Friday, 31 August 2012


I have just discovered that I AM organised, I just lacked the correct equipment.  Earlier this week, I bought a filing cabinet.  Today, the suspension files arrived and I spent the morning categorising all my paperwork.  I am stupidly excited by my files!  (Photo to come!)  I printed out labels for most categories, with pictures.  The most-used files are at the front and archived stuff at the back.  Many of the files have sub-folders, for example tax years within the bank statements and pay slips.  I still can't believe how excited I am by a filing cabinet!!

Friday, 17 August 2012


I often find it difficult to get going in the morning and I put off getting dressed, instead just sitting at my computer in a dressing gown.  But I've realised recently that often this is procrastination because I feel I should do something that I don't want to do.  For example, recently I wanted to go out with a group of friends but wasn't keen on where we were meeting.  So I sent a message saying that I would meet them at their next destination (we were doing several activities).  Suddenly I felt more energised and got dressed immediately and then completed a few other tasks as well.

So I need to recognise what I "should" do and then let go of that, if possible.

It also fits in with one of the conclusions that I came to after my last counselling session: I need to define my own measures of success, rather than being bound to what other people see as success.  For me, success may be more about having a family and spending quality time with them and having a balance between work and life.  It may not be earning lots of money or having a 'high-status' job.  I'm not quite sure yet, because I've relied so much on my parents' measures of success, which I cannot live up to.  But just recognising that I can create my own measures of success has made me feel so much more free.

Friday, 8 June 2012

On the road to recovery

I'm generally feeling much better now.  I feel more like myself, or at least as if I've remembered what being myself feels like.  I haven't had any really down periods for at least two weeks and I've had many good days in that time.  When I went to the doctor today, he suggested that I should be able to come off the anti-depressants in a few months, if all goes well.

I'm due to go back to work on Monday, with a phased return.  So I'll be working on just Monday and Tuesday next week.  I'm returning with a stronger sense of perspective and deeper commitment to looking after myself.  I know now that my health and well-being are far more important than work.  We'll see how it goes...

Thursday, 24 May 2012

A much better day

Today and yesterday have been much better days than my previous post.  I've felt fairly cheerful.  Still lacking motivation and energy and still some pain in my side, but cheerful.

The time off has been really good for making me realise that there is more to life than just work.  I've actually had almost whole days when I haven't thought about school at all.  Even in the holidays, I'm usually working, feeling guilty about not working, worrying about how much work I have to do or thinking about work.

I guess the next step is to develop strategies that will support me when I return to work.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

One of the bad days

The mornings when I wake up too early seem to be the worst and always leave me feeling on edge all day.  The best I've managed today is a sort of numb emptiness, but it's better than the feelings of pointlessness.  I went out for a walk in the sunshine, but that just gave my head time to churn thoughts around.  What is the point of life?  Even if you fill your days with happy experiences, one day you will die and none of it will matter any more.  Does anything really matter?  

Maybe it's about helping other people, not really about your own life at all.

One thing that has helped today is music and singing, as long as I avoid the gloomy songs.  I just need to keep remembering that this feeling will pass.  The good days are now outnumbering the bad days.

Maybe it's days like this that I need my daily list more than ever.  One of the first things I did during the first few days that I was signed off work was to draw up a list of things to try to do each day.  Over the weeks, I've adapted and added to the list.  I keep it in a plastic folder so that I can use a dry-wipe pen to cross off the things I've done and colour in a star for each.  I made sure that some of the tasks are very simple so that I can always manage to achieve something.  I aim for at least 10 stars each day and usually manage a few more than this.  So far today I've managed 9, which makes me feel slightly better.  

5 a.m.

Yesterday, things seemed to be going really well.  It was sunny.  I felt cheerful, almost happy for the first time in ages.  I even considered going back to work before half term.

Then this morning I woke up at 5 a.m. and the thoughts started up again.  During the day, I can control them.  I can be rational.  But at 5 a.m. they are in control.  At 5 a.m. I am convinced that I will end up alone and miserable for the rest of my life.  So what is the point of life.  I will die alone, with no family or friends.  Then I realised that I didn't mind the thought of dying.  It was the thought of all those years of life that were the problem.  I even started debating with myself which would be the easiest way out.  But not yet.  Even at 5 a.m., it was only an option for the future.  I lay in bed, silently crying.

I realised I wasn't going to get back to sleep so I got up and finished reading my book.  By 7 a.m. things seemed okay again.  But it scares me that my mood can change so drastically.  

Friday, 11 May 2012

Being off work with depression

I've found it surprisingly difficult being off work.  Before I was off, I was desperate for a break and desperate to not be at work.  I even considered hurting myself so that I could legitimately have some time off.  But when the doctor actually said that I wasn't fit for work, I felt extremely guilty.  I felt that I was letting everyone down by being off work: my parents would be disappointed, my boyfriend would think I was making it up and being lazy, my colleagues would have more pressure on them and would resent me because they were also stressed, the school would have to spend money on a supply teacher, my class would miss out on learning, I would fall even further behind on things.  And my marking wasn't up to date, so I couldn't be off until it was up to date.  The doctor suggested five weeks off, until the next half term, but that sounded like far too long and I didn't think I needed all that time.

After a few days, I began to relax and that was when I realised just how bad things had become.  Other symptoms of depression began to appear, which had previously been masked by the constant adrenaline of trying to get through each day.  But I began to feel a little bit like myself again, or at least to remember that this tearful, stressed person wasn't really who I was.

A week after being signed off, I began to worry about whether or not to go back at the end of the fortnight.  I didn't feel ready to go back and I knew that I needed more time to recover.  If I went back next week, things would just slip back to the way they were.  If I had a bit longer, I might be able to develop strategies that would enable me to cope.  I was still experiencing symptoms of depression and still tired.  I knew that I would be a more effective teacher in the long run if I took time to recover properly.  The school would manage somehow.  And this time off might save my teaching career.

Yet I still felt guilty.  I was feeling better than previously.  The crisis period was over.  Everyone at work is under a lot of pressure and feeling stressed.  Why do I deserve five weeks off and not them?  I felt like people would expect me to go back as soon as possible.  I worried that they think I'm being lazy and slacking off.  Or that they think I'm just weak and can't cope.  I worried about what my class would think and how the parents would react.  It's only three more weeks until half term.  Couldn't I just cope somehow until then?  Lots of the articles that I've read on the internet have suggested that going back to work increases ones sense of purpose and helps with recovery (except that it was the cause of my problems).

I went over and over the arguments in my head, but I knew that my gut feeling was that I wasn't ready.  Luckily, my doctor immediately agreed to signing me off further and said that he was happy to sign me off for as long as I need, even if that means another term.  He explained that he'd deliberately written 'work stress' on the sick note because if I wasn't doing this job then I wouldn't be depressed.

Now that I've been signed off again, I'm feeling more relaxed and more focused on getting better.  The messages I've had from colleagues have all been very supportive.  Friends have expressed that they are glad I am taking time to reflect on things.  In the long run, this time off will help me to get better.