Wellbeing

Breakdown, reach out, recover. 

In April 2016, on return  to work after the Easter break I had a breakdown. Anxiety hit as I walked into my classroom the morning after the Easter break. Anxiety that was so crippling I immediately left my classroom with no words to convey how I felt.

A member of staff caught me in the corridor, asked if I was okay and that was it.  Tears ran down my face, snot poured from my nose, words failed to leave my mouth.

I sat in the meeting rooms for what felt like hours. The deputy head came to see me to ask what was wrong. I couldn’t explain it other than the fact I couldn’t be there. The job had worn me down, the emotional toll had broken me. I cried. I cried some more.

Eventually I was sent home. My partner would drop me off at work so I had to make my own way home. I don’t remember though how I got home. It’s all a blur now. Did I get a lift? Did I get the bus? Did my sister in law pick me up? I don’t know.

I don’t remember much of that day to be honest.  I don’t remember much of that week actually.

I remember trying to go to work the next day but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’d never felt this way about a job before.

I’d worked hard all my life, at one point I was working two part time jobs and a full time one and still wasn’t as stressed out by employment.

I didn’t go back for some 3 weeks. I stayed curled up in bed or watched Netflix. I visited the doctor eventually. But only after I’d spoken to the education support partnership. I knew I needed to talk to someone. Someone that could advise. Someone I didn’t know.

The counsellor I spoke to was patient, supportive and helped me to come around to the idea I needed time off and needed to see a professional.

The next day I went to the doctors.  I returned the following week to be signed off. I got help. I got medication. The first medication didn’t help. But my medication was changed and I got better.

It’s almost a year since I started taking anti-depressants. A year on something I said I would never take. But it’s helped me to reclaim my life, reclaim my love for teaching and reclaim my happiness.

I moved schools, I feel confident in the support network there. I feel confident in the focus on staff and student wellbeing. I feel confident that if it’s raised with SLT it’s not just swept under the carpet.

Like a number of teachers I know, I’m not the only one to have gone through this. I’m not the only one that’s broken down. I’m not the only one to be taking medication.

I want you all to know that, no matter what you have to look after you. There are so many organisations out there, but in particular I’d like to recommend the Education Support Partnership. Reach out, talk and get help.

Feel free to get in contact in you need to.

Best wishes

Me.

19 thoughts on “Breakdown, reach out, recover. 

    1. Thanks so much for sharing. I also went through a similar experience some years ago and although it is awful at the time, I want you to know that you clearly seem to be a wonderful, inspiring person, wonderful at your job and appreciated greatly by all who are around you on a daily basis. Take care and all the very best. Thanks so much for sharing………

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Thank you oh for speaking out. I had a breakdown 3years ago but never realized I was having one until I like you couldn’t go in to work one day, fear & anxiety stopped me leaving the house. More needs to be done & people need to stop labeling us, as it’s just a little help we need to get through a tough time. Diolch

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a huge comfort to me as I have been signed off under similar circumstances and have felt so guilty! Ridiculous, I know – but there is almost a mentality in teaching that makes many of us ‘carry on regardless’ and if we can’t we feel weak. I know it’s what I need; I need time and head space and I need to take care of me. Thank you for making it clear that I’m not on my own and I’m not the only one. It means more than you will ever know.

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  3. Yes, teaching is so stressful and thanks for sharing. In my case my service was exemplary but the HT was homophobic and definitely caused me to resign. 35 years! “I feel really sorry for you!” He once told me in his office. A colleague joked that perhaps he meant my salary. Oh no…. In my case the Education Support Partnership listened but a concerned member of staff saved my life. She was targeted for supporting me but later she resigned too. Apparently the HT is in poor health now. Karma perhaps……. I know the feeling you had and the dilemma with medication. I wish you well.

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  4. Feel like I am in this position but can’t leave as Im the wage earner. In fact I want to leave teaching altogether as I feel like all my good will has gone. Physically sick at the thought if going to work and although I love my students the staff are cold and generally make you feel worse. Did you tell your future employer about your breakdown? If so how did you approach it in the interview?

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  5. Thank you for your courage and honesty. I’m cross when I read so many great teachers becoming I’ll because of work. It is WRONG! No job should ruin your health and wellbeing. I hold school managers responsible as in any employment sector, workplace stress is a health and safety issue. It should be treated with priority and urgency. Why is so much pressure and accountability placed on individual teachers? I cannot answer that question. Stress ruins lives. Thank you for your initiative. You may never see how many teachers you help as a result – but keep on doing it!

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  6. When I look back now I spent more than a year ill. I was sick in the mornings and had crippling tension in my shoulders by the end of the day. I was napping when I got home and eating antacids like sweets in the evenings. The lump in my throat never left. I can’t believe now that I was able to keep going.
    I didn’t want to take antidepressants just to cope with work. I’m lucky I could afford to leave. I chose a happier life and now don’t look back. Teaching is all I ever wanted to do and I took a bit longer getting there but life mattered more to me in the end.
    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  7. Thank you for this – I have sat in a meeting with a senior member of staff where I openly cried. When I was asked what was wrong, I couldn’t figure it out. Went home and spoke to my very supportive partner who suggested a night off with drinks and monopoly.
    The next Monday I handed in my notice – the best decision I ever made and feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulder. I have never been this happy and weight free in so long.
    Mental health is such a hidden disease and one that not along of people understand.

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      1. Yeah thanks – reading this has made me think more about me than my job. Will miss my students dearly but my health is more important.
        My partner is amazing and I think he was a big help with knowing the decision I had made was the right one

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  8. Thanks so much for sharing. I also went through a similar experience some years ago and although it is awful at the time, I want you to know that you clearly seem to be a wonderful, inspiring person, wonderful at your job and appreciated greatly by all who are around you on a daily basis. Take care and all the very best. Thanks so much for sharing………

    Like

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