Category Archives: Post teaching

GOB update 21.01.17

Well, I have now been keeping my GOB journal / diary for 3 weeks and every day contains at least one positive, most days include a range of activities or outcomes that can be seen as positive. I have taken my journal to two support group meetings on the 4th and 18th. I have recorded some of the negatives as context or where fight / flight impulses have been felt.

Actions including drastically reducing my time on social media are working gradually. I have returned to reading my library book and hope to finish a few before the extended return date is reached. I am pacing myself when it comes to rowing sessions as my fitness has increased but needs to go much further. My physical therapy is noticeably helping and this week I have breathing exercises to work on which is an area I have been very aware of needing to address. 

Seeing the few online contacts I have discussing events like BETT (UK educational IT show) which I have no interest in anymore and a local vacancy for a field tutor role which previously I might have jumped at. I have seen some seasonal vacancies start to be advertised and have made enquiries and have applications to complete.

Overall my mood is better than it was 12 days ago (not so long ago!!), but I am still having large dips in mood on occasions. I am doing my best to be mindful that these are in the minority.

Apologies to friends for whom I disappeared from social media without notice it was due to a realisation that it was taking up too much of my time and was not helping my state of mind. I admit that I am not missing Twitter, several people on it, but not the whole experience. 

So this is an update and I will post these occasionally as I continue with my journal. There have been some aspects of personal clarity that I am not going to share but I am working on these to help myself going forwards.

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GOB 07 Jan.

So it’s the weekend, must be some sea rowing in there subject to weather conditions. Writing this in afternoon, later have family arriving for a visit, so will include that in GOB 08. So a week that was mega positive for four days then unravelled a bit. Supportive friends on fb reminded me, and thank you that I am not recovered from mental health issues before Christmas either. So physio exercises done early morning when I first awoke and tai chi moves to loosen up some fairly tight arms and legs.

+ I slept overnight, about 5.5 hours in one hit – much better than previous night

+ got up when I woke around 6 a.m. and did range of exercises to loosen up including tai chi warm up exercises learnt pre-boys!

+ did full set of physio exercises 

+ after a while needed a bit more sleep and took opportunity, still awake in time for 10 a.m. Row but a little close to the mark.

+ SSRC (Swanage Sea Rowing Club) – boat prep for second boat, then 10 o’clock row on bow side at 5. Lean forward was good but work on leaning back as feet coming off deck and not enough clearance on recovery meant I caught a few crabs. Snapped one pin, then caught oar several times. Body tensed up was noticeable as trying to follow Barney’s instructions.

+remembered to message home mid two rows – remembering communication

+ sun came out during row

+ 11 o’clock boat was short so agreed to stay in boat, but swapped to stroke side on 4 – issues adapting to that, again tension got to me working on lean back, looking at ladies technique re. Nobody position which matches to work with Gina C. on body movement without tensing up, the tensing was clear to Mandy and others sat behind me. Felt good at having done two rows but in morning rush had forgotten drink so bought newspaper for home and drinks afterwards.

+ home – showered, lunched and then rested.

I have seen the last few days, as several of you have picked up, that I am too easily self critical and tense up very quickly. The ambition to be in a team boat is there but my rowing feels that it needs to be much more relaxed before I put myself into the position of a race. I think that with many friends returning to school, I haven’t felt a loss as such for not being there but awareness that I am not at / in work yet. It is clearly too soon and I have no clarity about what comes next and I suppose self imposed strain. That realisation is disappointing to me but this has been such a big upheaval, maybe I could be a tad kinder to myself too.

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.

Work

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.

Family

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.

Exercise

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.

Connect

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

Volunteer

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.

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.

Stars

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.

Yet, 

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.

Gosh four days without an update, how remiss of me

Well a change of attitude at the weekend saw me take more control of my situation. I would keep busy, do more things, useful ones. Stop being lazy and be helpful around the house.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday all positive days, some low points in conversations at home in the late evenings. Gardening – leaf collecting, drain clearing, drainpipe cleaning. Starting to rediscover outbuildings features with extreme gardening or just excuse by me – yesterday was in garden in shorts and sports sandals (top modestly covered). Shopping  – tumble dryer, cd/radios, did bits and bobs, sideboard, dining room chairs. Exploring centre of Poole without getting lost (in geography speak: exploring). Yesterday afternoon I attempted to kayak at Studland beach – not much distance but wet, cold and invigorated. Been to coach junior rowers on Monday. Actually completed majority of open rowing training on Tuesday. Walks around Studland bay – so a lot more positive.

This morning started well despite being awake from 5am, read book, did ironing, retail, went to direct a delivery Lorry which  drove up the footpath trail rather than main drive and passed me on its way out. Started to consider options for working outside and put some “feelers” out. Enquired about and booked self on open day about Outdoor Pursuits instructor course on next Autumn. But in trying a third place at 4pm to get mother in law a late paper, drove past “the” school, realised it was yr 7 parents evening where I “should” have been teaching and talking to parents. Lost plot, ranted openly on FB, lots of support messages from friends and also returned favour for some as well. Lost several hours but recovered for family to viewing of recorded show, although aspergers review of series one and catching up voiceover from armchair made it a burying at times. 

Now blogging and several jobs identified for tomorrow to stay busy.

Thanks for reading. Some canvas prints from pictures taken down here on my expensive camera (mobile phone actually).

A few jobs before Storm Angus


Well we re-potted the tree Fern yesterday into a new and much larger pot. Would it be more stabile? Well storm Angus says yes, because still standing this morning,windswept, fronds flying up, but no other damage. So a morning in the garden, clearing more leaves, can’t be that many to go as most are now off the trees. Re-potting and moving tubs about. Bit of dry wall sketching- chose too big an area as hands frozen, so focus on small section. 

Wet and windy afternoon meant a planned walk to Peveril Point was shelved. reading, listening to music and some tv in the evening. As the night drew in the noise from outside increased. Weather site checks suggested gusting to a peak about  1 am.

We had quite a lot of water down the chimney, so mopping up and gathered in garden chairs that had blown off front step. 

Slept eventually. This morning no real damage around us, went for a walk along footpath and drive to check if any branches  down.

News from Swanage on various channels is not good – damaged sea wall by wave damage and flooding near Town museum. So an area to stay away from – fire brigade appeal as possible structural damage. Posted. Query on row club if any damage at front of boathouse .

…and some positivity

So yesterday was a better day. I had several things I wanted to achieve. Ambitious but a drive to not hide away. I got out earlier and loaded the car with recycled card from the garage, a remnant from the family move. Made it to the recycling centre and one target achieved. Then into town, parked up so a walk in to the centre. Barbers was shut for lunch, never mind I could come back on the return journey. Onwards to Love Cake, but today not cake but lunch. A great bowl of Goat-sausage casserole and chunky bread and Fruit Punch tea to accompany it. 

Next an impromptu trip to the library which fortuitously was on one of its open days. So I now belong to the Dorset library system and have some books to read, mainly about the local area in my thirst to know more about it. Then buying daily paper for my mother in law and a walk back up the hill.

The barbers was open so shorn and shorter easy to manage hair once more. So only one target not achieved – moving fern can wait another day.

The evening involved lots of catch up with friends on FB and Twitter including offering some support to other friends in need as well as receiving support. It’s good to give back too.

Awaken today to a bright new day. Let’s have another good one.

The ghosts in white are pots wrapped against the frosts we have had. 
I did all the trips above with my wife, not venturing out alone yet but soon, maybe soon.

One step at a time

The last week, is that all it is, has been tumultuous. A series of waves of varying size crashing onto shore, I could now slip into constructive vs destructive wave theory as I would when teaching coastal processes, but I shall resist. Each day I talk / reflect with a wide variety of people online through this blog, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Yesterday was a step, a bigger one than it sounds if you say the words. School had confirmed that my employment would finish on 31 December. So I needed to complete my exit, as mental health is keeping me from returning, by going in, returning my key and some papers and texts, and taking home my property that was in my (former) classroom.

My wife went with me. We met the Site manager and Business manager at 7am, before staff arrive. They were both very supportive which I appreciated and thanked them for later. We gathered my Lego boxes, the whiteboard globe, the hug-a-planet and my older texts and map collection I had used for open evening. I had to be slowed to make sure I was taking all my things. I held a focused view on the things I wanted to take home, but it was a surface scan because it felt almost wrong to be in the building. We carried the stuff down and put it into the car boot. Now we have two cars with school related stuff in boots neither of which I am ready to remove and deal with yet. At the time the process went well. 

We headed into town and tried breakfast at the High Street Cafe recommended in the Swanage Facebook group. It was a great breakfast with reading material to peruse about the area. We had a breezy walk on the seafront noticeing the shops / galleries we have yet to visit and commenting on the next bank branch to close in the town. The reality of the closure that today’s visit showed was starting to catch up a bit. The school buildings are on the main route into town but I can manage driving past, as long as I don’t dwell on what they represent. 

The remainder of the day included lots of observing horizontal rain from indoors, commenting on the strength of wind gusts and how plants transmitted the movement of the wind through their stems,especially the stands used for the pheasants. Impact hit home more and more. I sketched a bit, even breaking out my coloured promarkers although the pen and ink drawing was better.

I read articles from local papers, I researched online about volunteer opportunities but realised and observed by my wife that I was in danger of diving in headlong and overdoing it with that too, she’s right. Some time to pause first and then one step at a time. I slept later and failed to do some ironing as I had promised but completed some tasks, like getting the last of the CDs and LPs onto the shelving.
Throughout the day we chatted and made some plans for today some of which will be completed others will be postponed as today is a slow start. I admitted I had made a pact with another male at the support group on Wednesday, that I think will become a good ongoing support, that neither of us were going to try the suicide solution to our woes. I committed this to Twitter and have had many responses.


It has made me think again about solutions, ways forward. Many of you are right I need to grieve the loss of a career which has dominated 30/52 years of my life. Around that as a family we have dealt with many difficult issues too. A marriage that has been so much about other people and now hopefully a chance to go back to being a couple.

I can not thank my immediate family, and friends online (many of whom I have met in the #real world ) enough for all of your support. I watched an action movie last night, it did divert my attention. At one point for a drink break I read an email back from school that triggered a flood of tears, the ones referred to above – the chronology of events are somewhat muddled. I stayed up reading online articles in magazines thanks to Readly an online and much cheaper alternative to reading a very wide range of magazines.

Today – recycling depot visit, a tea /cake shop treat, the haircut I have been talking about all week yet not got around to, moving Fern (our tree fern who moved with us) who needs repotting and moving after being blown over yesterday.  The day is starting to include sun against a darkening sky contrast.

I think that’s enough for this post. Apparently this honesty online is Inspiring to others and for me it is a release, it really doesn’t matter if no one reads it. It is a record in time of where I was at.