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Mental Health Issues and Teaching

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by doctorinthetardis, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. doctorinthetardis

    doctorinthetardis New commenter

    About 10 years ago when I was a teenager, I was diagnosed as Bi-Polar with a Borderline Personality Disorder. I've worked so hard and been through a lot to get to where I am today. I guess right now, when I'm having a real hard time regulating my emotions in repsonse to a series of stressful and hard issues I've had to deal with recently, I'm struggling to accept my issues since I am not sure they are accepted within professional boundaries such as teaching.
    When I'm fine, I'm a great teacher. Even when I'm not, I can maintain my work if nothing else. I can be fine for a long time. In fact its this episode I'm having which is most painful because when I'm well, I can pretend that in fact I'm better, it's not part of me anymore. That I don't really have either disorder. They're pretty serious mental health issues to be diagnosed with. Right now I'm feeling very unwell. I am going to the doctors tomorrow to go back on some medication to help. I know I'm strong and I'll get through this. However, I don't want to take long off from work because I don't want to jeopardize everything I've worked so hard to overcome to do a job I love as a teacher.
    However, I'm more than aware, no matter what people say, there is a huge stigma attached to mental illness especially in an environment where responsibility for children is paramount and educators or prinipals may well have an issue with my diagnosed issues. I also worry because I feel huge pressures right now to balance the issues I'm having with maintaining my professional image and abilty at work. I won't go into work tomorrow so I can go see a psychiatrist. I know I can only take a maximum 2 or 3 days off to get through the worst of this episode and then manage till the weekend. He'll give me drugs I've had before and they knock you out of it for a few days. Help balance the chemicals in my brain.
    I don't know what I'm expecting from this forum but I guess some advice or opinions regarding your perceptions of mental health issues with teaching and/or employers and if you know or have known those who have also balanced their illness with working as a teacher, to encourage me. I'm feeling dispirited. Thank you.
  2. Roboteer

    Roboteer New commenter

    I have a lot of respect for you to have managed to balance such a potentially difficult medical condition with such a stressful job as teaching.
    It is important that you get through this difficult episode and if that means a bit of time off work while you get the chemicals back in balance then that is what you need to do.
    I think people in general are still not as aware as they should be about mental health problems, it is not just teaching. I had a breakdown in 2010 due at least in part to issues from work at the time. Since I have recovered I have tried really hard to be open and honest with others about what happened to me. If we don't talk about these things then they will remain shrouded in mysticism.
    A friend phoned me this weekend as he was so stressed he had got himself into a really bad place. Whilst I'm obviously really sad that another teacher is going through a similar situation to me I know that if I hadn't talked to my friends about what happened then he wouldn't have known to talk to me.
    I know I will always have to balance my tendency for depression against my career (I also juggle two other long-term health problems). I know that I can do it, but only because I've learnt that just as there will be many times when I put my work first, there need to be times when I come first too (I used to be ranked about 356th in my list of priorites!).
    Take the time you need to get well again and I'm sure you have many more years of teaching ahead of you.
  3. inq


    Sorry things are not good for you at the moment.
    Presumably you had to declare the problems on your health form when you were employed so there will be a record and therefore school should be understanding.
    If you have to be signed off for a short while to get things rebalanced then be signed off - getting well is the most important thing.
  4. doctorinthetardis

    doctorinthetardis New commenter

    That's where things get a little more complicated. I work overseas at an international school and this is my first ever teaching post. I did not have to declare any health problems and I have never had to fill in a health form. This also brings in my issue in having time off. If possible, I will try to take max 2-3 days away. I am also not covered by any disability regulations or laws employers have to follow such as those in the UK. I feel reasonably secure in knowing some people at school do know I have some issues, although I have not fully disclosed these and have not had any issues regarding capability in my employment. I do not want to compromise this. I know I can do my job, just need a few days to let the medication get into my system and even out my mood.I'm more scared about realising I really do have these mental health issues which despite having been relatively well for a long time, have reared their heads again right now. It's more a realisation that all I have worked so hard for could crumble. And I'm trying hard to not let this happen.
    I also have a very limited support network out here where most of my friends are work colleagues and my family live back in the UK who I don't want to worry when I am thousands of miles away. It also raises issues of finding health professionals who speak English and I can get help from. Last year I saw a psych in my city who was pretty good but it's not like I can pop into my local GPs and follow well organised paths of therapy.
    Thanks for all the responses so far. Anybody else who can offer advice/ an opinion please do :D
  5. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    Hi Doctorinthetardis, the first thing you need to do is see a doctor, get some meds and give them chance to work. 3 days isn't long for mood stabilisers to start working and you may need to give it a bit longer. You have obviously been well for quite some time and so there is no reason to believe that you can't recover fully from this episode and still have a long and fruitful teaching career.
    Working abroad obviously makes things a bit more complicated but even if you were here therapy (beyond medication) can take quite a while to access, maybe accessing something privately might be worth looking into.
    Hope you feel better soon and get things under control.
  6. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

  7. nix41

    nix41 New commenter

    I have absolutely the very same story... same diagnosis etc, and I struggle too. I looked for ages to find this thread!! Phew do I feel better now. Did you manage to find other teachers to chat to and to support eachother?

  8. Hi Doctorinthetardis and others, that's a very brave post, well done. You speak of the stigma associated with mental ill-health and I often feel that sometimes this can be as 'bad' as the diagnosis itself. Satre could well have been thinking of this when he famously stated that 'Hell is other people'.

    The stigma around mental ill-health is a very unfortunate state of affairs and one that we as a society pay lip service to changing but never quite do. I came across an educational resource that attempts to do exactly this. It is an educational game called Yana 2 which is designed for parents or teachers to play/use with children but realistically it could be used by anyone including adults. Information is at www.eolach.ie It may not address the totality of your experience but it may help to loosen some of the very unfair societal stigma associated with it. Good luck to you.
  9. naggin the nag

    naggin the nag New commenter

    Hello - I have sent you a private message to your inbox

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