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I had my worst anxiety attack in years on Friday. I couldn't stop. I couldn't stop thinking. I couldn't stop crying. I couldn't stop doubting myself. I felt like I was failing. I was falling. The world was caving in. It all was crumbling and I couldn't gain control. There's so much in a teacher's life and career that can attribute, cause, and ultimately be the main source of anxiety.
I had the typical anxious moments in college where I had to unplug everything before I left for vacations or weekends. That was the extent. However, in my second year of teaching... I hit a huge wall. I had instances happen in the classroom that were beyond my control. I had to be so hyper vigilant that I couldn't even walk to my desk with my back turned. I spent the majority of that year in tears on the edge. I had someone in my room ALL the time and it was to the point of driving me insane. My only saving grace was my colleague who understood what was happening and talked me out of my anxiety attacks.
Since that second year, my anxiety has gotten tremendously worse. I got bad vibes from an aid that was in my room. As a police officer's daughter, I felt that something just wasn't right and my woman's intuition needed this person out. It wasn't until the day after this aid followed me around school for an hour that I broke and said, "it's me or him, you choose." I was bawling hysterically. I had dealt with telling people that he just creeped me out and now it's a running joke with some coworkers... Although, I still don't find it hilarious.
Here I am, in my fifth year and trying to keep my head above water. I'm trying different strategies to get myself able to take it all in and breathe. Vermont weather does not help. Not having a vacation for two years does not help. The never-ending expectations and standards do not help. I've tried yoga. I've left work at work. I've added exercise. I've limited caffeine. I'm changing my diet. I am an old granny and pass out by 8:30 PM most nights. My dog is starting to recognize the signs of my anxiety and steps right in... She's one and my savior. I work with my husband to help him understand why I am like this and what's happening. He gets it, to a point.
But here's why I'm writing this...
I am a part of multiple teacher groups on Facebook. I posted about my anxiety attack and how I woke up at 2 AM with yet another school nightmare. I asked what other teachers did to handle the anxiety. I NEVER THOUGHT I WOULD GET THE AMOUNT OF RESPONSES I HAVE. Teachers with 3, 10, 25, 30 years experience are struggling EVERYDAY the way I am. Many are on medication. Many see psychiatrists. Some are pushing through it and trying to do the best they can. Others... they're leaving. They're leaving teaching. I was given an answer, "Perhaps it's time for a career change. Your sanity deserves it."
Teaching never used to be like this. It should be fun. It should be exciting.
So, all you big wigs, what are you going to do to help us? To keep us? You're losing the best of the best. You're watching them walk out. You expect SO much from us teachers forgetting that many of us have already given our all. We have given our all to the kids. We've given it to what the kids NEED. Not what you need. That comes second.
That's what we do. We put everyone before us. Now we're losing our battle with anxiety and we're having to make the heartbreaking choice to leave a profession we worked so hard to get...