Teaching, Stress and Depression

Hi. I’m a teacher.  I am stressed to the eyeballs all the time. Because of this I find myself not sleeping, lonely, gaining weight and slumping into a state of depression.

Everyday I get up and travel an hour on public transport to get to school. I teach long days and am at school between 8.15 and 5.30 most days. After this I travel another hour to get back home and I attempt to go to my boxing class that I normally love. Some days I am so exhausted I can barely keep my hands at my face. Some days I don’t have it in me to even punch the bag. So I turn around, go home, attempt to make dinner, shower and get to bed. I usually don’t find myself in bed until some point after 9pm. Then I sit down to try and do planning. Or marking. Or some other form of work. I get 6 odd hours of sleep and the cycle starts again.

By Friday I am so exhausted I can barely function. I go home and go to bed and sleep for 10 hours just to make up for the lack of sleep during the week. By the time the weekend rolls around I have to actively force myself to do things or try and see people. For the most part I feel like I don’t have the energy in me to move. I don’t have the wittiness to hold a proper conversation. I am just spent. I am depressed. And come Monday, I have rested just enough to take the edge off to start the cycle again. I do this for 7 weeks in a row until I have really burnt the candle at both ends and then I get a week to try and get myself back on track before it all starts again. And I dread it. If I force myself to go and do something, I start the week off even more tired and the cycle continues. I don’t have many friends here. The friends I do have I see every couple of weeks. I don’t have time to date. If I met someone I would barely have time or energy to spend with them, not that they would probably want to spend time with me anyway considering the kind of person I have become.

I hate how negative I have become. I literally hate everything. I find no joy in anything I used to. I resent that for someone usually so social that I cannot be bothered to speak to people. I resent that for every time I try to make a positive change that I feel like I am pushed backwards by some other problem I have to deal with or more work that I have to face. I resent constantly feeling like whatever it is that I do is not good enough. To the point where I don’t feel like I am enough anymore. I am not enough to be in a relationship. I am not enough to be someone’s mother. I am not enough to do this job. There just isn’t enough of me left as a person to be anything that I once even thought I wanted. And yet for the sake of others I spend the entire day pretending like everything is fine when it really isn’t.

If it is not enough to have to mark piles and piles of exams. I have piles and piles of books to mark. Eleven piles actually. Every three weeks so they can be taken away and ‘scrutinised’ by someone who can tell me I am not doing my job well enough. Oh and the homework marking. Then there are the endless observations chewing up your free time. The neverending behavioural issues that never get dealt with and then get worse because they never get dealt with. The constant fighting and arguing with disrespectful kids who do not feel that they have to follow any instructions you give them or even speak to you in a tasteful manner. I don’t want to do it anymore. I feel like my life isn’t mine and that I am running on autopilot. I don’t remember a time when I felt rested. I don’t remember a time I felt good about the things that I was doing and good about my job. I don’t remember when I last felt good about living. And yet I am stuck dealing with this and I don’t know how to get out. All I know is this….

When you have nothing of yourself left, you have nothing of yourself to give.

Teaching is too stressful. And too much stress leads to depression where I am concerned because my hormones and cortisol levels become really unbalanced. And that is no way to live a life. So what now???

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8 thoughts on “Teaching, Stress and Depression”

  1. You are great!!! You have described your situation in all details and you are aware of it. Not many people suffering from a depression are able to see it and describe it.
    Could you go on sick leave?

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    1. Thanks Roland. I am aware of it. I have been for many years and I am able to recognise the triggers. Its the only way I’ve managed it without meds.There would be no sick leave for this. They wouldn’t allow it. But it does lead me to the conclusion that this career for me in this setting is not sustainable. So now I have to ride it out and think of what else I would do.

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  2. Sounds awful! I hope you find a new direction soon to ease the stress and find your balance and zest again. Part time teaching, part time something else? Thinking of you, Meg lenehan xxx

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  3. I completely agree with teaching in the UK. I would be up at 6 to get to work by 730 and would get home after netball two tines a week or an early dinner with friends by 830 shower and go to bed. It drains you and no matter how much marking ypu do someone is always there to judge you. I also found the first term the hardest in January as it so bad with the weather. Then after Easter holidays you are on the downward stretch. My point is you are not alone. Most of my friends felt exactly the same way about teaching in the UK too. All I can offer is find something each day that makes you smile/happy and force yourself to have that five minute conversation with one person a day. Hopefully half term is soon and you can recharge properly.

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    1. Thanks Bec! I think the hardest part for me is the exhaustion. The depression I feel comes from the constant drain. I usually last 4 weeks into a half term before hitting this wall every time. I have 2 weeks left until half term. Then I have five weeks after that before the next one which should be doable. I try force myself to go boxing 3 times a week to get exercise to help with sleep and eat healthy. It takes a small edge off. But it’s just not enough. I think a big part of why I wrote this was also to make others not feel alone. The honest dialogue needs to happen. People need to support each other in this most judgemental of systems. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  4. I teach in the USA and I know how you feel. You are not alone. I am full of depression and anxiety and take meds. Thank you for sharing your story! I used to enjoy what I do, but I don’t anymore. I don’t know what other career path to take. People close to me outside of the field make comments, but don’t know what we deal with daily. We are expected to solve a child’s emotional problems as well as well as their academic needs. It is what it is.

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    1. I think it is so important that we band together and share. The general public have this notion that we have a cruisy life with loads of holidays. Very few of them spend all day long arguing and then getting sworn at in an attempt to try and get students to do something productive. It is exhausting and that much mental drain is so taxing on so many. I wish you luck figuring out what you are going to do next! I’m trying to do the same thing 🙂

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