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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi FolksThis week I need to make a decision which to me is both important and very difficult, and I really need some advice and support on what to do_On wednesday I have to return to my doctor's for a check up to see if I'm ready to return to work after six weeks off on sick leave.On the one hand I'm feeling better physically, but I don't know if I feel ready psychologically.I've been through a really rough time in my job over the last three years due to incompetent management, unrealistic workloads and no support. Although I had always had slightly mild bowel disturbances, I feel that this period of stress they put me through triggered my IBS to become severe 11 months ago_On top of that my employers are completely non-understanding when it comes to IBS - and despite me being upfront with them and telling them about all the tests and everything else I've gone through - they still seem to think my gastroenterologist can give me a magic pill and all will be alright in the morning.So I struggled on for nearly a year with both my IBS problems, Sleep Problems and my job and in the end I ended up feeling depressed.My doctor has been trying to treat my depression and finally has managed to get me on something that leaves me feeling happy and cheerful 99% of the time (plus the hypnotherapy tapes have been great!) but when I sit here and have to think about going back to work it stresses me out and then my bowel goes spastic.I'm fully aware that I'm probably procrastinating, but psychologically I just don't feel like I can handle adding that aspect of my life back in yet.I'm conscious of the fact that if I return to work and all its stresses it may undo all the good work that I've achieved so far with my medication and hypnotherapy.I realize that I'm no longer happy working there because I feel cheated, I worked my butt off for them and on so many occasions went over and above my duty to help them out - and even they recognise this - and yet they are not forthcoming with any type of support for me. Yet people with repetitive strain injury get given the moon on a stick - it makes me cross.Long term I want to be able to get another less stressful job, but realistically at the moment I can't see anybody wanting me with the huge amount of sick leave I've had this year. Quitting my job voluntarily is not an option either becuase one I can't afford to lose my job and two I wouldn't get any help with benefits.My only hope is that I can continue to get better and then be able to stick it out again until I can find something else.I'm completely lost about what to do for the best, what should I do?Help,Clair
 

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Clair...wish I had some magic words for you. I'm trying to get a job right now too...I haven't really worked for a year. I also was struggling with depression and the IBS.I guess try and tough it out...but that has to be your decison. It's helping me right now to treat myself to small rewards on the days I go out and hand out resumes.Not much advice...but at least you know I'm there too. Good luck to you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Auroraheart,Thanks for your kind words. I just feel like I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place at the moment
 

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Hi Clair,I'm sorry you're in this difficult sitation.I'll try to think with you here, but it is a very personal thing, and quite difficult to give advice for.If you explain how you are feeling about going back to work to your doctor ( the way you explained it here) he/she might decide him/herself that you're not ready to go back to work yet, especially since you're only recently finding some relief from your depressive feelings. I don't know what the rules are in the U.K. regarding sick-leave and pay, if there is a maxium period of sick-leave and what percentage of wages are paid if on sick-leave, but (as a civil servant ?) I hope you have some good conditions for this.There may come a time though that you will have to return to work, maybe you could start working part-time or maybe you can find a less demanding job within your organisation ( are there internal vacancies ?). I guess you would have to get together with your bosses ( armed with a good letter from your doctor, explaining your predicament) for that.That's what I can come up with for now, hope others will join in,Fay
 

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HI CLAIR. I know exactly how you feel about returning to a lousey place to work. I recently had an eye operation and took four weeks off. I didn't feel like returning to work either but my doctor said that I could take a day off whenever I felt I needed to. Those words motivated me to return to work. Believe me, my co-workers could care less about my medical problems. I have been back a week and my boss has never once said to me welcome back or asked how I am doing. I am visually impaired in my left eye until I get another eye operation in six months. NOBODY CARES BUT ME. It will hurt your feelings when co-workers act cold blooded but I think it is normal behavior in all work situations. In my office I think I only have the support of a few people. Some co-workers come across real nice but I know them to be two-faced. Clair, only us on this board truly understand what you are going through. So, give it a try and go back to work. You have my e-mail address and can sound off about how you were treated when you returned to work. We are all here for you. lucia91371###yahoo.com
 

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It's a catch-22 situation isn't it? the longer you put off returning, the worse it might be; yet, you don't feel up to the demands of the job just now. See how it goes w/ the doctor and take it from there.
 

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Yes, it IS a catch-22 situation. Not great advice from me, sorry, but I wanted to express my support and understanding. I had a nasty supervisor on my last job, just as my health was beginning to fail big time, and it was no party. Like you, I'd work my tail off (but what good did that do for me - except make me feel worse?).I dunno what you should do, except to try for as undemanding a job as possible for a while? Live with relatives for a while (and not have a steady job)? Get some health insurance and see if there's anything you could do on your own health-wise?Good luck, Clair.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for your kind words and advice.It's this catch 22 situation that's making me miserable
I feel like a prisoner with no means of escape.I know I can take upto 6 months off work on full pay with the Civil Service before I start losing any money or having to claim sick benefit...But part of me feels guilty (probably something to do with being brought up a catholic) for having any time off.I also get the impression that my doctor is happy to sign me off with depression but doesn't see IBS as a sign-offable illness (which is strange because he knows how severe mine is!).I'm concerned that now I've had one week on these good anti-depressants he might sign me back on....and quite frankly I'm getting myself into an emotional mess over it all.I'm probably making a drama out of it all - but its got me churned up inside
Sorry for pouring this all out to you guys, but I really need the ear of someone who understands what its like having IBS and depression.
 

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Clair,Good ol' Catholic guilt is keeping you from accepting that (a) you're sick; (
the job exacerbates your sickness; © you're not being a parasite if you avail of the sick leave which the job entitles you to. One week of success on an antidepressant isn't sufficient time to make the decision that you're on the mend and fit for work.Your employer has a legal duty of care towards you, and must ensure that you are not subjected to work conditions which make you ill - either physically or psychologically. Are you a member of a trade union? If so, can you ask your shopsteward to support you? If you had a drink problem or had a nervous breakdown they couldn't sack you, and probably would refer you to an employee assistance programme. If they persist in putting you under unsustainable pressure and you feel compelled to resign, then you would probably have a case for constructive dismissal.I know you don't want to do anything like that - it would be difficult to explain to a future prospective employer, and they'd probably shy away from you. Anyway, I would be reluctant to leave a protected environment like the civil service for the private sector, particularly if we're on the brink of another global recession.Please see your doctor again (is it a group practice, where there might be another doctor who is more understanding?) and ask him to certify you unfit for work for the maximum allowable period. That will buy you time to get yourself back on your feet. You could then try going back to work for half-days, and build up from there. If you try to go back as things are now you are risking making things a lot worse. Take care of yourself.------------------Phyllis
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Phyllis,Thank you so much for your post it has been very reassuring.
My concern with asking the doctor to sign me off for the maximum amount of time is that he may think I am trying to shirk my responsibilities.My parents brought me up with a strong work ethic and I've always been an efficient and conscientious employee..and I guess that is part of the problem too.How do you think I can broach the subject with my doctor without giving him the wrong impression? I know I'm probably worrying too much about what he thinks - just another sign of good 'ole catholicism creeping in again.Clair
 

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Clair, I'm inclined to agree that you think about going back part-time .. but not until you've given the drugs a fair trial. The trouble with anti-depressants is that they tend to have habit of becoming less effective as time goes by, so I'd say wait a little while longer ...KKat
 

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Hey Clair! I know EXACTLY what you mean about not being ready psychologically. Maybe this is not the best advice, but I'm at the point at which I feel that WE must do everything we can to take care of ourselves as there is no magic pill out there for us -- so you should at least talk to your doc about extending your sick leave (what do you have to lose?) You shouldn't feel guilty -- you're only trying to get your priorities straight. Also they have been horrible employers, so there's another reason for you not to feel guilty. Another thing worth thinking about is if you don't feel good about your employers, you're probably not giving your job your best or you could really SHINE in a better anvironment!Totally understand your fear about undoing the effects of the medication and hypnotherapy. There's another reason to dealy going back!! If I'm coming across as seeming really negative about the "job" things. it's becos I suffered in a similar job for 6 years and wish I had the time back to re-make those decisions. IMHO, you are ready to get a new job -- do prospective employers in the UK ask about sick leave you've taken or anything? I've never been asked anything like that, so I was just wondering how they'd know? If there's no way they'd know, I'd try to look for another job -- things could only get better, right? At least that's how I feel about my new job -- the co-workers are great. When I took the afternoon off today (sick), the people on my project were so understanding (they know I have some health issues, only the new manager knows what!)At any rate, I hope you're feeling a bit better by now and hang in there! The fact that you're thinking about your decision so much makes me believe you'll make the right choice.S.
 

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Clair,Assuming that you have been a long-time patient of this doctor, and he's aware of your conscientious attitude, I don't think he'll think anything negative if you tell him the truth: you're scared that going back to work right now will undo any progress that he and you have achieved. It's not in his interests for you to get worse: if he's like all doctors I know, his caseload is heavy enough without adding complications. Doctors like to see patients improve, so I'm sure he will understand where you're coming from.I wonder if you're a bit like I once was: I did such a good job of minimising my problems that one consultant told my husband there was nothing wrong with me - I was just pretending to be agoraphobic to get attention! I used to arrive at his consulting rooms dressed like a Vogue cover, impeccably made up and full of bright chatter. He didn't see me glued to the loo with D 30 seconds before my appointment!The next consultant was older and wiser - I arrived for my first appointment with him looking confident and healthy, but he shook my hand, and when he felt my cold wet palm he put his arm around my shoulder and said "I know what you've gone through to get here". He helped me a lot, because I didn't have to continue pretending to be Superwoman.So ask yourself if you're putting on too brave a face, and if so, drop your guard and let the man see how bad you really feel. Doctors are only human beings - not psychics! We get no bonus Catholic points for fooling them! There's already a St. Clair, so you can stop trying.------------------Phyllis[This message has been edited by Phyllis McDonnell (edited 05-14-2001).]
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
KKat,Thanks for the reality check.
I've already tried the part-time thing and doing flexible hours and just about every way of working I could think of to try and stay an effective employee. Unfortunately the toll over struggling to keep it together as well as dealing with night predominant IBS, sleep deprivation and depression over the last 11 months have left me in a rather sorry state. I know going back before I'm mentally ready would be a big mistake and would only end up in yet more time off as I've already been down that road in November 2000. I'm trying to be as constructive for my health as I can, I'm doing all the right things concerning my IBS, I've started sleeping again and doing hypnotherapy to help relax. I do want to get back to a state where I can go back and enjoy my job.Anyway thanks for posting it was very kind of you to think of me
Phyllis,I can't begin to tell you how wonderful your posts have been - and how well you understand me and yet are a complete stranger! Your words of support and reassurance have been wonderful - I can't thank you enough.Everyone,Thank you so much for your kind words, support and advice - you are all such wonderful caring people. I just hope that I will be able to help support you if you ever need it.
I guess I'll just see how I feel over the next two days and see how it goes with my doctor.Goodnight, Sweet Dreams,Clair
 

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Clair! Hi! I believe it to be more your strong work ethic than Catholic guilt. My husband and I were raised w/ very strong work ethics and have been at our jobs thru ill health etc. (especially Dan!) Just think of this as time off you deserve. My husband is having an outpatient hip procedure in the fall. Altho outpatient, the recovery time is still 6 wks. He's already stressing over work and how it will get done while he's out. His employers love him to death and are so concerned about him & his various health problems. They are going to bend over backwards to accomodate him during his recovery and he's still feeling guilty over taking the time off! So whether it's Catholic guilt or a strong work ethic - it's still hard to put yourself & your health needs first! It's really hard when you don't "look" sick. And as friend Phyliss pointed out, some of us go to extremes to put a "brave" face on. When I was really struggling w/ depression many years ago, friends and family were stunned when I ended up in the hosp after a suicide attempt. That's because I made a consious effort to appear "normal" so as not to worry anyone or let on how I was really feeling! Had I not done that, thereby letting myself get to the point of desperation, I might have gotten help sooner. Sorry, this is not about me, but about you, but I was using "me" to illustrate a point...which is... damn, can't remember now. Anyway, you get my drift, right? Cheers to you!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Well thank you all for your support and advice
I'm heading off for my doctor's appointment this morning and I'm feeling quite stressed about the whole thing
I guess all I can do is go and explain to him how I feel and hope he can take it from there.Wish me luck,Clair
 

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Hi Clair,Wishing you luck, but I'm sure if you tell him how you're feeling (just like you've explained it here) he must understand that you're not ready yet. Wishing you just that extra little bit of courage to get your ownideas through to him,Let us know how it went,Fay
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Well I'm back from my doctor's appointment and I have another three weeks off.I'm a bit puzzled as to how it really went.I got in there and managed to explain how I felt (although I bawled my eyes out - so whether he could actually make a word out is debatable) and he gave me three weeks off but kind of said I should talk to someone at work about it.The only problem is I've been trying to talk to them for a year about this - and its like banging your head against a brick wall as soon as you mention IBS - its like 'oh yeah - I had Colitis last weekend and the week before that I had Crohn's - so you can't possibly be suffering' - it seems nowadays you get one tummy ache or one day of diarrhea and everyone's a flipping expert. I've given up trying to talk about it with them cause I'm the one who comes away feeling more frustrated. Anyway they don't deserve me to worry over them - I've now got three weeks to concentrate solely on me and my hypnotherapy
Clair
 

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Just one point Clair. Regarding a new job; if you were in a less stressful job then you wouldn't need all of the sick leave that you did this last year, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Nicol,Yes - your probably right!I can't really explain all the facts and details over the internet - but I have a very good case for taking legal action against my current employers - which is something I'm going to do once I feel ready.In the short term I'm not ready to throw myself into another job - I need to concentrate on getting better first otherwise I'd be no good to anybody! Any ideas about what I could do for a less stressful job? I thought maybe librarian or working in a small shop...any thoughts would be welcome!Clair
 
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