Any teachers with FM?

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Any teachers with FM?

Postby FinkyDink » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:07 pm


I am currently signed off work for a month, with depression caused by FM. I was literally unable to get out of bed and realised that it was obviously affecting my work. The mental health nurse has suggested re thinking my career.

I am currently a teacher of maths, accountancy and business in a small independent school. I was headhunted from a previous role as a lecturer in business and accounts at a college.

The pros of the job: as it's a private school, the kids are supposedly better behaved than the average. The class sizes are smaller. Good holidays and quite well paid.

The cons: it's a 40 minute drive on a good day. It's a 7:30 start. I don't really need to tell fellow FM sufferers how tiring that is. The kids aren't that nice. It's full time, and basically if I do NOTHING ELSE but sleep, I can manage a full week at work.

So my dilemma. I'd like a life. Also, obviously I'm a tired painful thing which makes me moody and I take it out on the kids. Not their fault. I don't think I'm performing to my full potential.

My options: take some time off to see if I can build up some muscle (rheumatologist idea) to better cope with the pain, get sleeping sorted and go back full time. See if I can work part time. Quit and try another career (I am an accountant 'by trade')

As you may know, with schools, it's all timetabled so it will be difficult to suddenly go part time in the middle of the term. I also don't want to mess the kids up too much with their education.

It's a very small school, I doubt they've had anyone disabled on the staff before. There isn't an hr dept as such so no particular procedures on this.

Id love general advice/ experience from other people, especially if there are any teachers about?
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Re: Any teachers with FM?

Postby LouLou » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:42 pm

Hi Finky

I'm not a teacher but I work in Finance/Accounts so I know how stressful that can be. I used to start work at 7;30 too but found it was impossible for me to get up get ready and get to work for that time when I was diagnosed with FM. I now start at 9am and finish at 4pm and although it's taken me nearly a year to find what hours work for me and my boss, I think I am finally there. I want to keep working for as long as I can and I do enjoy my job. I'm lucky in that my boss and the company I work for have been really supportive.

The decision is down to you and what you personally feel will help you in the long term. I know in the nature of teaching you may not be able to change your hours or even cut them down, so may be worth thinking about whether you want to keep working and whether a change in career will be better for you. I must admit, if I didn't have an office based job then I know for a fact I wouldn't be able to work at all. It's the fact that I am able to sit in a nice comfy chair to do my work, the building is nice and warm and I sit close to the kitchen and toilets so never have very far to go for what I need.

You mention it's a 40 minute drive to work, do you think that may be adding to your pain/fatigue? I struggle to drive for longer than 10-15 minutes now so this may be another thing to factor in when making your decision.

I don't know the exact laws but from what I have read I know that employers have a duty of care to their employees and should make reasonable adjustmenst to enable you to carry on working. Is there anyone Senior you can chat to about this?

Sorry I'm not much help, that's the trouble with this kind of decision, only you know what's right for you and your body.

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Re: Any teachers with FM?

Postby pixieminx » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:00 pm

I used to be a teaching assistant but had to give up due to fibro. Amazingly I worked at a special needs school and the principal wasn't interested in what was wrong and didn't help at all even though the children seemed to communicate better with me and trust me more than other staff. I miss working there a lot but the hours, stress and lack of understanding made the fibro a lot worse. Hopefully one day I will work again but not holding my breath. I would definitely look to going part time if I were you whatever career you choose. Working can help the depression as it raises your self esteem, as you have a purpose in life and a reason to get out of the house but I understand it can be very difficult some days. Don't beat yourself up about it, none of us would choose this awful condition. Do what you can when you can. Rest is very important. :-)
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Re: Any teachers with FM?

Postby FinkyDink » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:18 pm

Thank you, they are both very helpful replies. In an idea world I'd like a more flexible role, so I guess I'm not gonna get that in education.

Then there is the difficulty of do I keep working for now whilst looking for another job, or resign and then start looking. Choices choices :/
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Re: Any teachers with FM?

Postby michella187200 » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:38 pm

I am a HLTA in a junior school and have been on the sick for 5 months now due to fibro. i went into school to take my sick note in and in the half hour i was there i ended up with a massive headache due to the lights and the noise from pupils. dont think i will be able to go back to work in a school because i cant concentrate and cope with the noise and lighting. i also teach ict every day as part of my role but struggle with the keyboard because of pain in my arms and wrists and my vision has got worse and looking at the screen gives me migrane.
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Re: Any teachers with FM?

Postby wilkoc » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:41 pm

I'm a secondary school teacher in a new academy and have recently been diagnosed with FM. I can't offer any answers as I too am rethinking my career at the moment.

I've found that my work has massively suffered because of my foggy brain and lack of concentration and fatigue. My boss is extremely unsympathetic and has placed me on capability measures. I've been off sick with stress since November as I just cannot cope with the situation. My job is extremely stressful as it is, since we are in one of the most deprived inner city areas in the country, are a National Challenge school and I work in the English department so we're already under masses of pressure.

I'm thankfully being supported by the occupational health, but am seriously wondering if it is worth all of the stress and fighting with my employer.
I'd like to open my own business so that I am able to control my life, workload, stress and family life.

I realise that I'm not being terribly helpful, but at least you know that you are not alone.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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Re: Any teachers with FM?

Postby FinkyDink » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:43 pm

Thanks for everyone's input. A friend has just summed it up well when he said 'it's a difficult and draining profession when you are fit and well...' I guess I know the outcome then.

Suppose I've got a month to think about it, don't want to be too hasty.

I've considered setting up on my own but the thing with that is that you always have to be on the ball. No one to cover for you when you are sick! Im self employed doing private tuition, when there is opportunity and also make and sell a bit of jewellery but even that comes with stresses and strains. If I get an order I then have to worry about being well enough to make it.
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Re: Any teachers with FM?

Postby FluppyPuffy » Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:52 pm

It's been a long time since I worked, so no advice from me in that area I'm afraid :( :( The only thing I can add to what has been said is that under The Equalities Act 2010, which replaced The Disability Discrimination Act, when an employee informs their employer that they have a disability/condition, incl FM, the employer is then obliged to make "reasonable adjustments" so the job becomes suitable for the employee to carry on doing with their condition taken into consideration.

There are people who can advise about suitable "reasonable adjustments" so talking to someone about what could possibly be done might help with determining what to do next. This linky explains about the kind of things advisers can help with viewtopic.php?f=11&t=10001 If you are a member of a union, your rep should be able to put you in contact with an adviser as well.
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Re: Any teachers with FM?

Postby jennthefunkyranger » Wed Jan 23, 2013 6:59 pm

I was forced out of my last teaching job a year ago yesterday, and I've not gone back. A lot of the problems I was having I now know were down to the fibro, but as it wasn't diagnosed then, I had no protection under disability discrimination. I'd love to go back to teaching, but I know I'd never manage full time; I often struggle with a 8 hour a day desk job where I come home and that's it.

When teaching you are supposed to take into consideration any medical / disability needs pupils may have - it really is about time this works the other way too. I got pulled up for not having the windows open in the middle of winter when it was freezing for a pupil with eczema who can't get too warm; the fact that this set off my raynauds, and also asthma when it was damp was pushed to one side.

I do still private tutor, which suits me well, as I'm teaching people who want to be there as they are paying me for the lessons, I've no league tables, SOWs, frameworks etc to conform to as I can teach what I want, and what they want to learn, and it's flexible when I do the lessons - in fact,I should be there now, but I'm so wiped out today I've had to cancel.
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