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Back to work

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Missymusician81, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. Missymusician81

    Missymusician81 New commenter

    Last month I was signed off work for two weeks with work related stress. I was prescribed antidepressants and told to avoid all school work. I gave my fit note to school and the head requested a meeting to talk to me about how best to get me feeling happy enough to return. In the end I chose to go back after only one week off as I knew it was a short term. I'm now nearing the end of an Easter break where I have already spent 5 days in school and brought work home. I have received emails reminding me of a work scrutiny that was arranged before I returned to work and have a stack of reports to write. When I went back to work it was because I wanted to get back into the class room to prove to myself that I COULD do it and that, more importantly, I still want to. But it's almost as though my being signed off never happened. The workload was still waiting for me and this "holiday" has left me anxious and tense. I have decided that in order to get even part of what needs doing done I must go in to work again tomorrow. I feel like my entire break has been spent clearing up the backlog left by my sick leave and I'm still not caught up!!! I know that life doesn't stop just for me but I'm on the back foot and worrying so much. It's making me not want to return! I don't know what to do!!!! I just need time. I need some space from constant demands and deadlines to find my feet again but I can't! I'm feeling like an abject failure right now. Trapped and scared and very unhappy. What should I do?
  2. ForThoseInPeril

    ForThoseInPeril New commenter

    Just seen this and I'm sure more experienced will offer sound advice. You need to take a break, we are not invincible.
  3. Missymusician81

    Missymusician81 New commenter

    Thanks ForThoseInPeril. I just don't know if I'm ever going to feel "capable" again. I know I can be a bloody good teacher and I KNOW that I have made a difference to some kids. I'm lucky enough to have been told. But I don't feel like the same teacher I was 2 years ago. I don't have the energy or the resilience. And every time I pull an all nighter to get work done or stay later at work I feel less and less able to focus.
    menhir likes this.
  4. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    There are so many, many posters who have messaged the same as you. You need a break, a space, from the school and all its demands.

    It sounds to me that you need to be signed off again, for as long as is necessary for you to get back your energy, to stop worrying and to feel positive. it's not going to happen while the work is still there, overwhelming you, so you need to go back to your doctor. And this time, instead of going back to work too soon, only go back when you feel ready to do so.
  5. Missymusician81

    Missymusician81 New commenter

    I feel so guilty taking more time off. I know it is a useless emotion but I think if I am signed off again the guilt will actually make me more ill! I'm already worried that people look at me and see a failure or resent me for making their jobs harder. I'm trapped!
  6. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    By continuing to work, is the situation going to get any better?
  7. nomorenails

    nomorenails New commenter

    A week isn't long enough for the tablets to kick in even, the heavy guilt you feel is part of your illness. Understand completely the desire to go back and get on with it, but if you carry on you're liable to burn out.

    Try reading this article and see if any of it sounds familiar: http://www.lanternsurgery.co.uk/website/H81672/files/Depressive_Illness_Curse_of_the_strong.pdf

    You'd take a week for a nasty cold, stress and what sounds like anxiety needs longer.

    Be really kind to yourself, there's one you, and this is (whisper it) just a job! All consuming, identity forming, emotionally charged, yes, but still, just a job.

    Good luck, try to give work a miss today, just do the minimum to keep anxiety at bay and go see your GP again, if they think you need to avoid work for a time, then do that.
  8. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    You are a teacher - any workload that requires an "all-nighter" is quite obviously unreasonable.
    For starters, there is no way that you can then have a balanced approach to all the relationships of work if you've not had any sleep.

    With the support of your union I would aim to sidestep some of the work scrutiny (of stuff done while you were ill). I would also be thinking of ways of cutting the burden of the reports.

    Your head wanted to get you happy enough to work properly - if they meant this, then they should be taking action to help you manage what is obviously an unreasonable amount of work.
    install likes this.
  9. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Your health and emotional wellbeing is the most important thing here...

    Prioritise that over everything else
  10. MineField

    MineField New commenter

    Imagine if you'd broken your leg - you'd be totally ****** off that you couldn't even walk to the shop for some milk and having to rely on other people to do this kind of thing for you, never mind not being able to play football all day (or whatever). Your situation is exactly the same. If you had a broken leg would you rip the cast off after one week, and go play a high impact sport on it all day?? No, of course you wouldn't - yet you've done exactly that. Teaching is the mental equivalent of a high impact, tiring sport.
    And I'm not sure about your Head's motives either - obviously he/she just wants you back in working the silly hours that he/she seems to expect from you when you're well, because that makes their life easier. Your Head is paid a lot of money to deal with staff going off ill - the obvious being getting supply in, so ignore pressure from the Head, and take the full amount of sick leave to get well. One week is nowhere near enough, because as you have discovered, the school can "save" the work for you to do when you come back. You need to be off long enough to miss report deadlines, work scrutinies etc, so the school HAVE to get someone else in.
  11. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    Go in to work today. Or if not today, on Monday. Just the one day - but don't tell anyone that!

    That way you will trigger the start of a new Sick Leave Year, which begins on 1 April (for most people - you may be in a school that does it differently, but for most people it's 1 April).

    One less thing to worry about. And just going in for one day, knowing it's just one day, will be easier.

    Sick leave and Sick pay

    And get a Dr's appointment for either Monday or Tuesday (depending on when you do your day back in work). If you can't get an appointment for a few days, don't worry, as you can self-certify for up to 5 working days.

    Come back and ask about Theo's Letters once you are signed off, to prevent being overwhelmed with requests etc from the school.

    Best wishes. Just one day . . .

  12. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    Bless you. I'm sorry that you are feeling so rubbish. Go back to your GP and this time take their advice. If they say it is 2 weeks, then it is two weeks. If they say it is 2 months then so be it. You are the teacher. They are the Dr. They know best. We all know how it feels when everyone thinks that they know how to do a teachers job better than we do,, so don't fall into the trap of doing the same to a Dr. ;)
    The guilt and worry you are feeling is due to the fact that you are unwell and stressed. Once you start to feel better, these feelings will start to go away and you will be able to think more clearly. Get some rest, do some nice holiday things, eat really lovely food, and try to put that bleddy marking away .
    Anonymity likes this.
  13. Missymusician81

    Missymusician81 New commenter

    I'm going to go in today and scoop up some work for the scrutiny. Reports I will try and do remotely from home. I will phone my GP now too but I don't want more time off. I was warned upon my return that they have extended my probationary period (new job in an academy) so I could lose my job if I take more time. I suppose I could also lose it if my work scrutinise etc arent up to scratch or done on time. The thing is - I have worked so hard for six months and made such a huge difference to the department. It seems so unfair that my mental health has let me down and triggered the extension period because of one week of sick.
  14. JRiley1

    JRiley1 Established commenter

    They can't threaten you with losing your job if you're off sick?! That goes against employment law! :eek:

    Others are more well informed of this but I'm pretty sure they can't do that and this probationary thing sounds like a loophole so they'll get away with it. Is this the future with academies everywhere? Put people on probation and if they don't like you, or you go off sick, or whatever they get rid?

    Shocking. My advice, get ready to leave in summer and go somewhere where they will appreciate all your hard work!!
  15. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    Which may have been alleviated if you had listened to the GP in the first place, and followed their advice to avoid all school work.
    I have a huge amount of sympathy with any WRS illness, however only if you take the advice of your GP. Pointless going to see them if you are not going to listen. It's a waste of time. Sorry.
    Anonymity and grumpydogwoman like this.
  16. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    I agree, but whilst I am not well versed in the legalities of these issues, the OP did not do herself any favours by returning to work whilst signed off sick. Schools are often looking for ways to hammer teachers, it's best not to give them open goals to aim at.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You're not an abject failure.

    You're a fool to yourself though! And nobody is indispensable.

    What on earth possessed you to disobey doctor's orders???

    Lecture over.

    Do as you are told in post 11. You are a normal, fallible human being under pressure in 2016. You are not a failure. People aren't ever failures. They fail AT things. Sometimes because they have too much to do.
    Anonymity likes this.
  18. Missymusician81

    Missymusician81 New commenter

    I understand the frustration of some of you about me returning to work early. Please understand that I did not know how to handle the situation at all. I met with my head and the intimation was that the sooner I got back to work the better it would look for me. He said there was a governers and trustee meeting taking place the following evening and that he would like to be able to tell them we were finding ways to get me back. At the time I genuinely thought that there would be something put in place to assist me in returning. I know that I was naive but I wasn't trying to be stupid in ignoring my GP's advice. I was trying to make a situation that felt very frightening less so. I know that makes me foolish and an idiot and undeserving of any sympathy but until you sit there with your mind and common sense in tatters in front of the person who holds the future of your career, mortgage, bills etc in your hands then please try not to judge too harshly.
  19. Anonymity

    Anonymity Occasional commenter

    Which is why you need to listen to impartial advisors (GP at least).
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Let's call it 'giving you a good shake for your own good'. Or 'cruel to be kind'.

    You have found yourself in the sort of toxic environment that we hear about on this forum several times every day. Through no fault of your own.

    Your management is using your conscientiousness and vulnerability (mortgage etc) to screw more out of you.

    Union intervention is the only way at this point. As in: inform them and get advice.

    I fear school will continue to apply the thumbscrews. The omens aren't good. You need help on the ground. Union. Do as TheoGriff advised.

    I cannot promise you that it will be plain sailing. I would hope that, after you do your one day back, the GP will see you again. You'll get on to the union. You'll read all the resources TheoGriff has uploaded for us and eventually you will go back on a phased return with some input from Occupational Health.

    Unless a couple of weeks is enough to give you back your joie de vivre and you don't need a lot of support. That may happen. One thing at a time though.

    Post #11 and then you'll have time to better acquaint yourself with all the pros and cons of different courses of action.

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