Monthly Archives: December 2016

Nurture 16/17#5aday

Well for several years I have set ideas to blog then reflected at the end of the year. A lot was around the whole idea of striving for work life balance. Then along came #Teacher5aday on the principles of #connect, #exercise,#learn, #volunteer,#notice. I joined in as it made a lot of sense. This New Years Eve is different as I have withdrawn from the teaching workforce.

So some reflections on 2016. I apologise for once, not going back to 15/16 post.


Returned after mental health break as Head of Department. Poor communication and different agenda going forward meant I was not wanted so looked about for new post.

Secured new post for September but dropped responsibilities of management and large chunk of wages. All seemed to be my sort of philosophy. Started well,soon communication again an issue and linked to other concerns. So another big mental health slide that I covered up a lot of the time. Culminating in many weeks where I contemplated ending it all and release others of the burden and hard work that is me when low.

It came to a head when offered support, that didn’t materialise, until revisited as an idea three weeks later. To add insult to injury this support would be “fun” I was told. I left early that day after for the first time being seen by pupils completely broken down. I didn’t go home but drove for several hours. Luckily through social media and phone contact I came home v late. Within hours I had resigned, admitted teaching and I were over as a partnership.

Thank you is extended to the many supportive contacts from ex colleagues,ex-pupils and friends/family who made me see that in 28 years I had made a lot of difference for a lot of others. I accept that is true and although signed off from then on it is the pupils and several colleagues I miss.

So work – not a success.


A bit better at keeping in touch  this year. Ups and downs but I like to think more consistent.

Losing Mum this month was hard but her funeral was a great celebration of her life.

Unfortunately linked to it came a falling out with eldest son – will things recover?I don’t know.

A new home in Dorset,changed living arrangements, stress of house  sale and purchase falling through left renting a beautiful place at least for a little while.

Notice / learn

This is always ongoing through photos taken, drawings made,walks in countryside or on beaches seeing new things. I enjoy my surroundings and this has continued to be positive.


More since move including mainly walking,cycling,some kayaking and new hobby sea rowing and oh.. digging. So this is in a better place and the move has helped.


Social media use,new place, rowing.. Met many more people.


I am back helping coach junior rowing again and I love it.Maybe more volunteering for an Individual Needs Club in 2017.

So a busy year. A year with many lows. I am still here thanks to the persuasive powers of others. Tomorrow is a new day. I think a day at a time is plenty for me to focus on.

Thanks if you read this.

A dip…

Well Christmas and Boxing Days were fairly quiet. Four of us,past the Santa stage,but still some.present surprises. I received a print and artwork I had expressed interest in but had forgotten about.

On Boxing day the dip wasn’t a mental health one for a change but a swim in the sea. It gave me an excuse to walk around a busy Swanage in my Penguin onesie. I also got to go into the water with other members of the SSRC. The water was cold, I feel I should have tries to swim more, but supporting local charities was a.good cause and we had a good walk around town after including a stroll on the pier.

Today 29 December after a mental health dip linked back to the 22nd a.week ago (see previous post) I got to paddle almost two.miles up and down Studland beach with my feet in the edge of the waves. I have worn shorts most days. Tomorrow I go to London and fear I will need to wear long trousers.

Feb 14; March 8; March 18;all in 2015

December 22, 2016

This is a sequence of posts that are ongoing. If you want to read previous posts seek out the dates above.

Parenting – something to aspire to. I did with my wife and after many obstacles in August 1998 we became parents to our first child. He was 2 years, 3 months and we were adopting him. Subsequently, we also adopted his younger brother aged 1 year in February 1999.

Parenting has been educational. Our children through no fault of their own inherited some characteristics. By the nature of the starts to their lives they had other obstacles to overcome. We have learnt much, dealt with many ups and downs.

My previous posts focused on a phase our eldest went through and started to emerge from. We are at a distance as parents now. He is an adult. My mother’s funeral on Thursday brought us together again. There was sharing of happy memories and grief, overall a positive experience.

Unfortunately later during our journey for Christmas in our new home things unraveled again. I can not say more at this stage for reasons outside our control. Two days later, going into Christmas Day without him, there has been dejection but also much reflection once more. I, unable to sleep, have reread those posts.

I go into Christmas 2016 unable to hug my eldest as I had posted I did in 2015. I do not know what lies ahead, but I do know that I still choose option B and I still love him, even though the physical distance may be longer, the ties that bind us are still not broken from this side at least.

I hope he has a Christmas that he can enjoy on some level as we will at this end.

I still love you son.

Mum’s  funeral (segue to Tomorrow I am…)

My last post was written the night before my mother’s funeral and how I would be there as many things that were more important than me as an individual.

Well it was a success. There was an outpouring of respect for Mum’s many achievements and also for Dad who after 58 years has lost his lifetime partner. Standing in /outside the church before the morning’s service I was able to recognise some people who I shared links with. There were many people I did not recognise as Mum’s life after I left home was busy and involved many.

As a family there was great fortitude, stoicism, support and generosity. Everyone looked out for the others, whether that was backing someone up who was doing a reading, lending a tissue, a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on. We drew together but more than that we did as part of a wider “family” that Mum had embraced too.

At the crematorium the flower arrangement of a Brown Owl from the Brownies was beautiful and engaged all of us. The placing of individual roses allowed individual thoughts as we bid farewell. The departure music – a piece of Scottish dance music played at Mum and Dad’s wedding put a smile on all our faces and added a spring to our step.

It was a good day. It was Mum’s day and well deserved. 

Now our focus of support turns to Dad.

In this season where we are encouraged to consider others, please look out for each other whether it be family, neighbour, friend or even stranger. There are too many reasons given for distrust between peoples, please can we broker peace.

Tomorrow I am …

Thursday 22 December 2016 I will be:

– the eldest son of Pauline and Michael Knill

– older brother to Liz, Kate and Richard

– husband of Anne

– dad of Jonathan and Charlie

– nephew, cousin, uncle …..

Who I am as posted recently won’t matter because I will be at the funeral for my mum Pauline Knill. I will be there to honour and say thanks for her life. I hope to be able to support others within the family as we celebrate her many achievements.

My own mental health has not helped in the lead up to this event. Tomorrow I want to be strong for myself and others.

My niece Caitlin has put together a slide show on iMovie with images from throughout Mum’s life and the biggest thing throughout was her smile.

I have inherited many things from Mum. I followed the same profession. I care for colleagues and pupils at times of need. I get involved with service to others through volunteering. I do too many things often. There are more links. Some that I would recognise and others that I might have not noticed.

I would like to thank family and friends for their support in the run up to tomorrow, it is one of those life moments you know will come when you attend the funeral of a parent, but not a time to look forward to.

Pauline Knill

14.07.35 to 04.12.16. RIP

Making a difference

A difference to me, to the property where I live, to my state of mind.

Over the last few weeks since my visit to the GP on 14th November I have tried a number of diversions to distract my mind, work my body to just be. Some days these aims have not worked. Successful activities so far include retail therapy, local walks, errands, visits to local sites eg Corfe Castle, exercise, eg cycling or sea rowing training.

Since  we moved into our home in Dorset I have wanted to start investigating and developing the grounds. So far this was mainly limited to leaves – leaves on the grass, leaves in drainpipes and drain holes. 

Then I looked more carefully about the out- building behind our garage. There was a lot of overgrown parts that just called to me to explore so im the last week or so I have started to do that. I have raked, pulled out plants, added to our growing garden pile (? Compost heap to be). 

Discoveries have been more extensive stonework than previously thought. Then I spotted some stones in the ground and I have removed matted overgrowth to start to reveal what lies beneath. 

This will be a long project but I am sure we will leave a positive mark on this property. I will continue to identify new species of garden birds as we put food out for them. I will learn tree species, plant species and animals. I hope to grow some vegetables but this will also be a new adventure. 

The photos below show some examples of recent before and currently shots.

This is a more positive thread to working on my mental health.


This is not a post about astronomy. It is about the people in my life who are my stars. I have been struggling for the last four weeks and to be honest up to 8 weeks prior to that. My anxiety and depression have led to me resigning and then being signed off from the end of a career that first started in November 1986 when I did a supply post at Pangbourne College near Reading, Berkshire.

I have been offered support by many different people online, in person, on the phone and face to face. Enough about me talking about mental health. The important aspect about mental health being more openly discussed is what you can do if a relative, friend or colleague is suffering. I have often been asked how can I help others. There is no easy answer as even I who blogs openly about his issues didn’t tell people how low he was in the lead up to me resigning knowing I would be judged and so I frantically paddled away like a slightly ruffled duck on the surface of the water while generating a maelstrom underneath the surface. I kept a diary when I first moved to Dorset, rereading it for the second time today without any adverse reaction I recognised so many indicators of where I could have been more open.

So who are my stars?

I am not going to name individuals because a) some will want to remain anonymous b) I might then forget to name some and they would be insulted unintentionally.

I blog and my blog feeds to my main Twitter account and my Facebook account (also LinkedIn). This is so more might read my posts. In the last four weeks I have had support from

1) family from different generations

2) Twitter friends and colleagues, most within education but not all

3) ex pupils and ex colleagues who are more on Facebook

4) people who have seen a post and it strikes a chord with them

5) people in my new area who I have already made a link with through art and / or sea rowing

They offer memories from our time together, they justify what I have contributed for them or witnessed by them. Some have similar experiences of anxiety and /or depression or similar conditions. They remind me of support I may have offered them previously, sometimes many, many years ago. 

The key aspect for me is that they don’t have to do this. There is no financial incentive, house points or pats on the head. They share and support because they want to. They are the reason I have always come back from episodes previously. This time will be the same I will come back a stronger more positive person, I will have down times too, it’s the nature of my condition.

This is just a chance to say thank you. You know who you are and if unsure but wonder, private message me, ask me and I will say yes you are one of my stars. Thank you so much.

Who am I? What am I? Why am I?

Well the cheap Charging cable for the iPad gave up working. I now have a new registered product and hence a recharged device. So a post.

The title states my state of mind really at present.

What’s been happening? Lots. Not a lot I can remember some bits but not others.

I may repeat things said previously.

On the positive side;

– I get up each day willingly

– I usually get outside for some of the day

– I have attended three meetings with local depression support group

– I have spoken to a professional about careers in outdoor pursuits/ field study education

– I travelled to see Mum in Kent when she was ill

– I collected my sister from the airport so that she did not have to travel alone to Kent after flights from New Zealand

– I sketch / take photographs most days

There have been more, especially linked to being honest with GP, Headteacher, family, friends about how I am doing.


A) who am I?

I am finding it hard to identify myself from Mr Knill / Sir who I have been from 1988 to 2016. That status exists in the minds and hearts of many I have taught and I thank them for their comments and encouragement especially on Facebook. I put so much of myself into my role as an educator who cared. Coming out the other side is hard especially as it wasn’t planned and I have no clarity going forwards.

B) what am I? 

I am a former teacher to be; I am a dad; a husband; a son in law; a sibling; a child; an incomer… This is intrinsically linked with the above. Am I needed? Has been the type of question I have posted online? Am I just a burden? As a friend I would tell others no you are not, as I try to support them, reverse that and I find it harder to accept support but it is nice to read.

C) why am I?

Yes I have had a miserable time since moving to Dorset, I have also had some fantastic times. I have gone from the deepest of lows to actually feeling positive about myself occasionally. I have considered life itself and if I am worthy, I have self harmed and clawed at my own wrists with fingernails, a new first and something I am resisting doing again. I have lost my mother (rip) 6 days after I last saw her. I believe I have a potential future but I have no clue what it maybe, I now have some ideas of what it can’t be as I have already considered some alternative futures only to find that they won’t offer me the balance of life I desperately need. 

What I hope are universal conclusions:

– I have a chance to build a new future in Dorset

– I live in an area I love for its outdoor space and potential activities, especially getting out in the fresh air

– I have Anne’s support

– I deserve to live

– I suffer from depression and anxiety and my admission and openness helps other people in some way as well as not letting me hide away

– I have many friends made through a number of routes who believe the above

– I should take my life one step at a time

– life for me is going to include trip ups, challenges, obstacles that I can overcome

So overall, who I am, what I am and why I am are there in my head but it is a head that has time and opportunity to explore them and find out some answers. For me at this point that is a huge step in the right direction.