The Darkest Term Revisited: Teacher Stress and Depression Part 6December 20, 2015
The most viewed post on this blog is one from two years ago entitled The Darkest Term: Teacher Stress and Depression in which teachers shared their stories of stress and depression. Last year I contacted some of those people to see how they were getting on, although I never got round to publishing their responses. I’ve also contacted them again this week. This post contains one of the accounts from the original post and any updates.
Original Account: December 2013
To sum up, I have been teaching for 10 years now in mainstream and BESD. Last year has been awful. Wanted to quit; couldn’t cope; cried all the time at home; worked ridiculous hours to keep up; didn’t sleep. Also, I’ve put on nearly 3 stone through poor diet, eating on the run and comfort eating and look about 50 (I’m 31). I went to the doctors because I was ill a lot and, once I’d explained symptoms, he medicated me for work-related anxiety.
Months passed and there was no change really so I went back. Now I take mild antidepressants too on top of anxiety meds. Generally it’s helped and I can cope better but I definitely had to get out of my current school as it is going to the dogs. So short-staffed it is silly; no PPA; always on duty; no time to get anything done. 13 hour days most days.
So I’m starting a new job after Xmas; hoping to get some balance back…
Update: December 2014
Having been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome I took the decision to leave teaching. My body and mind cannot cope with the demands and stress makes my physical symptoms worse.
Right now I am officially unemployed which is scary but also a bit liberating.
I’ve accepted that to be able to put my health first I need to change career, drop a ton of money and have a “regular job” – so sad in some ways that it comes to that, especially as I know I was a good teacher, making a difference and doing well.
The depression fog is lifting slowly but the anxiety remains along with all my crappy physical symptoms. I’ve improved from 3-4 months ago but still got a long way to go.
Update December 2015:
I’m now working as a SEND Case Worker – I started 6 weeks ago having done 1-1 tutoring for 10 months. I’m loving it so much and it’s helping my recover.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is becoming more controllable and I still have bad days but life has really moved forward for me, so much brighter and happier and I feel I have purpose.
Currently I have no regrets leaving the classroom and hope I have a future in this role.
If anyone reading this is experiencing stress and depression themselves, you should be aware of the Teacher Support Network which runs a hotline and offers practical advice. If it is your working conditions that are making you ill, or if you want help with ensuring that you are supported at work having being diagnosed with stress or depression, I would recommend contacting your union.