I work in education. Due to the nature of my work and also where I reside, being diagnosed with depression and anxiety is a serious social stigma that could easily cost me my job and end my career.
Every single day I have to haul myself out of bed.
Every single day I have to put on my ‘happy face’ mask just so my students don’t notice something’s wrong with me (teenagers can be surprisingly observant to the tiniest changes in us.)
Every time when a colleague asks, “How are you, Ms. X?” I’ll have to muster all the strength and courage in me to not burst into tears and just smile before saying “Yeah, I’m great. And you?”
At the end of every day, the only thing I look forward to is running to the car park/parking lot after work just so I can hop in, shut the door and sob (I park far, far away in an obscure corner at the basement car park just so no one can see me having a mental meltdown, sobbing every day after school.)
I think of dying almost every single day. I’ve come up with countless ways of doing it even, just have not acted on it…
I have at least 2-3 meltdown episodes every day (the worst would be weekends. I’ll literally cry throughout the day in intervals, from the moment I wake up right until about night time.)
There was one particularly bad weekend where I cried so much, my whole face was puffy and my eyes were so swollen, people thought I got beaten up or something.
I pace around in fear, very high strung. I cannot calm myself down once an episode is triggered.
I break down.
I fail to concentrate.
And lethargy hits like a tonne of bricks.
So what do I do? I try to disappear. I try to go to sleep, just to pretend I don’t exist for that few hours.
I’ve stopped functioning like a normal human being…
I’m terrified that people at work will find out about my problems. Due to the pandemic, staff have placed great emphasis on the students mental health and that’s great. But at the same time, teaching through this pandemic is also costing ours. And the fear and stigma it carries (once it is officially diagnosed) is not something we can afford to take lightly.
When I actually try to open up by hinting something is wrong with me or mentioned that I’m considering to leave the profession… This is what I get in return:
“Why are you so negative?”
“Oh stop being such a lazy sloth. Be more energetic!”
“It’s all in your mind.”
“You made yourself this way.”
“Just snap out of it.”
“You’re so weak-willed.”
“That’s pathetic, quitting when things get tough.”
“Stop it with the self pity. You think you’re the only one with problems due to covid?”
“You’re an adult. Deal with it like the rest of us.”
I didn’t ask to be this way…
I want to be that teacher that I used to be.
I want to be the employee that I used to be; a competent, confident team player who takes on leadership, supporting and mentoring roles. The one whom the administrators and others could rely on for help.
I want to have that strong sense of purpose in life too.
I want to be brave and be able to conquer this too.
I want to be happy too.
I don’t want to die…
I want to LIVE. But I can’t see a way out of this…
I used to love teaching. I cannot afford to lose my job. But my best friend (one of the only few who knows what’s wrong with me) asked: What’s the point of trying to save your career if you lose yourself or die in the process?