Five years ago, in November of 2010, I crashed. I was terrified of going to work and was doing a poor job at preparing for my students, as well as defending my actions to parents and administrators. After a particularly crushing meeting, I came home shaking with my chest feeling empty, my "heart knocking at my ribs." On my partner's suggestion, I went to my doctor and said I needed a stress leave. And it was granted.
It was an interesting time. We were swamped with medical debt and responsibilities related to our house; we felt utterly isolated from our community and from one another; we were being OK parents, but some things hadn't gone right. I see no need to be more specific than all of that. The point is that I crashed.
On my leave, I got some sessions with a psychologist, some sessions with a personal trainer, and some counselling from a support worker. I eased my way back into work by working part-time; another teacher took on some of my more intensive classes. At the end of it all, we no longer had a house and I thought I was doing better. After I was rejected from UBC's Library Studies program, we decided to have a fresh start and we moved north to Smithers, where I worked as a Teacher On Call for a year.
In Smithers, for the first time I saw administrators in action at different schools. I had been hired as a full-time teacher immediately out of University, and although I initially thought I was going to go overseas and teach English, when the BC position came up I jumped on it, so I'd never had to work as a substitute teacher. Seeing the other administrators in action at different schools made me think to myself, Those are normal people. I could do that. So I applied to UVic's Leadership Program.
I didn't get enough work in Smithers, so I took a job in Egypt and returned to my home School District a year later, where I still teach today. With the end of my Master's degree, however, I don't feel much. I still feel quite like I did when I started.
My wife says I've been suffering from an extended burnout, that I never fully recovered from my first crash back in November 2010. I started to climb out, but then never fully made it, and I've been scrambling, keeping myself busy ever since. This morning she told me that her friend had seen multiple young men in a similar position as myself, men who went from high school to University to work to marriage without a break inbetween, and all of these men are suffering from analogous issues as myself. This is a possibility, I guess, possibly one of the many variables leading to my current sense of distraction.
I don't want to take on that sort of burnout, however, because I can't see any way to solve it. It's hard to imagine how to reset my mindset without changing professions altogether in one way or another. As a public school teacher, I work in a socially conservative profession and can't afford to go crazy like a freshman. Even the suggestion of irresponsibility earns plenty of reproach from staff room eyes and I've signed on to organizations with multiple codes of ethics and standards of the profession.
So certain types of reset are somewhat out of the question.
But, if I have suffered from a possible extended burnout, then what do I do now? I don't know.
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