At school, finally, not one more thing

Closeup of blown out candle.

Some of you have guessed that being a teacher has become an enormous struggle. Many of you have written supportive and encouraging emails which helped me get through impossible minutes and difficult days. Thank you.

Three weeks ago my sweet, observant, caring husband drove me to a psychiatrist just after we’d been to the post office. He did this without telling me and, only after I noticed we weren’t going towards home, did I ask where we were going. He explained that he decided I needed to see the doctor and to him, it was clear I couldn’t see what was happening to me. He was right.

It’s a long story full of grim details about a competent, fantastic, loved and loving teacher falling to bits while the people around her tried to help but simply couldn’t. I fought the good fight and didn’t realize that school really had become a war for me – a war where the enemy included too many new responsibilities, too much too do in too short a time, too many computer malfunctions over too long a time and too little replenishing of the well of love and inspiration that’s absolutely necessary to be a teacher.

Three weeks ago the doctor told me – in no uncertain terms – that I would not be going back to work. On Tuesday, when I returned for another appointment, he told me the same thing. But only yesterday, when an email was sent home to the families of all my students explaining that I was ill and wouldn’t be back for a long time, if ever, did it really sink in. And then the grieving began.

A career of 38 wonderful, delightful years in music classrooms all over the world has finished – not in a round of applause and thanks, but in tears and exhaustion. I wish I could have reached the end more gracefully. I am grateful that I’m in Germany as my career ends in this way. Germany has a fabulous, socialized health care system that recognizes mental health illness as a very real illness and supports teachers who are “burned out”. Burned out is an apt term – I was a candle burning with passion for music and sharing it with students and now all that’s left is a small bit of charcoal black wick.

It will take time, I’m told, to begin to feel like myself again – a long time. Take it slowly, let yourself cry, be comfortable with exhaustion, forgetfulness and distraction. Thankfully, time is exactly what I have now.



8 thoughts on “At school, finally, not one more thing

  • I am so sorry! Those not in the educational world do not understand the emotional, physical, and spiritual toll that teaching sucks out of the life of the educator. I feel this would have happened to me had I not retired when I did. Please know that I am thinking of you and praying that you will soon regain your spirit. You have put everyone else first. It is now time to put yourself first. Be well.

  • Kathy,
    Please be gentle with yourself, and get lots of rest. How fortunate you are to have such an observant and caring husband.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • I am so sorry you are going through this. Leaving a career that you love is a great loss. I retired three years ago and the first time I told someone, “I was a speech therapist,” a part of me died. It does get better and you will find joy in pursuing other interests. But that does not happen overnight and you will need to be forgiving of yourself for some time to come. Wishing you all the best in this time of transition.

  • Kathy,
    Please take care. Please listen to your body and emotions and go along with them as you recover. You are grieving and that is a many faceted emotional journey. You are exhausted and emotionally drained. Please sleep, cry, sit and look out of the window, walk in nature when you need to. Please do whatever will lead you to replenish yourself. You are a wonderfully talented woman. You have much to look forward to doing when you feel well again. Take all the time that is necessary. No short cuts…take all the time that is necessary to feel 100% strong in all regards. My thoughts and with you. Fondly Dianne.

  • Thank you, Kathy, for your clarity and honesty.
    Dianne’s words say it best.
    If it helps, you should know how much this ‘Not One More Thing’ blog has helped me. Thank you.
    Your husband is a gem!
    Best wishes for rest and peace, and take your time.

  • Oh dear, Kathy, poor you! Rather a shock to the system, isn’t it? I do empathise as I had to leave teaching (albeit a much, much shorter career) as stresses were getting to me on top of already being physically weak and exhausted. If I hadn’t left when I did, I dread to think what would have happened and, yes, it takes some time to look back on in a fully positive light. You’ve done the right thing, but let yourself have the time and space you need to feel that all the way through.


  • Remember that leap of faith you wanted to take regarding teaching more embroidery on line? Well, the door was shut on one kind of teaching, but I think you can see that the window of embroidery is open and shining.

    Sometimes when we don’t make the choices our heart tells us to, our body makes the choice for us.

    I wish you better times and a bright future. Rest, play, and get back to embroidering.

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