I want people to have some idea what depression is because my senior management team didn’t
and in my opinion still don’t. I have been subject to a formal warning, case review meeting and a
distinct lack of communication, understanding and support. My days can be shades of grey, the
bleakest days are black but there are days when they are pale grey. It can change from pale shades
to black in seconds, minutes, hours or days.
When people see me they ask me how I have been, when I reply “not so good”, they say things like
you will soon feel better. Ok - I wish I shared your view. Most people avoid the question and don’t
speak. They don’t want to be associated with the “nutter in the staffroom!” They don’t know what
to say. They don’t know how to take you, how to help. You feel isolated, alone.
What not to do…
Tell me to cheer up, it might never happen – this is reducing my worries which are real to me to just
getting over it with a change of attitude
Avoid me – I am paranoid as it is
Tell me to act professional when I am in a crisis. A crisis is life threatening to me
Overload me with information and expect me to remember and act on it all
Tell me it’s all in my head, I know it is, I tell myself that every day
Look at my glass and wonder if it’s full of vodka. Not everybody drinks vodka and take a few pills like
the TV portrays. Quite often you don’t know how you want to end your life, a lot of the time you just
want it to end.
Remove all sharp objects and speak quietly!
What to do…
Talk to me as if I am ordinary – surprisingly I am
Tell me to take my days in chunks - hours or minutes the whole day is too long
Don’t expect me to get over it in a day
Don’t worry if I cry, I am probably trying very hard not to
Listen to me even if it doesn’t make sense
Keep me safe when I can’t make that decision for myself
Keep in contact with me even if I don’t answer back, a text can say a thousand words and means
such a lot
Throughout my latest crisis I have been supported by the NUT. My union rep has been supportive
and a voice of reason when I couldn’t see wood for trees. She was there during review meetings, she
has been my representative when I couldn’t speak. Without her I would have been lost through a
difficult time. Sometimes it felt that she was the only one from my profession understanding me. For
an educated profession, we are very ignorant of mental illness. As the pressure increases, more and
more people within education will have mental illness. Being ill means I am poorly, had I been
suffering from cancer would my outcome be different? Would they have had a fundraising event, a
coffee morning, people calling to see me? When was the last time a school supported a mental
Attitudes regarding mental health issues for teachers in our schools need to change and the
professionals who deal with those of us who suffer from depression should understand that. Policies
are there to protect us, support us and help us to get back to work, not something to be used as a
weapon to beat us over the head with.