Did you know that statistically 1 in 20 teachers have had or do suffer from depression or anxiety? They frequently suffer from unhealthy levels of stress, insomnia and overwhelming pressures to go above and beyond for little to no extrinsic reward. It is all very well and good saying that you need to be able to love and look after yourself but in a profession that never has a down day and realistically we work 6 days a week, frequently for 11-12 hours a day, who is looking out for us?
I think it also opens the question of does teaching make you depressed and anxious or are people who are more susceptible to mental health concerns more likely to teach? You have to have a level of compassion to be a teacher, whether or not you are the mumsy type or like me – firm pupil relationships and dear god I will do anything to ensure they’re okay, but I am not your parent. Every single day that I leave my school, I have thoughts bubbling around my brain about what I could, should and haven’t done. But, I also do this in every day situations.
So am I anxious because I’m a teacher or am I a teacher because I’m anxious?
Personally, I think both. I have come to the realisation that I have always been quite anxious. I struggle to maintain firm friendships relationships as I never seem to have too much in common with people and I’m not a fan of messaging people because their lives are usually a lot busier than mine. After all, I work, exercise and sleep. I do not have the energy or sometimes inclination for much more.
I have discovered, through dodgy romantic relationships and accidents in various forms, that my outside world impacts my working world a lot more than I would like to admit. I have found that I fully cannot maintain a positive mindset when I know that my mind outside of work in not happy. On the other foot, if school is crazy but my outside life is not too stressful, I can cope a lot better – even if it’s unpleasant. This leads me to believe that I constantly seek reassurance that my personal life needs to be bearable and positive in order for me to actually succeed with every other stress. Something that is not always possible.
So how do I learn to cope when everything seems so difficult and positives are limited?