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Teaching has finally broke me..

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by BurntOutTeacher35, Jan 23, 2019.

  1. BurntOutTeacher35

    BurntOutTeacher35 New commenter

    It's finally happened, after 10 years teaching I now find myself at breaking point. For the first time in my career I could not bring myself to go into work. I found myself sitting in my empty classroom and the room just started spinning. That was Friday. I thought relaxing weekend and back to it. Instead I felt on edge, shaky, teary and just couldn't face work. Having realised I need help I went to see my GP who has now signed me off for a few weeks. At this point it feels like I can't face going back so I hope this break from work changes that.

    I've always said I'm not staying in teaching all my working life as I couldn't see myself maintaining the level of work expected. I am confident that I need to leave teaching soon and will take the time off to update my CV and start applying for not teaching jobs. I am aware that making a big decision like this at the moment may not be the best but I've known since September that as a minimum I wanted to cut my hours down next year or find another job. The only thing still keeping me in the job is the pay and the long holidays - which is not a good reason to stay!

    I have read lots of similar posts on here over the past few days with lots of great advice being given and just want to put my story out there so it may help others. I will update as things develop.

    This is a new account as don't want to risk being identified.
  2. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Sorry to read this. Sadly it seems to be the way many careers are going at the moment - management drive you hard until you burn out, then replace you.

    Take a few days to be nice to yourself, reconnect with people,, have some small indulgences like nice tea, cake or coffee. Don't make any far reaching decisions until your brain has slowed down a bit and things have dropped into perspective.
    Think about what a realistic you shaped life would look like. How can you persuade people to give you money on a regular basis,what things do you want to do apart from the nitty gritty, what sort of social life do you want. Then try to think about steps to get there.

    Good luck
  3. Vimto83

    Vimto83 New commenter

    It sounds like you have written this on my behalf! I have been teaching for 10 years and am leaving. I started a new leadership role last year and have had some challenging family circumstances to deal with. Instead of the supportive environment I had hoped for, I have been faced with a culture of increasing scrutiny and unwavering demands. I have made the decision to leave and I know I'm not going back. I have been signed off sick and I am starting to feel like a new person with the prospect of not working as a teacher again. It's something I have been considering for a while and this has been the catalyst. The crippling anxiety and impact on my family life is not worth it. I thought it may change over the years. It hasn't and it shows no sign of doing so. It's a scary prospect going out into the 'normal' world of work, however also incredibly exciting. Hang on in there. Stay signed off for as long as you feel you need. DON'T feel guilty about school. If in 4 weeks you feel positive about returning then great. If not, consider your options and talk to your rep. Look after yourself and 'put on your oxygen mask before helping others' (a common saying of mine!). Talk to friends and family so you can weigh up your options. It sounds like you have made some really good first steps already. All the best.
  4. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    This seems to be the perfect time for planning to make the decision that your life needs to take a new path. The spinning room, the tears, the shakiness, the anxiety are all symptoms of stress. You have not mentioned any physical or behavioural symptoms but if you've been suffering any of these:
    • Headache
    • Muscle tension or pain
    • Chest pain
    • Fatigue
    • Change in sex drive
    • Stomach upset
    • Sleep problems
    • Overeating or undereating
    • Angry outbursts
    • Drug or alcohol abuse
    • Tobacco use
    • Social withdrawal
    • exercising less often
    Then this is further evidence of the stress you're under. You've identified the cause of your stress, perhaps unwittingly, when you say you want to cut down your hours next year. Think carefully about how you're going to get your hours down. You're going to have to work smarter and streamline your marking, planning and all the other garbage that the job involves. There's plenty of advice about as to how you can do this so I won't repeat it here.

    However, it seems that you have already determined that teaching is not a long term career plan so you are wise to use this respite from school to brush up your CV and apply for other jobs. It appears that you are still not quite sure what to do. You talk of your plans to reduce your school hours from September but yet you are preparing yourself for another career. It seems you are keeping both irons in the fire. Which is it to be?

    You need to make a firm decision before you are required to return to work after your sick leave but you need time to get your head straight before you do. Mothergoose2013 give this excellent advice on how to do this on another similar thread:

    It sounds like you have only just been signed off? If so I would allow a period of time to simply get better, (how ever long that takes). I know when I was ill I had the same flurry of mental chatter, panic, and so many questions for myself; this alongside the desperate need to take control, (which is perfectly natural), can easily lead to hasty and ill thought out decisions. Time to mend and remember how being you feels is the first thing you need. I would also expect a degree of erratic thoughts and feelings. Your perspective and thought processes may well be swinging to extremes, good hours or days, bad hours or days, all seemingly unrelated to anything other than your own mind and thoughts. For me I was most unpredictable at 3 or 4 in the morning when I would awaken and frantically try and think my way out of my situation with plans that were sometimes fairly sensible but sometimes incredibly bizarre.
    Just for now concentrate on yourself, act as if you are your own best friend, breathe properly, eat, exercise and socialize as well as you are able to, (recognising this probably sounds completely unachievable just now). Maybe try using your passion for Art as an emotional release, even if you just commit to 10 minutes each day. Sleep when you need to / can sleep and aim to get up, washed and dressed as much as you can. Try to get outside at least a few times a week.
    It may be worth your while trying some therapy. There are many different kinds and they are more affordable than you might imagine. For me hypnotherapy helped massively and ended up completely changing my life, there are so many other options to suit you, CBT, talking therapies, gestalt and so on, there is also art therapy, (possibly a future career option too)!. Your GP may even be able to refer you.
    Once you have spent whatever time it takes resting and doing what your body, mind and soul are telling you to do, the answers to all your questions will become clear to you. Until you have rested and gained clarity of thought decision making will be very difficult and likely to lead to panic. I remember making decisions, feeling much better for it, then panicking and changing my mind 360, and the process repeating again and again. This continued until I gave up trying to soldier on and decide things.
    Realising the cliche - If you had broken your legs you would not be trying to walk, neither would anybody else be expecting you too. At present your body and mind are screaming at you to stop, and as everyone I have met who has been there does, you are probably trying to fight that.
    Very best wishes to you and be assured that it will resolve as long as you put yourself first xxx

    After 10 years of teaching and the 35 at the end of your username would imply that you have at least another 30 years of working life ahead of you. If you stay in teaching you know what you're going to get, more of what you're doing now but you may find a school in which you feel happy, relaxed and less pressured and that may be just what you want but in that 30 years you could build yourself a new career or even a couple of new careers without the stress and anxiety you're feeling at the moment.

    Best wishes and good luck in whatever you decide on doing.
    Mrsmumbles, sagr, stonerose and 10 others like this.
  5. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    A great post Vimto83 and very encouraging to those who realise that teaching for them is an unsustainable career. The positivity you now feel simply leaps out of my computer screen. Good luck to you in forging a new career.
  6. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    So sorry to hear that yet another couple of posters feel like this and are leaving hat used to be the most wonderful job in the world.:(
  7. mothergoose2013

    mothergoose2013 Occasional commenter

    Nothing to add advice wise but wanted to give my best wishes. Things will work out and you will be fine, Go easy on yourself and rest for a while xxxxx
  8. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Ten years was my breaking point too. I'd just turned 40 and after a hostile stitch up of an observation found myself feeling like I had wasted the previous ten years of my life. Teaching is a job where after ten years at the chalkface some humourless clipboard junkie in SLT can come along and rate you as being worse at your job than you were when you first walked through the door! This is extremely disheartening.

    Ended up doing long term supply, still got observed.... However when I was asked why I hadn't arranged a meeting to recieve feedback my response was "well if I was that bad you wouldn't have had me in again on Monday." That was pretty much the end of that!

    Have a break, do something different and then dip your toe in the waters of permanent teaching as and when you feel ready. It's always there and the PGCE is a great qualification if you ever find yourself out of work. (I had a non teaching job finish abruptly in December, signed up for supply on a Wednesday, by the following Tuesday I was back in a school).

    Good luck.
  9. Crabbitmare

    Crabbitmare New commenter

    I'm feeling you. I had an awful time a few years ago and this morning the anxiety reared its ugly head again. I feel, rightly or wrongly, that management consider me to be weak. This this compounds my anxiety and I end up unable to concentrate. Vicious cycle.
    I would leave in a flash but mortgage needs paid. I have limited childcare options and no skills other than teaching
  10. skellig1182

    skellig1182 Senior commenter

    Don’t they call it the 10 year burn out? I really feel for you. It just saddens me that so many amazing teachers are leaving. But you do have to think about your wellbeing. We only get one life and there is so much you can do besides teaching. xxxx
  11. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    So sorry yet also happy that you have made a well thought out decision which IMO is a correct one. Lots of excellent practical advice I really cannot praise more all of those lovely TESSERS that are right here on WPD. In very few places on Earth would you find such superb understanding and advice.
    Let us know of your journey as this is so helpful to not only your own wellbeing but that of others.
    Will pray that your journey to recovery and a successful new career is realised.
    Curae xxx
  12. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Quite. ...let us remember to live our lives well.
    Curae xxx
  13. hiddendavid

    hiddendavid New commenter

    I feel for you :( I quit some 6 years ago and now persuade people to give me £80+ an hour for a skill i can provide, this weekend, im working 2 and a half hours saturday and 3 hours sunday, nealry a weeks wage as a full time m1 teacher - it can be done!!
  14. BetterNow

    BetterNow Occasional commenter

    The obvious question... what do you do now? I dream of leaving teaching. Fear of what to do next holds me back.
    pepper5, TinksB, stonerose and 4 others like this.
  15. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    I lasted 23 years but I'm so glad I left. For the past 15 years I've had a different career. It doesn't pay anything like as well as teaching did but I'm still having a wonderful time.

    There are other options out there.
  16. alan1

    alan1 New commenter

    I've been doing it for 24 years and like everyone have gone through the agonies of anxiety/depression/stress of the job. A few years ago I decided I needed a plan B and am currently training to be an embalmer, something that has given me a passion for life rather than just teach, 'Dans ma trousse j'ai une gomme, un stylo, un crayon, etc etc....'

    Just knowing that there is another profession to go to eases the daily knot in your stomach and gives you hope.
    pepper5, hfromh, stonerose and 8 others like this.
  17. BurntOutTeacher35

    BurntOutTeacher35 New commenter

    Thank you for all the positive comments, I'm just reading through them now.

    Letting work know was very nerve wracking - there is a part of me expecting them to turn up at the house and say come on get to work!

    I had an early night last night and slept so well - a combination of being so tired from missed sleep and not having to be thinking about setting cover work...to finally have a day off and not still having to do the work!
  18. BurntOutTeacher35

    BurntOutTeacher35 New commenter

    Thank you for the great advice, I will take some time to relax. I was talking to my partner how nice it would be to come home from work and not have to do extra work or be thinking about work. I often procrastinate of an evening and most of the day Sunday before getting some work done...be nice just to relax out of work. His reply was "it is!"
    pepper5, JAM2702, stonerose and 6 others like this.
  19. BurntOutTeacher35

    BurntOutTeacher35 New commenter

    Ditto. Not today, but I will be updating my CV and having a good think about what I want to do next.
  20. BurntOutTeacher35

    BurntOutTeacher35 New commenter

    I do have other symptoms on that list, one thing which is very unusual for me - under eating. I get proper hunger grumps but just not wanted to eat...in fact I've just weighed myself and I'm half over half a stone lighter than I was before Xmas!

    I do want to leave teaching, but for some reason I don't secure another job before next year I will cut down my hours and continue looking for non-teaching work. I am confident I will find something else before then. I feel so motivated at finding another job atm!
    pepper5, stonerose and agathamorse like this.

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