Still struggling

I am 52 and have been struggling in my job as a teacher. I may be fired and all because after 26 years of working in special education I cannot keep up. Why? My mental illness. I live in a small town and have no-one with a mental illness to talk to. I miss that kind of support.

38 Replies

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  • Wow, twenty six years. Congratulations. Please do not define yourself by this. Think of all the good you have done. I have been there myself. Do you have a union rep who can help

  • I live in Wisconsin and we do not technically have a union. They have been doing what they can. My doctor wrote a letter to the district about adaptations needed for me. Now they will not talk to me about it.

  • Sorry , but I never heard of a district without a union. Can you contact the NEA or the AFT? Sorry you are going through this. Just think: Teachers work with people but when they show they are HUMAN they are treated like garbage. You say you may be fired but not yet? Still to treat someone who needs support like this is more than horrible. Any possibility of a lawyer or even FMLA so you can get the help you need?

  • I am flailing at windmills, but do you have a NAMI chapter in Wisconsin? I wonder if they could have suggestions. Really galls me Wall Street can crash the economy, but a teacher needs some support for a medical issue , and there is nothing?

  • Hi! What is FBLA and what is NAMI? I am not sure how many years ago, but our governor got rid of teacher unions. It was a huge deal!

  • FMLA is the Family Leave Act. NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Wow, that smells that he got rid of teachers unions. Can you contact the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers or do you have to have state membership? Again, you have my support . I admire you for being a teacher so long.

  • Thanks! go go girl. I was quite down tonight, but you have given me some light.

  • Hello Ms. Teach! I am also a teacher. 26 years is impressive. It has been 17 for me.

  • Hi! 17 is really good too. What area do you teach in? I am at the elementary level for special education.

  • Apparently I'm already being ask to leave the group?

  • Ok I get it!! Just was trying something new and thought would help, but maybe I'm in the wrong forum.

  • I understand the difficulties of trying to teach while have anxiety and depression. I teach 3 year olds and I have taught small children for about 20 years. About 9 years ago I had the stomach bug so bad that I withdrew from my meds. Then I found out that I one of the dads who had a small child in my classroom passed away. I ended up in a mental health facility for a week. Then I had outpatient care for some time. I was always told that it was against the law to fire someone due to a mental illness. Never was sure if it was true. They didn't exactly fire me and when I was ready to come back they filled my position, which they were not supposed to do. Long story short, I collected unemployment from them since they were in the wrong. Honestly it prompted me to do better with my life. I found a job as a 1-1 aid in a private school. Then family stuff got in the way and I was let go. At first I was sad, but it forced me to focus on myself for the first time ever. I decided to go to school online to get my masters in early childhood education and got a job at a childcare center that has a lot of focus on education. It works with educational standards and whatnot. I don't hate the job and it is stressful having 20 kids in a class with 2 teachers. Reach out to national education associations for help since your state does not seem to have the help u need.

  • Hi! Wow! teaching that many 3 year olds would be difficult too. I have taught for a total of 26 years. When I first started i worked at a very special Special Education school. I had a very hard time those first five years. I moved from that sheltered atmosphere to a public school district. Over the 21 years here i have had ups and downs. I have suffered from depression, anxiety, and borderline personality disorder for 40+ years. I first had severe problems at the age of 12. I remember being in first grade and asking why I was ugly and so I felt bad as early as age 6. I probably gave you more information than you wanted. I am just excited to be able to talk honestly knowing that the person I am talking to has struggled from depression and anxiety too.

  • I understand. When u have no one around u to support u and lend a listening ear it can be tough. I have been fortunate to have a family that was there for me. It was not easy to miss my first semester of my senior year of high school. Telling everyone in each of my classes, when I was able to return, helped me to dispel the rumors that were going around and bring awareness to mental illness. Luckily the senior class studied mental illness during health class. I spent my first wedding anniversary in a psychiatric facility for a week. Due to medication withdrawal my anxiety got worse and I couldn't cope. That was like 9 years ago. Life has been tough for me. Losing my dad right after graduating with my bachelors degree in special education. He was my rock and the only person who could calm me down. Between 2004-now there have been many lost. Most recently, my grandfather in Dec of 2015, my first pregnancy in July, my grandmother in November and then my second pregnancy right after my nana passed. To end it a a family friend and neighbor passed away just one day before the one year anniversary of my grandfather's passing. Working with children may not have been the best thing since losing 2 pregnancies. I stopped taking my one anxiety medicine so I could try to have a successful pregnancy, which did not happen. Now I live with a level of anxiety that is usually low level. Like a humming in my body. From stopping the medicine developed peripheral neuropathy. Not the most fun. I just realize that I need to focus on myself and do what was best for me. Focusing on work and my family which include helping with my niece and nephew. They understand anxiety disorder hard realize that everyone has probably had an anxiety attack. If not an actual attack then anxiety when they were going to do something like public speaking. I have been lucky in that respect. I am glad u r finding it helpful to talk on here. Just remember that the feeling will pass. The more you think about the feelings or what could happen if you start panicking things will just get worse. Do u take meds? If u don't May want to look into it. Even if u only take it as needed. In your spare time try to do some meditation or yoga. Just find things that help u relax and take ur mind off of things

  • Are you a member of a Union? If so, you do have protections in place. Also, check with your HR department for an employee assistance program. This is free for employees and has mental health services. You need to start a documentation trail to protect yourself.

  • Hi! I live in Wisconsin and we do not have teacher unions anymore. There are a group of teachers that are still kind of a union, but do not have any power really. I have a very good professional support system set up.

  • I was a teacher and also struggle with anxiety and depression. I know I made a difference but I also really really struggled. It was hard emotionally every single day. Sometimes, often actually, I dreaded going to certain classes or working with certain students. Thankfully I had a supervisor who noticed I wasn't really happy as a teacher. I took a leap of faith and decided to leave the profession. I still struggle but am doing much better as I discover what I really enjoy doing, and doing it. Hang in there and see the good, or maybe get out. Take care of you and you'll better be able to help others when you can/want. Best wishes!

  • Hi! Thanks for your response. I know that there have been people that have seen that i have not been happy at times teaching. There is one student in particular that I do not want to teach most of the time. He is difficult. I have had very difficult students before, but it just seems to get to me more now days. That is why I wonder if I should take early retirement and do something else.

  • Good for you- you left when you decided to do something else. I was wondering what ideas you had? I too have worked in ed, and would love some feedback.

  • I hope I responded to the right post. I have some vision problems at times.

    For trevatk.

  • Ya I got it. :) I'm looking at what I love to do and it is working with my hands. I'll have a masters in education soon but I don't foresee ever actually using it. I like landscaping a ton and construction. Hopefully I'll be able to start my own business at some point.

  • Congratulations on your degree. At one point I had a little animal care business on the side. It was not great money, but I really enjoyed it. Times changed after 911.

  • Just curious as I look for ideas as well. What field are you looking at?

  • What field? What do you mean? I teach at the elementary level in special education. Do you mean what would I change to?

  • You responded to me so I am sorry for my confused response.

  • Yes , wondered what other ideas you would have. I too struggle with long term anxiety and depression, and had worked with kids with special needs but in a different capacity - not in the classroom. I struggle with anxiety anyway, and the fast pace and paper work and planning really got out there. In different locations all told twenty years.

  • Are you asking me about ideas? Yes, the paperwork is overwhelming and certainly ridiculous. I have some desire to go work with the elderly. I think that i would be a great recreation director.

  • Since you have pinpointed your job as the source, I say go for it!

  • Today was the first day that I can say that I was happy all day in months.

  • That is great. I hope that the situation is improving. Mine is GAD and dysthimia long time.

    Sped can be extremely hard especially with criticism from parents and politicians. Sounds like you have a tough hide.

  • What is GAD and dysthymia?

  • The definitions I have seen are: Generalized anxiety disorder, and long term low to moderate grade depression.

  • Oh, I haven't heard that before. Well, GAD, kind of. My doctor had written a letter for the school district and she says my diagnoses are major depression-recurrent, anxiety disorder, and borderline personality disorder. How old were you when you first experienced depression/anxiety?

  • Looking back in a more regular way- probably late thirties or so, and its been with me here and there depending on what is going on. How about you, and what is borderline personality disorder? Is work the trigger?

  • I saw my first "counselor" at age 12. My teens and twenties were a living nightmare. Borderline Personality disorder is a mental illness that includes depression, anxiety, and I am wired more emotional.

  • I thank you for the education. When you say wired, is it genetic or nuerological , environmental or a combo? I'll bet as a teacher you were able to empathize with students , and that is a gift. Whatever happened at the meeting, I hope that this will be a time when you are able to take care of yourself and recharge.

  • Although never diagnosed I really think that my dad had borderline personality disorder too. He had a lot of emotions problems and social skill problems.

  • Thank you again for your information. Sounds like this might show up differently in various people? At any rate, sounds like you've been through ringers and adjustments. As they say, life sure is not for sissies.

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