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Signed off

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Candy0293, Jan 10, 2020.

  1. Candy0293

    Candy0293 New commenter


    I have been signed off due to anxiety and stress. I have been experiencing some personal problems as well as increased stress at work and now feel unable to cope. I feel so guilty about being off work but I am in a terrible head space at the moment.

    I have a whole host of symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, breaking out in sweats, clenched jaw, panic attacks, wheezing as well as many, many more. I feel very low and have cried pretty much every week since September about work issues.

    My partner, family and friends have seen me increasingly deteriorate and I am a shadow of the person I once was. My partner in particular wants me to pack in teaching completely and I can't say I disagree.

    I'm also worried about being off and the implications for future jobs whether inside or outside of teaching.

    Any advise would be greatly appreciated.
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. phatsals

    phatsals Senior commenter

    Many, many of us have been where you are now. The only thing you need to do is get well, not worry about the future. Your thinking is distorted, it will take a good long while before you are clear thinking again. Once you are clearer you can decide about future directions, but not now.

    Take one day at a time, have walks, talk to friends/family, eat well. Most of all, be kind to yourself.

    It's taken a long time to make you as unwell as this, it will take an equally long time to be fully well, but you will be. As far as future jobs are concerned, of course you will find one. Many people go off with stress. Good employers understand that and are happy to give people a fresh start as many of us on here can testify.

    Get well and don't sit in judgement yourself. There's a great future out there and a Candy0293 gap to fill - but only once you're back in your skin again.
  3. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    This is a really easy one, funnily enough.

    I'm not meaning to dismiss anything you've said or anything of the sort, the problem is that when you're drowning, all you see is water - the immediate problems.

    Firstly, well done for getting signed off. That is the first step and it takes a lot of courage. I've seen many, many teachers hold on for far too long (against my advice as their Union rep, the advice of their friends and their family). I've yet once to see anyone that regretted being signed off.
    If your GP that has spent years and years training and being educated to have a valid medical opinion believes that you need some time away, well, they're not making it up.

    Next steps;
    • Listen to your friends and family. Watching someone go through this is hard on them, too. They all want the best for you, and they will help you - accept their help.
    • Forget about the work you've left behind. No guilt. The school will cope just fine without you.
    • Find some enjoyment - take walks, go to art galleries, listen to new music - whatever, just some you time.
    • Be honest with your partner about how you are feeling.
    • Do not consider financial impact at all - it's a horrific trap to do so. In order to ensure you have money to buy nice things, you'll end up destroying your ability to enjoy them, and it won't last anyway.
    • See this as the first step - there's a million jobs out there. Think of all the transferable skills you've acquired over the years.
    • Don't put pressure on yourself. Don't seek to be well immediately. It will take time to heal, it's a process that happens gradually.
    • Try not to hold a grudge with your old school or yourself. It's not your fault the demands were unreasonable. Those setting the unreasonable demands are oddballs - they can meet the deadlines and do the job, because the things that you miss, sleep, quality time with friends, family and partners are not things that they are particularly interested in.
    • Most importantly, don't follow advice to the letter (particularly not from strangers online!). It's your life, it's your choices. You'll know what works for you when you find it.
    Very best of luck.
  4. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    Totally agree with phatsals and the advice given!

    It's hard and can be a long road. Take each day as it comes and set small personal targets such as have a shower, no screen time for an hour, etc for every day and then no more.

    Do think about medication to help you through this.

    Above all - do continue to post on here. There is so much help and kindness available which it sounds like you have not received in your place of work.
  5. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    You are ill and the doctor has signed you off. Your guilt at not being at work is only making things worse. Trust me when I say that the school and your students will cope without you. You say yourself that you are deteriorating at an increasing rate - how bad are you prepared to get for the sake of your job?
  6. a1976

    a1976 Established commenter

    I'm sorry you are going through this. I've been there. I also went through it when I did supply as well. But you have absolutely NO reason to feel guilty. I'm sure you are an extremely hardworking teacher and have put the school and students before you yourself probably one too many times. You have nothing to be guilty about. You put yourself first now. After all, the school sure hasn't been looking after your wellbeing and probably not the wellbeing of other hardworking individuals such as yourself. Take as much time as you need and as others said, keep your union (if you are in one) in the loop or maybe even a personal solicitor.
  7. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    The sooner you find another job (any job) the less need there is to worry about absence. So try to enjoy the idea that this hell will pass and get your juices flowing thinking about something you can enjoy and that pays the rent! Or just one of those!

    Act. Don't prevaricate. I know it's tempting not to as you're depressed but you really must get on! Life's too short!

    12 months? This will be a distant memory. Get busy!
    pepper5, Shedman, phlogiston and 2 others like this.
  8. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Firstly, concentrate on getting better. Then and only then decide whether to leave teaching altogether (personally it sounds like the best option for you maybe) find another school (could well be frying pan into fire) or return (personally I wouldn't.) Many have done what you are doing and many more will in the future. The world will still turn. Its SLTs job to sort cover and manage absence. Future employers will probably understand, even schools if it comes to that.
  9. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Sorry you're in this place.
    You will have many emotions. You are unwell at the moment and the key priority is to get well.
    There is lots of good advice above and I can't think of much to add to it this instant.
    The school will be inconvenienced a bit, but schools can usually deal with such things.
    Give yourself time to get things into perspective.
    Good luck.
    Shedman and agathamorse like this.
  10. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    Actually, my advice would be to NOT act.
    Right now is not the time to be making decisions about your future. You need a break, time away, time to read a book, time to go for a walk, clean the house.... whatever. ONLY when you start to feel better, should you begin to think about what you want to do.
    Sick leave is there for a reason.
    You are unwell.
    The treatment is rest (for a bit) and to slow down the pace of life to give yourself some healing and headspace time.
    BTW - I am off too, so totally get it!
  11. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    I disagree with this. My closest friend became very stressed in one job, resigned, found a better job and made a start straight away. She has now been off with stress for 3 months, and has resigned fro the second job. She is ill with stress, not from the second job, but from the first job, and was not well enough to start the second job.

    1. Get better - and your current employers need to be paying you while you recover. take your time, this cannot be rushed.

    2. Think about the future one you are better.

    3. Don't feel guilty, the situation is not of your making. Gove should be feeling guilty, more than you
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Trouble is that this has been going on since September! And the family are pleading with the OP to get out. So it doesn't seem as if it's just a knee-jerk reaction to a bad week or feeling an attack of the January blues. The physical symptoms are extreme.

    That's why I suggest action now rather than contemplation. Sometimes it can be frying pan into fire (especially if there are wider problems unrelated to work) so putting things on hold might work for this person. I just think it's gone too far in this case NOT to act. That'd be my advice but I can see the virtue in a pause.
    1 person likes this.
  13. thebookyouwish

    thebookyouwish New commenter

    First thing - you are not alone, this is happening to people every day (sadly).

    You will get better, you will find a way forward and you will get another job.

    You are unwell so don't make any huge decisions now. If you had a broken leg you wouldn't resign and immediately start a new job. You'd still have a broken leg to recover from.

    I agree with other posters about no sudden moves - particularly don't put your resignation in.

    I would recommend contacting your area union rep and taking advice (if you feel able). They will also advise you to not make any decisions yet. There are several ways you can be supported through this - some will see you back at work with some changes, some will mean you are out of there but with support. Don't fall on your sword by yourself.

    Do not rush anything. No hasty decisions.

    I do agree with the above poster in terms of maybe taking the time to think about what is next but that can feel overwhelming when you are not well.

    Most of all listen to your doctor and prioritise yourself and your health. Xx
    agathamorse likes this.
  14. Hudsonk

    Hudsonk New commenter

    Hi I am in a very similar situation but I would rather discuss it via email (private) if you feel up to it. It would be nice to discuss with someone who is experiencing the same issues. Many thanks, Kerry
  15. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    If the OP is unwell, they are not in a fit state to look for another job.

    No one should feel pressured into looking for another job when they're sick, even by well meaning family.

    OP - take your time. Get better. When you're in a better place you can make decisions.
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Definitely take time out to recover. This might take 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years...but get better before you do anything else.
    Do NOT resign while you are ill, nor try to look for another post. You almost certainly aren't in a fit state to shine at an interview and being rejected is devastating enough when one is fully mentally fit.

    Personal problems could well be making the stress at work unmanageable. Running away from teaching entirely as a profession, seems a little extreme. There are plenty of lovely schools with reasonable workloads, where you may well find a love of teaching all over again.

    You don't say how long you've been teaching, been in your current school or been signed off. Nor indeed how much you used to love teaching or not. All these things will influence whether you should stay in teaching or not.

    Best of luck, take the doctor's advice and ignore the whole concept of work for now.
    agathamorse likes this.
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Brilliantly put!

    Those of us who have been in the OP's position know that things will get better...but the final solution can come in a variety of ways.
    When I was similarly ill a friend said to compare it to having a badly broken ankle.

    1. You are in so much pain you can't think about anything else
    2. You are in ICU and aware of people around you, but not much more
    3. You simply need to rest and take time to let the ankle heal
    4. You begin to hobble about a little bit on crutches, with the ankle protected by a cast
    5. You become more confident and get out and about, still on crutches
    6. You lose the crutches and the cast, but are still limping a little
    7. You walk normally but are nervous about anything bumping the ankle and about falling over
    8. You gain in confidence and can walk for longer periods, even do a little jogging
    9. You appear entirely healed to everyone else, but are forever slightly overprotective of your ankle

    People can translate this to emotional injuries as suits them and their injury...certainly helped me a lot though.

    It would be stupid when at stage 1 or 2 to start deciding if you want to return to marathon running or not. Similarly making decisions about their career is inappropriate for the op at the moment.
  18. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    And actually, thinking/worrying about another job now might actually set back your recovery. It took me 2 months of being absent from work before I realised that. You have time. Decide that you won't look at jobs for a month but focus on doing nice things for you - and then re-consider. When your head is in a better place, you might have more clarity of thought.
    That's what I am hoping for anyway!
  19. Candy0293

    Candy0293 New commenter

    Thank you so much for your supportive replies. They have really helped to put it into perspective as it is sometimes hard to see things objectively when you are in the middle of a situation.

    You are right that I need to focus on getting well again and try not to worry about the future or make any decisions. Worrying about that is adding to my stress and I just need to not think about work at all.

    I have been teaching for several years and had many highs during this time but unfortunately the pressure has been unrelenting and my work-life-balance has become pretty non-existent.

    Best wishes to those in similar situations x
  20. Candy0293

    Candy0293 New commenter


    I started off this week feeling a lot better. I was doing some yoga, walking the dog etc. I started to feel remnants of my old self coming back.

    However, I started worrying about work again on Wednesday night and now I feel like I'm going to be sick, like I'm going to have a panic attack and really weepy. I know I must be clenching my jaw again because it aches like no tomorrow and I keeps clicking. I'm also barely eating. My partner thinks I should go back to the GP and get signed off for longer but I'm worried about letting the school down and again implications for the future. I feel like a failure for not feeling ready to go back to work.

    He recommended I post on here again because it gave me a lot more perspective last time.

    Thanks in advance x
    agathamorse likes this.

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