I've finally done it - the thing that lots of us think about. I've made the treacherous leap from the dilapidated old rope bridge of a challenging state school to the firm, dry land of private education. I'd be lying if I said it felt bad - in fact, I'm finally teaching, properly, for the first time in a very long time.
So why am I still tossing and turning every night? It feels like leaving a cult: some of my best friends are stuck there and I can't help thinking of ways to go back and get them.
I spent the better part of last year on long-term sick leave. When I was at work, I was afflicted by migraines, stress, eczema and some serious mental health issues. A lot of these problems were triggered by things that other people seemed to take for granted: concentrating on CD borderline students to the detriment of all others; lavishing rewards on pupils for nothing more than picking up a pen; operating in a blame culture; and, above all else, the routine fabrication of statistics to satisfy management, Ofsted and parents.
Eventually, my exceptionally patient boyfriend persuaded me that, for the sake of my health, I needed to leave - not only the job but state education altogether. I was exhausted and blurry, with a deep sense of failure and despair that left me wondering whether I had chosen the wrong profession 10 years ago.
But seven weeks into a new term at a new school, I am full of energy, creative classroom ideas and joie de vivre.
Of course, you rarely sever all ties with colleagues and I regularly speak to teachers I used to work with. They are suspicious of my rapid turnaround. I find myself unable to explain quite how different life has become.
A vacancy has come up at my new school and my first thought was about facilitating an escape for someone else. I know so many dedicated teachers who simply don't deserve the relentless daily heapings of excrement that are doled out to them. But perhaps it is wise to remember that muck can be fertiliser, too. In the meantime, I'll make a list of possible candidates.
The writer is a teacher in Essex
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