‘I had a choice: either be signed off sick again or leave’

There is a very well known “definition” of insanity:  “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Not attributable to Einstein according to Google but Rita Mae Brown… apparently. . Either then, that’s me then. I stand with insanity guilty as charged. One teacher – in between jobs – write in Tes

To cut a very long story short, I am (was?) a secondary school teacher. Up until a couple of weeks ago I ran a provision for students with autism in a special school setting. Our provision had been running for over five years and I loved my job. I was just so proud of what we had created. But one day last year, I just couldn’t do it any longer. I was signed off work for eight weeks with work-related stress.

I was not in a good place. I had become unable to function and was experiencing fear then panic and then terror. I was unable to think or to even complete the everyday tasks that before I’d taken completely for granted. Any increased demand sent me into a total panic. I could not breathe, I felt permanently physically sick and could not sleep, or, if I did, then could not wake up. I was a total waste of space and was of no use to anyone.

In January I returned to work and with the support of a fantastic department and a wonderful headteacher (and a very understanding family), I got my act back together and “normal service” was resumed. For the most part, I was functioning as I had been pre my “funny five minutes”.

Fast forward to the summer break. We were actually in Scotland on a beach…AND it was a glorious sunny day! All was right with the world and so,I had the “bright” idea of sharing my experiences through Tes. I penned and sent in an account of my “breakdown” and “recovery” with the aim of potentially helping others who might be feeling similarly. I had lived through it all and had come out the other end as a much wiser, rounded person…Oh yes, I knew what I was talking about!

Upon returning to school in September I faced our first Inset day with a spring in my step. I was full of energy and optimism for the coming year. I sat down, as virtually every single teacher up and down the country did, to a lengthy staff meeting.

And then it hit me. It was like hard and sustained punches to the stomach. Development plans…due in ASAP (KAPOW), standards reports…ditto (KTANG), Ofsted window… (ZAP), lesson observation schedule (WHAAM)…etc, etc.

I trudged out of that meeting feeling like I had been run over by a steam roller. To quote Stevie Smith, I was “not waving but drowning”. Already. And so the downward spiral of the previous year began all over again…

Read the full article ‘I had a choice: either be signed off sick again or leave’

After 34 years in the classroom this teacher is a breaking point. Are you? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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