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So confused and don’t know how to make a decision

I have been on sick leave from work since February. Stopping work was very sudden and unplanned. One day I was teaching and the next I was home for the foreseeable future. I wasn’t given any choice because I had admitted to taking multiple OD’s while at work. So, I’m home but it can’t stay like this. I can hide within my day while everyone else goes off to work but at some point I have to decide what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. Financially I have to work. If I don’t then we will lose everything we worked for. We’d lose the house and not be able to support the kids through uni.
I’m finding that I keep changing my mind like a pendulum. Option one is to go back to the job I was doing. It was part of the factor that got me unwell but it wasn’t everything that caused it. I know that the stress and pressure will be there if I go back. There is no getting away from it. I will continue to work with my husband and work under his stress as well. I think if I was there on my own I might be able to cope but being there together feels claustrophobic because I am always in second place. I cannot be my own person. I cannot be me. I am his wife. He, on the other hand, wants me to go back. He says he’ll do everything in his power to make it different this time. But I don’t see how he can. He can’t simply bottle up all his own stresses. He has also suggested that we both quit, move house and start a business running a holiday lett. Sounds idyllic but it would just be him and me again. He would be in charge and take control and I would be second. The one who makes the mistakes and gets it wrong. This makes it sound that our marriage is doomed. But we’ve been married for 27 years and together for 34. I can’t imagine ever being apart. As for love, I don’t know. He loves me but I don’t think I feel any emotion about anything ever.
My other option is to find a new job, new career perhaps. There are times when I get a glimpse of possible ideas. Perhaps go back to primary teaching. Work in different primary schools teaching computing as it is desperately badly taught in most primary schools. Having taught it in secondary and being primary trained it seems ideal but when I discuss it with my husband he always puts a dampener on it saying it’s not a secure job. Or come out of teaching all together. Do something completely different. Although I am unlikely to be able to match my current salary. So having sat for a couple of hours this morning mulling everything over for the thousandth time I am no further forward in my decision. How do I decide? People say I don’t have to decide now but I do at some point. This is not going away. I can’t ignore it for ever and it’s constantly hanging over me.


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Hi :)
I'm sorry that you've found yourself here. I don't think this is an unusual place for people right now, really.
There's always a balance with working, right? You have to find something that pays bills -- while not driving you insane. We can't all be rock stars or video game designers or football players. There are only a few of those so we have to choose something more reasonable and we become, well, teachers. But then there is the stress that goes along with that and what if that stress is too overwhelming at the end of the day? That's really crappy. You clearly went into that with a focus, a goal, an idea that you could change people and such. I'm sure you still *want that* but just feel like it's unattainable with your current state of mind.
Are there support systems in place for teachers who feel this way? (like at my last job there were LOADS of things in place if we were feeling bad - employee assistance, counseling, private hotlines, all kinds of stuff) And if so, have you used any of these resources?

It sounds like the holiday letting is something that appeals to you but you're not sure you want to be in the partnership with your husband. The way it's phrased is because you feel like that's less "partner" and more "employee". Does he know that's how you feel?
Thank you for your reply @Walker. Relationships are always so complicated. My husband and I work very much a single unit. Basically everything is ours and nothing is independent of the other. Sounds idyllic on the outside but it’s not as easy or as workable as it sounds. He has ASD so he doesn’t always understand the emotional side of things and can’t really offer much emotional support. He is a perfectionist, which is great because everything he does is perfection. Although if I try to do something there is always something that needs improving, changing etc. He is never wrong so if things don’t work out it will inevitably be because of something I did. At least that’s how it feels. It used to work but with everything else that has happened within the family I’ve just felt more and more lost with no identity of my own. We have had the conversation saying that I am all he needs but he is not all I need. His ASD means he is content to not have friends or other people to confide in as long as he has me. But it’s not enough for me. So he does know and he is trying to let go a little. But I can see it in his eyes that he wants me to go back and work beside him again. He has said we will make more effort to go out together for lunch and spend extra time together. He doesn’t get it. I don’t want to lose him but I want other things as well. Sometimes I just think I have no choice and I will just go back to as it was. It’s seems the easiest option. The question is, can I survive that? I need to stop self harming and taking OD’s before I’m even half ready to go back. Or perhaps I just quit now and give up let him have my death in service pay out. At least I have that to fall back on. I keep landing on this as a way of escaping having to make any decision at all. Wish things weren’t so complicated.


To Wish Impossible Things
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But it’s not enough for me
It sounds like that's your answer right there.

The relationship between you and your husband sounds just like mine, even down to his ASD. It sounds cliché but over our 30 year marriage I had bit by bit lost myself. I was no longer a person in my own right, I was his shadow, always a few steps behind him.

I was never going to be happy until I gained back some of that individuality I used to have. That's what gave my life meaning and energy. I needed to separate myself from him. Not physically (although that is still very much on the cards) but emotionally. I needed to stand on my own two feet, have the courage to speak my mind and mean it, and start living my own life. He's fought it all the way of course but I think eventually he's actually found a little more respect for me as a person.

@Walker is right. You need to take him out of the equation and do what is right foryou. You are an individual and you need to be treated as such. Everybody deserves that, it's a basic human right.
Hi @Sunspots It does sound very similar. Losing your own identity just sort of creeps up on you. I think having kids doesn’t help either. You become a wife and a mother and 20+ years on at some point you realise that you have absolutely no idea who you are anymore or what you like to do other than run around after everyone else. I think this is quite common but I think the ASD makes it even more pronounced, as you say his shadow.

How long were you away from work for? Did you change jobs or go back to your original one?

My problem is that I work in the same department as my husband so going back means going back to be with him literally 24/7. Never any time separate. On the other side, I am good at my job and love teaching the kids. But teaching is stressful and I would never want to move to teach in another school because the school I am in is not a difficult school, kids wise. The pressures come from everywhere else but not the kids.

I am also terrible at taking the easy option. If it’s easier for me to take the blame than have an argument about it then I will take the blame, even if it is not my fault. He won’t let anything go so I do instead.

I’d certainly be interested in hearing how and what changes you have made to make things easier for yourself. Although I understand that it is always an ongoing process and will probably never be perfect.


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How long were you away from work for? Did you change jobs or go back to your original one?
I was away for four years. I had started my own business ten years before. I started an after school club at my children's school as I heard so many mum's at pick up time talking about struggling with childcare. Then I opened a breakfast club. Within three years there were six clubs across three schools. I loved feeling like I was contributing to something worthwhile in my local community but the stress and responsibility of 200 children and their parents plus 21 members of staff was crippling.

If I'm honest I didn't think I'd ever be capable of working again. The thought of going through an interview process was terrifying. But this job just fell into my lap. My friend is a nurse at a nearby doctors surgery who are doing all the covid vaccinations for our area. They needed temporary staff to phone patients to book them in and to run the admin for the clinics. She asked me if I was interested, I said yes, had a ten minute phonecall with the practice manager that afternoon and started a couple of days later on a six month contract. Two months in and I was offered a permanent job on reception. I earn about the same as the salary I took from my company but I work more hours for it and of course no longer have school holidays off. But I can walk out the door of an evening and leave it behind. I'm not lying in bed every night worrying about Ofsted, appraisals or covering sick leave. And I'm meeting new people and socialising again. It's opened up a whole new world again, away from home. It's been like the final piece of the jigsaw in my recovery.

For me, it was all about creating more contacts away from my family. Group therapy was massive for me. I really didn't want to go and I hated it for several months. But gradually I began to relax with everyone there and now that it's finished a few of us still meet up fairly regularly. Going to the London and Manchester meetups for SF, attending courses at a local recovery college... It's all about getting out there and making connections and a life for me, separate from Nick.

It's been really hard. There were tears and panic attacks before leaving home. All I wanted to do was hide away, safe inside my four walls. But that clearly wasn't working. It really was a case of do it or die. And I always had dying as an option so why not just give life a try before I took that final step. I had absolutely nothing to lose.

Things are still a long way from great. I still have to force myself to leave the house but once I'm out of the door I'm fine. I have no idea what's happening with my marriage. A few months ago we decided it was over but now I'm not sure, both of us are scared to talk about it.

But whatever happens next I now believe I can survive it. I don't rely on someone else for my happiness or security - I've learned how to do that by myself.
Your story is inspirational and so much of what you say is what I feel I need. Connection with other people, a job that doesn’t take over my whole life and a level of independence so I can be myself. I am so pleased for you. I know life still has its ups and downs but you sound strong. What you have done has taken immense bravery. Thank you for sharing your story. *hug Xx

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