Tag Archives: seek help

Teachers who are in a depression

 

This is the third and last in a series of three blogs on depression

teacherAs any teacher knows, students feast on any perceived weakness they can possibly find, especially in a new teacher. If a teacher is in a depression, it comes across to the students. Students might realize that the teacher in question is not really happy as a teacher or with the school or the education department itself. And, if that is the way a teacher appears to his/her students, they will not believe in that person as a teacher. Because teachers are only human, it makes them susceptible to depression the same as the rest of the population. They are in a catch 22 situation. Teaching requires a huge emotional input, so why shouldn’t teachers be depressed the way the rest of us can be? As a young boy in grade 5, I first held a knife and wondered what damage I could do to myself with it. I’ve had to deal with depression for a long time, and what I have learned is, that one can’t simply wish depression away. It doesn’t work that way at all.

I do believe that teaching might not be the right profession for some due to the extreme pressure and expectations involved. It is a rather rigid kind of life, particularly for a sensitive person who might overreact to pressure or to the unexpected failures which are bound to occur every day. As a result, there will be no shortage of small or large reasons to trigger a depression. I still teach although I took off a year to get myself back on track and I now love it and wouldn’t change my profession for anything.

 

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A psychiatrist once blamed me for causing schizophrenia

shrink at desk plus clockA psychiatrist once blamed me for causing schizophrenia but over the last decade or more, scientists have proven that there are distinct changes in the brain that occur in people with various forms of a mental illness. Having the finger of blame pointed at me was traumatic and I remember distinctly how I felt. My breath caught in my throat, I felt an excruciating pain across my chest,  and I had trouble breathing, quite sure that I was experiencing a heart attack.

Mental illnesses are disorders of the brain but are actually physical illnesses like diabetes. The only difference is that they occur in our brains instead of in our bodies. Why is it acceptable for any other organ in our body to go wrong and not acceptable for a brain to go wrong? The same way that other organs malfunction, our brains can malfunction too. AND, HERE TOO, NOBODY SHOULD BE BLAMED BECAUSE NOBODY IS TO BLAME.

NOBODY CAN CAUSE SCHIZOPHRENIA, NO MATTER HOW HARD THEY MAY TRY. FAMILIES CANNOT CAUSE SCHIZOPHRENIA -NEITHER CAN THE PATIENT.

There are warning signs of schizophrenia: Personality changes are common, irrational fears occur, there can be signs of a diminished appetite, social isolation emotional outbursts, a lack of  concentration, bizarre behavior, mood swings and a very ill patient, now known as a consumer, might even speak of suicide.

Those close to an individual showing any of these behaviors, should turn to a trained professional. Remember that only a psychiatrist can make the final diagnosis of a mental illness. and that might take some time as there is no definitive test that can be done.

When sadness becomes a daily occurrence

depressed childHow do parents know if their child’s sadness is a part of regular growing up or a sign of something more serious? I think we all know what it is like to feel down sometimes. Well teenagers have their ups and downs too and every parent thinks that it could be a problem at school, a boyfriend or girlfriend issue, a family problem or even the death of a grandparent, which is acceptable. But if it continues for over two weeks, most parents realize that it needs to be looked into.

I only heard about this when we were in the ‘mental illness’ cycle. Apparently, many young people experience real depression and anxiety disorders at some time or another. If they are simply going through a difficult time, it will no doubt pass but if this period does not pass, it should not be neglected. By listening to parents speaking, we learned about some warning signs.

If a teenager becomes aggressive suddenly and provokes fights; if he has such bad anxiety attacks that he has difficulty breathing; if he/she is unable to make simple decisions and there is a change in his/her concentration levels, it needs to be checked out. If there is a change in his/her eating habits; complaints of stomach pains and headaches; a sudden weight loss or complaints of being worthless, he/she needs help. If that teenager’s sleeping patterns change and he/she withdraws from a previously active social life, it is advisable to seek help.

I was told that if the problem is dealt with as soon as possible, it is not too late to be of help. Of course that teenager could be taking drugs which is a different issue altogether that needs to be checked out.

From my experience of running a support group, depression can make one feel pretty desperate.