Between 2009 and 2017, on and off, I accessed support from primary health care for a generalised anxiety disorder.
There were a few factors at play causing this, but one big one for me was feeling trapped by my employment circumstances.
My mother-in-law once told me I was ‘institutionalised’! My path had taken me from school, to uni, back to school again. (As a teacher!)
And for a long time that never bothered me. I was happy where I was. I’d always been comfortable in the classroom. Until I wasn’t.
It’s very rewarding being a teacher, but also very demanding. It’s a massive responsibility being responsible every year for 30 students’ GCSE grades and the same number again at A Level and IB. Before you tell me it’s their responsibility not mine, have you been in a school in England recently?! On my off days, I’d feel trapped and pressurised. My mind wouldn’t settle.
At that point, I’d be thinking:
- I’m the main breadwinner and we live on my teaching salary
- I’m not trained or qualified to do anything other than teaching English
- What will people think of me if I jack it in?
With the blossoming of my husband’s career as a self-published author, alongside his need for me to ‘be his eyes’ (I’ve written elsewhere about his degenerating eyesight), the seed of an idea began to germinate.
I’d get myself on some editing courses. I could do them at the weekends and in the school holidays. Maybe that would be my escape route.
So, that’s what I’ve been doing since summer 2017. I’ve gone down to part time in school, I have completed training courses and I have picked up a steady stream of editing work.
And I no longer feel like I need an ‘escape route’.
That’s not the appropriate phrase any longer.
I’m a valuable commodity. My skills set makes me very much in demand. And not just in the classroom.
For me, being in the classroom is out of choice not necessity. I’m there because I want to be.
So proofreading saved me! Well that and moving to Morecambe. You see, both represent freedom, space, choice and opportunities! And, thankfully, the result (touch wood!) is I am a lot more in control of my anxiety.
Things can change. But only if you make steps to make them change.
If you’re feeling trapped at work, I heartily recommend signing yourself up for some training courses.