It has come to the end of my first term working in my new job role of a Teaching Assistant in year 2. As promised, this post is to give you an update on how full-time work life is going for me. Four months in the field I have studied and wanted to always be in, I can honestly say it has been so rewarding, challenging and hard work both physically and mentally.
Although there are stressful times when working in a school, especially in the time we are living in with the global pandemic; it has been so worthwhile and fulfilling to see so many children push through their challenges, make progress and grow, for me there is no better feeling! I have formed bonds with all the children in my class and wanting the best for each and every one of them and they all make me so proud to work with. I have also made some really great friendships with my colleagues who I am so appreciative of for their constant support and help they have given me particularly in the past couple weeks.
Working full-time and having to wake up, get out of bed early and be on my feet for several hours, 5 days a week started to take more of a toll on my body that usual in the recent weeks. I have found my fatigue and pain has worsened massively, making it difficult to sleep which in turn makes me even more exhausted for the next day of work. I had found myself feeling a little lost in what I should do when feeling so unwell and in pain as when I felt the need to call in sick the guilt would consume me making me feel even worse and my mental health was becoming worse too. I began to question myself, doubt whether I could continue in this job role which saddened me.
Luckily, I have a massive support system at work, I work in a classroom with a supportive, understanding teacher and also a really lovely, thoughtful, empathic and encouraging friend whom I have been fortunate enough to be placed in a classroom with. Sharai is amazing, she always looks out for ways she can make the physicality of the job easier, when I’m having a flare up or a bad pain day, she is always there to support me in every way possible, I am so grateful for her! I have also been blessed with a sister in a friend in my workplace. Rachel is not only my friend inside work but outside of work too, I cannot express how appreciative I am for her, she brightens my day when I’m feeling so low, helps me in every way she can and always there to listen to my rants and talk me out of quitting, love that girl! There is Josephine too, who is like our work mummy, always reminding me of my rights, how strong I am, never to give up and again so supportive of me!
Given the amount of support I have has steered me away from the negative ideas of giving up and quitting. It has given me the strength to take my own advice, advice I give to you all and communicate my struggles and speak out. In the last week of term, I had discussed my feelings and hardships with my manager, and she became very understanding of how I was feeling. She reminded me that I have never hidden my Fibromyalgia from her and before taking the job, in my interview I was very clear and honest about my past experiences and my health, but she still gave me the job. So therefore, my honesty has now helped her to support me and we have discussed how she can support me and decided on going part time. I will now be doing 4 days a week and not 5 which will be reviewed in a couple of months on how it is working for me. This does not mean I am a failure and I’m not ashamed for speaking up and asking for help the I need. As daunting as it is, it is a sign of positivity and strength opening up about an invisible, chronic illness like ours when you’re ready. I’m proud of myself, I am doing what is best for me and that is something we should never come second. Health always comes first!