If I hadn’t had a nervous breakdown I would still be living a horrible life doing the things I hated for money to keep the life I hated living.
I had spent 10 glorious years traveling the world teaching and having a great life when my wife became very ill. We had to settle in one place for her to have treatment.
I went back to working full time as a high school teacher and it was a terrible school. The kids were fine. The management was another story.
I have a set of values about education and what I saw made me wonder what planet these people came from. It wasn't any planet I was familiar with. Let's just say we had a professional disagreement about education.
The poor management of the school and the constant changes to policy led to my head of department being hospitalized with a suspected heart attack. He was 31 and a regular marathon runner. The last person you would think could get stressed out!
I am familiar with stress and depression and I kept telling him to look after himself better but the management were riding him hard and driving him half insane.
I was so busy trying to help him that I completely missed the signs of my own stress. Poor sleep, lack of focus, working to many hours. Teachers work between 60-70 hours a week. That's without parents evenings and planning sessions.
I know it's popular to bash teachers but I don't see many people wanting to do the job especially those most vocal parents. You know the ones I mean.
Eventually it caught up with me and the stress just stopped me in my tracks and brought home to me that I was losing the internal battle.
My mind was telling me one thing and my body was telling me another.
When I refused to listen to the warning signs my brain just took over and said listen buddy if you're not gonna’ sort out your life? I will do it for you.
At which point it shut down and refused to reboot.
All I could do was focus on one task at a time, I couldn’t hold a conversation with more than one person at a time. I couldn’t drive a car and talk to someone at the same time it was impossible. I couldn’t drive and listen to the radio it was very weird but thankfully not frightening just rather frustrating.
I was lucky that I had some good people around me namely my wife and children and they helped immensely.
Of course they didn’t get it exactly what was happening to me but their love and care for me was stronger than any doubts that they may have had about their daddy’s sanity.
It took a few months to dawn on me what was happening (I couldn’t think straight) and slowly the awareness came that I was indeed in big trouble.
It took me nearly 6 months to come to terms with the fact that I may never teach again. I hope that I will get back to it at some point. I am very disappointed with the school management team. They should not be in charge of any education.
Don’t misunderstand me. I can teach now but who needs that level of stress in your life. The management of teaching has changed big time. Many of these new head teachers are not even qualified teachers just business people looking for a quick buck.
I may try teaching again at some point if I can find a decent school with values that I agree with but if it sucks. I hope I have the awareness and good sense to spot it and get out before it messes with my new found contentment and happiness.
There is another way to live and I've grabbed it. Working in the digital economy and social media plays to my skill set. I've been teaching this stuff for almost 30 years so I know what I'm doing.
Maybe I'll never shake off fully those early years of anger and frustration and depression. But this life I have chosen. And I won't allow morons to dictate my life.
Its wonderful and I love it. No amount of money will tempt me to do things that my conscience tells me are wrong.
You cannot cheat your way to the top no matter what people try to tell you. There is and always has been only one way to succeed. Good old fashioned hard work.
Work stress led me to have a new period of depression. I had been depression free for over a decade. Choosing the wrong work environment for me is lethal.
When you make a compromise. You compromise yourself.