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off work with depression and worried about what will happen next...

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by tomnamuidh, Nov 3, 2011.

  1. Hi there, I hope you receive lots of good advice on here as stress/depression/breakdown are illnesses and need to be treated.
    I had a complete breakdown in early May this year, was hospitalised the full works, and have only recently gone back to work (having chosen to step down from my role as Head to a class teacher in another school - my choice). My OH dept were fantastic, providing me with the opportunity to talk (confidential) and to give pointers to getting well. The personel dept was also fantastic, with regular meetings at my request, looking at all options before I made the decision that to remove the stress I really had to review my career.
    I had a phased return over 4 weeks, 2 days, 3 days, 4 then 5. It worked for me. My new head has been very supportive, meeting regularly with me, offering help etc as it is a very tricky class that I have inherited.
    I've been teaching for 21 years, been promoted for 6 and have to say, this has been the best decision I have ever made. My family and friends could see the pressure I was under (70 hour weeks regularly) on top of a nightmare commute in the winter (North Scotland - 139 days of snow last year!!! School was only closed 4 days!!)
    So my advice would be: listen to your GP, go to OH meetings, get plenty of fresh air and exercise, eat well, and you will get better.
    I have been honest about my mental health with my new head, and she sees that as a positive, as she can ensure my stress levels are managed. The stigma is much less than I thought it would be.
    I'm into my 3rd week fulltime and managing fine. Still on the meds until the spring at the earliest, and life has a balance to it again.

    Good luck, and if I can be of help in any way, please message me directly. It will get better[​IMG]
  2. Thankyou both so much for your advice. I wasn't aware that Occ Health were anything other than my employers "heavies" so feeling more positive now.

    I wonder if either of you felt isolated and ostracised whilst off work? I have always been a popular member of my dept but since being off sick there has been radio silence. I can't imagine that if my illness was more 'visible' I would have experienced no words of support / get well card etc. It makes me paranoid that they all know something that I don't about SMT's view of my situation and are distancing themselves from me.

    Is there really any way of coming back from breakdown? Will I always be viewed with suspicion? Has this mess affected my chances of promotion/progression?

    Anne x
  3. lilykitty

    lilykitty New commenter

    Glad you found some of my ramblings useful!
    I think it can be very hard for people to quite know what to do in this situation. If you had a broken leg or something they would know how to treat you, but often people become over-analytical when the illness is connected with mental health. Sometimes people feel that you would want a complete break from school and wouldn't really want to hear from them, while others don't have much experience with mental illness and don't know how you might be if they did get in touch. Working at a school is always demanding, and so it's easy for people to say to themselves 'I really must get in touch with X, but I'm just so busy at the moment'.
    Perhaps try sending a text or short e-mail to one or two people you felt particularly close to, just saying that you're gradually getting better and really miss hearing all the gossip.
    How you are viewed later on will largely be up to you. If you make sure you don't go back to work until you are really ready, are open about your illness and present a confident, proactive attitude people will respect you. Mental illness is incredibly common although people rarely talk about it. You'll soon find that a lot of your colleagues (including those in SMT) are much more understanding than you think.
  4. chuk

    chuk New commenter

    Hi. A message to the original poster. I am off work at the moment with work related stress. I am into my second month and have felt very isolated. However, it is important to have some time away. Occupational health will help you back, when you are ready. It is easy to be hard on yourself and be very analytical. However, if you intend to make it to the end of your natural teaching career, listen to your mind and body. Mother nature is telling you that for whatever reason, you took on far too much. Life is about balance and feeling supported. Counselling may help, including any appropriate medication, but the most important thing, is that you only return when your mind is settled and feeling robust enough to take on the complexities of teaching. Good luck and take care of yourself.
  5. lilykitty

    lilykitty New commenter

    If you feel your symptoms are worsening or you've over-estimated your current ability to keep up with your job, then return to your doctor and get signed off. I can't see there would be a problem with this.
  6. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    You should - and note that it's a very foolish headteacher who does not listen to what OH tell them about a staff member and act on any suggestions they make.
    Whilst I can't promise anything about how this will or won't affect you and your promotion prospects in future - largely because none of us has a crystal ball - I have known staff who have had lengthy periods off with depression, returned successfully AND subsequently been promoted, so it's not impossible.
    With reference to your colleagues and 'radio silence' - could you contact your 'closest' colleague and let it be known you'd love to hear from folk? There is no reason why you shouldn't do this. It may well be that people are afraid to bother you and fear you might find it stressful if they do, so do send out a message that you'd appreciate calls, emails or visits.
  7. stuffedcrust

    stuffedcrust New commenter

    Tomorrow is Monday and I honestly can't face going into work. I know I'm not performing to my best in the classroom and and am losing patience with the children which is making me feel even worse.

    I probably won't be able to get an appointment with the doctor until Tues / Wed to see if I ought to be signed off work, what do I say when I ring school tomorrow? Can I justify not going to work tomorrow when I haven't seen the doctor again?
  8. giraffe

    giraffe New commenter

    You can call in sick to work on Monday and tell them you won't be fit for Tuesday either. Tell them you will be going to see your GP then and will phone to let them know what GP says. In the circumstances, 'feeling unwell/not well enough for work' should be enough of an explanation until you have seen your GP.
    There are a lot of us going through this at the moment
  9. stuffedcrust

    stuffedcrust New commenter

    Thank you giraffe,

    I have just rung my Deputy Head and explained I won't be in tomorrow and about the doctor. I feel calmer already. Hopefully I won't need long to get back on the right track. Been taking my tablets for nearly 2 weeks now so fingers crossed, I should start to feel better soon.
  10. lilykitty

    lilykitty New commenter

    Good to hear that you have taken control of the situation and you are taking care of yourself.
  11. Thankyou all for your kind words. My medical issues still disabling me and I am off to Occupational health this Friday with other half in tow.

    I am all for phased return but realistically can't see myself returning to full time teaching anytime soon. Now my school is an academy I wonder if part-time will be something SMT will allow... anyone had any experience of full to part time?

    A x

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