Quality of Life

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by daisycakes, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    Apr 10, 2015

    I am having a hard time adjusting back to school after spring break. Having had time away, things I had gotten used to prior to break now seem glaringly bad.

    I have written on here that I struggle with anxiety/depression and have since 2nd grade. I do all the right things. I exercise and eat healthy every single day. I sleep 8 hours every single night. However, I do not have a window in my classroom. I try to leave every day at lunch and get some sun, but it is impossible to walk near my school since all sidewalks are closed due to construction and the park next door is filled with drug users (like actively doing drugs in the middle of the day in a public park). My school is very dark -- I think shockingly dark. I also do not have any heat in my room and it is freezing constantly, though warm in other parts of the building. I have brought in 2 space heaters which helps slightly, but the custodians are now mad at me for having them, even though I turn them off each day before leaving.

    I like my school a lot, but I am feeling desperate. Should I ask to transfer over this?! What guarantees me a better room/situation? I am at the highest performing school in my district and like it here and don't want to leave, I just hate my classroom so much. It is not even a real classroom -- it is a larger room divided by cubicle dividers and there is constant noise in addition to the lack of light.

    Please don't tell me to hang a picture of the beach or something. What I am dealing with is an actual chemical imbalance and a pretend window won't solve that. I feel crazy for wanting to leave when I have such a good job, but I also know the depression I feel is real.
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Apr 10, 2015

    Personally, if I thought that the environment was toxic for me, whatever the environment might be, I would put in for a transfer.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 10, 2015

    Could you get a happy light and keep it in your room?
     
  5. sue35

    sue35 Habitué

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    Apr 10, 2015

    My therapist recommended a sun light for SAD. Could be worth a try if you don't want to risk transfer. If that doesn't work then I would transfer. Life is too short to be miserable everyday
     
  6. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Apr 10, 2015

    Try to transfer, then if you can't, see if the sun or happy light works. If that doesn't work either, then quit altogether. After all, what's more important, your health or a job? Without our good health, we can't enjoy the pleasures of life.
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Apr 10, 2015

    I had a similarly lovely classroom last year. It wasn't a full-size room, but an odd-sized side room that I think was originally a lab area for the adjoining classrooms or something like that. I had just two tiny casement windows that did not open and that faced a covered concrete outdoor hallway, so there was almost no natural light. I did have two doors, but they both opened into hallways. My ceiling also leaked and the room flooded every time it rained. The room was carpeted and the whole thing reeked of mildew year-round.

    I also suffer from anxiety/depression that is seasonally linked. I started to go downhill badly around October-November. Starting in January, I would go and walk around the track at lunch, and just getting out of the environment and into the light helped. Does your school have a track? If not, could you walk the perimeter of the building? Walk around the parking lot?

    As far as making your room itself less depressing, I would definitely bring in as many light sources as you can -- a SAD light is a good idea (and something I should get, too!). I would also put up Christmas lights, bring in a desk lamp, a floor lamp, heck whatever you can get away with!

    I am in a new school district this year and am so grateful for my room with lots of windows that actually open and close! It's amazing the things we go without in public schools...I think if more people knew the true conditions many of us are dealing with, they would be shocked.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 10, 2015

    What does your therapist think, daisy? I'm wondering if you could get a doctors note requiring a room with windows...:love:
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Happy lights aren't terribly expensive, maybe between $50 and $150. You could possibly even finagle a prescription for one or buy one out of your flex spending account if you have one.

    In my experience, light therapy doesn't require a terribly huge time commitment, doesn't need to be all day, doesn't need to be every single light in the room, and can be done at any time of day, even at home. Have you looked into this? It seems like spending 30 minutes or an hour near a happy light at your house before you even go in to work in the morning could be a totally appropriate treatment.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Do you take medication for your depression and anxiety?
     
  11. daisycakes

    daisycakes Companion

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    I came here asking for advice and I really appreciate all the advice I have gotten so far. However, I see there are some misconceptions about these "happy" lights and what is going on in general. I know you are all caring and trying to help me solve the problem.

    I was exited out of talk therapy years ago. I do everything I can - eat healthy, exercise every single day, sleep 8 hours, abstain from caffeine and alcohol...I even live in a state with good weather (CA) because I couldn't handle New England, etc. I do not have this problem in the summer, spring break or even winter break. I don't have this problem even after a few hours of running errands on a Saturday morning. Medication has TONS of negative side effects. Also, you can't just take it for a winter. It takes 3 months to start working and 3 months to wean yourself off of it. I would basically be committing to medicine indefinitely. Is it fair or sustainable that I artificially stimulate myself so that I can be the only teacher in the school in a windowless room?

    As for light therapy, you are supposed to do it when you feel the most "sluggish." I have the most energy in the morning, so it is not effective then (according to my doctor when I first used it). You are not supposed to do it within 3 hours of bedtime (so evening is out). I had 3 days within the last 2 working weeks where I worked past 7. I feel at my worst between 10 - 1 each day when I am moving around and teaching back-to-back classes. Also, you can't just put it in the room and get near it now and then. You are supposed to sit directly in front of it at a certain angle, even (for the higher wattage/dosage machines you are talking about that can work in just 30 min).

    So I guess my question is this: If you had a pretty good situation (liked your coworkers, students and environment) but your classroom had negative affects on your mental state, would you a) apply to transfer; b) ask the admin to make an accommodation (I could definitely get a doctor's note) or c) do nothing?
     
  12. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Apr 11, 2015

    I've never worked in a room with no windows, but my high school was built that way. The ONLY room with windows was the biology room. It's a weird feeling to not be able to look out the windows to see what the weather is like.

    I don't know how well you get along with your principal, but I would talk to mine about switching rooms to have one with natural light. Maybe even tell him/her why; maybe not that you are depressed but that the lack of natural light affects your mood.

    Take every advantage of natural sun light opportunity that you can. Can you get off campus at lunch time & get some sunlight?

    I'm the one who will take a walk around the building just to get some fresh air or sit on my deck in the snow when there is sun. :cool:
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 11, 2015

    option b seems like the least disruptive. Teachers in my building have changed rooms for allergy and air flow sensitivities. A room change request seems perfectly reasonable in your situation.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'm sorry for my suggestions about a happy light. My information comes from my own experience and the Mayo Clinic, but if your doctor thinks differently then you should follow his or her recommendations.

    I hope that you are successful with a request to transfer rooms.
     
  15. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Apr 11, 2015

    I was wondering if you could get a doctor's note to ask for a room transfer, rather than moving schools? Since it is a medical issue, wouldn't the school be required to give you the accomodations you need to be healthy?
     
  16. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Apr 12, 2015

    Are you tenured/permanent? If not then talking with the admin is risky.
    I would talk with the administration anyway. Your problem may get worse over time.
    I've seen those types of classrooms and frankly, they are not for everyone. I subbed in a couple and it was weird - no window, no skylight.
    There should be some way for you to switch rooms with someone with less seniority next year.
    If you do nothing then what will happen? Would you switch rooms anyway at some point?
     
  17. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Apr 12, 2015

    Would you simply move to an empty classroom? Or would admin have to move someone else out of their room?
     
  18. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    Apr 15, 2015

    Whatever you do, look into some medication for depression. I've been on meds for it since 1993. All the best for you! Let us know how it goes and what you decide!
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 15, 2015

    Hugs, daisycakes. Sorry the term "happy light" hit you wrong. I'm sure it was not at all intended to make, um, light of the very real difficulties you're having.

    If you can't be moved to a different classroom, what about getting a therapy light for the classroom you have, located where you do paperwork or in some other seat that you occupy and kids don't (at a kidney table?) or in a space in which you can arrange to stand from time to time? I realize there's probably a specific protocol for timing the lights and all, but it's just possible that somewhat irregular exposure to the good light, and during working hours, will serve you better than none (and it wouldn't surprise me to find individual variation in this, either: for example, not everyone who's hypothyroid presents with weight gain, and not every adult can take a full "adult" dose of pseudoephedrine without climbing the walls).
     

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