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Work related stress

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by lcblue, Feb 4, 2009.

  1. Hi!

    I am writing this from a strange place, where I am looking for support but also I maybe be able to offer support to others. I have recently been signed off work by my doctor due to work related stress. I know I am not the first to go off and I'm sure I wont be the last!

    It is such a horrible feeling not being able to do your job. Up to this I always got on with things and did my job as best I could. I was aware of how stressful it can be and witnessed colleagues take time of for stress related illness. I thought I would be ok, I cut a few corners at work to lessen my work load, tried to forget about school when I left the building, socialised, exercised, pampered, rested, shopped etc etc. I tried not to take it personally when I had a rubbish day and I tried to tell myself I wasn't a 'bad' teacher. It got harder and harder to go in, until one day I couldn't. That was such a hard day. The feeling of being a total failure, I felt like I was going mad. Why couldn't I just get on with it like everyone else? I felt like I hit rock bottom and I knew I needed to seek help but I didn't know where.

    I rang the teacher support network and I tried not to cry down the phone as I told them what was wrong. The girl on the phone was so nice and understanding. She suggested I go to my doctor and ring my union. The next day I went to my doctor. I was very anxious about going to a doctor and was worried what his reaction would be, what do I tell him and what will he say to me? I thought he might tell me to 'get a grip' and get on with things or maybe that I had gone mad and needed medication, I didn't know which would be worst! Thankfully he did neither, he was very understanding and he signed me off for a week. I spent most of this week staying with family, I thought this would give me the rest I needed and time to get mysef back on track. After the week I was feeling no better. I found it difficult to talk about school, when I thought of the place I would feel sick in my stomach and panicked at the idea of going back. I returned to my doctor and I explained how I was feeling and he signed me off for another 2 weeks. He told me I would have to wait at least 3 months for counseling, so I found a counsellor who lives near me. I went to see her last week. This was a strange experience for me, I never thought I would need to seek professional help but I was so low that it was necessary. I found the session useful and I am going back to her this week before I see my doctor again.

    I am finding this time really difficult but I am so glad that I have now found some help with this instead of pretending that everything is ok. I know there are so many teachers who have gone through or who are going through similar situations and I would like to hear from you, maybe we can help each other.
  2. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    Hi Icblue. I read your piece and now realise that this seems to be a very common syndrome.

    I am in my forth week of being signed off for stress at work, and think that I will have to go back to my doctor this afternoon as the thought of going back on monday is intolerable.

    Like you, I hate the feeling of guilt, the fact that you feel a failure..etc. The only thing that has worked for me has been trying to keep myself physically fit. I take my partner to work every day, which means I have to get out of bed early. I also pick her up from work in the afternoon. She is very worried about the situation, as I have always been the strong one in the family. She seems to be scared that it is all going to fall apart.

    How long have you been teaching and what subject do you teach? Also, do you have any additional responsibilities? What was it that tipped the balance for you?
  3. Thanks for this. I feel like I'm stuck (as I said in my other thread). Just finished having a little cry at my desk... maybe I should go see the doctor
  4. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    Do yourself a favour and go to see your GP as soon as possible.

    I'm hear if you want to talk about stuff. Trust me I know how you are feeling!!
  5. Hi Chuk, thanks for your reply. This is my fourth year of primary school teaching. I began as a class teacher but I now work as a specialist teacher in large primary school. I've always struggled with the behaviour and attitudes of the children. I don't want to say too much about my job and the school on here but I'm not the first person to be off.

    What about you, have you been teaching long? What was difficult for you?
  6. Go and see your doctor. I found it hard to go, but such relief when I did. He won't be able to solve everything for you but should give you time off that you need.
  7. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    This is my tenth year, but I came into the profession late. I was originally primary trained, and started in a large primary school in East London. After three years I transferred to a local secondary school, where I worked as a year 7 transition teacher for a further three years. After they shelved the project, I was kept on as an English teacher and promoted to Head of Year. I stayed as a head of year for another two years in the same school, but transferred to a secondary school on the outskirts of a large town in Essex. I took on the role of head of year 10, and have taken them up to year 11.

    The school had a sucessful ofsted in september 2007, but never really relaxed the monitoring etc. I was really dreading going back at the start of this year. I got criticised for my management style at the end of last term, and that stayed with me. The marking started piling up, the endless meetings after school, the planning, report writing.......all got to me until it all became too much 3 weeks ago.
  8. Sounds like a nightmare, the amount of work and pressure is crazy. Its horrible when you're criticised too, it's understandable why you're off.

    With my role I don't have as much paperwork, marking, meetings etc as everyone else. I look at some members of staff and think how can they be still standing with the responsibilities they have. I find it hard because I think of them and think they can do it why can't I. I'm trying not to think like, that but its hard to not feel like rubbish!
  9. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    I've just tried to get another appointment with my GP, but their computers are down!

    I really find it crazy that so many teachers seem to have to go through this nightmare scenario of encountering stress/anxiety/depression, all because of a fecked up system, and often unsupportive SLT. Sometimes you have to take a step back from a difficult situation, and give yourself time to think. If you intend to stay in the profession long, then you have to pace yourself, a bit like a marathon runner!

    What are you doing to keep yourself busy?
  10. Sorry to hear about your GP, I hope you get an appointment. It is crazy that it effects so many teachers. I'm not doing much which is a nice change and I'm trying not to feel guilty about it.

    What about you?
  11. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    I am going to go and write some letters, sort out my study and then go and pick up my partner from work. I feel knackered from an hour at the gym, but at least it's a HEALTHY knackered!!!

    Take care of yourself, and get well soon!
  12. piedwarbler

    piedwarbler New commenter

    I think everybody has the buttons, and if they get pressed, they get stressed. Don't think of others as coping better than you, ICblue, just think they haven't had their buttons pressed in the order that would do it for them yet!

    Take care.
  13. Thanks chuk and piedwarbler
  14. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    Hi Maisylee. Try to keep yourself busy doing things that you actually enjoy. What was it that caused you to be off? Do you work in Primary or Secondary?
  15. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    Hi Icblue. Hope you are feeling better? Have you decided when or if you are going back? Maybe at some point you maight need to speak to your line manager of headteacher and discuss the problems you are having. I hope you are able to use the time off usefully and to look after your own interests. I've got a meeting tomorrow in school even though I'm still officially signed off. Wish me luck!

  16. Hi Chuk
    I work in secondary and I took on a lot of extra work in September so I think this is the reason (don’t want to say too much on here).
    I am going to go into work this week to have a chat as I really want to get back to work I just don’t know how. I feel really bad letting everyone down especially the kids but just can’t face things.
    Hope all goes well tomorrow – good luck

  17. I've just read this thread.

    I have now been signed off for three months "work related stress"

    I really have to think about whether or not I want to continue in education.

    Thankfully I have a supportive GP - she has been fantastic.

    Good luck everyone. Hope you pull through. I'm really seriously thinking about resigning. Not sure I want to carry on doing a job that will make me sick.

  18. richfruitcake

    richfruitcake New commenter

    I was off with work related stress for a term in 2009. I am well now and work as a supply teacher. I would strongly advise everyone who is sgned off to contact their union at regioal office level for help and support. They are excellent at advising you about OH, phased returns, the support you should receive from your school, the form you have to complete if you return to work etc, etc. When you are stressed it is not a good time to make any decisions without their support.
    My LEA offered counselling sessions so your union should also be abe to advise you about that too.
    When the stress floored me I was in my 5th year of teaching and had always considered myself to be very strong. Rest and relaxation is a good healer and the councelling also helped. I also spoke to the teachers support line who said they would get back to me about a course they had but I din't follow it up or hear from again. However, they were very supportive in the early hours of the morning when I needed to talk a couple of times.
    Hugs to all of you. Take care of yourselves.

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