Stress sabotaged my career but saved my sanity

I’ve been there. I truly have. Let me take you back in time to a period in my life a now call the ‘dark, dark days of hell’…catchy, isn’t it? Picture the scene: it’s 5 am, I can’t sleep, I have written down lists and I know how many people are relying on me to […]

Stress at work, Julie Phillips Therapeutic Coaching, stress at work, blogs

I’ve been there. I truly have. Let me take you back in time to a period in my life a now call the ‘dark, dark days of hell’…catchy, isn’t it?

Picture the scene: it’s 5 am, I can’t sleep, I have written down lists and I know how many people are relying on me to run meetings well today. I know too that I need to get my kids to the childminder for 7.50 am (it’s dress like your favourite Elizabethan day today so costumes are prepared…)it’s important that I am super organised. At 6 am I peel vegetable for the slow cooker and know I will thank myself later on…probably after 9 pm when I begin marking.

This morning though, I have to be in Wensleydale for 10am (another meeting 95 km away) but back in time for teaching at 1.20 pm. The meeting finishes as 12 pm. I could make it back in time if the traffic is good – better pray. I cram a sandwich into my handbag and a leftover Ribena from the kids’ lunchbox for the journey back – I will have to eat lunch in the car.

I get back just in time to teach but not enough to go to the loo before the bell goes. I stand crossed legged in the classroom. I teach until 3.40 pm then pick up the 5 messages and 3 requests for meetings on the way to my next meeting at 4pm.

It’s 5pm and I’m late picking up the kids; I have to be back for a parents’ information evening at 6pm (I could stay in school but that means kids have to stay late at childminder and that will also cost me money).

This goes on week in week out. When my GP signs me off with stress I am fearful but also relieved that another professional has recognised what I already knew deep down: I just can’t keep pushing myself at this pace any longer.

I tried, I really did. I wanted to manage and develop in my career as a teacher and Head of Department AND make a difference but I also want to be a great mum to my kids and give them everything they need financially as well as emotionally.

I lay in bed crying. It seems I can’t do any of it. I feel like a failure. I decide to hide from the world until I feel better, the trouble is I just don’t feel better; I know a prescription isn’t going to solve this; I do not want to go to counselling, talking about all of this stuff is exhausting –  I just want to get this and myself sorted.

I go to Scotland and find some help in the form of Hypnotherapy; the change is incredible – that old crumpled feeling has gone and I don’t quite know what I will do but I do know that I don’t have to continue feeling like crap anymore.

I resolve to retrain and add to my professional skills; I learn new strategies; I discover how to control thoughts; I find out how to attract wonderful things and people into my life; I meet new people, they feed my soul  – I know now there is be a better way to live. I wake up.

Four years later and I am pleased to say I am still ‘awake’ and there is a much better way to live; I didn’t give up teaching entirely, my skills are still in use working with a wonderful team of professionals who work with vulnerable children; it’s an amazing feeling to work with teenagers – that has never left me.

My ‘career’ is now in Therapeutic Coaching and working in schools, academies and with Local Authorities teaching the powerful techniques that helped me heal.

I decided what I want to focus my energy in a more balanced way. Above all else, I am a mum who now has the flexibility to work in a way that feels authentic whilst being there for her family. Today I am writing this from home; my little boy is poorly but the smile on his face when I reminded him that I would be able to stay off and care for him was priceless.

My career wasn’t what I thought it would be but then I am not the same person I was 4 years ago; things have moved on. They say ‘to everything a season’ I can accept that now and rather than feeling fearful of change, I am more inclined to accept what I can and deal calmly with challenges.

I look back now and thank god I listened to my GP and took the time I needed to find the therapeutic guidance to my new pathway. As a Therapeutic Coach, I get to help others now who need someone to guide them too.

If you recognise yourself in the earlier part of this article please know that you are not alone and there is a way to change that will energise and support you emotionally.