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 going to just be 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.