I’m not sure if I’ve really mentioned this other than in my PTSD specific posts, but I have been signed off work since the end of January/beginning of Feb. I’m a little hazy on the specific date but it was around that time.
I’d been struggling mentally for a while, and though I was already on antidepressants I knew it wasn’t enough and there was stuff I’d been trying to hold in for way too long.
I had a breakdown and was signed off, I started EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy through our health insurance. It’s been a really tough time.
A lot of people make comments when you are not working, that you’re lucky, that they are jealous, or that it’s good to take a break.. I get where they are coming from in a way, they are imagining a break from work where you have no responsibilities.. like a holiday. Being signed off for my mental health is not a holiday.
It’s been severe depression, severe anxiety, a PTSD diagnosis and months of therapy. Sleepless nights, intense nightmares when I do sleep. Flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, it’s not a party.
When I met with occupational health I was honest about how I was feeling, what my daily life was like at that point in time and how last time I was off work my return wasn’t handled well.
They recommended that we catch up again after a few more therapy sessions and reevaluate, they wrote to my manager that I was not in a fit state to return to work yet but that therapy was helping and we’d speak again in four weeks. That first meeting was a huge relief for me as the lady from occupational health was so sympathetic and understanding and told me there was no point sending me back into work until it was sustainable.
The second meeting, I felt less understood.. and a little more under pressure to go back. She suggested that in the following 2-4 weeks I try and start my phased return, which she put together and sent over for me to approve before forwarding on to management and HR. I did say that I was thinking about my return to work which was definitely a step in the right direction, but I didn’t know if I was ready for that step just yet.
Those four weeks are up now and I go back next week. One thing they said was that no matter when I went back I would be anxious because I had been off for so long. Ok, yes that’s true, I know it’ll never be as bad as I think once I’m actually there, but it’s still scary, and I’m still not 100% that this is the right decision for me.
I agree that having some structure in my life again (other than therapy) will probably be a good thing but, I am a little terrified. What if I’m not ready, what if I can’t handle it? I feel like I’ve been letting people down for so long, if I do go back and end up relapsing, I’m just letting them down all over again.