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    • It finally happened. I have been wondering when the Sunday morning would come when I just didn't want to go ride my bike. That morning was today.

      For those of you just joining my life's journey, I am not happy right now. I am not happy with my job and that has translated to not being happy with my life. I have a feeling of general apathy right now; I don't take any real pleasure in anything anymore and that translates into not wanting to do anything at all. That includes riding my bicycle, which is the thing I most like to do.

      For a couple months I have been able to get up early on Sundays — my only free morning to go cycling — and ride my bike. Only the enjoyment I got from being on the road on my bike got me out of bed. To be honest, though, I did not really want to go.

      There is absolutely nothing I want to do anymore, nothing I take or get pleasure from, nothing to smile about.

      More information for those who may not know: I don't think this feeling of apathy stems from a form of depression or anything like that. This is because of my job.

      So more information: in August (of this year, 2019) I started a new job. This is a full-time job, a job requiring me to work Monday to Friday from eight in the morning to five-thirty in the afternoon, much like a normal person. Prior to taking this job, however, I was basically working part time. Even though for the most part my total working hours gave me a full schedule, I was really only part time. I worked at two, sometimes three, different schools to fill out my work week.

      The upshot of that is that the high school I was working at let me choose my own schedule. They told me how many classes I had each week, I told them when I could go in, and they arranged my classes during those times. I was therefore able to arrange things so I was free to pick up my children from school, to give myself a free morning to ride my bike, or to free up an afternoon to do something else (one of my hobbies is trying to teach myself Latin). It meant making myself quite busy at certain times of the week, but it also meant I had time to relax at other times, something to look forward to while I was busy at work.

      Now I don't have that time to relax. And it's not just that since I'm now working full time my time at work has greatly increased — and therefore my free time has decreased — it's that I can't relax.

      One of the things I haven't been able to figure out yet is why this is happening., but I find with this job I can't stop thinking about it. Before when I finished class or was not working, I was able to put it out of my mind and think about — and focus on — other things, things like family and enjoying my life. Now, however, work is on my mind all the time, even when I'm doing something I enjoy, like playing with my children or even riding my bike.

      Before when I finished work for the day there would be a feeling of relief. I felt happy, I felt ready to do something else, something I wanted to do. Now, when I finish for the day, I feel nothing, absolutely nothing. No relief, no happiness, no emotion at all. Before, while I didn't really want to be at work — who does, really? — and would be counting off the hours until I could be free, I was just counting off the hours until the end of the day. Now I am counting off the time until the end of the week because only with the the weekend do I get any kind of break.

      And even then it's not really a break because, as I said, I can't stop thinking about work. So even though I may not be working tonight or the next day, work is still on my mind and I can't relax. Sundays, my only totally free day because I still have class on Saturdays, is especially bad because I’m thinking all day about having to into work the next day and about how much I really don't want to go in there.

      Because of that feeling there is now nothing I want to do, nowhere I want to go. My son wants me to go out and play soccer with him but I really, really don't want to. We used to go out as a family and go places or just go grocery shopping or run errands but I don't want to do that anymore either. I just want to do nothing; I have no ambition to do anything.

      That feeling culminated this morning with me not wanting to go ride my bike. Last night before I went to bed I got my cycling kit ready and told my kids I was going out, but when I woke up this morning at five o'clock — as per usual when I’m going for a ride — I had no ambition to go and so I stayed in bed. I still wanted to be on the road and on my bike — and now when I look at pictures from my ride last Sunday and at pictures from the group ride this morning — I feel guilty about not going — bu I just didn't want to go.

      I didn't get out of bed until almost eight o'clock this morning. Every morning I'm up between five or six because even if I'm not riding my bike, I'll get up to either exercise at home or just go out for a walk. I don't like getting up and stting around; I want to get the body moving.

      And this morning I didn't even want to get my body moving. No bike ride, no nothing. Just a feeling of apathy and unhappiness with my life and wondering when this is going to end.

    • This is going to sound strange, but I started out in a less than full time instructor role for a few years before I had a full-time teaching job. The fewer hours meant more hours for family, friends, reading and exercise; and although it was a demanding job where I could feel wiped out on occasion, I felt that my personal life during the week more than recharged my batteries for tomorrow’s work adventure.

      People have no clue how difficult it is to be a full-time teacher. And I turned out to be among the clueless. I lost over ten pounds in two months, woke up repeatedly in a cold sweat from work nightmare dreams, found myself spending less time with family and friends or exercising or reading or doing any of those things that could’ve recharged my batteries and made it an easier journey.

      I wasn’t depressed. I just was overwhelmed and unable to create a life balance to sustain the effort required. And yes, I thought about work too much on Sundays and like you, I wasted much of the day as a result.

      One thing that helped ... a little ... was always asking what the best use of my time was. I mean to the point of it becoming a mantra. Okay, I don’t feel like hiking for three hours. Can I toss my boots in the car and drive to a county park that has a one mile trail? Or if exercise is off the table, can I clean or organize something: it gives a sense of control and accomplishment because you know you’re doing something useful. Or, better still, I went for a walk around the neighborhood with my wife so that I got some exercise and I was a little less of a ghost in her life.

      I also became proactive and called out sick occasionally for a “mental health day.” I might spend most of the day on the couch grading papers, but I had the television on in the background, I had a leisurely lunch for a change instead of rushing back to the classroom, and I spent more time than usual with my family.

      It wasn’t easy, but it did eventually get better.

      Strange things part 2. I published just this morning a “Second Semester Survival Tips for New Teachers” collection. It includes a lot of good ideas from different educators and there may be a few ideas that you can use.

      Long-term, getting another job or career may end up being your best option.

    • It sounds like you feel trapped, unable to step back or move forward. That's a terrible place to live. You do sound depressed.

      One can always quit their job, but folks may feel that they cannot, due to numerous other considerations, some of which may be very important, OR NOT. I have no way of knowing your situation, of course.

      I have just one quick question - can you ride your bike to and from work?

      I used to ride to work 3 days a week - about 15 miles each way - and I loved it. I would ride until the seasonal temperatures might lead to icing on the roads, which is unsafe for a bicycle in traffic. Usually early December in Indiana, and then resume riding in March or early April depending on weather forecasts.

      A bike always made me feel like I was 10 years old again, which is pretty cool after half a century on this old globe. 😎. Maybe when one is on a bike, they can only think about riding the bike and how it feels.

      This might enable you to get up and function until you can come to a decision about how you want to live your life in the future. Don't think about it, just do it! Action comes first, then thinking and plans will follow

      One always needs to have a plan, or a map, to know where they want to go. But sometimes, it takes some time and contemplation to get comfortable with one's new plan.

      Don't make rash decisions, and ask your family to share in your decision if you can.

      These are just gentle suggestions from an old fellow who has sailed beyond the shores you are navigating, and is more engaged preparing for his final port of call.

      I wish you great riding, with warm suns and a mild wind at your back.

    • As you said at the beginning of your reply, one of the interesting things I have noticed is that with this new job because I'm not running around everywhere all the time, I do feel less tired than I did before. But I was much happier before. So it comes down to a choice between being less tired or being happy.

      The biggest problem I am having right now, however, isn't the increase in working hours or decrease in free time, it's more the stress of the job. I keep hoping things will be better next year, because the biggest problem is the culture of the school, in particular the students in one grade level. By saying I hope things will be better next what I mean is that those students will be graduating this year and won't be here next year. The younger seem to be better, so that gives me hope. I would explain what I mean, but that would take too long: It would be its own post on its own.

      I've thought about just taking a personal day off, but I'm not sure it would do any good. The problem is that there is no one who can cover my classes so I I would end up having to make up those classes at some other time so I wouldn't really get a break. For example, we had a holiday on one Friday and Fridays for me are fairly easy days. I didn't really like that holiday because since I don't have many classes on Fridays, I use that day to prepare for my classes on the other days. Other days are very busy so I don't have time to prepare; having a holiday on a Friday took my prep time away from me.

      I'm hoping things get better as the year goes on and as I get more used to this.

      You say another job might be my best option. I've thought about that: If I were asked today if I wanted to renew my contract, I would say "no" and start looking somewhere else.

      Thank you for your kind words and help.

    • It sounds like you feel trapped, unable to step back or move forward. That's a terrible place to live. You do sound depressed.

      One can always quit their job, but folks may feel that they cannot, due to numerous other considerations, some of which may be very important, OR NOT. I have no way of knowing your situation, of course.

      I have just one quick question - can you ride your bike to and from work?

      Yes, I do feel trapped and I think I am little depressed. I've thought about quitting, but my contract says if I fail to complete my contract, I forfeit three months of pay. I can't afford that.

      I've also thought about riding to work but the logistics to it are too complicated. For example, there is no where at the school to either change my clothes or shower. I also need to carry quite a few things and sometimes go to a different school before going back home, sometimes late at night.

      I think all I can do right now is wait for the end of the school year and then look for work elsewhere. Or hopefully by then things at work will have improved.

      Thank you for taking the time to pass on some wisdom.

    • I was fortunate in having a shower in my office, so I could shower after riding and then don some scrubs to wear while in the office.

      One thought, is an electric bicycle. It might not require as much work and avoid the need for a shower or even changing clothes to ride, and some electric bicycles have pretty large panniers or lockers to carry more stuff than typical bicycles and offer a larger range than some riders feel comfortable riding in street clothes.

      I also understand that riding to work is not readily accepted in certain work environments.

      I was just hoping to make a suggestion that might help with your mood while remaining in your curent employment, as I suspected you did not feel able to change it at the present time.

      You mentioned that you feel you have less free time - I just thought that your commute time might be utilized to help your mood WHILE commuting. So even though you have no more, or even less free time, you get some 30-60 minutes a day for yourself and a bit of exercise.

      I wish I could offer other better suggestions. Maybe 10 minutes of quiet contemplation and/or prayer after work, or sometime might help.

      One last gentle suggestion --- If your depression continues, consider professional help - depression can be a disease with very serious consequences, to the person with the illness and their families.