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It's midnight on a Sunday evening and I am not asleep. I have to be awake at four o'clock, but my brain seems unable to comprehend this fact. My body, like my brain, is completely and utterly exhausted and desires the quiet solstice of a good night's sleep. However, I know that even when sleep does finally come hours later, it will be tumultuous and fretful.
I am at the end of my teacher training year at a small, just about managing school in the South East of England.
When friends and family ask me how I'm getting on, I feel compelled to nod, smile and say something noncommittal like "Oh, you know, it's hard work." But does anyone outside of the education system really know how much hard work there is? Did I really appreciate - was I ever told - how much hard work there would be? And when does hard work stop becoming 'good for the soul' and start becoming terrible and intrinsically damaging to it?
Throughout my course, there have been endless articles in the news about teachers working many more hours than they are paid, some stating that they devote almost 70 hours of their week to schoolwork. Even as a trainee, this fact has not bypassed me.
I survive mainly on large doses of coffee, hastily smoked menthol cigarettes, alcohol drank at opportune moments and sheer, unadulterated panic. Recently, for the first time in my life, my doctor has prescribed me an antidepressant in the hope that it will numb me to a life thrown into chaos. It’s safe to say that this new life I have embarked upon is a far cry from what I had anticipated, and I can’t help but feel like I’m drowning.
I understand that a lot of the pressure I am experiencing stems from my own insecurities and need for perfection, however, I feel like my mind can't solely be to blame for my mental state.
As I reach the end of this course, I have finally come to the realisation that something has got to give. Sometimes praise from your students, support from your colleagues, and a large glass of white wine is simply not enough. There is something achingly worrying lurking beneath our education system, something which surely must - has to - come to an end.
However, I have reached my threshold and have answered the question of whether I will choose to end it, or if it will end me first.
Deciding to quit my job for something less lucrative is possibly the most exciting decision I have made in a while. I do not enjoy being a teacher, despite wanting to be one for such a long time. The Rolling Stones song has never rang more true, and perhaps would be a lot better if I screamed at the top of my lungs: 'You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes well, you just might find you get what you need'.
Straying away from teaching is a move which has made me happier. I look forward to a working environment where I am no longer as stressed or anxious as I used to be, and I am able to manage my depression at a more acceptable level.
Teaching is an amazing career, and I applaud everybody who works in education. However, when a job starts to tackle my own state of mind in an increasingly damaging way, then I have no other choice but to fight back. Take my state of mind by the helm, and move forward toward my own happiness.