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stepping down at work


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I am seriously considering it. It hasn't been a possibility until now and even now, I am not sure if it will work out. I teach but I am also a department head so it comes with extra responsibility. I started this position last year and last year there were times that I wanted to step down but there were also times were I felt like I was killing it. This year has been a crap shoot. Unexpected complications and even more responsibility. They also made the school goal to increase test scores in my department and that happens in the spring.

I'm coming out of a depression that was brought on by returning to work and all the stress that comes with it. I have problems returning to work after the summer and winter holidays. We've increased my Latuda and lamotrigine to what they currently are and I am feeling better. The only thing left is this overwhelmed, negative feeling I have towards work. Sometime I wonder if I have a bad attitude or if all my responsibilities are really overwhelming me. I guess it is more performance stress because I have enough work to stay busy but not too much. I stress more about the meetings, schedules, working with teachers, working with parents, and state testing. I want to fly under the radar and teach and go home. I think I would be happy that way. 

The school is probably going to hire another teacher for my department which means they could hire a department head and I could be the teacher. I'm trying to give it time before I make a decision since I have been depressed but it is all I think about. I'll talk to my therapist on Friday but for all the excitement I feel about the possibility and I am also very much afraid. I would have to have the discussion with my admin and I'm afraid of any fallout that may happen because of it. I don't think they will be happy to lose me. I need to be careful about my work so that I can keep working. Anyone navigated this touchy situation? Any advice?

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So your plan was to step down to be a teacher there at the same school? Or would you instead want to resign and teach at another school? People leave jobs all of the time, but I don't know how long you've been there or how easy it is to find somewhere different? May be less awkward that way...

Otherwise, maybe list the pros and cons..Are you mainly feeling like you'd be a failure & disappointing others if you step down, or are there other reasons to stay (like salary, etc). I would follow your gut, and go back to teaching, sounds like you are really unhappy, plus they might just keep piling on more responsibilities.

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I think it's a good thing that you are considering the option. In similar situations I have ended up feeling like I don't have the option of backing off of things I was involved with and I think that I've sometimes missed out on better options because of that

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I was just browsing, and came across your post and had to sign up to respond.  I am a former academic.  When I completed my PhD, I tried to step down in a sense that I didn't pursue a post-doc.  Instead I got a teaching position and an undergraduate research mentorship position.  Even that was still too much.  I was trying to get my PhD research published, and after several rounds of edits with a journal they rejected my paper.  I ended up with one of my worse suicide attempts which left me with brain damage.  I've never been able to return to academia or research and am on disability now (though happy living my life volunteering for a psychiatric service dog nonprofit I helped found).  I encourage you if you are feeling near your limits to find a way to step down so that it doesn't spiral out of your control.  I think being a teacher only and not a department head would be a great first step down!  Remember that the most important thing in life is your health and happiness.  Taking on less responsibility to devote more energy to your health and happiness is a good thing in my book.  At least in my department at Berkeley, my advisors understood this, and were supportive when I decided that while I would finish my PhD, I wouldn't be continuing with research in order to preserve my mental health.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There's the issue of burnout. Burnout isn't bipolar, but from the models I've seen (overwork + lack of control + lack of impact) it's possible that it accelerates it even if there are no physiological comorbidities (and maybe there are). I've been telling everyone in their late-30s and early-40s to get informed about burnout.

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  • 1 month later...

I was in your position a few years ago, but in a different field (high tech). I backed out of some heavy work responsibilities,  which were proving to be too much of a challenge while trying to manage my BPD. This was a downright scary process at the time.  It turned out to be a very good move - not an easy decision by any means though. The opportunity to reduce the stress level was the main deciding factor, and hey, "normal" people do the same things for the same reasons.🙃    I wish you well in the decision you made/will make!

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