There’s no question that teaching is a stressful job on all levels – physically, mentally and emotionally. It takes a great deal of strength on all areas to function as a teacher in the modern British education system, between the ridiculous work load, the cultural of disrespect to learning and the constant barrage of people telling you that you’re wrong or bad at your job it’s a wonder any of us survive at all. Add to that a mental health condition and you’re potentially talking disaster… or so you might think.
I’ve been a clinical depressive longer than I’ve been a teacher and in my 8 year career have had more time off because of car accidents than I have as a direct result of my depression. I turn into a nervous wreck around performance management time, more so than most and during the last inspection forgot how to sign my own initials simply because of the stress I was under. So why did I go into a high stress profession? Surely, it can’t be good for me, and surely it’s not good for the kids? Well, actually that’s bollocks. You see, Miss doesn’t get depressed. I generally don’t suffer from symptoms at school – on the drive there and back yes – but not in my class room. I suffer way more during the holidays than I do during term time.
I was born to teach, I love the kids and my job and I think I do it well. If i suffered from migraines we wouldn’t even be having this conversation – and what is depression if not another kind of severe head pain? Would the teaching profession be better off without me? I don’t think so. I doubt it would be better off without all the other teachers who struggle with mental health issues either.