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    • #12166
      Brittany Foster

      Have you ever been told that you should not be working because of the state of your health? If so, you aren’t alone. After going to college and graduating with my special education degree, I spent three years being a special education teacher full time. I worked while on oxygen but it was the hardest thing I have ever tried to do.

      People always would ask me, “why are you still working?” For me, I felt that if I didn’t work, my mental health would suffer greatly. I would spend more time during my day putting the focus on my health. Working served a purpose for me. It distracted me from thinking about my condition and it allowed me to direct my energy into others and into my work.

      This eventually caught up with me. I was more exposed to viruses being around children all day, I became extra tired, didn’t pay enough attention to my health, and ignored symptoms to try and “tough it out”. My condition forced me to leave my job and take on another job as a nanny.

      Even with a nanny job, when I am sick my doctors always tell me, “you shouldn’t be working. It makes you more susceptible to viruses.” It feels like I am always torn after appointments because I love what I do. It takes my mind off of the stress of my life, makes me feel like I am contributing to something, gives me a purpose, and is something I love doing. Without it I know my mental health would suffer.

      Does anyone else feel as though they compromise their mental health by not working? Does work serve a purpose for you, even if it’s part time?

    • #13527
      Melainie Garcia

      I am always evaluating when it will be time for me to step down from my teaching position. I too am a special ed teacher in the area of deaf education. I think being in the special ed family allows me some accommodation and acceptance that I might not have in other work places. I think I have a few more years in me. I am 10 years from retirement, I don’t know if I can go that long….I just have to take it one day at a time.

      I stayed home with my daughter after she was born in ’07. That is when my PH was diagnosed. I stay home with her for her first 7 years. Mentally, I was NOT doing well. I received 5 diagnoses in one year’s time, three of which were chronic diseases on top of my congenital heart defect. My depression was pretty deep. I am now on a medication for depression/anxiety. It helps, so much, I can’t imagine going back to how it was.

      What helped me was to start working. I started subbing occasionally. I agree Brittany, having another place to put my energies into was so healing. You can only attend to every creak and ouch in your own body for so long before you go crazy. Summer vacations are almost to long for that reason.

      I want to work as long as I can for my mental health. If I cannot continue as a teacher, I will look for something to do from home or at a desk. There are more opportunities to work from home as a teacher, I might explore that as time goes. Currently, I really want the camaraderie that comes with being on a staff and the hands-on interaction with kids.

      • #13528
        Brittany Foster

        Hi Melainie,
        Thank you for the great post. I really relate to what you are saying here too! I was a teacher and it was the hardest thing that I ever had to let go of. It wasn’t even just about the PH and being on oxygen. That didn’t bother me really at all, except when I was first getting used to it. The hardest part for me as a teacher was contacting all of their illnesses and with my weak immune system I was always very sick and needing to take tons of time off. It just got to the point where risking my health just wasn’t worth it, even though it benefited me mentally so much.

        I now have found things that engage me mentally so that I don’t put my focus on my health and have others things to live for and things that motivate me to want to get up and do something in the morning. I absolutely love the two children I nanny as if they were my own kids. Without them, I’m not sure I would find something as fulfilling that would accommodate the amount of hours I would need to still take care of myself. Online teaching is something that I have looked into too. Once I am able to get more stability with my health and can feel comfortable with a fixed schedule I would love to explore that option too!

        Keeping a list of goals and what I have to work towards really pushes me to keep staying as strong as I am. You seem like you have a very similar outlook and I really love connecting with you here ! Thanks for all your contributions. Not only is it helping me to hear this, but it is helping others too!

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