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what are you allowed to do while off with stress?

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by Chitara, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Chitara

    Chitara New commenter

    I have just been signed off work for 2 weeks with anxiety, completely as a result of work and I am wondering what is allowed when off sick. Am I allowed to go out, for example to the cinema or swimming during this time? My partner has suggested these activities will help me take my mind off school but what if I get caught 'enjoying myself'? Will it look like I am simply workshy and lazy? I was reluctant to get signed off in the first place due to the fear that it makes me look like I am bunking off work but after having 3 panic attacks in the space of 12 hours after never having had one before in my life, I came to realise that I needed to be away from work for my own sanity.

    I have spoken to my union rep but he was quite vague about it, even suggesting that I should scale back on my normal 'public' life, things like doing the school run and taking my son to scouts and his football club in case I get seen and reported to my school looking like there is nothing wrong with me.

    To be honest i am feeling really awful now-i have tried so hard to shield my children from my anxiety and worries, if I don't do the normal everyday stuff I know they will ask questions, plus I think it would make me feel worse and that school is encroaching even more on my family, one of the very reasons I am feeling so stressed in the first place!

  2. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    I don't think anyone's health is likely to improve if they stay indoors, shun company, etc.

    With stress-related conditions, it is vital that you relax, rest and read lots of trashy novels. (I made up the trashy novels rule, you can read good stuff, too!) When I was initially signed off with workplace stress I brooded indoors, which helped me not a jot.

    You should visit friends, family, have a nice afternoon tea somewhere, go swimming, walk the dog, build a snowman. You are ill at the moment, there isn't a magic and speedy solution, so if your GP offers counselling, take it. Try not to think about work. Your health takes priority.

    Take care, and keep posting on here. xx
  3. vomitingvera

    vomitingvera New commenter

    Im sorry you're going through this, my situation did unfortunately impact on our family life, I've been a nightmare to live with! I'm very lucky to have an understanding husband and he has helped me to recover.

    I have been absent for a long time, during this time I have continued with the school run and everything associated with providing a taxi service to my daughter!

    I was told by occupational health that staying in would be the worse thing I could do. I do everything such as swimming, shopping, walking the dog, getting my nails done... To start with, these held no enjoyment as I couldn't switch off and I had to force myself to do them, some days I tried to swim but got in such a state I had to turn back. Things are different now, I have finally, in the last two weeks started to enjoy my life again and will return to work in a few more weeks.

    Try reading about mindfullness, I think this has helped me.

    I hope you feel better soo .
  4. Willsmum79

    Willsmum79 New commenter

    My GP told me to carry on with life as normal. Sitting at home, hiding and not going out or seeing people does not do your stress or anxiety any good. It makes it worse.

    I asked this in October when I got signed off. I met friends at play cafes with my DS who I took out of childcare one day a week to spend time with him, I went shopping three times in 13 weeks with relatives (mother and mother in law) and travelled North to visit my parents twice. Nothing extravagant (except husband's work Xmas party) and I certainly didn't have a holiday.

    Just do normal things you would do on a weekend but obviously on a weekday! Stuff what everyone else thinks. My head teacher completely understood and I think expected me to live life as 'normal' as I should. It gave me the time to reflect on my problems, sort them out and make some very important decisions.

    I am now back at work (3 weeks in, 2 weeks to go until maternity leave) and it was the best decisin I made. School might not think it was (from their perspective) but for me, it gave me the time I needed to re-evaluate my life. I do not regret going back 5 weeks before my maternity leave. I needed some normality with work and to re-establish myself. I don't have a class any longer (maternity cover in class already) but I am covering sick teachers and some PPA which has dramatically reduced my workload at a time I probably need it and also given me insight into what I want on returning and conformed I have made the right decision.

    Hope you are feeling better soon. Don't expect to be back to full health in the time off for sick leave.mne took 13 weeks (probably longer) but I felt that part of my recovery, the latter stages, needed to be back at work. It wasn't easy but staying positive helped a lot.
  5. thekillers1

    thekillers1 Lead commenter

    What advice would you have when returning to work? I've been away fpr three weeks and I am going back early next week.
  6. vomitingvera

    vomitingvera New commenter

    Good luck, I hope it goes well for you.
  7. Chitara

    Chitara New commenter

    Thank you for your replies.

    I am still scared to leave the house during school hours - I know I am unlikely to be seen but do worry that I am going to be thought of as skiving. I have had a really up and down weekend - Saturday was really hard. I was feeling really low, wanted to crawl into bed for the whole day and was very weepy. Yesterday was better because I was busy all day. I had a dream about going back to work last night and have woken up feeling really down and low and anxious again. I wonder how I am meant to go back to work next week when a dream can make me feel so unpleasant.

    I really hate this. I have been teaching for almost 15 years and have never before felt like I cannot cope with it. I know I can do the job. I know that I am (or at least, I was) good at it. All my recent observations and scrutinies have been either good or outstanding, so I know I am competent. Yet I cannot shake this feeling that I am failing, or just about to fail.

    To be honest, I don't know what I feel. I just want to feel normal again. Normal people don't cry at the the prospect of going to work. Normal people don't desperately look forward to the kids going to be so that they can stop pretending to be chirpy and upbeat. Normal people don't find themselves awake and weeping at 4 in the morning. It's not fair.
  8. vomitingvera

    vomitingvera New commenter

    You sound just the same as me!

    I have been teaching for 17 years, I've never suffered with stress or depression before, my teaching is consistently good so it's not that, but I still feel the same.

    I struggled, and still do to some extent, with putting on an act for my daughter. Some days are better than others. At times I feel ok and then I go back down again but I still push myself to do small jobs, swimming..., it does help.

    Things will get better for you in time and you will start to have more good days than bad. Have you spoken to your doctor about the sleeping issue ( mine is better than it was but still not fantastic), are you on medication yet? I really didn't want to have anti depressants and was worried about taking them, this was unfounded though, I've had no problems with them.

    Take care.
  9. Willsmum79

    Willsmum79 New commenter

    What you are going through is normal stress related behaviour.

    I too felt guilty about going out even though I live an hour away from school and I was waking at 3am in tears, driving to work in tears, hiding in the loos in tears, driving home in tears and crying myself to sleep. It is exhausting. Time is precious and a marvellous healer. I would reccommend OH though. Don't expect to go through this on your own. I too have been in teaching nearly 15 years.

    The killers - don't go back if you are not ready. 3 weeks isn't long for stress, if that is what you were off with. It took me a good 7 weeks to begin the road to recovery and even by then, I had hit rock bottom twice.

    If you do insist on going back, go back phased return. Build up your hours and workload and negotiate with the head (if they are willing) a support plan. Mine 'promised' me one in a letter and so far, she hasn't delivered. Very disappointed. I have/had more faith in her than the rest of the staff (even her SLT can't abide her) but it seems they were right about her. It is sad. I really like/liked her.
  10. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    The nightmares/ dreams are a horrible side effect I am afraid. Try setting yourself small targets as you will feel strange/ panicky when you first go out. Go for a walk around your streets for 15 mins and build it up. I'm not normally a swimmer, but I found swimming good as it is quiet during the day and I just did 30 mins of lengths and it is relaxing. Have you got a friend or relative close by who you can meet for coffee? You may find you can only stand being with them for short periods at first, I wanted to get home after an hour for the first few weeks.

    You are going through the worst of it at the moment but it will get better. It is hard but you have to try and forget work. Try some of the Mindfulness techniques to try and distract your brain from unwanted thoughts. It helped me, though it takes practise. Take care x
  11. thekillers1

    thekillers1 Lead commenter

    Yesterday was tough, resulting me going home after having a tearful episode...

    The HSO and Headteacher were both good at listening and noted what was bothering me. After talking with the GP, he doubled the medication intake and suggested returning to work. A two week phase has been suggested yet the second week will be monitored, I believe, in case anything else happens. The GP also stated to come back if things seemed to be poor and can offer a part-time slip. OH are also now contacted as part of the recovery process.

    On reflection, maybe yesterday was too early to re-enter work - I don't know; yet a lot of teachers and TAs have been supportive about my absence and were happy talking to me today. In addition, the Teacher Support Network have been encouraging/supportive and now provided an online CBT course (completed week 1 out of 7) to help with developing coping strategies. It's an isolating experience, yet I'm wanting to return for closure on this chapter of my working life.

    At the moment, I'll be preparing to meet with the boss, developing a programme of study for my return to phase for work. I only can hope that everything works out well...!
  12. vomitingvera

    vomitingvera New commenter

    I'm sorry you're finding it difficult. Are you sure that you have had enough time off? I went off during a phased return so don't be afraid to admit that you came back too soon, do what you think is right for you.

    I hope things do get better for you.
  13. Katierobertson

    Katierobertson New commenter

    You can't sit inside brooding while feeling depressed. I would do what you want, but discretely. Nobody will be around spying on you during school hours as they have jobs of their own so do your relaxing stuff like the pool/walking/coffee etc in discrete times and places if you feel better, but do them!

    I hope it helps and you feel better soon.
  14. sleepyhead

    sleepyhead New commenter

    Many years ago, I was signed off work after a TIA. There was absolutely no way that I could work but I went to stay with my sister... who happens to live abroad. When HT found out that's what I had done, he threatened me with all sorts because apparently I wasn't "allowed" to do such a thing.

    He backed off when my union rep had a word in his ear.
  15. specialteacherinni

    specialteacherinni New commenter

    The Killers:- If your sick line said work related stress you should have an appointment with Occupational Health before returning to work. No self respecting GP would recommend you returning to work at the same time as doubling your medication!!!! That's absolutely outrageous!!! xx
    teacherclairemcc likes this.
  16. Pooky-doo

    Pooky-doo New commenter

    Hi chitara. I am new to this forum... I have been signed off with work related stress for 3 weeks now. I have never had to be signed off before, things got so bad at my work, i am faced with either raising a formal complaint about another member of staff or leaving as i dont feel strong enough mentally to take out a formal complaint. It's really difficult as my gut is telling me to take action with the complaint but I'm so so scared. Any advise would be so much appreciated
  17. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    Replied on your other thread.
  18. notreallyme75

    notreallyme75 Occasional commenter

    What did you decide to do? I’m in exactly same boat.
  19. notreallyme75

    notreallyme75 Occasional commenter

    Would love to know more re this...
    I’m currently signed off with work related stress and my son goes to my school so am not able to do the school run or attend any school events for him which makes me feel terrible.
    He has cricket at the weekend with his friends from school and the school parents will be there... I want to take him but shouldn’t am guessing?? I don’t know what to do! Work is making me poorly. That particular place of work. Think I’d be ok if was elsewhere.
  20. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    You are signed off work because you are not fit for work. You are not signed off the rest of your life.
    If work is what's making you ill, there is no reason whatsoever that you should not do the school run, watch your kid play football, go swimming, go shopping or anything else, though common sense suggests being spotted falling out of a nightclub at 2 a.m. might give rise to uncharitable speculation.

    Especially if you've just started medication for anxiety or depression, you need to keep to a routine that resembles normal. Maintain interest in life without overdoing it. Avoid looking at school emails. Given the way schools are now, I totally understand how you would be afraid of leadswinging, and of being checked up on, but there is nothing in law to prevent you living your normal life, and a HT/CEO would be a fool to take it on.

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