Some of you wise cookies may have found yourself thinking how come Miss Moon posts so much of herself outside of school when British schools still have three weeks until they break up for summer? Does she just have excellent work-life balance? (Haha its coming along but I’m not there yet). Well it’s because I am signed off work with depression.
I felt embarrassed about this at first, I felt like I had failed as a teacher and as a person. In fact it still feels like I should not be talking openly about this. But “honesty is the best policy” as I tell my children, so I endeavour to practise what I preach. And there really is not a lot of support, advice or solidarity online for teachers’ mental health, so heck here I am, ready to share.
This is my second period off teaching within six months. And both times I have fought to stay in the classroom only to eventually give in and listen to members of leadership and my friends at school. It has not ever been a decision I have taken lightly.
I won’t go into how it has been being a teacher with depression or how I got to feeling the way I do. But the long and short of it is that this year was a lot to take in. This teaching position has been my first “proper” job; it is my first year not living as a student; I have moved in with my boyfriend for the first time (which for the record is amazing – hi Ben if you’re reading this); I have been working in a struggling school with some very challenging behaviour; and my mum was diagnosed with cancer three weeks before I went into the classroom. I (like the kiddos in my classroom) do not handle change well.
It feels so odd to be away from the classroom. In fact my classroom has been emptied and stripped ready for the end of term, and my small class of 16 combined with the other year 4 class of 16. It’s like I am not being myself by not being in school. Which is why I started to blog. To engage with the wonderful world of teaching; reflect upon my year; seek advice on areas I have found challenging; and remind myself of just how wonderful working with children can be.
I was signed off work in mid-June and it is looking likely that I will be unable to go back to teaching full-time until September. It breaks my heart to not have finished the year with my first class. But I know that this time off will help me be energised for the year ahead in September, and I am like I kid before Christmas – I can’t wait. And luckily my class are only moving up to Year 5 so I can still bug them!
And the time off is helping. Heck I have so much time for crafts. I have found that there does not seem to be much information, support or even solidarity for teachers with depression online. So if anyone want’s more information, wants to chat or even just rant. My comments and email are open. Do people want to hear more about this topic? I never know how much to say.
And to anyone that is struggling with being happy at work or struggling to perfect that work-life balance. Time off can help. So whether you’re a teacher or not, a colleague reminded me of this yesterday and it has stuck with me.
“You need to take the time off when you can. Because if you don’t, the world keeps spinning and you just get dizzier.”
Try and do what makes you happiest.