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getting signed of with stress/depression

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by alphabite, Sep 13, 2009.

  1. alphabite

    alphabite New commenter

    Perhaps I am trying to guess at things but I am going to the docs tthis week with stess/possible depression.
    Does anyone have experience of being signed off work with this? How long were you off for? I am scared that the school will be judgemental and not supportive. What were your experiences?
  2. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    My school were very supportive.

    I was signed off for a week at a time, so I was reviewed frequently.

  3. alphabite

    alphabite New commenter

    That sounds good. How long were you off in total? Did you have some kind of phased return and support when you came back?
  4. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    2 weeks initially - and no, I came back in fully (as you'd expect after 2 weeks off.)

    Since then I have been off with similar issues, and this time I did have a phased return.
  5. How did your week go, alphabite? Was it better than you expected.
  6. Sorry to be so negative, but...
    I was signed off for 6 months with stress/anxiety/depression, which turned out to be undiagnosed diabetes.
    My line manager was totally unsupportive and vindictive.
    In over 20 years of teaching I had hardly ever taken any time off sick, so it was very hard for me to admit to myself that I was ill. Eventually, I accepted that my own health was more important than the inconvenience of finding cover for my classes.
  7. I was signed off for a two week interval initally - this happened three times and then the doctor did it month by month. this made it much easier for me and school - they could hire a proper stand in rather than cover all the timw. I was off for six months in total and had a phased return over a month - one week, two weeks, three weeks and then back. Some members of staff were supportive (most actually) and some weren't, but not to my face (heard about their snide comments later)! I found occupational health reasonably helpful, and teacherline very helpful, with 6 free telephone counselling sessions - excellent.

    I have not found my illness has stopped me from getting a job and I am quite open about my depression - I feel the more honest people are about this sort of thing, the better. I took anti depressants for nine months and found they helped considerably. There were also one or two posters on tes who helped me massively.

    Didn;t have any problems coming off them and would not hesistate to go back on them if needed. However, i am fortunate in that my other half and friends and family were all very supportive and I am not currently depressed - I seem to have a seven year cycle.
    Hope this of some help - it does get better, i promise!

  8. I have been signed off 4 times with depression. They finally worked out I have SAD plus underlying depression (lucky me), so I am borderline depressed all the time and then get slowly worse in the autumn and then hit rock bottom in January....
    My experiences have ranged from having 3 weeks off to going off in January and never going back at all.
    I have had a number of run-ins with management, occupational health and HR.
    My advice would be (if you are signed off):
    Write everything down. When you get home from the doctors, open a file on your computer and type dated notes about what you said and what they said. Same for when you contact the school to let them know. Everytime you have a conversation about your condition, write it down and date it. If you ever have to go to OCC health / your union at any point, this will be invaluable.
    Ask your doctor to be very specific on the medical form. Don't just let them put stress / depression. If they think it's work related, make sure they put that down.
    Get all the help you can - medication, counselling etc. Write down what you are doing to get better and tell your school.
    Don't be afraid to ask for a change of medication / counselling if you don't think it's working. It's taken me 4 years and 6 medications to find a combination that works for me.
    Think about why you are ill - is it external factors or something internal (e.g. from your past). If it's external factors CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) may help (which is what a lot of docs seem to offer). However, if it's from the past CBT won't do any good as it just focuses on the here-and-now and you will just push your issues down and they may well pop up again in the future.
    If you get referred to occ health... read the referal through, take it home with you and read it again before you sign it. DON'T sign it on the same day.
    NEVER go to an occ health appointment on your own. It is your right to have someone with you, don't let them tell you otherwise. Ask a friend to come with you and ask them to go over your notes of what occ health said with you afterwards.
    Don't be afraid to chase occ health. On one occasion, they forgot to send my report to my school and I didn't chase it up because I thought they knew what they were doing. Your HR representative will be able to tell you the name of the occ health boss if you want to make any queries or complaints.
    If you have a 'back to work' meeting, take someone with you, preferably your union rep. Write it all down. Ask your school to write to you confirming what they think you discussed and agreed.
    Keep on writing things down. Keep all e-mails, correspondence etc.
    On a more positive note...
    Exercise is good. Some areas have a scheme where you can get a discounted rate at your local leisure centre if your GP refers you (where I lived it was called the LEAP programme). Having a goal like 'I am going to go to the gym twice a week' is very helpful.
    Set yourself small tasks to fill your time when you're off work, so that everyday you have something to do and can say at the end of the day you have achieved something.
    Hope you feel better soon!
  9. alphabite

    alphabite New commenter

    It's taken me a while to get up the courage to go to the docs but finally went this afternoon. I had already decided that getting signed off wasn't for me at the moment (we are expecting Ofsted this term) and he agreed saying that because I was a practical person I would probably sit and dwell on the things I should be doing at work.
    We opted for antidepressants and the doc was great and really easy to talk to. He said CBT might be needed if medication was not effective. He prescribed citalopram. Has anyone had this? I have been reading up on the possible side effects. Very scary and a bit worried although he did say reading them would probably make me feel like this. The pharmacy was closed when I came out so I'll go and get them tomorrow. Am I right to be worried about the side effects? Thanks for all the kind messages.
  10. Re Citalopram: it takes a while to kick in so don't expect miracles straight away. You'll get the side effects first but they wear off. Evry fule nose that if you read the side effects leaflet you get them all. I took ADs and got mild shakiness and a bit of a dry mouth. No biggie, though tbh I tried SSRIs and didn't get on with them.
    I think you do right to explore avenues other than time off. In every workplace I've ever been in, education and other, time off with depression is treated with outright suspicion. A fortnight of sympathy is about the limit. The only thing that stops people saying anything to your face is fear of being done for bullying.
    Anyone who hasn't suffered with it themselves will look for a reason they think valid that you could be depressed, fail to find one, and then get rapidly hacked off with having to do your work while you sit at home (or worsed, gasp, go out!) with nothing really wrong with you except for an inability to cope with the job or life in general.
    I was signed off and went back to work after four days because as your GP says, I sat at home thinking unhelpful thoughts. At least the dear children don't give you a second to dwell on it!
  11. giotto

    giotto New commenter

    I was off work for four months (plus summer holidays) several years ago as a result of stress which was caused by both home and work factors. The stress led to depression for which I was prescribed citalopram. I had to stay extremely near the loo for the first three days. It would have been impossible to go out anywhere, never mind to work. For those three days, plus a further three I also felt dizzy, sleepy, nauseous and had no appetite whatsoever. I was unable to get to sleep at night - whereas my problem before starting to take them was that I fell asleep but woke up after about an hour and couldn't get back to sleep again. I found an internet site whose name I can't remember, (uncommonforum, perhaps) which helped me a lot. If I had not read the experiences of some people on that site I would probably have given up the pills on day 3 or 4 as the side effects were truly horrible. But, I persevered and after about a week the side effects wore off completely. I took them for 10 or 11 months. Then I weaned myself off them very gradually over a two week period. I felt better by then........ in fact I felt better, as in normal (normal for me, I mean [​IMG]) after about five months but on doctor's advice continued to take them for another six months.
    One thing you need to remember if you do search the internet for others who have taken these pills: it's usually only the scared people, like me, or those who are indeed having side effects, who search for information and post on fora. (Sorry, I studied Latin and can't bring myself to write forums which is, I know, the accepted plural in common use.) Someone who has taken citalopram without any problems is unlikely to be on an internet forum complaining about how awful they have made them feel and probably isn't going to search for an internet forum to tell others what wonderul pills they are!
    My school was helpful, even though its new timetabling arrangements were part of the problem and when I was referred to the LEA doctor I was terrified he would think I was a fraud and yet found it the most helpful experience as he confirmed what my GP had been telling me.
    Don't feel ashamed of yourself as mental illness can happen to anyone and those who don't understand that are either people who have not suffered it themselves nor had close contact with anyone who has.
  12. I took citalopram for about a year before I came into teaching.
    Since then I've been able to manage my symptoms without returning to it.
    The keys for me are exercise and social contact. Sitting at home all day made me worse - in fact, being at home for the last week with a viral illness has found me bored out of my brain and getting quite down.
    The tablets will have some side-effects, most will be gone after the first week or two though. Use the internet but don't allow yourself to be on it late at night, because your brain starts playing tricks on you in the small hours.
    Don't for any reason come off them immediately or without tapering down, you're asking for complications.
    Lastly - good luck. Many of us deal with this and there is still a bit of a stigma but your top priority is your own wellbeing.
  13. alphabite

    alphabite New commenter

    Thanks everyone. Day two and no symptoms so far. I didn't sleep well last night
    but I think it's because I went to bed much earlier than normal so woke up at 4am. Hope it'll be plain sailing if I haven't felt sympoms so far.

  14. alphabite

    alphabite New commenter

    Day five and relatively symptom free which is brilliant. Still not sleeping particularly well but don't feel tired. Slightly jittery legs which always seem to need to move! Appetite has lessened which is brilliant and have lost about 3 pounds. I need to lose quite a bit of weight so this is a good side affect!
    Probably a placebo affect at the moment as the tablets haven't had time to work yet but I do feel better and more optimistic.
    Only my best friend knows I am on these happy pills. Should I tell my head teacher? I should probably tell my parents but I don't really want to!
    Thanks to everyone who has helped me.
  15. alphabite

    alphabite New commenter

    About four months in and I have to say the anti depressants have been a very good decision. I feel tons better. Of course it also helps that I got a new job so have been vrey busy. No side effects at all now and my new doctor has said I can come off them in a couple of months (he won't let me come off them before the 6 months which I understand).
    For anyone else feeling like I did please get yourself to a doctor. PM me if you need to talk. There are so many of us who feel like rubbish and life is too short.
  16. I'm very glad to hear it. Thank you for letting us know.
  17. alphabite

    alphabite New commenter

    I have been off the happy pills for about 2 months but am feeling pretty tearful again.
    I'm not sure whether to go back to the doctors and go back on them.
  18. Why did you stop them? You usually have to take them for a quite a long time even after you think you "ought" to be better by now. See your GP anyway. You can discuss with him/her whether it's a good idea to go back on them.
  19. alphabite

    alphabite New commenter

    I had been on them for 6 months and felt absolutely fine. Had a new job and it was going very well. I didn't lower the dose to come off them which was unavoidable because I was quite poorly for a couple of weeks so couldn't keep them down anyway. Maybe it was too soon. Maybe it was just too quick because I didn't 'come down' from having them. I just stopped.
    Doctors appointment is booked for Wednesday. I think it's a case of going back on them.

  20. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    I stayed on for a year longer than I probably needed to, in order to get some better habits ingrained.

    I still have my ups and downs, but the better habits are probably what drags me through...

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