I'm just after some advice as I don't really know what I should (or can) do in this situation.
Last May, I lost my dad very suddenly and unexpectedly. He was only 55. We were very close and I was, and still am, devastated. Devastated doesn't even seem the right word. I am finding it really hard.
My headteacher was very supportive and understanding, and in total I had four and a half weeks off (one of those week was half term, so it was three and a half officially). Then after there were only 4 weeks till summer so I literally just bumbled my way through, leaving at 3.30 and doing what ever I could to just get through the days.
Since we came back in September it's as if everyone expects me back to normal. I'm staying in work till 6pm, we're due ofsted and they're piling on the pressure.
Last half term was a massive struggle for me and I actually don't know how I got through it. I do know that I was doing the best job I could for my class though, and this worried and upsets me. I know I could do better if I was in a better frame of mind. I'm very snappy and shouty now and this is not how I wanted to be as a teacher.
Just to say as well, I have a very supportive family and partner, so I've got people to talk to. I tried counselling but it wasn't for me. I'm also now under cbt for a separate anxiety issue, so wouldn't be able to undertake counselling ATM alongside that.
My question is this: when I go back on Monday, I want to tell my headteacher, who seems to think I'm ok, that I'm really struggling to do my job in the way I need to do it whilst coping with my bereavement and loss. Should I tell her this? And if I do what can she actually do? I'm not even sure what I want to gain from the conversation, I just know that I can't carry on juggling everything in the same way
Any advice would be really appreciated, thank you
I should also point out that I don't think the pressure they're piling on is necessarily unreasonable. It's not at all really, it's actually a very reasonable school compared to others. It's just that we're due ofsted so they're panicking a bit I think.
Not sure what advice I can give, but didn't want to read and run. I would definitely talk to your HT - even the fact of you knowing that she knows will help (if she's supportive, which it sounds like she is). Perhaps having a chat with your GP would be useful as well? - I think they can pick up on whether the 'normal' feelings of bereavement have worsened into something more serious. With GP and HT, it may be worth talking through with them whether you a) need more time off, and then maybe a phased return or b) want to keep working to keep your mind occupied, but with some responsibilities or work pressures reduced somehow.
I understand I lost my Dad quite traumatically while doing the PGCE six years ago. It was awful and it devastated my life fir a long time. Tell your Headteacher and try and work together towards what you both need. I would expect any reasonable intelligent person to understand. Good luck.
Thank you for replying DitheringDiva and Doowrah
You have reassured me that it's ok for me to speak to my headteacher on Monday. I wasn't sure if I should. I'm nervous though. Although she was very supportive when it happened, she's not always the most approachable of people. It depends on the day/phase of the moon I think.
It's sort of a separate issue, but it's made me question whether I even want to carry on teaching. I'm in my third year and if I'm honest, I've often questioned whether it's what I want. There's so much stress and worry attached to it. Losing my dad has made me reevaluate everything and think about what is really important to me and what actually makes me happy.
Sorry to bring this up again. My head is jumbled and I can't think straight.
Tomorrow is Monday, and I'm feeling really nervous about the prospect of speaking to my headteacher. I have spoken to my family and my partner, and they have all suggested that I go to my doctor and take some more time off.
I just don't know what's right.
I would like more time off, I can't bare the thought of going back in. I cry on the way to work (not because of my job necessarily, it's because I'm feeling sad about my dad and don't want to have to put my mask on for work and pretend I'm ok. I quite good at pretending I'm ok, only one person in work, who is a good friend, can tell when I'm having a really bad day) Then I come home, have my tea, get into bed and, usually, cry till I fall asleep. Then I wake up and start again. By the time the weekend comes my anxiety is through the roof and I can barely go anywhere or do anything.
But then I think, isn't that normal considering what I'm going through? Should I just push through and carry on?
Because I'm so good at pretending in ok I think my headteacher will be shocked if I tell her how much I am struggling.
At times I like my job. I love the children. But I think I want to leave. I desperately want to stick it out till summer for the sake of my class, but right now I just can't see how it's going to be possible.
I feel like I should just pull myself together, put my mask on and go in, pretend I'm fine and battle through.
But I'm fighting back tears whilst taking the register (not to the extent that my class would be able to tell), I'm crying in the toilets, I'm snapping at the children who I teach
I don't know what to do. I don't want to let anyone down. I feel like a failure. There's another member of staff in our school who lost her dad a few months before me and she came back after a few days and is being really strong. The circumstances are different because her dad was elderly, so maybe not as much of a shock, but still devastating I'm sure. Even if someone's elderly I don't think you ever truly expect it.
I'm also concerned that if I take time off and then decide to leave teaching, no one will want me. They'll think I'm a flake and can't handle things. But I can. I'm normally quite strong. But I can't be strong with this, it's too much
Sorry, I've just rambled on and on. Thank you if you've read so far.
What if people just think I'm lazy and want a longer half term or something like that? That couldn't be further from the truth, obviously. I just want my life back to normal.
I'd be totally failing if I took more time off. Assessments are due very soon, observations are happening. I'd be letting my class down, my colleagues/friends down, my headteacher down. I just don't know what to do.
I definitely think you need to talk to your head teacher. She will want and needs to know as much as you want and need to tell her.
Everyone is different and you need to stop comparing yourself to other people. Easier said than done I know.
I can’t tell you whether to take time off or not. If you were in my school, of course we would want you to be there but not at the expense of your own health or the children.
I don't know how you usual feel going back after a holiday but my experience is that things seem far worse in the day or 2 before the start of term. You might find that you feel better than you expect when you are actually there in the thick of it so to speak. You are understandably very anxious about talking to your head and might find you feel better after. Have you considered sending an email to ask for a meeting tomorrow or putting down on paper how you feel to make it easier?
Thank you for your reply Hopefullyhoping.
Usually before going back after a half term I feel ok. I get the usually holiday blues/Sunday night feeling but nothing major. There's usually a part of me that feels positive about going back and getting stuck in. Usually I like to be busy and feel ready to go back.
I think I will write down what I want to say, that's good advice, thank you. Even if I don't use it tomorrow it will hopefully help me to get my thoughts in order, because right now they feel totally jumbled up.
I think I'd write down your thoughts, get them in order, talk to the head tomorrow and see what she says. Maybe give yourself a week or 2 and if you don't feel any better, get yourself signed off for a while. You might find you feel better when someone in school understands how you are feeling. Is there a colleague you can talk to also?
I do have some good friends there, which is good. I know I can talk to them and they'll understand. I'm quite private about my feelings though, so I don't often open up. I think that's partly why a lot of people think I'm ok. When people ask how I am I just say that I'm fine, or 'not too bad'.
I find being 'on show' constantly really hard at the moment. I can't have a down day, or a quiet day, or a day feeling sad. I need to be in control and engaging, and it's almost impossible.
Thank you again for replying.
No I can empathise with that, there are no hiding behind a computer screen with your head down days are there?
That's one of the biggest problems. I think if I had job were I could hide away a bit I could probably cope. I doubt I'd be very productive though. My sister has a job were she can go and have a cup of coffee/chat with a friend/keep her head down and hide if she needs to, and she says she wouldn't be able to cope if she had to perform all day. She has worked very hard to get where she is though.
Definitely a good idea to speak to your Head. Sounds like you need support. Your Head may suggest a referral to Occupational Health which would be a good idea. They are on your side and will suggest ways to help you through this period these will be shared with your Head.
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