It’s one of those nights, you know? One of those nights when sleep is just not going to come. I’ve had a lot of those nights lately. Too many to count. More than enough.
This year has been…………….tough. As last year’s school year came to a close I was so encouraged and so excited. I had completed my first year of teaching and, aside from typical first year glitches and rookie mistakes, I felt good about how far I’d come. I also felt good about the future as I was moving on to a bigger district to be part of a brand new campus and a brand new experience. Top all of that off with the fact that during my first year of teaching I was also in my first year back in grad school and managed a 4.0. For the first time in a very long time I was optimistic about the future.
I’m not naive enough to believe that there is ever a perfect job. People are people and we are, by nature, flawed creatures. But, I never dreamed things could go so wrong so quickly. I lost the excitement and optimism I had for teaching within the first three weeks of this school year. I’ve told several people that I started having panic attacks again in early February. The truth of the matter is that I started having them way back in September. The pressure and stress were so unbearable that they made me physically ill. In addition to the panic attacks I started having stomach trouble and eventually got to a point where everything I ate or drank made me sick. I remember one night feeling so queasy that I could only manage to drink some water and couldn’t even keep it down, but I didn’t tell anybody about any of it because I didn’t want to look like a failure again. Unfortunately, things got too bad to keep quiet.
On January 28, while waiting for my second period class to come in and be seated, I had one of the worst episodes of vertigo I’ve ever experienced. Everything was spinning out of control and I didn’t think I was going to make it out of the room without being sick. I became short of breath and my heart was racing. I finally made it outside and called for the janitor to go get the nurse. By the time she got to me the dizziness had stopped, but I was terribly nauseated, covered in a cold sweat, and my heart was still pounding. She wanted to call an ambulance and have me taken to the ER, but I convinced her to let me drive myself home. That was the beginning of the end.
From that day, there were very few days that went by without a full-blown, Katy-bar-the-door panic attack. Things got so bad that I went and bought a stool for my classroom so that I could have a place to sit close to the door in case I needed to leave quickly. The last thing I wanted was for my students to see me in the midst of an attack. The week before Spring Break was the last week I taught. I saw my doctor on March 9, during Spring Break, and he put me on medical leave until I could get my anxiety back under control. I accepted medicine for the first time, hoping that it would work quickly, but it didn’t.
One of the side effects of the medication I’m on is an increase in anxiety for patients when they first start taking it. The four weeks following were some of the most miserable in my life. I would have panic attacks just sitting on the couch. There were about four or five days where I never really got out of bed. I was scared, and lonely, and I felt like a complete failure…again. I was still making assignments and grading papers, but I wasn’t there teaching my students. Finally, after being told in mid-April that I would be out for another four weeks, I was told that my contract would not be renewed for next year and was allowed to resign. Although I’m still technically employed by the district until June 7, it is only a formality. The only good thing is that, due to the circumstances, I am eligible for rehire with the district. At this point, though, I don’t know what the future holds.
I’ve applied for three teaching positions recently and have been passed over for all of them. I don’t think I’ll apply for anymore of them. I guess teaching is not for me after all–like so many other things. I guess I just need a job where I go to work, do my thing, and close the door at the end of the day leaving the job there instead of taking it with me.
I have two summer courses and one semester remaining to complete my masters degree. But, what then? I’m really good at a lot of things, but I don’t seem to be great at any of them. Sure, I can write, but I have no experience doing it, and what I’m quickly figuring out is that all of the writing jobs go to people who already have experience. Square one is not a place where they go looking for writers.
The truth is, I’ve never felt so tired and so worn out. I feel beaten. I think I am.