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I am 36, a teacher of 14 years experience. I’ve worked 13 years in primary and one year in secondary, always full-time. I grew disillusioned with the job about four years ago and planned to leave but was persuaded by my then-school that I was too good to throw it all away, so I stayed in the profession. Now I wish I hadn’t.
I am showing what I believe to be signs of either depression, burn out or exhaustion... possibly all three. I loathe the job. I handed in my notice in January to leave at Easter (intending to leave the school AND the profession)but was asked by my head to stay on till July, as it would give her a better chance to find a suitable replacement and would interfere less with my current class’s education. Also, I would get summer holiday pay and still get a summer holiday before moving on to pastures new.
I really should have gone at Easter. My health, physically and mentally, feels like its deteriorating by the day. I’m shaky all the time, I have no energy to mark and plan (and frequently don’t.... I’m so far behind that if anyone finds out I’d be in deep shtuck). I don’t have any time or energy for the wife and kids (we have 4 children and my state makes it hard for me to be the kind of dad I want to be). Often I feel like I might be about to stumble and fall, like a dizzy sensation. I had a CT scan on my head recently but the results were inconclusive (no sign of anything like a tumour or a haemorrhage, which was a relief, but no concrete answers either!) I used to do an hour of solid training at the gym most days without feeling too tired, but now I go far less often and I’m gasping for breath after 15 mins. Worst of all, my entire work life feels out of control and I can’t get back on top of it all.
I work in a school which, in my opinion, is very poorly run and managed, but I’ve worked in great schools too and still didn’t like it! So it’s not a case of just leaving and going to work somewhere else. It’s definitely teaching I don’t like, not one specific school.
This morning I had a really bad sensation. I felt dizzy like I’d just got off a roundabout , but the feeling wouldn’t subside, and my hands felt like they weren’t connected to my body. It was actually painful and weird-feeling just to move my fingers. My left hand seems to be shaking periodically.
I think I need to go to the doctors and get some time off. But I’m worried about the implications. The school where I work has an attitude of not using supply teachers or temps, and try to fit everything around cover supervisors. The cov. supers are stretched to the limit at the minute, so for me to go off ill will create a massive headache and my name will be mud! I can’t discuss this with my head, as she is the type of person who thinks these mental/physical illnesses are non-existent, and just an excuse for people to get out of doing any work – she’s been particularly scathing about people who’ve done it in the past. Also, some of the planning and marking I’ve fallen behind with will come to the surface if I go.
Do I stick it out and hope that I make it through to July in one piece, or do I just take the time off I require (which could be the rest of the year... the rest of my teaching “career”, in fact) and just take whatever snide comments and criticism comes my way? I really don’t know what to do.
Doctors TODAY, without a doubt. Go before you collapse. If I knew you, I would be putting you in the car right now and driving you there myself.
In fact, even if I didn't know you but you told me this in person, I would still be taking you to the doctors without any delay.
I think you should go home right now. How the school deals with it is not your responsability (they are paid to manage). I would also take tomorrow off, and make a doctor's appointment for Monday. Take Monday off too (you can self cert for that long).
Don't try to worry about the rest of it - have a short term plan and then see.
The thing that most worries me about what you said is "my state makes it hard for me to be the kind of dad I want to be". That says it all. Your health and family must be your priority, in my opinion.
All of this is just my opinion, so do see what other people see. You sound like a lovely man who has a huge conscience and sense of responsability, don't feel you need to carry the world on your shoulders. Take care.
As stated above, leave the premises and get yourself signed off. Your HT's denial about illnesses is her prejudiced and bigoted view; it is not reality.
The school doesn't matter. You and your family do.
Thanks for the support guys, but what about the fact that my marking is in a dismal state and there's no real planning for anyone to pick up and run with? I have an overview that I follow, but it might be hard for others to follow. Surely I can't just leave the others with these pieces to pick up? Won't I find out while I'm off that I've been "found out" and fired??
Many of us here have been where you are now.
Go home, or, better, go straight to your GP and tell him / her what you have told us. Your body is trying to tell you to stop doing whatever it is you are doing. Stop NOW. Do not try to soldier on.
When you keel over in front of the smartboard, they will wheel you out and slot another body in. After a few days, nobody will notice. Sorry, but that is the truth of the matter in the majority of schools.
Take the drugs, if prescribed, take lots of time off to get yourself well.
Life is too short. Keep posting on here. xx
jondabell Thanks for the support guys, but what about the fact that my marking is in a dismal state and there's no real planning for anyone to pick up and run with? I have an overview that I follow, but it might be hard for others to follow. Surely I can't just leave the others with these pieces to pick up? Won't I find out while I'm off that I've been "found out" and fired??
You are ill. You are not coping. Stuff the planning.
The fact that your paperwork and marking are not up to your usual standards is a visible symptom of your poor state of health at the moment. The fact that you are worried about making it hard for others to pick up the reins is a sign of how professional you are.
Go to your GP. Sit in the waiting room and don't move until you're seen.
England - 08000 562 561 Wales - 08000 855
You go to the doctors.
I have just run myself into the ground in a job which I really adore (yes and the marking and planning was not up to date) and ended up 3 weeks in hospital and 5 weeks sick leave on top and still not well.
Just don't do it.
Heed what your body is saying. Those are all signs of stress and burn out but big but, they have physical consequences for your physical and long term health.
No one lies on their death bed and says "Oh how I wish I had worked harder".
Your absence will be covered. Things might not be done as well as you would do them but they will somehow get done.
You owe it your family to take stock of your well being.
It is no shame and no one will think less of you if you take a long sick break or leave in the end of things altogether, for a new field of work.
If you do not get help now you will end up
b in hospital with a bad heart problem
c in a long term mental ward with depression and a break down
Like the other posters, I think you need to go straight to
the doctors. Please do not worry about the marking or planning. Of
course it is important, but so is your health. The fact that you had
already attempted to talk to your head shows that you have acknowledged
there is a problem with your health and it is impacting in the classroom. The school will carry on but if
you are ill you cannot carry on. I am sure if you asked your doctor
would do some blood tests to check you out. These symptoms are real, I had failing eye sight and
exhaustion and was found to diabetic, yes it took a term to get it
under control but I'm so glad I found out then rather than when i had
deteriorated even more.
jondabell I have no energy to mark and plan (and frequently don’t..
You asked to leave earlier so have been doing the school a favour by staying longer.
What has the school done for you?
In my experience, most "planning" is done merely for appearances' sake and adds nothing of real value to lessons, particularly when the teacher is experienced and has given very similar lessons successfully many times before. It's like planning the route of a car journey you've done fifty times before.
Good quality marking can be useful to some students, although in my experience, most of them merely look at the grade or mark at the bottom of the last page-so most of it is wasted on most students.
I agree with other posters: it's time to put yourself first: you have to make your health a priority.
Big hugs and take care.
I hope you are at the doctors now but whatever you have decided you need to put yourself first and take time off. If the work isnt marked, it isnt marked and someone else will have to sort out the planning but you need to look after yourself and fast.
I think you must have got the message given to you by all the previous posters. Doctors wihtout delay. I'm surprised they did not sign you off with work related stress already, even before arranging a CT scan.
Have you refused to be signed off?
My comment , which is aimed at getting you to accept that you need a rest is to say this. Get to the doctor and get signed off because the longer you delay, the less likely you will make a speedy and full recovery.
It is the job of the HT to manage staff absences.That is what they are paid for.
I completely echo what others have said!
You have to think of it like this, if you are incapacitated, who suffers? The kids will still play up at school, the management will moan, but the school will go on.
Your wife and children will suffer if you are out of action, and they are the ones who care about you, properly care about you.
Teacher absence is manageable, father/husband absence is not.
Maybe harsh, but I reckon a fair point
This is the OP.
Went to the doctors as advised. The doctor has decided I am demonstrating some signs of vertigo and given me beta blockers and propranol and told me to take a day off and have a long weekend. Completely dismissed most of the symptoms I tried to describe. How is one day off supposed to make me feel better - I began to feel unwell before Easter and 2 weeks off at Easter hasn't improved me at all. The only difference is that I now have some medication to try... but seriously, will it work in 3 days??
Your symptoms sound very similar to when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. It was brought about by stress and depression ( In my case it was the result of having gone through Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans)
Yours may well be work-related. Or something else entirely, a DR. needs to check you out. Please let us know you are going to get the help you need. It could be that a medical condition you are unaware of is interfering with your ability to be an effective teacher. Or you could be right and teaching just isn't for you. But before you make that decision you need to make sure you are well.
Wishing you all the best!
Just saw your post, was your pressure normal at the Doctors? Did he even consider that you may be suffering from depression?
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