The inevitable has happened: I am officially messed up enough to be signed off work for two weeks.
I knew that, should my work situation not improve, I would become a casualty of war. I was hoping that last Thursday, a study day where the pupils stay at home, we teachers would take up what I consider to be a major concern for my mental health, the other employees and pupils alike: the (near) absence of consequences for breaking school rules. I’d even forewarned the sub-headmistress and headmaster of the likelihood of my breakdown, should nothing be done to help me, with talk of a few proposals coming by the end of the week to take away some of the weight. But to no avail.
So, Thursday comes, and I convince myself that, despite a hitherto shaky week, I would be my normal self, and that this day away from the children would be enough to (at least) carry me through the next fortnight, until Easter. Easter would give me a further week’s holiday to thoroughly rid myself of the ridiculous anxiety I have been experiencing for the last few months.
It appears not to work like that.
Thursday morning is spent fighting back tears, phasing out, feeling half-zombified. Thursday morning is not one such morning I feel like talking about the pupils’ influence in school, and how it can be bettered. Thursday morning should have been about me, and the numerous other teachers who feel helpless and powerless. Thursday morning was the morning I felt like no number of proposals would be enough, and that the only recourse would be a visit to the doctor’s.
I took Friday off, and felt shit. Saturday and Sunday weren’t much better, though we did manage to get out the house long enough for Freya to be unaffected by my situation. Monday morning comes, I ring in sick (until Wednesday), ring the doctor and…I start to get a panic attack.
Panic attacks are not nice. This is a truism, I know, but I still feel it important to note. The only solution to my predicament, after lying down in a dark room trying to breath it all away, was to go out for a walk in the woods. After about an hour I started to feel relaxed enough to attempt a return to home to eat something, and while away the time until the afternoon’s appointment.
I advised the doctor that I’d like both time off, plus medicine to stop any further attacks, and he obliged. This morning I needed a pill to ward off feelings of anxiety (they are strongest in the morning), and I’ve had a fairly ordinary day. I must try and go for long walks every day, and, personally, I want to stop thinking too far ahead, to things that have yet to be done. I was at one time quite good at thinking in the “now”, but I seem to have lost that ability, and I want it back.
The next step is to go to school and try and get a decent set of working conditions. The major problem will/can not be resolved, but I can at least make my time in the classroom more enjoyable and less-stressful.
I have not thought further than the positive belief that these steps will be enough to satiate my requirements for a situation I shall be happy to work in. Time will tell.