Teaching with depression

Everyone has bad days at work, it’s an inevitable fact that one day you will roll out on the wrong side of bed or that today is the day a customer comes in with a poker up their arse. And everyone deals with these days differently, maybe you’re the poker face who gets on with the job and lets loose at home, maybe you’re the heart on your cheek cries at work person, maybe you get snappy or eat copious amounts of chocolate. Each person is different and yet we all have a similar experience.

So in this respect there are obviously different jobs with different challenges on your mood and patience. it’s much easier to glare back at your computer screen than the customer you’re handing hot coffee to, it’s much harder to hide how you’re feeling in a group setting. I wanted to write this post as a perspective, maybe you want to know you’re not alone or (hopefully) you pick up some tips, either way there aren’t that many blogs or writings I can find about the teacher’s emotional well being. You remember the school days when you could pick up on a teacher’s bad mood or joviality but past that as a student the teacher’s personal life is an enigma.

With the ever-growing prevalence of mental health awareness in society, features such as depression and anxiety are becoming a much more common topic. Online that is, in person you are so much less likely to overhear it being discussed in the staff office. With a specific focus in customer service jobs it is arguably much harder to gain an empathy, or maybe consideration is a better word, for mental health. People don’t want sad kid serving them food or a glassy eyed cashier at a till, with an increased acceptance of health and problems there is still that differential factor of being confronted with it in real life.

This is just an aspect of human ideology, it’s not something that can easily be changed rather that it is ingrained in our acquired psychology, from behavioural reaction seen even in animals. Our monkey brain can determine these emotions and will have the same reactions. it is what it is. This writing isn’t an accusation against the human psyche rather than a look into an individual’s perspective. ( I have to admit I’m a sucker for personal rambles and trying to dig out someone’s personality traits from how they write) …just me….okay.

So teaching, when I’m teaching kids I tend to refer to it as a state of “happiness on steroids”. You want these kids to feel encouraged and comfortable, you want them to feel listened to and like they can laugh with you. A happy kid is a learning kid, I want them to think class is a fun place rather than a chore. I teach English to children for whom it is not their first language, for this especially you have no way to explain to your students why teacher is sad or why teacher couldn’t teach them yesterday. That language barrier is another reason why you need to present a happy and fun environment, learning a language is hard! These kids are bad asses!

But let’s look at the reality;

  • Everyday before class I have anxiety, I get stomachache and shaky because I find it very hard to talk to strangers (arguably this is a plus of working from home, but those people don’t consider that I use my co-workers as crutches because I trust them and know their behaviour patterns). Kids are a bit of an unpredictable force and that does hell for my stomach.
  • Between every class while I wait for the kid to log in to the classroom I feel sick with stress, by the end of the day it’s usually a dull ache. I’ve been at this job for six months now I can’t say the feeling has faded, the unknown is a big stress. Most of the time I have my fluffy rabbit toy ( I use it for the younger children because y’know “they’re more scared of you blah blah..”) but I cuddle the toy and use the softness as a grounder under the table.
  • Fun thing about my job, after every class the kid is able to rate the teacher 1-10, we as teachers have no control over this. But the company expects nothing below a 9, so that one lesson you messed up or can’t think straight (thanks for that depression monster) could blow your bonus, your future work. Yeah you get the picture.
  • Now, refer back to happiness on steroids…with depression….yah. That’s a tough day, on some days it feels like you give all your positive to work and have nothing left afterwards. Plastering that smile on a hopeless face is one of the hardest parts of my day, seeing how I look in the classroom camera is horrifying. it’s a clash in your brain between how you feel and what you see. But what’s worse is when it cracks through and you look hella sad, I would hate to crack in front of a student. It’s a big fear of mine.
  • Final point, depression don’t pay the damn bills! Every time my body decides it cannot get out of bed is an entire month I lose my bonus. it’s a constant battle between choosing to look after your well being or the anxiety of having to explain why your pay is low this month.

This post isn’t intended to be depressing or attention seeking, it’s just a perspective and maybe someone will find it relatable, group mentality and all that. it’s also therapeutic for me to examine my own feelings, if I can understand the why then I can look at the how and help myself out. Also a lot of the time when I see posts about mental health they are very low energy and sometimes triggering, I have to click out of them because it’s encouraging my bad mindset or at worst encouraging me to be more depressed or anxious. I hope this post doesn’t do that, I like to make fun of myself, I’m very aware of my own downfalls but I refuse to sit down and be the sadness zombie.

please feel free to drop me a message, if this is relatable or you have any questions. I’m happy to talk to people about it, if you disagree with this let’s talk about it. Come at me curious people 🙂

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