Out the other side...
The post I need to write today is not an easy one, but I need to share it with you, so I apologise if I start to ramble, or things don't flow but I need to get this written down. You may or may not be aware that today marks the last day of mental health awareness week, a cause which I have always felt strongly about but more so recently.
My day job is a Secondary Maths teacher, and despite what people think about the long holidays, short days and whatever the press says every time we strike, it is actually a stupidly stressful occupation. You are responsible for a child's future, you have to meet targets with students who would rather be on their phones and every now and then Ofsted come breathing down our necks.
Don't get me wrong, it is a really rewarding profession, and with the right people around you it can lighten the load. However just over a year ago I was not in this position.
I was really starting to feel the strain, the burn-out, whatever you want to call it. It upset me that I was putting my heart, soul and most of my weekend into lessons that were never good enough to keep the technology age student happy enough, and if I had to mark the same book again I was going to burst into tears. Actually I did on a weekly basis, I really was not coping with the work load that was expected of me.
So I decided to speak to my head of department; I wanted them to know that I wasn't happy, that I needed help, that I was ready to jump ship in the position I was. However comfort was not what I received, it wasn't even helpful! Every time I tried to speak to them, or one of my colleagues on my behalf, we were met with flippant comments about everyone being stressed. My favourite was the time I was told the story of their friend who had been diagnosed with cancer, had left teaching and was now loving life.
My mood slowly got worse, and I started to resent my job; I would snap at my colleagues when I was asked my opinion which actually lead to them putting in complaints about my attitude. We had to do a meeting where we were asked to write down the positives of our working day, which I at first told them I couldn't write anything and then eventually left in tears. And yet still nothing was done.
What little time I had to myself at home I barely felt like I was living. I would just sit there for hours not feeling anything. It was as if I had become a black hole which sucked all my emotions from within.
Eventually I was called into my line managers office to discuss my poor attitude and I just broke down in tears, I couldn't take it any more. This was when I eventually got their attention and things were put into place to support me.
This was also the time that I made myself an appointment with the doctor, which was a nightmare in itself, over a dozen times trying to get through to the receptionist and when I finally did they didn't even make the appointment on the system. I was lucky, or I just looked so bad that they managed to squeeze me in with the on-call doctor. I don't remember much of the appointment, just that when he asked me how he could help I replied with "I want to feel like myself again."
I cannot praise the members of the NHS that have helped me through this time, be that the doctorswho helped me get my prescription right, or the counsellors who sat and listened. It has taken over a year but I can say that I am almost back to my normal self, I still have bad days when all I want to do is curl up under the duvet and hide from the world, but they are getting fewer. I have also recently come off my medication and I am taking it one day at a time, knowing that if I ever need it I have people I can turn to.
And as for the head of department who failed to support, well I am now in a different position with a team of people I know who will listen if I have an issue and will help if I ever asked. Don't get me wrong I still find the job stressful, but who knows maybe my blog will become successful and I can retire early?
Before I go I just want to finish with if you ever feel anywhere as near as bad I as I did then don't sit on it. There are so many people and organisations that are out there who can help; the first step is hard but it will help I promise.
Thank you for listening