Stress junkie goes cold turkey

28th April 2006 at 01:00
My resolution for this academic year has been to make time to enjoy being with my family and relax more. This has proved to be difficult, misguided and sometimes even dangerous.

At October half-term I went cycling with my children. On a fast downhill, a fly smacked into my eye. Bits of it went so far into the bottom of my eye that the side of my face swelled up till I looked like the Elephant Man.

I spent the night in agony and the next day in the local doctor's surgery.

I recovered just hours before school restarted, and certainly didn't feel rested or de-stressed because I couldn't see, so I couldn't mark any books.

Christmas found me in bed with a virus caught from some visiting relatives. They had all recovered by Christmas, but I was still being sick when everyone else was singing "Auld Lang Syne". Back to school on January 3 feeling very stressed and again, no books marked.

During the February half-term I had shingles, but at least I had a friend staying who was able to look after my children, feed us and do the washing.

However, she drew the line at marking books. Shame. I might have gone back to work in a more relaxed frame of mind if she had.

So, it was with a sense of dread and impending doom that I started the Easter holiday. I had taken a month's course of multi-vitamins, and daily doses of echinacea to fend off the inevitable bugs that attack me the minute I relax.

All went well for the first week. We stayed in a Center Parc in Holland and I swam and cycled (wearing goggles) safely. I began to think it would be all right. Then we discovered the indoor ski centre, and two days later I was sat in a Dutch AE department with torn ligaments in my knee.

On the plus side, my kids got to see more of Holland on the drive to the hospital, and they were very impressed with a purple wheelchair that they took for a test drive while waiting for me.

But forgive me if I say that I'm desperate to get back to work. Relaxing isn't safe. I really do want to be a less stressed, more chilled-out person, but I can't afford the time it takes to recover. Give me a bit of stress any day, and roll on the new term.

I bought a new poster for my classroom wall on holiday. It says: "Don't tell me to stop being stressed. It's all that's keeping me together".

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