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'Off with stress' how long can this go on?

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by Mrs_Hamilton, Jun 4, 2013.

  1. Mrs_Hamilton

    Mrs_Hamilton Occasional commenter

    Good morning.

    As you might be able to tell I am currently off work...with stress related issues. The situation that led to me being in this position is complex; but the symptoms of breaking down in tears every morning in my classroom, being physically sick with worry, tiredness, very erratic sleeping patterns (from most of a day to none) etc ultimately led to lack of ability to do anything including my job and function in normal life.

    So my GP signed me off work, for a period of time and I began to feel myself and realise that my job had had a larger effect on me than I thought, I put things into perspective and decided that life is not meant to be as hard as it was.

    Then as it got closer to the end of my period of time off my symptoms began to return...and I was signed off for another period of time. During which I handed in my notice...and made some positive enquiries about supply teaching in September. *sigh of relief*

    Here I am waiting for my next GP appointment (a week away) panicking about the fact I might have to face going back to the horrendous situation at work. All those feelings of anxiety and panic are returning, and surely this can't go on. It's just a vicious circle of recovering a bit but then getting worse again, then recovering slightly and...

    Any way, I just selfishly wondered if anyone could offers advice, or share their story because this is driving me mad. I don't think it helps that I've always been a 'grafter', it doesn't sit well with me having time off work.

    Thanks for 'listening'
  2. 19sunflower

    19sunflower New commenter


    I can relate to a lot o what you've written. I cracked in January and hings haven't been great since. I didn't get signed off, but I went onto reduced hours. Whilst this has helped a little, it's left me wondering whether I'm cut out for the job.

    I should be planning right now, but I can't face it. I just want to sleep all the time.
    pepper5 likes this.
  3. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    If you've handed in your notice ask for a phased return as part of your fit note. Work may refuse, but there are only 6 weeks left and it could be that returning for at least a bit of it would give you some closure rather than never returning. Your GP may feel that not returning is for the best, so see what they say.
  4. Explain all to your GP and see what he/she says. It can sometimes take months rather than weeks to recover. I remained unfit for work for two years and did not return to my previous employer. I am only just beginning to return to the world of work. I volunteer in a school one afternoon per week working one to one and with small groups. This is as much as I can cope with at the moment.
  5. I tend to agree with Torey. If you don't make an appearance in the next six weeks, it'll be twelve weeks before you go back to work (and in my experience, there isn't a lot of supply in September) and I think that after such a long time away either (a) you'll completely recover and feel OK about going back into a school, or (b) you'll have been away so long you'll be outfaced and back to square one.
  6. Personally I don't think you'll find it a problem going back after a long break having done it myself. It's like riding a bike.

    Apart from going into a friends school in the summer holidays last year I hadn't been into a school in two years, even the sight of children in school uniform would send me in a state of acute anxiety. Now after two years I have just gone back to a completely different school which has none of the associations with my past experiences and it was like a breath of fresh air. Reminded me why I taught in the first place.
    pepper5 and Timetoshine like this.
  7. IndigoandViolet

    IndigoandViolet New commenter

    In a similar situation. I have been signed off since 16th May with stress. Going in for a meeting with school today which I thought was to discuss my imminent return but apparently is not. Looks like I might not be going back in. Ever.

    My current feelings are that actually, I'm in a pretty strong bargaining position. They're currently paying me and a supply teacher. I'm not going to accept an offer to terminate my contract early - I am sick and I am therefore entitled to sick pay.

    I am capable of going back in in some fashion. I could do intervention classes, I could do some team teaching, I could do some cover so that other teachers can do trips etc. I would like to be able to work (same as you, I do feel pretty guilty being at home in bed when everyone else is at work). However I'm not fit to return to the same conditions as before and I'm not going to agree to that.

    My GP recently put me on beta blockers which I've found great for removing the physical symptoms of anxiety (she was reluctant because apparently they zonk you out but I feel much better on these than I did when I was constantly nauseous and dizzy)

    So, no advice because I also don't know, but someone going through pretty much exactly the same as you and worried about trying to make the right decision at a time when my mental faculties are a bit shot!

  8. I was in a similar position 2 years ago. For me, the best solution was to be signed off for the rest of the term, which meant not going back, as I had also resigned. I did try returning to school twice and found that I could cope for a short time, but long term it was too much. The best advice I was given during this time was "be kind to yourself". The best advice I can give would be talk to your GP about how you feel and see what response you get. Also, work out what your options are and imagine having to do each one - which feels least bad? I don't think there is a right answer. I still feel sad about leaving a school in the way I did, but it really was best for me.

    On a more positive note, I have been working on supply for 2 years now and, it was slow to start with, but I'm very much in demand and my confidence in my teaching ability has been restored.

    I don't know if that helps, but hope that you can find a way to move on from a difficult situation.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. I have been in a similar situation over a period of 4 years, having a number of significant periods of time off. I had 3 phased returns, which were good and supportive but short term fixes. After finally waking up to the fact that I needed to get out for my own health and that my family was more important, I left.

    I am now working in a school, love my job and a completely different person with a positive outlook on teaching again. Doubt I'll return to management again as life's to short to be miserable and working a 60+ week.

    Happy to offer support if I can. I know it can be awful and feel a very lonely place but it's surprising how many people have similar experiences.

    My union were also very supportive and offered help and guidance.
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. Mrs_Hamilton

    Mrs_Hamilton Occasional commenter

    Thank you for the replies, it's a bit of a relief to know I'm not the only one.

    All of the responses have helped, and it's making more sense in my head today.

    Bizarrely I can feel 'excited' about the possibility of supply (however slow/busy it could be), yet feel sick at the thought of returning to my current school.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. You are most definitely not the only one.
  12. Mrs_Hamilton

    Mrs_Hamilton Occasional commenter

    It turns out that this can go on tl the end of the academic year...

    Such a bloomin' relief. I can't tell you how relieved I feel.

    I am having therapy for work related stress, and have now been signed off for the rest of the school year.

    Now the only thing is for me to work out what to do next: bills don't pay themselves...

  13. Mrs_Hamilton

    Mrs_Hamilton Occasional commenter

    I don't know why I ended with a smiley...I have an interview tomorrow that I'm unlikely to be successful for and assuming I'm proved right (being unsuccessful) I will have no money come September...

    Oh poo!
  14. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    I got very angry (my reaction to stress) with my school a few years back and went off to do supply before returning to an FE college. I'm very glad I did supply because it was an eye opener to what is going on out there in different schools. This is not the place to discuss the why's and wherefore's of what I saw but it was an "exciting" experience and provided me with more useful experience and skills than I had obtained at the single school I had worked at for the previous twenty years. It also allowed me to recognise the signs of a school in trouble and successful ones, which stood me in good stead for choosing my next move.

    You are most certainly not the only one!! I am retired now, so have seen a lot of what goes on in teaching, and so many of my friends have had work related stress. It is the maddest of jobs, but such an important job.

    And as others have said here, the only person you have to think of at the moment is you. Be kind to yourself. It is not you who are the cause of your problems but the terrific stress of the job.

    All the best.

  15. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    You are definitely not alone.

    I am in the same situation as you due to a horrendous few years at work. I can relate to many of the things you say about the panic returning when you get close to the end of your sick note. I even drove past a school the other day that I have seen jobs advertised for recently and as I wondered if it was a nice school, I had another panic attack. I cant face anything to do with schools at the moment. I manage to walk past my local primary everyday, though that always had happy memories. I am going to test myself today and see if I can manage watching my nephew do his sports day, I'm dreading it. I am so angry that my head has made me like this. At the moment I am not sure I will return to teaching. I have done supply in the past and enjoyed it, especially once I got known in a few schools and could pick and choose. I am signed off till the end of term, but am already panicking about sept! Take care. x
    gcr7601 likes this.
  16. mrscook

    mrscook New commenter

    I was just wondering what you're doing now, all these years on?
  17. icklesez1

    icklesez1 New commenter

    Hi im aware its a long time ago but i just wondered hiw everyone was doung now? Im really really struggling and wanting to leave desperately. Please tell me there's a happy ending x
    pepper5 likes this.
  18. sue1963

    sue1963 New commenter

  19. charlesbabbage16

    charlesbabbage16 New commenter

    Simple take a meditation every morning at first then do physical exercise. Do a simple walk then remember what are the good qualities you have and son. Finally, enjoy the great life :)
  20. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Hi icklesez1, sorry to hear you are having such a tough time. I hope you have the support you need, especially from your GP. Your health and well-being are more important than any job, so take time off if you need it. My OH (not in education) had mega stress and anxiety issues after a serious illness. Physically, he was recovering well and this all came out of the blue - a form of PTSD. GP was very supportive; he had a period of time off. He was unwilling to start medication but eventually did and it has worked wonders. He also found CBT very useful and supportive, although I know the wait for that varies according to where you live. Two years on, he is still on the medication - considering coming off it this Spring (with GP support) but is back at work, happy and coping well. So there is a future - but you don't have to do it on your own. Good luck.
    pepper5 likes this.

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