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When colleagues are unsupportive.

(29 Posts)
Whodunksakitkat Tue 09-Jan-18 19:12:17

I have returned after having some time off before Christmas with anxiety and depression and I cannot believe how unsupportive some colleagues are being. My HOD in particular is being very cold and curt hasn’t once asked how I am or if I might need any additional support. If I am completely honest I have returned sooner than I should because I was aware that my absence with a mental health condition was not being viewed favourably. I just don’t know what to do and I am thinking will I just need to resign???
I am doing everything I can to try and improve my health but some days are still such a struggle - don’t know how long I can carry on whilst being given the cold shoulder.
Can I improve things or is it a lost cause?

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FitBitFanClub Tue 09-Jan-18 20:08:35

How mean! You'd be welcomed back at our place with people offering to help you out/cover duties or assemblies or whatever and cups of tea and choccy biscuits brought to you at regular intervals.

That's probably why we have a very low staff-turnover. But take care of yourself if others won't. flowers

Unicorndiscoball Tue 09-Jan-18 21:50:33

What’s the atmosphere generally like at school? IME some places are so toxic that people become immune to other people’s suffering because they are having such a shit time themselves. Which is not to excuse their behaviour but possibly explain it a little? I’m so sorry you’re feeling so down about returning to work, my closest colleagues are v supportive which really helps when things are a struggle. Can you look for another job? Sending hugs (I would cover your break duty for you if you were at my school smile)

Teaandbiscuits35 Tue 09-Jan-18 22:15:19

Sorry you're feeling like that. I've left a job because of behaviour of others, especially management. It's horrible to dread going into work. Take the time off that you need, sod how they view it. If you can afford to I would leave, if you can't try and ignore them. Go in, do your job and leave. Some people are just nasty.

Whodunksakitkat Wed 10-Jan-18 07:20:11

Thanks everyone smile
I honestly have no idea what is going on with my HOD. I am finding her treatment of me almost inhuman. Yesterday she was pointing out things that I failed to do before Christmas (because I was ill) and wanted to know when in the next couple of weeks I would get it all done. I don’t know if it is all part of a plan to make things so hellish that I cannot possibly work there. I am at a loss to understand the motives behind being so unkind to someone who is obviously still fragile (note from GP saying still not fully recovered- need support) but is doing their best.
I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. If I am not in it is not good enough if I am in it’s not good enough. I know the solution is to be in and well but I cannot just wave a magic wand and make things better. I wish I could 😢

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SweetSummerchild Wed 10-Jan-18 10:07:57

TBH, it doesn't sound to me like you are ready to be back at school. If it was work pressures that caused/added to your MH issue then throwing yourself back into it before you are ready is not going to help. Were you referred to OH? Did you have a phased return to work or did you just go straight back to it?

Your HOd sounds exactly like mine was. My issues were slightly different as I had a physical health condition which added complications to everything. Even so, and even though my condition was pretty cut-and-dried, my HOD was extremely unsupportive. She treated me like some sort of 'liability' for not being as productive as her and I was regularly accused of not being a 'team player' (I fucking hate that term) for not taking on my share of extra curricular crap.When I was finally retired on ill health grounds, and went to say my farewells to colleagues, she totally blanked me. So did a few other colleagues - mainly the nasty, bitchy ones that I didn't care too much for anyway. Schools can be vile places.

Best wishes to you for a speedy recovery.

FingerlingUnderling Thu 11-Jan-18 18:01:56

This is why I sacked off teaching. The kids were great, I didn't mind the work, even the paperwork but I was unwilling to put up with toxic environments and terrible leadership. It appeared endemic. So unwelcoming, no teamwork and certainly no camaraderie. I know some schools have amazing teams but you have to wait for someone to retire or pop their clogs to get a vacancy!

See if the senior leadership are more help that your HOD OP. Are you a member of a union? You may get some advice there.

Whodunksakitkat Fri 12-Jan-18 17:45:27

Well another difficult day. Further problems with my HOD. I somehow made it to the end of the day but am seriously thinking I have no choice but to resign. 🙁 I just cannot cope with this treatment and wonder if the plan is to make life so unbearable that they force me out. If so it’s working.

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hollytom Fri 12-Jan-18 18:15:02

Sorry to hear you had a crap day again. I sympathise not in the exact same situation but I moved from a school where we were a team to one where it feels unfriendly and it can feel lonely. I am also debating whether to leave

Whodunksakitkat Fri 12-Jan-18 18:41:23

Is teaching still considered a caring profession?? It certainly doesn’t feel like one. I am ashamed to admit that I was driven to some very ‘dark’ thoughts on my way home today. Thankfully I quickly thought NO I will not let this ‘monster’ deprive my children of their mother - scarey though. I don’t know if my HOD doesn’t believe I am unwell or if she just can’t stand my weakness.

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hollytom Fri 12-Jan-18 18:45:14

Oh no that’s awful. If you are feeling that bad should you be at work? No job is worth it at all. Hope you are feeling a bit better now you are home

WontLetThoseRobotsDefeatMe Fri 12-Jan-18 18:49:02

@Whodunksakitkat - I know how scary those thoughts can be; you are neither weak nor do you have anything to be ashamed of. Please, please tell your GP about this. They won't judge you, but they will help. I've been there, and this all sounds so horribly familiar - same job, same reaction from HT - that I nearly couldn't bring myself to reply as it was all rather raw. We're here for you.

CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 12-Jan-18 18:52:20

You need to go and see your head and complain about the treatment from your HOD. Everyone in schools is under enormous pressure at the moment and it manifests itself in different ways. Some people buckle under the strain like you have. Some turn into shouty intolerant, uncaring bitches/bastards.

I have to say, though, that in all my working life, the line managers I have had who have dealt best with these kind of things were generally men. (Except for one or two).

I think some women can be horribly intolerant of what they perceive as other women’s weaknesses, which are in fact genuine cases of stress.

CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 12-Jan-18 18:59:18

Ps I hate the fact that there is no give in the system these days in school to allow people to de-stress at various times each day. I’m not even a teacher but I rarely get any kind of break where I can go to the Staff room for a cuppa and just de-stress.

I remember my junior school in the 80s. Staffroom where all the teachers went at breaks and lunches and had a good gab and a laugh (and a smoke hmm). Compare that to now, most of the time you walk into a staff room there is barely anyone there, they’re so busy trying to catch up with pointless paperwork and ridiculous marking systems. No to mention wade through 20,000 emails.

We are doing it all wrong because we are scared of Ofsted’s criticism.

CoffeeBreakIn5 Fri 12-Jan-18 19:02:04

OP, I'm so sorry you're going tonight this. Your HOD sounds beet unsupportive, what's the school like generally? I felt forced out by my HOD when I was told of several incidents where she'd not stood up for me and then more when she'd actively given other staff a bad impression of me. The part I found hardest was that the rest of the department seemed to follow suit and I was somehow blamed for certain failures that most definitely within my control.

I left; I handed my notice in and left the profession. I'm worth more than the way I was made to feel. Now I'm in a different career and I'm enjoying myself whilst still having time for my family. It's no fun working school holidays but it's not a patch as bad as my life in general was when I was teaching.

You don't owe the school anything, you don't owe your HOD anything if that's the way she treats you. If you still have passion for teaching then find another school not don't stay in that toxic environment for any longer than you have to.

Whodunksakitkat Fri 12-Jan-18 19:10:06

Thank you everyone - it helps to acknowledge/admit just how bad it is. WontLetThoseRobotsDefe... I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you sharing your situation. I am so sorry to hear that you have been in a similar position. Are you still teaching? I feel that this will be the end the road for me.

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CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 12-Jan-18 19:19:25

Whodunks: get out as soon as you can, is my advice. The future is not looking good for state education. like the NHS it needs a massive overhaul and culture change.

Whodunksakitkat Fri 12-Jan-18 19:56:42

I am sat here still sobbing intermittently. The guilt! My family deserve so much better. We won’t be able to pay the mortgage if I have no job. I can’t even think of anything else I can do. A failed teacher with poor mental health - I cannot imagine people will be queuing up. 😥

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CurlyhairedAssassin Fri 12-Jan-18 20:06:15

Maybe you would feel completely different in another school? In a well-managed one the pressures would be less I think, and Staff happier?

You’ll have loads of transferable skills, just make this year the year that you get another job.

ArtisanBaps Fri 12-Jan-18 20:26:43

You are not a failed teacher! You are a successful teacher with an illness and are not being supported properly by your employer.

Can you get an appointment with Occupational Health to get a programme of support/phased return?

My experience of crap support from school is thus:

I was off school with hyperemesis, for which I’d been hospitalised, and was referred after 6 weeks off. They were great. Suggested phased return to work when I was ready. School were useless and didn’t sort it out. The head was borderline aggressive in my back to work interview. I got as far as the staff room on my first day back and never even got up to the classroom before bursting into tears as I still felt so weak.

I went back off sick again, went back to OH and the nurse said she couldn’t believe I’d tried to return. She then signed me off for the rest of my pregnancy which was the right thing as I was still throwing up.

You’d think schools would be caring places but they’re just not. Not one person from school got in touch the whole time I was off sick (7 months) or when my baby was born or when I was on maternity leave; except from a card from my NQT mentor.

Don’t resign in haste - see the OH service first and see what they can offer.

If you are in school next week i hope it is better for you

Whodunksakitkat Fri 12-Jan-18 20:51:55

ArtisanBaps I am so sorry that sounds awful. My doctor said that I am not to resign because I am not well enough to make that decision - but I don’t know how I will cope if I don’t. Dr said about signing me off but I cannot see how I could ever return if I did. I am being treated as public enemy no. 1 for having a week off at the end of last term. I could probably cope with no support if my HOD wasn’t making my life unbearable.

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ArtisanBaps Fri 12-Jan-18 23:02:37

You can absolutely be signed off and return when you are ready. Just like with a physical illness. There are at least three people off with long term stress /depression in my school at the moment.

You have trained and worked hard, paid taxes and done your best to get back to work. You are not a malingerer. It’s OK to now take back something from the ‘system’ into which you have paid all these years. Think of all the kids you’ve helped over the years with study support, marking, listening to their stories, checking up on them, making safeguarding referrals. They’ll all be out making a living now thanks to you and teachers like you. They wouldn’t begrudge you this time to get well.

Without making assumptions about what brought you so low before Christmas, if you’re having so much grief from your HOD after one week off, it makes me wonder if she wasn’t part of the reason why your mental health has deteriorated. She sounds horribly toxic. Teaching is stressful enough without a toxic boss!!

Leyani Sat 13-Jan-18 05:31:59

Definitely don’t resign! You’d be putting yourself and your family in a difficult financial position due to someone else’s lack of understanding of mental health.

Do get signed off sick again and definitely check out if you’ve got any rights to support before you return (eg phased return, or reduced workload) with cab/union/gp/mental health charity. Are there local self help groups for teachers with anxiety and depression?

Samaritans if you’re ever feeling in a dark place again, ok, op?

iamthere123 Sun 14-Jan-18 16:40:26

OP I am in exactly the same position. I have a physical condition that comes in waves and I had to take some time off earlier in the year after physically being ill for a few months before hand and I was treated like a pain. I am on new meds and physically feeling better, but mentally I am still struggling to concentrate on anything. I just never seem to get anything done in time. This week I have been told that I am not performing up to scratch and have been given a plan to follow that will increase my workload massively. While being told how rubbish I am I was not once asked if there was anything contributing to it. When I said I was struggling to get everything done they just told me I had bad time management skills then. I don't know what to do. I have spent all weekend crying, shaking, feeling sick and thinking of ways that I don't have to go in - up to throwing myself down the stairs so that I hurt my legs. I spoke to my parents who say mentally I haven't been right for months and want me to go to the doctors, but I am scared that if I have time off they will hate me even more! I just want to resign and never, ever go back!

Whodunksakitkat Sun 14-Jan-18 18:18:18

iamthere123 your post has brought tears to my eyes- I am so sorry that you are being treated this way. I can totally relate to your thoughts of harming yourself. I have spent today thinking about walking in front of a car. I just think that if I was seriously injured I wouldn’t be able to go in. I worry that what is happening to you will soon happen to me. I am not at the top of my game but I wanted to be in work and not letting people down. I stupidly thought I would be asked how I was and what could be done to help me whilst I am still fragile/not 100%. Instead additional lessons have been added to my timetable and I have been told that I will be expected to teach a subject that I don’t feel confident teaching. I have seen other members of staff with physical illness or family problems working reduced timetables, coming in late and going home early. I was told that if I want to leave earlier - even on days when I don’t teach last period - I would need a note from my doctor.

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