I'm afraid I'm going to lose my job

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by penguinpc, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Oct 31, 2012

    Although my pdoc (psychiatrist)has never given me an official diagnosis, he has mentioned bipolar disorder. This makes sense. My father is bipolar 1, so I think I’m bipolar 2. I have severe problems with anxiety and depression. The first time I sought treatment was 10 years ago. I started on Zoloft, but unfortunately, I had a mental breakdown a couple weeks later and was away from my job for a month. I was a 3rd grade teacher at the time. By the time I went back, I was able to cope better, but I still wasn’t thinking rationally. I resigned at the end of the academic year without even consulting with my wife.

    For the next two years I was a substitute teacher since I didn’t know what else to do. In the spring of my second year substituting, I decided to take an eight week assignment for a pregnant teacher to see how I felt about teaching. The eight weeks were great and I felt like I did a really good job (self-confidence had been a major problem when I taught previously). I did not have many problems with anxiety and I was able to do all the things I needed to do to perform the job. At the end of the eight weeks, the other 3rd grade teachers asked if I would consider a full time job with them the next year. I was flattered, but I was not yet ready to return to teaching.

    Instead, I took a job at the same school as technology assistant. I did that for three years and loved it, but it just didn’t pay enough. So I took a higher paying job in local government. It was that job that convinced me after about six months that my true calling was teaching. I began looking for a teaching job.

    I was with the government job for four years before I finally secured a teaching job. The first three years I didn’t look as hard as I could have, do in no small part to my anxiety problems. However, in November of last year, my pdoc hit upon a combination that I felt was working very well. I was taking (and still am) taking Vibryd, Welbutrin XL, and Lamictal. Most days I felt pretty good with only the occasional anxiety attack.

    This last summer, I worked hard at securing a teaching position. I dropped off 102 resumes in four weeks. I walked each one into the school. A year before, I would not have been able to do that because of anxiety. It paid off and I interviewed for a teaching position at one of the schools where I had dropped off a resume.

    I accepted a job teaching kindergarten, a grade I had always shied away from in the past. However, after the interview, I just felt like I belonged there, so I took the job.

    Oh, boy… I began having problems almost immediately. I’ll admit that I am not used to kindergarten and that it is quite a bit different than 3rd grade. I began struggling with classroom management, something I had never had a problem with before. I had problems being organized, something I have always had a problem with. I began having bouts of depression and anxiety at work. Whenever these hit me, I of course didn’t have the confidence I needed to control my classroom. We are ten weeks into the school year, and in many ways, I feel like I am not doing any better.

    Incidentally, I have been putting in many hours outside of class, including several hours on the weekend. And no matter how much I prepare, I almost never feel ready.

    My first evaluation by my principal had so many categories below proficient that I was put on a “growth plan”. My evaluations as a 3rd grade teacher 10 years previously had always been good, so this had been another blow to my ego. In the last 10 weeks, our Instructional Specialist has been in my classroom several times to help me teach. I saw that as helpful and felt like I learned a lot from it. I also observed many of the other kindergarten teachers at my school.

    A couple weeks ago, I had a conference with some parents. They were upset about the fact that I had not sent home many papers (something I take full responsibility for) and that their daughter didn’t seem to be progressing at the rate they thought she should. They were angry, and while they had some valid criticisms of me, not all of them were valid.

    I was supposed to start sending her complete work home every day, which I did. I was also supposed to start her on a behavior plan (which I felt she didn’t need), which I did not do. My organizational skills definitely led to this as well as my tendency to avoid things I find stressful. Yesterday they asked to have her taken out of my class, to which my principal agreed. I also got a slap on the hand from my principal (which I deserved) for not starting the contract when I said I would. By the way, the conference was about one and a half weeks ago, so they did not give me a lot of time. I think their minds were already made up.

    Teaching is stressful in and of itself, as is being in a grade I am unfamiliar with. Ever since I started this job, my anxiety and depression problems have become severe, to the point that I am afraid I may lose my job. This week and last I have been cycling rapidly between anxiety, depression and feeling okay, sometimes in the same day. I am crying a lot. While I can be an emotional person, I don’t usually cry as much as I have lately. Monday I told my principal about my condition which I felt was the best course of action. That same day I went to see my pdoc to see if I could get medication for anxiety or to see if he would suggest something.

    I did got to see him about four weeks ago with the same worries at which time he said I should give myself time to transition to the new job. Four weeks later and I didn’t feel any better so I went to him this last Monday.

    I talked about my anxiety and the stress I feel I am under. I talked about my problems with organization. I talked to him about how I felt my thoughts were always racing. He asked me if I isolate myself at home, which I often do. He recommended that I try Adderall for ADD (20 mg). He suggested I take one in the morning and then half of one no later than one o’clock in the afternoon. I am willing to try anything at this point, so I agreed. Today is the first day I have taken it. I can tell a difference although I am not yet sure if it will help me with my racing thoughts and my organizational skills.

    I think I should mention that one of the ways I deal with stress is through avoidance. For example, I may have a list of things I need to do for my classroom the next day. However, I will inevitably push some of the things I need to do out of my mind and not deal with them. Then, when I don’t have the things ready that I need to have ready the next day or whenever I feel more stress and anxiety. It is a vicious cycle. This has also affected my personal life in the past. I have had both water and electricity cut off, not because I didn’t have the money to pay the bills, but because I just avoided thinking about it.

    Yesterday, the Instructional Specialist told me that she would be teaching my class all the next week while I observed her. Then the next week we will co-teach. The third week I will teach while she observes me. What this says to me is that I have about three weeks to get my act together or I’m out of there.

    I believe this and the removal of the child from my classroom are what led to what happened this morning. I woke up and got ready for work. (By the way, I had not taken the Adderall for the first time yet.) My breathing started becoming fast and I was fighting with myself over whether I should go to school. My anxiety was at an extreme high. My wife asked if I was okay and I broke down crying and told her I didn’t think I could go to work today. In teaching, it is really very important that you be there so this also added to my stress. So I’m here at home right now, writing this.

    I keep telling my wife that this all feels like some sort of cruel joke. I believe teaching children is my calling. When I took my current position, I felt like I was meant to be there. Now I just feel like a failure. As I wrote earlier, I felt great when I taught in the third grade class for eight weeks. What has happened between then and now to make me feel like this?

    So I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job. And I feel like that will pretty much kill teaching as a career for me. I felt so sure about this job when I took it, now I feel anxious all the time and confused.

    Losing this job would not only be a hit financially but also a blow to my already fragile ego. At this point, I feel like I’m doing everything I can to help myself. I have been seeing my pdoc when I need to, and I am going to counseling today. Ten years ago, when I sought help for the first time, I thought I would start feeling more like a normal person. Ten years later and I feel no closer to feeling good about myself than I did then years ago. I don’t know what else to do.

    Will I be able to go to work in the morning? I won’t know until I wake up.

    Thanks for reading.

    PS

    I've considered quitting the job, or hospitalizing myself.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 31, 2012

    Sounds like your school is being as supportive as they can. I have no advice, just :hugs:.
     
  4. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Oct 31, 2012

    penguinpc, I think a lot of it is doing kindergarten. It is totally different from 3rd grade and even 1st or 2nd. I have taught them from k-8th and even subbed with 9-12th. K is the only class I could not just walk in a do. They are a completely unique challenge. I think teaching may still be your calling but you gotta work with older kids. I went through a terrible time when I turned 30, had a kid and changed schools. I went home and told the wife I quit. I felt terrible because my other school was like family and I had left them. I started subbing and quickly realized I was meant to be a teacher. Found a great school and been there 27 years. I hope you find your right place and feel free to PM me. Goodl luck.
     
  5. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Oct 31, 2012

    pen, I am so sorry you are having problems. I have a family member with similar issues. It is hard for outsiders to tell you what you should do. My family member stays close to counseling and takes appropriate meds. I am not sure he could handle a high pressure job like teaching.

    Can you take a medical leave until you have things under better control?
     
  6. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Oct 31, 2012

    I can relate a little bit. I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 a few years ago, and then around a year and a half ago my pdoc changed his diagnosis to cyclothymia (I didn't meet the requirements of cyclothymia at first because I first started seeing my pdoc after a major depressive episode which included a suicide attempt). I'm on viibryd as well.

    I'm not sure how to help you, though. Do you see your pdoc for regular counseling sessions? Do you have a de-stressing plan in place? Do you dedicate enough time to relaxing? Do you have a plan in place for when you feel an anxiety attack coming on?

    In the meantime, :hugs:.
     
  7. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Oct 31, 2012

    If pdoc means psychiatrist (otherwise I've misused the term), I don't see him on a regular basis, but I have seen him twice in the last month.

    I do not have a de-stressing plan. I don't think I dedicate enough time to relaxing. I also do not have a plan in place for when I feel an anxiety attack coming on.

    Any suggestions?
     
  8. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Oct 31, 2012

    Well, I was starting to feel okay after seeing a counselor this afternoon (although it didn't help as much as I had hoped). Then I read an email from my principal telling me that since I had not reported my absence before 6:30 AM, I would need to sign a copy of the policy indicating I understood it. I had emailed her and told her I was going to be out because of anxiety. At 6:30 AM (or even 5:30 AM), I hadn't made that decision. Has sent me into another downward spiral.

    I am seriously considering taking medical leave.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 31, 2012

    Do what you have to do for your well being. Is not having a job going to cause a financial strain on your family and more stress for you? Also consider that as a first year teacher, depending upon your contract, you might be let go at will...given you haven't been on a regular schedule with your psychologist/counselor, do you have the required documentation for this to be medical leave? Not intending to cause you more stress, just anticipating the school districts possible actions.
     
  10. TennisPlayer

    TennisPlayer Cohort

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    Oct 31, 2012

    Would you consider a work from home teaching job? =)

    I do that now, it's been about 2 months into my new job from home. I teach kids in Asia only English late at night since it's during their school day via web camera. There are many at home jobs these days. There are other teaching jobs from home too you could see what your state has. The term is called Virtual Teacher.

    I like how I can sleep in if needed since I stay up so late, have time to do chores, and plan for the night classesand still have time to see my husband before he watches his guy movies lol!

    I am about to teach so I don't have enough time to write much but I understand anxiety /phobia/ etc as I am getting better and I want to encourage you and others who feel panic attacks or get nervous etc that there is something out there that can be a good match job wise. I am happy with my job from home!

    Pm me if you want or reply here!
     
  11. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Nov 1, 2012

    I will be talking to human resources after school today (yes, I am planning on going). Although I do not visit my psychiatrist on a regular, month to month, basis, I have been seeing him for several years. Anyway, from what I have looked at on the internet, the ADA may protect my job if I have disclosed my condition to my employer, which I have done. I want to see what accommodations and options are available to me.

    I don't want to give up on this job and I don't want this condition to rule or ruin my life.
     
  12. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

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    Good luck, Penguin. You're in my thoughts and prayers!
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It sounds as though perhaps you need to meet with your doctor on a more regular basis. Let him guide you through the options, and advise you on what to do about work.

    This is what he DOES as a professional. He'll know how best to help you.

    Best wishes.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 1, 2012

    Penguin...please let us know how your meeting goes. The school's priority has to be the students and their needs; your priority needs to be your health.
     
  15. ciounoi

    ciounoi Cohort

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    Oh, I'm sorry about all of this! It must be a really terrible time for you. :(

    If you do indeed plan to go back, try to keep to the basics. Observe the specialist and try to change only what you need to, one day at a time. Try to take it step by step.

    Good luck!
     
  16. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Nov 1, 2012

    A lot of good suggestions have been mentioned here.

    I think first and foremost you have to take care of your self. See your doctor and allow them to help you. Lean there for support to get yourself ready to go back to the classroom.

    Once back in the classroom trust those who are there to help you. It sounds like you are in a wonderful and supportive environment. The people (including your principal) who your principal have set up to help you are there to do just that, help you. Like it was mentioned here already, K is a tough grade to teach. There's nothing else out there like it. I had done it for 18 years at the end of the year last year and honestly speaking was done with it. I needed something different. I went looking and I've found that something different.

    It will work out. Keep us informed. We are here to support you.
     
  17. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 1, 2012

    k can be tough, but so can any grade. Most schools want flexibility of movement in their teachers as student population and needs change. In my area, grade 3 is the first year of standardized testing...some pressure and scrutiny there to be sure...there is no 'easy' grade to teach though some teachers may be more suited to/comfortable with teaching certain content or age ranges.

    Again, penguin, I wish you well. Please let us know how you are doing.
     
  18. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Well, I guess the other shoe has dropped. I went back to school Thursday. I felt some trepidation, but the day went okay. We had a field trip the next day that I also thought went okay. After school that day, the principal tells me that three parents all asked her for conferences (all approaching her while she was doing crosswalk duty that afternoon). The principal said it also looked like that the school and I were not a good fit. Then she said she was committed to my growth plan but let me know recommendations for rehire would be in February.

    I just sat there stunned for a while after she left. Wow...three parents in one day. And these are not the first conferences that parents have had with her about me.

    I came home and told my wife that it was time I resigned. One, I just don't think I can take the pressure that's going to go with those parent complaints. Secondly, I don't think I'm going to change or get better by February. Lastly, I think these kids deserve as teacher who will do a better job teaching them. My wife reluctantly agreed.

    Since another teacher will be in my room the next three weeks, I think the principal will have enough time to get a long term sub or another teacher into place. I may go clean out my personal belongings Sunday (which won't be many) and give the principal my letter of resignation, or I may go in Monday and let that be my last day.

    I am emotionally wrung out. I am already pursuing an IT job in a district I worked for previously. I think it's the best decision for everyone concerned.
     
  19. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I am so sorry to hear this. At least now you can focus on yourself. Again, I am terribly sorry.
     
  20. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Sorry I didn't see your earlier reply. I really can't recommend anything because everyone deals with anxiety differently, especially when a mental disorder is involved. I highly suggest you see your pdoc (yes, psychiatrist) more frequently until you start to get a handle on things.

    I was seeing mine twice a week for a long long time. Now I see him once every blue moon when I have a particularly bad depressive episode.

    Sorry to hear about everything :(. It's really not your fault. I highly recommend working with your pdoc to try to get it all under control, and then revisit teaching when you feel ready.
     
  21. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Thank you. I'll be trying take to heart that it's not my fault.

    For anyone who recommends that I stay a few more days or tough it out...I think if I did that, the next panic attack I have might not just make me take a day off, it might put me in the hospital.
     
  22. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    :hugs: penguinpc. I'm sorry that you are going through this. I think that given what you have told us that you are making the best decision for you. Yes, it's a hard one, but I think it will be better in the long run.
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :hugs:, penguin.
     
  24. penguinpc

    penguinpc Comrade

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    Just an update on my situation. I quit the Sunday after I wrote this. No two week warning, just sent an email and a resignation letter. After having a few months to look back on it, it was the right decision for me. Am I frustrated and sad after all of the work I put into getting this job? Very much so. But I think the alternative was to seriously compromise my mental health and possibly end up in the hospital.

    I keep thinking about what went wrong and I don't think it was all me. I have been subbing in another district since January and getting my confidence back. I can and do thrive in a classroom. I am hoping to teach again in the fall, although I don't know how my situation in November will impact my ability to get a teaching job. Right now, I'm just trying to see through to the other side.

     
  25. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    One foot in front of the other, penguin...glad you're getting your confidence back.:hugs:
     
  26. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Not every school is a good fit for every teacher. I'm sorry you've been through the emotional wringer. Glad you have come through and are still surviving, hopefully thriving.
     
  27. tonysam

    tonysam Comrade

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    Mar 16, 2013

    Failure to give adequate notice is a major offense in education. You are lucky you haven't had a sanction on your license.

    In my state, Oregon, if you fail to give the required 60-days notice, the state TSPC can suspend your license for the balance of the year.

    That stays on your permanent record and goes in a database for other districts to see and other states, and thereafter you MUST indicate on an application you had your license suspended for failure to provide adequate notice.

    You may have torpedoed your chances of ever securing another regular teaching job again regardless.
     
  28. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    Don't let this sour apple spoil your hopes penguin. It may be tough, but this fellow here has never uttered a positive word about education that I can remember.
     
  29. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Your health obviously comes first. I think you were in a very unhealthy place and needed to get to a better place. From the sounds of it, that is exactly what you are doing. Good luck in your futur and I hope you keep us updated.
     

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