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How do I go back..I'm terrified!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by JustTired, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. JustTired

    JustTired New commenter

    I have been signed off since October with WRS following a meltdown at work. I have been put on medication and have a really supportive doctor. I have read so many posts on here from people who have been through the same and so I am hoping somebody may be able to answer my question: how do you go back? I'm signed off until 12th January and may even be off longer, but I know I have to go back at some point. But the thought of facing everyone terrifies me. What will I tell the students? Our students are not backwards in coming forwards when they want to ask questions. And how will I pick up my classes? The targets set for our students are very high and I have no chance of reaching my targets if I haven't been there. In my exam review meeting in September the Head told me there was no place in his school for teachers who couldn't achieve their targets. I had 91% A*-C (20 students) in my PRP class and because I only had 27% on target I was told I had the students down. Some had A instead of A*, and some even told me that they had skipped some RE revision as the pressure on them for Maths and English etc was so high. But I'm pretty sure my feelings of incompetence started then. But I digress; the question is I have to go back, ( financially there are no other options) and I am terrified. The head phoned me in the last week of term and mentioned a phased return but I have no idea what that is or how it works. I'm getting in a right state at the thought and even having nightmares. Please help!
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    It is very understandable that you are feeling nervous about returning. But it could well go a great deal better than you think!

    For a start your Head has already suggested a phased return, so this shows that they are thinking of making it easier for you.

    A phased return is when instead of jumping straight in at 100% timetable, you go in gradually, in phases, increasing week by week until you are back at full time.

    But with a full time salary right from the word Go.

    You will need to have this discussed. It would indeed be unreasonable for this to be required of you. have a chat with your union and see what they advise, but don't be too concerned at this stage.

    He might have a pretty empty school then!

    I think that you need to gett he phased return agreed, and take it all slowly.

    What will you tell them? You tell them that you have been absent and are now back. That they are here to learn, you are here to support their learning. Just keep saying that, don't say anything else. No need to tell them anything more at all.

    So just contact your Union, and go and see your Dr to check that you are able to return on 12 January, and get some advice about the phased return.

    And start listing all the things that have ever gone well, really well, in your teaching since you began, to remind yourself of all the positives!

    Best wishes for 2016

  3. JustTired

    JustTired New commenter

    Thank you! My GP has said she doesn't think I'm ready to go back yet. But I know so many have been through this and hope to use their successes to boost my confidence! Thank you for your reply.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    (The missing thumbs-up emoticon)

  5. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Take it one step at a time.
    Talk to your head about what a phased return would entail. Talk to your GP about your state of mind, talk to someone from the union or teachers' helpline to establish your rights and reasonable expectations.
    Try not to let your head filled with nasty thoughts going round and round.

    It might help to think "what would a Gerri focussed job look like?" What do I need the head to do to make this happen? What do I need to do?"

    It may be worth updating your CV - perhaps this job isn't your "forever" job and you may be better off moving.
    Best wishes for a happier 2016

    Gerri19 and notsonorthernlass like this.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    If you still feel scared about going back, then you aren't ready to go back. When I was off for heaps of time, 18 months ago now, I definitely knew when the time was right to return. In fact I was really keen to go back in the end...

    You should have 6 months on full pay as sick leave. If you are still to scared to return you have some more time to recover. Ask your head to refer you to occupational health. They will talk through what sort of phased return and how it might look with you and make recommendations to your head.

    You should, eventually when the time is right, have a back to work meeting where the return will be discussed and written down. You should also be able to discuss the causes of the stress and how they can be lessened in the future to prevent a relapse. (In my case it was to move schools, but I didn't say that at my meeting!) You can, and many do, take a union rep to the meeting if you wish. Just to have someone there to support, and in fact just to have someone to walk into the building with you.

    Once you are really ready to go back, it isn't as horrible as you think. Your classes are so keen to have you back, they don't ask for details. I told my class I had been ill, but was nearly better now. I said I wasn't well enough to do whole days yet, but hoped to be very soon. That's it. I'm primary and the parents were incredible. I was honest about being off with stress and depression and a great many mentioned times in their life when they had experienced similar, the most unlikely ones.

    Best of luck for 2016, it can and will get better. Takes and age and a day, but you'll get there.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Other thing is to enlist the support of friendly colleagues who can encourage you and the ups and downs of school.
    Gerri19 and Noja like this.
  8. Noja

    Noja Senior commenter

    Some great advice here but just a little disagreement about the belief that if you are nervous of going back then you aren't ready. I was off for more than two terms with a torn tendon and I can't tell you how nervous I was of returning even though I love my school. I think that is natural. Try and think of all the positives, the colleagues you miss, the kids you help and that should help. The head was wrong to make those comments but I doubt they wanted this outcome; I suspect they thought they were motivating. Good luck
    Gerri19 and badger_girl like this.
  9. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    I think Noja's right. It's natural to be scared of going back. I even get stressed about the start of term after the long holidays. The first few days where you have to catch up and see what's been going on in your absence will be the worst but it will get better as routine takes over again. Good luck.
    Gerri19 likes this.
  10. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Nervous, yes. Terrified, in a right state and having nightmares, no.

    The OP needs to see OH and contact the union and so on first. Clearly the causes of the stress and anxiety are still present and need to be dealt with before a successful return can happen. Plans need to be in place and support and help organised.
    Gerri19 and notsonorthernlass like this.
  11. Birdie64

    Birdie64 Occasional commenter

    When you go back to your GP be advised by them...be proactive and see a counsellor; mine was paid for through the schools insurance at first.
    You will know when you are ready to go back...in my case I'm changing school and as the head was the major cause of my stress, I'm looking forward to starting again with a clean slate. I am finding that being honest is the best way...people understand that life gets in the way of the job from time to time.

    Don't worry about it yet, life has a habit of coming good in the end.
    Gerri19 and notsonorthernlass like this.
  12. joannagb

    joannagb Occasional commenter

    Hi Gerri, I've just messaged you as my post became a bit lengthy. I hope that things resolve themselves for you, check your messages. Keep posting here for support, listen to your GP, let your colleagues help you.
    Gerri19 likes this.
  13. JustTired

    JustTired New commenter

    Thank you! I have seriously considered alternative jobs but with my age and sickness record (Have had gallstones too) I doubt I'd be considered elsewhere. x
  14. JustTired

    JustTired New commenter

    Thank you for your reply. I'm sure you're right about not being ready yet, I also wish I was primary as my students aren't quite so accepting! I've already had a message on Twitter from a year 13 who says I'm her only hope of achieving her A2. The guilt is awful. But I will definitely speak to my union, thank you for that!
  15. JustTired

    JustTired New commenter

    I think you've hot the nail on the head - the main reasons for being afraid to go back is the fear that nothing will have changed. If that's the case then it won't get better,
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Errmmmm delete any way of students, parents or staff contacting you on twitter or FB.
    One: You are opening yourself to all sorts of possible horrors
    Two: You are opening yourself to all sorts of disciplinary possibilities.

    And don't feel guilty, anyone in year 13 is their own hope of achieving what they need. Yes a fab teacher makes it easier, but she'll be fine. This situation isn't your fault, so you can't be feeling guilty about it. It isn't as if you chose this.

    I don't know what subject you teach, or your personal circumstances, but sometimes a change of school is the only long term solution.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  17. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Should you make it back in a way that works for you, might I suggest a small detail. Keep a careful record of how many lessons you don't have full exam classes for because of withdrawals to other subjects (ie the sacred cows of Maths & English, music practices, sports matches etc etc). If you're compelled to run off timetable catch up/revision sessions, keep an attendance record. I did this one year and found a third of my timetabled lessons were disrupted by the demands of other subjects. It all counts where targets are concerned. Good luck with it anyway.
    sabrinakat and Gerri19 like this.
  18. gooddays

    gooddays Senior commenter

    I could not agree more.
    Schoolbird and grumpydogwoman like this.
  19. richardrogersscience

    richardrogersscience New commenter

    Hi Gerri,

    I really sympathise with you. I know that you must be going through a lot right now.

    The best advice anyone can give you is this: take your life one day at a time, and don't even think about tomorrow. Everyone can make it from breakfast until bedtime. Take life one day at a time.

    The Roman poet Horace said this better than I could:

    Happy the man, and happy he alone,
    He, who can call to-day his own,
    He, who, secure within can say:
    "To-morrow do thy worst, for I have liv'd to-day"

    If you don't meet your targets, so what? You've done your best, so who cares what anyone else thinks. You'll find another job if you need to. Life is too short to let the rain clouds get you down. I like rain - I like the sound, the feel and the fresh air afterwards.

    Richard James Rogers
    sabrinakat, ilovepoppies and Gerri19 like this.
  20. maud1901

    maud1901 New commenter

    Ok. So when I went back to work I had a close friend and colleague at school who we agreed would keep her eye on me. She'd nursed me through the really dark times, taking me into her home, etc. and she knew my symptoms, so to speak. This may be helpful to you, too. You need to accept that she will be brutally honest, though.

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