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Work is affecting my mental/psychological health. Can't help sobbing for 3 days now! PLEASE HELP!!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by jonwell675, Jan 17, 2018.

  1. jonwell675

    jonwell675 New commenter

    Greetings, fellow sufferers of the current education system in the UK!

    Well, as the thread title suggests, the work-related stress that is 'part and parcel' of being a teacher has gotten a little bit too unbearable for me lately and I am considering being signed off as we speak... A little background first:

    I am a young professional and have been active as an English teacher for a few years, but in September I started teaching in a public school. I was appointed despite my lack of experience in the specific field because I started working at my current employer as a supply and they apparently saw something in me and took me on. I do not wish to divulge futher details for fear of being identified, but suffice it to say the level of education is within the KS1-KS2 frame.

    As the more experienced of you will no doubt know, it is not too uncommon for the new, inexperienced teacher to be perceived as a liability by their teaching partners (Primary) and even Teaching Assistants, and I am a sad case in point. I have been made to feel I am utterly useless ,that the whole Year Group is lagging behind because of me, that all the tasks I am told to do I do in a haphazard, hurried way that bears no results, that, in a nutshell, my work is substandard. I have been subjected to what I believe to be bullying by my closest colleagues - ironically enough the management are very supportive (or at least have been so far). I have put off reporting the situation to them for fear of being stigmatised or making the situation worse on me, especially as my anxiety has reached higher peaks now and I feel I am on the brink of collapse.

    Last weekend I simply couldn't help sobbing (quite literally) and researching alternative career paths, but the sad realisation that even if I were to resign, I would still have to stay on till the end of term, has made my life all the more miserable. Thing is, this behaviour, coupled with the inhumane workload have taken all the enjoyment away from teachign for me, and I am nostalgic about my previous, also teaching-related career. I have called the Samaritans twice since then, and visited with my GP who says I will soon need some time off if things don't change.

    I am helpless as I want to resign and never set foot in there, but still have to go in day in day out. I hate the way I am treated and do not believe I deserve it, despite my inexperience and the mistakes I make as a result. No one has the right to snap at me or take things out on me. When this happens, how can I face a class of thirty-odd students who also demand a huge energy reserve that someone else has drained me of?

    Is there a chance I could take time off AND start the resignation process?

    I am hopeless.
    I feel helpless.
    I cannot cope...

  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    First things first, I think you need to go back to your doctor and repeat the final 3 lines of your post to them. A couple of weeks signed off is what you need - time to clear your head and de-stress. Don't make any decisions until you've done that.

    For future reference, yes, you can resign while signed off. You could also ask your Head if it would be possible to leave earlier; they could say yes, they could say no.

    It sounds as though it's not the school for you - toxic colleagues are not good for the soul.
    pepper5, annarg, agathamorse and 3 others like this.
  3. ThereAreBunniesInMyHead

    ThereAreBunniesInMyHead Occasional commenter

    As far as I'm aware you can hand your notice in whilst signed off, no problems. So if things are that bad, you could ask your GP to sign you off until the end of the Easter holidays (which isn't actually that long!) and hand your notice in at the same time so they have time to recruit a replacement who would start after Easter. You would get sick pay then up to the date when your employment finished at the end of the Easter holidays. Unless anyone has any better information?
    jonwell675 likes this.
  4. clarefrankie

    clarefrankie Occasional commenter

    go back to your doctor, get signed off (stating WRS) and do not hand your notice in until you are in a better state of mind. When you return to work the school has a duty of care to you to ensure that they deal with the sources of stress that you are facing.
  5. missteach2005

    missteach2005 New commenter

    I am considering the same process. I'm signed off and planning on handing my notice in and not returning to that place, except for any attendance type meetings as the thought of returning sends me into a tail spin.

    Get signed off immediately, after work today. Give yourself thinking time and space.
  6. Adamantc

    Adamantc New commenter

    Sounds like a similar experience to one that I have had - you must go to the doctors - they will be sympathetic - they know what pressure us teachers are under. You need some quality time to think about and reassess your options. I am on a phased return after 8 weeks off and feel better than I have done for years. By the way, there is no rush to hand in your notice - take your time and really think about it, you may be entitled to be paid until the summer holidays
  7. jonwell675

    jonwell675 New commenter

    Thank you guys! All of your replies have made feel less alone... In fact, a read through most threads here leaves me wondering whethere there IS any teacher who loves what they do, and who thinks that the anxiety that comes with this profession is balanced by the love for their vocation. I was like that in my previous teaching career, but mainstream education does not suit me at all.

    Well, the next question would be how that is going to affect the references I will inevitably need from them in the future. Miserable though I am there, this entry looks very good on my CV in terms of experience, and I am afraid that - apart from the fact that a resignation never looks good in one's employment history- they might give my next employer an unfavourable reference because of how abruptly our collaboration ended. Do you think it's possible that they cannot do that by law, on the grounds that the reason for resignation was a health- one?

    Yeah, I have thought of resigning for quite some time now, so I don't think it is a case of my clouded judgment getting the better of me, but I would give it a week or two before I hand my resignation in (if I do).
  8. jonwell675

    jonwell675 New commenter

    About that, another stress factor are my current finances. I have a rent that is too steep to pay and am afraid that if I am on 'Sickness Pay' or whatever it's called (Statutory Sickness Pay or something?) I will receive a quarter of my salary or so. If that's the case, I will end up having yet another problem in life: facing homelessness :p . Due to personal reasons and meagre finances, I cannot move into another apartment yet...
  9. jonwell675

    jonwell675 New commenter

    In addition, if I end up being on reduced pay due to sickness (if that is the case legally), do I have the right to find another job at the same time? (obviously NOT as a teacher but, rather, something ephemeral like working at a supermarket part-time.
  10. jonwell675

    jonwell675 New commenter

    How true,...

    Has anyone ever been through the same stuff with condescending colleagues on whom your work depends on a day-to-day basis ?
  11. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    Personally, I would suggest that hanging on desperately, in an environment such as the one you have described here, is not your best option. Continuing to expose yourself to this, given your present state of mind and general well-being, is almost tantamount to self-harm. You need to stop.

    Why? I can fully understand how you might not want to feel you have let anyone down. But think about this logically for a moment. Suppose you had been involved in an accident, whilst driving home from school, and were physically unable to return to work. The world would still keep turning, things would go on as they have always done, and one way or another the school would have to pick up the pieces and move on. We all like to think we make a significant contribution, but in reality no-one is irreplaceable.

    You're right, they don't. But perhaps your colleagues are also feeling the strain, just as much as you. If that's the case, then rather than bite the hand that feeds them, they lash out at others, and you just happen to be a convenient whipping boy. Perhaps they see it as a way of making themselves appear to be more organised and professional.

    I don't doubt there are people out there who think I am pretty hopeless at what I do. They are entitled to their opinion, regardless of whether or not I agree with it. They are entitled to express that opinion, though you would hope they would do it as politely and diplomatically as possible. I have no control over that, but I may have some degree of control over how I handle it. I can choose to believe them, or I can choose to view it as simply 'their opinion'.

    This comes back to the issue of control again. Feeling helpless is a natural consequence of being in a situation you feel you have no control over, so you need to start to take back control of your everyday life. Ask for help from those people who are prepared to offer it, starting with your GP. Do it today.

    To say you are coping with something, implies that you are 'managing to hang on'. Don't just 'hang in there' for the sake of others. Find yourself an environment where you are valued, nurtured, and allowed to develop to your full potential.
    annarg, agathamorse, Curae and 2 others like this.
  12. jonwell675

    jonwell675 New commenter

    I am indebted for your reply! Apart from the sound advice it contains regarding taking back control of my daily life, it really made for an oasis in the psychological dessert I am currently traversing.

    It really made my day. You sound like a person who has been through a similar situation, so I guess you know that when one is too 'deep' into the pit, they sometimes feel they are condemned to that hell for life eternal, but you are right.

    It was actually this realisation - i.e. that I CAN take time off, that I CAN resign if I want to- that lightened up my mood a little. It's so terrifying how teaching can make one feel it's 'more than a job'.

    I have suffered with anxiety before, but it is safe to say this is an unparalleled crisis. I fear I am exhibiting symptoms of depression for the first time, not just stress.

    Now, the only problem is that I have committed to going in to work tomorrow, but I will have that serious conversation with the Head.
    annarg likes this.
  13. carriecat10

    carriecat10 Established commenter Community helper

    Lots of good advice here for you @jonwell675. If your username is linked to your real name please consider changing this to make yourself unidentifiable.

    You can do this by emailing help@tes.com giving an alternative name/s or register again with a different email address.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    First call in and say you're unwell and won't be in tomorrow.
    Tomorrow call the doctor and ask for an emergency appointment.
    If you get the appointment same day then get the GP to sign you off.
    If you are made to wait (!) then ring school again and say you're continuing to self-certificate until you get to see the doctor.

    Let the doctor advise you how much time you need off work. Take that time. If you still feel unwell then revisit the GP.

    Look at your contract. When are your resignation dates?

    Look at the local jobs-market. Both education and otherwise. Could be that this kind of hot-house isn't for you. Another school could be right up your alley.

    School hasn't threatened you with any kind of capability compliance so they should be prepared to let you go without the risk of a poor reference. Be honest with them. "This isn't the school for me and I don't feel I'm the person you need. I hope you'll be happy to let me go and be able to provide a fair and accurate reference when the time comes. I was thinking along the following lines: hard-working, diligent, enthusiastic, capable. I know my students haven't quite achieved the very high results you were expecting but I think I have potential."
    annarg, agathamorse and elder_cat like this.
  15. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    remember the Education Support partnership has a helpline, details are in a sticky thread
  16. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

  17. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    I've had some bad times. But without the bad ones we wouldn't appreciate the good ones.

    It's whatever you choose to make it. Perhaps sometimes we make it more than it should be.

    Suffered with depression many years ago. You can overcome this with the right medical help.

    If you go into work tomorrow, don't view it as another day of suffering. View it as the first positive step on the road to a better life, whether that be in your present school, or somewhere else. Treat it as somewhere to make a start, rather than somewhere you've ended up.

    Best of luck, hope all works out well for you.
  18. Billie73

    Billie73 Occasional commenter

    1. If that’s your real name, change it.

    2. Go to the doctors and get signed off.

    3. Yes, you can resign while signed off. I did. You can also go to interviews during your resignation period while signed off if it’s deemed leaving the job will benefit your health. My new job overlapped my notice period (Easter holidays) so I got double pay for 2 weeks. The head was aware and supportive - even though she was a dragon up until I was signed off!

    4. It will not stop you getting another job at another school - or outside of education. I left education for a year and worked in industry. When I explained I had been signed off the response was ‘I’m not surprised, I couldn’t be a teacher’. I then went back to teaching and the response was ‘when can you start?’

    5. I LOVE my current teaching job. I honestly thought I would never teach again but at this new school, I can’t imagine ever doing anything else. I’m happy, valued and have a work life balance.

    You will be ok. Look after yourself. If you need to be signed off then get signed off. You don’t deserve to be treated this way.
  19. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Absolutely. Don't make life-changing decisios when you're stressed.

    Actually @jonwell675 as you work in the 'private sector' you may well need to give a full term's notice. Check your contract and your School's terms and conditions. Then they are likely to insist on an 'resignation date' i e not paying you for the summer, which will have huge implications financially.:(
  20. daisydayz13

    daisydayz13 New commenter

    I was signed off and have resigned - never to return.
    annarg and agathamorse like this.

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