secured a new job. It's less money - roughly what I earned as an NQT. But hey that's not too bad.

    I'm now big on self care. Yoga and meditation have helped a lot. I've had a massive mindset shift with regards to work. My work isn't my life anymore. It was only ever a job and you need to put things into perspective. I hope that you feel you are turning a corner! Best wishes
  10. notrevlim

    notrevlim Established commenter

    Sometimes things are almost the opposite. While I was at work I was barely aware of my variety of medical conditions. I had other things on my mind, my teaching.
    Having been thrown out, the medical situation has come to the fore. I suppose I realised how physically frail I am, but I managed it. Now it has become unpleasant focus, with thing going wrong.
    I hadn't had a day off in more than 3 years. Now i'm a regular in A&E and struggling to get medications right.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. redpepper9991

    redpepper9991 New commenter

    Wow. What a wave of support. Thank you all so much.
    Ozchic, fudgeface and Vince_Ulam like this.
  12. redpepper9991

    redpepper9991 New commenter

    You have no idea how much better you have made me feel. Are we living the same life? Haha
    Hairymclairy12 likes this.
  13. redpepper9991

    redpepper9991 New commenter

    Thank you so much for this. I really appreciste your insight and honesty. You are completely right. Like why are the simple things the hardest to do. Like just walking away from alsomething that is killing you.
  14. redpepper9991

    redpepper9991 New commenter

    You are awesome.Thank you so much for this personal account and searingly honest picture that you've painted anput the depressing realities of teaching. It is a toxic environmenylt that rewards commitment and hard work with pain and sufferimg. You have absolutely hit the nail on the head
    Ozchic likes this.
  15. redpepper9991

    redpepper9991 New commenter

    I am veginning to realise that the system is breaking us down. We are not broken unless we stay in the system. Escape seems like the only option for survival. Wow. Why has it come to this??
    pepper5 likes this.
  16. redpepper9991

    redpepper9991 New commenter

    It is also becoming clear why most of my uni friends are no longer teaching.
    pepper5 likes this.
  17. Hairymclairy12

    Hairymclairy12 New commenter

    It's so sad because there are so many in this position. When I was getting support from my union rep he said there are MANY more like me who he was supporting.

    At first I was angry because why should the system be this way, why can't I just be the good teacher I know I am etc. But forget about the anger because nothing is going to change any time soon. Like GDW said your health is the priority here. Sometimes you have to be selfish for all the right reasons!
    Ozchic and grumpydogwoman like this.
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    It's happened gradually and incrementally. I (from the perspective of being 62 and having being in it from 1980) can see why it has come about. Not that it helps much to put it right.

    The only way to right it is to do what I told my students to do.

    "If you get to the end of the lesson and wonder why we did this and what was the point? Then TELL me. ASK me. Make me explain why. If this was not useful to you and you really can't see any value in it then TELL me. I need to know because I may (not necessarily MUST) well have to make some changes."

    The important thing always is - why?

    Why this subject? To this age group? To students of this ability range? Why in such depth? Why not in more depth? Why mark their books? Why even have books? Why stay in the classroom? Why not go out and do this?

    Because it seems to me there's no good reason for much of it these days except to CYA (what an old boss used to say about OFSTED - cover your bottom). And that's not how I live my life. So I retired.

    If you desperately need that salary or pension or whatever then I don't blame anyone for sucking it up. But everyone has to decide for herself. It ended up not being for me.

    And I think @Hairymclairy12 is right. It won't change any time soon. So everyone gets to make up their own mind and do what they need to do.
  19. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    You have a supportive partner so I assume a good relationship there? This is what counts in life - the people we love. Now that he knows, keep talking. Focus on getting yourself well again.
    frangipani123 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  20. redpepper9991

    redpepper9991 New commenter

    Yes he is very supportive and understands where I am coming from. He is fed up with- in his words- looking 'at an empty shell of a human being'. He is calmly observant which is sometimes the best way to deal with a situation. He is very much relieved that I may retrieve some semblamce of self back!
    grumpydogwoman likes this.

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