Depression in Teachers - ProTeacher Community





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Depression in Teachers
Old 12-17-2011, 09:52 PM
 
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I teach at a private school where we are "at will employees". I went out to dinner with my grade level coworkers for our christmas gift exchange. While there everyone was gossiping. One of the teachers was talking about a teacher who used to work there (i didn't know her as this is my 1st year at the school) and how she had depression and how "thank god she's gone and not around children anymore". Who knows how depressed that teacher really was. Several of the teachers talked about how teachers should not be allowed to teach if they have depression. This angered me so much cause I myself suffer from depression. My depression comes from severe isolation of not being able to make friends, and my only family left is my mom. If it weren't for my mom I really wouldn't see a purpose of living. I do take antidepressents, and I go to a therapist from time to time. I would never feel comfortable telling my coworkers about my personal life seeing how they feel now. They went on to say that because we work with kids then teachers need to be completely healthy mentally and held to a higher standard. Umm teachers are just people too, and deserve to work just like someone in any other kind of job. If the depression doesn't affect their work or if the teacher gets help, whats the problem!!!! The teachers were also saying how they wouldn't want their children being taught by a teacher who has depression. While I would never share something as personal as my depression after hearing how they feel I feel like I can never show weakness or let anyone know at work that I do have depression. I fear losing my job.


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I too
Old 12-17-2011, 10:38 PM
 
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have suffered from depression at different points in my life and needed a little help from meds and am on a mood stabilizer now for a particularly bad period I just went through . It's people like you are working with who keep the stigma going against mental illness. In anything to do with my school dept. I myself would never dare to ever admit that I'd ever had any mental health problems for that reason, I would fear losing my job. I share that info only with family and close friends who will support me and not judge me. I wish there wasn't still a stigma but there is. People wouldn't judge someone with diabetis or another disease but they look down on that even though it is sooo prevalent and I'm sure some of them are experiencing it but would never admit it.. I know for a fact people who have been out of school with postpartem depression, etc. but they tell everyone it's a broken ankle or whatever.
Myself, I have the utmost respect for people who seek help for depression, take meds if they need to and/or seek therapy. I see so many whackjobs in the workplace and in everyday life. I would much rather have someone like you teaching my child than someone who spends their time judging and putting other people down. As I said, I am very careful about who I share info with anyway but I hope you know that you are mentally healthier than those who choose to deny it in themselves or gossip about it instead. Hopefully you will meet friends there you can trust and be honest with and support each other. Good luck, I doubt I'd be going to those get-togethers after work with that bunch.
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:40 PM
 
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I've read many posts on this board about depression. Many teachers take antidepressants, just like many other people in various professions.

Keep working on yourself!

About 5 years ago I took pills for a brief time. They helped and I still see a counselor. (My issue is anxiety not depression, but they are along the same line!)
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:00 AM
 
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I have suffered from depression. I was on Zoloft for a time, but went off. Have gotten more depressed lately and thinking about going on meds again but am so embarrassed to tell my doctor about it. Thinking of maybe going to a psychiatrist. Its definitely not something I talk about at work. You're right as teachers we are expected to almost be perfect, always be there for the kids. Its like we are aren't "allowed" to be human. But I am sure many teachers do have depression but just don't talk about it. Unfortuantely there is this stigma to having depression especially when you are in a profession where you help others and need to be strong when you are in a "helping profession".
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Old 12-18-2011, 12:26 AM
 
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I want to think that what they meant was that someone who wasn't dealing with his/her depression... Taking meds and seeing a doctor/therapist are signs of GOOD mental health, as far as I'm concerned. I haven't done either, but I know plenty of people who have. And those are people who are taking care of themselves, which is what's important IMO.


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Old 12-18-2011, 03:22 AM
 
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Quote:
They went on to say that because we work with kids then teachers need to be completely healthy mentally and held to a higher standard.
Are you familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs? If not, Google it. Where are these people who are "completely healthy mentally?" As a clinical counselor, I can diagnose using the DSM. Part of what we do is assign a GAF- global assessment of functioning. You can Google that also, if interested. It is a 0-100 scale. Most of us fall into the top of the middle section, lower area of the top section. People would freak when I reviewed this with them, so I made up the analogy that Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and Pope John Paul II may fall into the 90-100 area, put almost no one else.
Life is messy. Solitude and contemplation are necessary to reach those higher areas. All of our lower level needs must be fulfilled to begin to reach the upper, self actualization areas. And, having read biographies of the three individuals I mentioned, they also had struggles.
Freud said that if one is able to have productive work and have the ability to love others than that is indicative of mental health. I said HAVE THE ABILITY. This is a season in your life that you are emerging as a professional educator. If you take that strength and use it as your engine, you can hitch on other skills (like a train) such as social friendships. I love the analogy of the train cause you have your engine, already giving momentum. Once you get a steady speed, add something else. Go at your own pace.
These fruit loops you are working with have NO IDEA what complete mental health looks like. And the way they are talking of the former employee shows they definitely have relationship issues and difficulty with empathy and appropriate social interactions.

Criteria of Emotional Maturity

William C. Menninger, MD (1899-1966)
Co-founder of The Menninger Clinic, copyright 1966
  • The ability to deal constructively with reality
  • The capacity to adapt to change
  • A relative freedom from symptoms that are produced by tensions and anxieties
  • The capacity to find more satisfaction in giving than receiving
  • The capacity to relate to other people in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness
  • The capacity to sublimate, to direct one’s instinctive hostile energy into creative and constructive outlets
  • The capacity to love
Copyright © 1966 The Menninger Clinic.


Be kind to yourself. Feel free to PM me if I can be of any help. I am a fellow sufferer of both depression and anxiety, currently off work. Our worth is not measured by our deficits.
Sending prayers for peace and contentment for you this holiday season and in the new year.

~Dorothy
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Wow
Old 12-18-2011, 04:07 AM
 
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I think people who are ignorant should not be allowed to teach! Would they say, "Oh, she has cancer. She shouldn't be allowed to be around children"? Their conversation shows how little they know. Depression is not contagious, does not affect how you teach, nor is it a sign of character weakness. Like cancer, it is not caused by something you did or didn't do.

I'm glad that I wasn't there; I would have lit them up! Brooke Shields, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Princess Diana, George Bush (Sr), Abraham Lincoln, and Mike Wallace have (or had) depression. Perhaps they should not be allowed to act, or report the news, or run a country.

These are people who should not be around children; how will they ever show empathy? You have a choice here: stand up for yourself (and very likely others who are suffering quietly), or keep your secret and start job-hunting!

My prayers are with you.
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OMG! You should come to my school.
Old 12-18-2011, 05:07 AM
 
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I think just about 50% of our teachers are on anti-anxiety meds of some kind. We've even joked about putting a Ritalin lick on one wall for the kids, and a Prozac lick on the other wall for the teachers. I, myself, have never had to be on meds, but I'm the only member of my immediate family who isn't on them. I think it's important that we support each other. Having depression doesn't make you less of a person. It often means you are a deeply caring person. What teacher isn't that? Many teachers get depressed because they want so much more than they are able to give, or that kids will accept. We feel like we are not doing our best if the kids aren't doing their best. That's depressing. Then we try to juggle our own kids and families as well as 20 or 30 other kids and families. We expect too much of ourselves. That doesn't make us dangerous. It makes us depressed.
Keep doing what you're doing. Those other teachers need to take a long look at themselves.
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Sad and scary
Old 12-18-2011, 05:21 AM
 
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I really hope those teachers never get a student with depression in their classes. Then what would happen? Should the student with diagnosed mental illness not be allowed in class?

It's very scary how the thinking of some people can be so backwards. Mental illness is not a character flaw; it's a treatable illness just like any other.

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The teachers were also saying how they wouldn't want their children being taught by a teacher who has depression.
Well, this works both ways...I wouldn't want my child being taught by a teacher who is so closed minded and ignorant.
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mental issues
Old 12-18-2011, 06:10 AM
 
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If I were you, I would definitely keep my feelings to myself at work, because now you know how they will take it. If they talked openly in front of you this way, I would assume that they cannot tell you are depressed, so you must be handling it at school. Now, I have to admit that I teach with someone who comes from a family that isn't mentally healthy and sometimes you do have to wonder whether they have any business influencing children. This person has severe jealousy issues, unforgiveness, talks about other teachers TO HER STUDENTS, hand picks the younger children she wants to teach in the future and waves to just them in the halls, tries to get to the new teachers "first" so they will like her and become her followers and she demands loyalty. I could go on and on. I am not even mentioning her worst trait. Sometimes it is so difficult to watch and all you can say to yourself is that she is sick. My point of sharing this is just that if your depression doesn't keep you from doing your job well, then you are fine, but if your illness causes you to behave unprofessionally in front of impressionable children, then find another job.
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Depression and Anxiety
Old 12-18-2011, 06:33 AM
 
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I suffer from both severely and have been on prozac for 6 years (I'm a first year teacher, so long before I started teaching!). No one would know anymore because the pills have helped so much. I have a had a VERY hard life and believe that because of all the "stuff" (I'd use another word that would probably get censored) I have been through, I have lasting effects. I don't think that means I should not be around children...especially since the medication and counseling has got it under control for the most part. Like I said, no one would know. If anything, I think it makes me a BETTER teacher because I know the things I went through in life and can try to make sure my students do not go through those same things. It also makes me more aware of students who might struggling and ways to support them.

I totally disagree with your colleagues. Unfortunately, although it has gotten better, many people look down upon mental illness and don't look at it like an illness. They look at it like a personal weakness.
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you are very wise
Old 12-18-2011, 06:41 AM
 
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I think you are very wise in that you do not share personal things about yourself with this group of teachers.

Clearly they find joy in putting others down. It even concerns me that they might not treat some of their students in caring way.


It sounds like you are the positive roll model that this group needs!

I try to steer clear of groups of people like this... they are most likely in all professions!
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:48 AM
 
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I would rather have my child taught by someone who suffers with depression and is on medication than someone as ignorant as your co-workers!

I have been on medication in the past (actually have a doctor appt in the morning to get back on meds), yet I would imagine people at work would be surprised. I'm organized, enthusiastic, have great relationships with my students, good classroom management, I don't yell, etc...such a shame that if people with depression weren't allowed to teach...a lot of good teachers wouldn't be teaching.

They should be careful about what they say not knowing everyone's history.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:18 AM
 
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Quote:
I think just about 50% of our teachers are on anti-anxiety meds of some kind. We've even joked about putting a Ritalin lick on one wall for the kids, and a Prozac lick on the other wall for the teachers.
This is my school, too. That and anti-anxiety meds...I have suffered depression, also, BUT, school is the place I go to smile, laugh and enjoy children and coworkers. I am blessed to teach in a great school, with great coworkers, kids and families (for the most part). Yes, we are being overwhelmed with all the "new" stuff..data, over-assessment, value-added, etc....But, it's us against them. So, we feel we are in it together. But, heck everyone suffers from something at one time or another.
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If teachers who are depressed shouldn't teach
Old 12-18-2011, 07:39 AM
 
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then I would have lost my job two weeks ago! I just started taking Pristiq and it has helped me tremendously. I could feel how my moods and my anxiety were affecting my relationships with my students. Now I'm much calmer and the better version of myself. Like others have said, I would not want those people to teach my students. It takes a lot to admit you are depressed and to get help.

I think it shows a lot about their character that they would make such ignorant statements!
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I worry
Old 12-18-2011, 07:39 AM
 
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when I hear teachers judging other teachers who have various medical conditions, including depression. If they are so hard on colleagues, do they really empathize with students facing difficulties, taking meds, etc. I think that these professionals have created a make believe world and have distanced themselves from the realities of life.

By the way, the teaching staff at my school took and informal survey of the number of us on anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety agents, or doing special diets-food supplements--exercise routines to cope with depression . . . 75%. We feel that we are better people because of our sensitivities, and the fact that we have all sought treatment (preventative and medicinal) for our stress-related difficulties.

Carry on . . . and enjoy teaching!
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Just wondering
Old 12-18-2011, 07:58 AM
 
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There are SO many teachers who take antidepressants that I am willing to bet that at least one of the teachers criticizing teachers who take meds is on meds herself! Just can't believe the insensitivity of professionals.
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depression
Old 12-18-2011, 08:46 AM
 
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I suffer from episodes of severe depression. I can't explain why, but it does not affect my work. I keep it a secret because of people like the ones you mentioned. I think a lot of people would not want their child in the classroom of a teacher who suffers from depression.

I'm on medicine that has made me 98% better. Whenever I start having problems, I have my medicine adjusted or changed so I can keep going. For me it's chemical. I love my life.

No matter how depressed I feel, I teach my heart out every day. I leave it at the door, go in and make every effort to touch each child's life, and I may cry all the way home after school. The kids are what keep me going. I get the most challenging kids, and I somehow manage to reach them and teach them. I think that part of this is BECAUSE of who I am as a person. I'm an introvert. I'm a thinker. I'm intuitive. I can find what each child needs and meet those needs. I can motivate kids to want to do the right thing because of that relationship I build with them. The deep, personal relationships I form with my students as individuals are what drives my classroom and if I didn't have the personality that I have, I don't think those relationships would happen.

There are kids who need those happy, bubbly teachers. But my kids, the ones I seem to get every year, need me. And I need them.
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Old 12-18-2011, 09:19 AM
 
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Well said-Bird Nerd!
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Old 12-18-2011, 10:56 AM
 
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Seriously, if I worked with that many people who had those kinds of attitudes I'd be depressed too! Where is the understanding and compassion??????

I am so sorry you had this experience at your Christmas party! You are doing the right thing by taking meds and seeing a therapist. I am thinking that maybe it would be helpful if you have another opportunity, to say something. They need to realize how common depression is and that most can function just fine at work, school, etc. It would be a good lesson for them.

On to you. Do you belong to any groups? A church or temple? An organization? You might want to consider this as it is a good way to make friends with similar interests. Have you considered volunteer opportunities, like at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, hospital or library? What about foster parenting? Hosting a college student who may not be able to get home, for your holiday meal. You are in my prayers!


(((HUGS)))

Nancy
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Depression
Old 12-18-2011, 12:49 PM
 
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I have depression. My doctor said that he could not believe how many teachers he treats for depression. I know many teachers in my school who are on medicine. I believe the reason teachers are depressed are because we have so many people we have to please. We have to please our students, their parents (sometimes grandparents), our principals, school board and on and on.I teach in Tennessee and the stakes have really gone up.Our new evaluation has so many wondering about themselves, good, long time teachers. That's exactly what I am dealing with, I feel that I can't please anyone. I am at school 30- 45 minutes early and stay 1 - 2 hours after school and go at least one day on the weekend. Needless to say, school is my life. I am going to a counselor to help with this!
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Old 12-18-2011, 01:39 PM
 
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You are doing just fine. Go about your business, do the best job you can, and say as far away from those other teachers as possible.

I have never experienced depression or been in counseling or on medications, but I have heard that many people in professions which require helping others have the same problems. They spend so much time helping others that they forget to help themselves. This includes the therapists who help people with depression.

These teachers might think before making such comments if they were aware of what I mentioned above.
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Old 12-18-2011, 03:25 PM
 
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Quote:
I can't explain why, but it does not affect my work. I keep it a secret because of people like the ones you mentioned.
This is me. It does not affect my work, and I know my co-workers would be surprised.

Actually, my job/classroom seems to be the only positive thing going on in my life right now! Nothing else is really terrible, but like you said, it's chemical for me. Nothing really has changed over the last several months; I'm just having a tough time dealing with everything. It's funny, because I could deal just fine a few months ago, and now I can't.
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Old 12-18-2011, 04:09 PM
 
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I'm on Effexor myself. My doc told me that I'd be surprised how many people that I would know are on anxiety drugs.
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Old 12-18-2011, 06:31 PM
 
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I honestly know more people that are on antidepressants and/or anxiety medications than are not. I myself take Zoloft. It has helped me immensely, but I think that my doctor needs to raise it a little more for me now. I am feeling like I am starting to slip a little and am having more bad days than good. Some of this is situational (I had a hellish semester) and some of it is seasonal-affective stuff that I get every year around this time. A little med increase seems to help me get through the winter.
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Old 12-18-2011, 07:50 PM
 
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I developed severe anxiety and mild depression for a while due to a crisis situation at work combined with unhappiness with my personal life. Therapy helped me a lot. I would never judge someone going through personal problems and I feel that when people are under pressure to appear "perfect" it only exacerbates their problems. Everyone suffers sometimes; that's life. If only perfect people were qualified to teach, we'd have empty classrooms everywhere. Those coworkers making the comments should be so lucky as to never have to deal with problems in their own lives. Alas, since they are mortal and prone to the human condition, eventually they will, and they'll wish for others to provide the compassion and understanding that they were incapable of in that conversation. Everyone suffers - no need to add to it with judgments and obnoxious comments.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:16 AM
 
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Almost all of the teachers at my school take some kind of medication for anxiety or depression--and thank goodness they do!!
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:32 AM
 
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Your coworkers feel free to speak in front of you, so that means your meds are working and they don't have a clue. Don't tell them about your meds. It's none of their business and they will judge you falsely.

I'm sorry you fell as if you could lose your job. If nobody knows or has a clue, it shouldn't come up. (I'd guess your school board is smarter than your coworkers.)

I have a family member on meds and she became a different person when she started them. They were a blessing from heaven, but she has told very few people. Most close relatives don't know.

Last edited by multigrade; 12-19-2011 at 12:51 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 12-19-2011, 12:30 PM
 
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"We've even joked about putting a Ritalin lick on one wall for the kids, and a Prozac lick on the other wall for the teachers."

Oh my goodness - this is soooo hilarious! I'm always saying we need a candy bowl full of Prozac in the Teachers' Lounge!!!! It's true - over 1/2 the teachers are on something!

Thanks for making me laugh!
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Old 12-19-2011, 02:20 PM
 
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I have never had to take medication for depression or anxiety, but it's certainly not something that I would balk at if I needed it. I take medication for other health issues, and that would be no different.
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Old 12-24-2011, 05:25 PM
 
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I've been clinically depressed for many years and had gotten off medications for awhile. This year I started taking Paxil again and then added Xanax for anxiety. There is no end to the crap we have to do and it just gets worse every year. This is my fifth year of teaching and I have loved teaching until now. I'm leaving my current district and hoping to find a job closer to where my folks live so I have some support (I'm a single mom with three boys - two of whom are in college). I don't know if I'll keep teaching or not, but it is something I thought I was good at. I'm on probation right now due to an angry outburst related to low blood sugar (and a very bad week). I guess I'm lucky though because my NEA representative made sure my district conformed to the Americans with Disabilities Act concerning my needs as a person with diabetes. Upping my doses of Xanax and Paxil to sustain until the end of the year and hoping I can keep my blood sugar in check! I am going to make sure my district complies to the ADA. They are already in trouble for turning another teacher with diabetes down for her request to use the bathroom more often. Geez...
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Ugh!
Old 12-30-2011, 06:49 PM
 
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This drives me mad. First of all I think something would be wrong with all teachers if they didn't have something a little bit wrong with them. I feel like I have gained ADHD since working! Personally I have anxiety & depression. There are only a select few people at work that I trust implicitly who know what goes on in my personal life and what has made me so upset in the past. I empathize with you and would love to call out your coworkers!

Keep calm & carry on.
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