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or just messed-up and pathetic to get yet another sick note?

(43 Posts)
somewherebeyondthebarricades Sun 24-Aug-14 13:29:11

I'll try not to make this too long...this is a name-change so some of the story may be familiar.

I have a teenage son with autism. I split up with his dad before he was born, amicably. We have stayed close and parent together. I got pregnant by him again last year when we went on holiday (unplanned). After quite a drawn-out and stressful decision-making phase, I decided to go ahead (without telling ex) but then miscarried at 11 weeks. Still didn't tell him or many people except the few I'd trusted about my pregnancy in the first place.

It happened during the Christmas holidays so didn't need/ take any time off work. I went back to work and tried to get back to normal and pretend it hadn't happened but I wasn't sleeping or eating and was being a little unstable at work. I am a secondary teacher with significant management responsibilities so I can't really have an off day. Teaching was fine but then I'd just go and cry in my office. My friends at work who knew what was going on were really worried and kept telling me to be off, eventually going to the head to get him to talk to me.

I didn't want to be off because it felt like failure and I had too much time to think, but, at the same time, I couldn't really cope with the pressure of work. I agreed to go to the GP who asked a lot of questions and diagnosed depression (I didn't accept that label for months but have had to now). She was firm that I should take a few weeks off and I did.

Being off wasn't healthy except I got sleep. I cut myself off from even then people who knew and were supportive (though they didn't give up on me and I'm grateful for that). I went back to work after a few weeks but struggled again with the demands of the job and lack of sleep and was then off for a couple of weeks again. In the meantime, work had sorted out counselling for me and the GP had described anti-depressants.

To cut this long story a little shorter, I went back on a phased return (reduced hours and responsibilities) after Easter and that really helped as I did my teaching but could escape to work at home or sleep if I needed to. It was the GP's suggestion as I was talking about suicide and feeling like a failure by not working but also feeling like I couldn't cope in work. I then didn't have any time off for that whole term and coped with life in general a little better.

But I do accept that I'm not properly better. I can't cope with pregnant people or babies or talking about them. A colleague was showing his wife's scan photos in July and I had to leave the room and sobbed. I can't get over the fact that I should have been having a baby and don't and feel guilty that my unhealthy lifestyle during the pregnancy because I was so stressed by the decision that I wasn't eating or sleeping might have contributed to the outcome.

The counsellor says I've made no progress whatsoever in dealing with my feelings about the miscarriage and won't talk about it. The GP is concerned that none of the anti-depressants have significantly lifted my mood. Everyone says that my anger/ guilt/ feeling like a failure is unhealthy and we all have these brief periods of hope (usually coinciding with sun or a holiday) that I am better and then something shifts and I go back to hating everything.

Doctor has arranged CBT which was supposed to start this week but got cancelled. I don't know how to rearrange it as when term starts (7 days), the head says he wants me 'back to normal' with no time off.

I can feel this panic rising at the thought of going back to work full-time, something I've not done for months. I have had more sleep and more of a break from the real dark thoughts this summer but I'm not 'fixed' and I don't know what to do. Saw my GP last week and she's talking about a referral to a psychiatrist and also saying she really doesn't want me to go back to work full-time. She is seeing me again this week for my decision so she can write a sicknote if I accept her advice.

My worry is that my boss will be furious and my job might be at risk. Work was never the original problem; I have always been good at my job, but my boss was new last September and so has only really seen the distracted (pre-January), crying, time-off (post-January) mess that I have been this year. I tried to swap my role for a less demanding one in June but he wouldn't let me. The role I am going back to is harder with less time to do it. Even 'normal', I would be slightly apprehensive about the workload this coming year.

He has been good about time off but I know that he expects me back properly on 1st September and all that is in my head right now is 'I can't go back'. I might not have made progress with some things but I am currently able to manage my house, my son, my friendships etc. without crying (often) or hiding away. I agree with the GP that going back to work full-time might jeopardise that recovery but NOT going back or going back less than full-time will definitely jeopardise my career stability. Financially, I have to work. I do WANT to work. I want my old life back. I am angry that I don't have it. But I have got better at accepting my current state and wary of jeopardising it.

What the hell do I do?

somewherebeyondthebarricades Sun 24-Aug-14 14:12:55

Thanks to the 'friend' who just recognised this and texted me to say I'll get a better response if I do a shorter post. Sorry that my shitty life can't be condensed more easily into a bitesize story.

bearfrills Sun 24-Aug-14 14:18:05

I think that if you need more time then you need more time and you should take the sick note. As it's related to your miscarriage make sure your GP records this on the fit note, it is then classed as pregnancy related and you are protected by sexual discrimination laws - basically it means that your employer cannot take this sickness into account for disciplinary purposes. Once you have the sick note don't go back to work until you are sure you can cope with it, don't let them pressure you.

I'm so sorry for your loss. I've had two miscarriages, one at 6wks and a missed miscarriage at 15wks. It's shit, isn't it? I know I'm just a stranger on the internet but <hugs> and please, please be assured that there is nothing you did or didn't do that caused the miscarriage. It just happens. It's shitty and unfair and heartbreaking but you are not to blame, you didn't do anything wrong thanks

Nomama Sun 24-Aug-14 14:19:52

Sod the friend.

Union? Occy Health? The new head cannot insist you go back full time if your GP says no.

Get more support to allow you to regain your control.

Good luck xx

bearfrills Sun 24-Aug-14 14:22:50

Yes, sod the friend <waves> instead of texting her posting advice why aren't you at her house with cake and support!? Some friend...

juliascurr Sun 24-Aug-14 14:30:29

take as much time as you need

MrsMinton Sun 24-Aug-14 14:32:00

somewhere I don't know what to advise about the situation but I do know I've just been offered CBT online with telephone support. That way I can do it around work and the children. You have to see if your health trust subscribe or can pay privately If you want to PM me I can explain more if you want.

antimatter Sun 24-Aug-14 14:42:01

IMHO listen to your GP she really doesn't want me to go back to work full-time.

Put yourself not your job first.

It must be ver yhard to be full-time dingle parent with high pressure job.

You can get another job if that what it takes to get better. When you are unwell and already feeling panic attack creeping up you may have nervous break down when school starts in 10 days time.

Get an appointment with your Head on Tuesday and come clean. There will be time for him to come up with emergency plan, that what his job is about.

You need to recover at your own speed.

LittleprincessinGOLDrocks Sun 24-Aug-14 14:57:28

Listen to your GP. I don't think she would be suggesting this if she didn't think it was the best for your health.
You have said you are not coping great yet, so I think going back slowly might be the most helpful way for you to get back in to it. Throwing you in at the deepend is going to help no one.
Speak to your Union, they will help you and offer you support when dealing with all of the work issues. I felt very alone when I was having work issues, and then I rang Unison and that rep helped more than she will ever know. she stopped them from using underhand tactics to scare me in to making decisions I wasn't ready to make. She took all the pressure off. Do ring them sooner rather than later.

Sending you big supportive hugs, I suffered a miscarriage at 6 weeks, and I really struggled with going back to work. I was thrown in at the deepend and very nearly sank - if it wasn't for my friend being on the same shift I don't think I would have got through it.
Be kind to yourself love. xxx

somewherebeyondthebarricades Sun 24-Aug-14 16:40:53

Thank you all for your responses - and yeah, not impressed with 'friend' (I know you are reading but don't really care right now).

I didn't know that about pregnancy-related absence. I had wondered why I wasn't yet on a staged absence warning as my calculations meant I should have reached Stage 1/2/3 months ago. That helps a bit, actually.

Still in two minds though. I know that you are all logically right about listening to the GP and I do really trust her. She is quite straight-talking and sensible and doesn't patronise me. She will be very pleased if I don't go back at all for a few weeks and quite pleased if I follow the reduced timetable thing we did last term.

I was wondering about the reduced timetable as a reserve option e.g. trying to do full-time but having the fit note there if it gets too much. I think then I'd be perceived as at least having tried rather than not trying to at least see if things are better.

I wish I didn't need this job and that I'd never liked it. It would make things easier.

Sorry to those of you who've been here. It helps to know it's not just me but it's also so shit that this is such a common thing.

I get so cross with myself. First for the contraception fail/ sleeping with ex, then for delayed decision-making, then for letting myself get happy about it, then for not telling ex (as it's really hard hiding all the reasons for this mood from him), then for not just getting over this like I see others do. We are now ten months on from me getting pregnant and I do just want to move on.

Online CBT sounds like an option. I find typing easier than speaking about this. I've told you guys more than I've said to most people.

Thank you all for responses.

somewherebeyondthebarricades Sun 24-Aug-14 16:41:49

Union rep already knows a bit and I think I do need to speak to her.

Purplepoodle Sun 24-Aug-14 16:57:00

Could your go sign you off on long term sick for the whole school year? You would have time to recover and the school could get cover for the year giving them stability.

FuckitAndStartAgain Sun 24-Aug-14 16:58:51

Depression is horrible. Once of the worst elements is that the negative feelings spiral around until you become accustomed to those and then think even worse thoughts. Not very well explained but perhaps you recognise some if this. Does returning to work make you feel sick? My stomach is knotted tight (also a teaching role) and I know I am fit, you must be in a perpetual panic. Please take the time advised by your GP.

Have you read Ruby Wax's Sane New World? I think it might help. The cycle can be broken I think, but you might find it easier if you understood exactly what is happening in your brain and body?

In the meantime keep talking here. You can say anything you like. Whatever it is someone will understand I am sure. I have had three miscarriages and understand a little bit if the guilt you feel. Rationally do you know that you have no need to feel guilty? Aligning head and heart is so hard, especially when your body has chemicals rampaging around your brain/body telling you that you can't cope!

Take more time, you deserve it.

SofiaAmes Sun 24-Aug-14 17:02:00

Please try taking Vitamin D. There is a lot of evidence that it can help with depression when the anti-depressants are not working. Get your levels tested. I am so sorry about what you are going through. I don't have any suggestions other than the Vitamin D, but I can completely empathize. Except maybe, try to be more open about what you are going through. I have found that being completely open to the people around me has gotten me much more support than hiding things. (Although I am in the USA where in general I find that people are more accepting about depression and mental illness).

somewherebeyondthebarricades Sun 24-Aug-14 18:30:35

Thanks to all of you.
I do talk to some people (about 3) about it but I am wary of boring or depressing them. They are good friends who have done a lot for me and put up with some horrific moods from me. They just don't know what to suggest any more.

fuckit, I will look at that book. I agree that I am in an unhealthy cycle and will try anything to break it. I'm currently running a lot, suggested by a friend. It is helpful as I can't think while I am concentrating on my breathing and music. It would also be nice to lose a bit of weight. However, that is another thing I won't have the energy for when back at work as all my energy will go into surviving.

All that seems to break it is sunny holidays. 12 days in Spain was the longest not-depressed bit of time I've had. So Vitamin D is probably quite a good factor to look at, sofia. Thanks.

I don't think you can be signed off sick for as long as that and I don't know how healthy it would feel to effectively opt out for a year, purplepoodle. It would make me feel less bad about cover though! I don't teach many classes but they are all exam classes so that's why I hated being off last year as it was yet another thing to feel bad about (they did well in their exams though, luckily).

somewherebeyondthebarricades Sun 24-Aug-14 18:32:12

And yes, fuckit, it makes me feel sick, breathless and tearful to think of going back. I have been a teacher for 12 years and always dread September in a mild way but this summer is extreme in that even the word makes me panic sad

somewherebeyondthebarricades Sun 24-Aug-14 20:19:09

Thinking about it tonight, I think that the real problem is that, whenever I get happy, something then knocks it e.g. someone has a baby and calls it the name I would have picked and I spiral into a dark mood again so I never trust the happiness next time.

I mean, really though: how do you get over the loss of a baby without having another one? Which I'm not in a real position to do, especially at the moment.

FuckitAndStartAgain Mon 25-Aug-14 08:25:37

Ok, I do know that having another baby will not help you get over the loss. It just doesn't.

Glad to hear about the running that is really positive.

Could you do a slow phased return again? Would that help?

somewherebeyondthebarricades Mon 25-Aug-14 09:18:38

It doesn't? Not at all? sad I've known friends who've seemed better once they then had a baby.

I could do a phased return again. Half days. Tempted. The problem is knowing whether to start that way or to try full-time first and see how it goes.

I hate this so much. All of it will take so so much effort and seems ultimately pointless seeing it will not actually change what's happened or change my life.

Migsy1 Mon 25-Aug-14 09:29:54

I get so cross with myself. First for the contraception fail/ sleeping with ex, then for delayed decision-making, then for letting myself get happy about it, then for not telling ex (as it's really hard hiding all the reasons for this mood from him), then for not just getting over this like I see others do. We are now ten months on from me getting pregnant and I do just want to move on.

You are human and have done nothing wrong. You must forgive yourself. There is no need to be cross with yourself. We all do things that we wish we hadn't but that is part of life. Look around you. Do you see hoards of perfect people? No. Love yourself.

wheresthelight Mon 25-Aug-14 09:32:42

I think trying for another child while you are still on such a dark place would be the absolute worst decision. you are unable to deal with your current situation and if the worst was to happen again then you would be even worse off

I really think you need to chase the counselling and cbt ASAP and speak to your GP and union about the continued reduced hours/responsibility for the new term. I also think you need to tell your ex. you need support and he has a right to know. could some of your guilt etc be over the fact you have kept this from him?

quietlysuggests Mon 25-Aug-14 09:40:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

bedraggledmumoftwo Mon 25-Aug-14 09:42:54

Stay off for as long as you need to- don't go back out of guilt or pressure- just be open with the head that you are not well enough to return, you have the fit note to.back you up. Best of luck.

chumrun Mon 25-Aug-14 09:48:46

I don't think from what you have said here that time off is the answer. It may be that time off is better than time there but as you've said yourself you aren't actually healing. Sorry to say it but ultimately it will come to capability on health grounds which definitely won't help matters. I'm not trying to panic you but obviously you do need to think about your future and your sons.

Is another baby an absolute no-no? You see I think it's normal to want a baby after having geared yourself up for it and I think you're right that most people 'heal' in this way.

Good luck flowers

Cocolepew Mon 25-Aug-14 09:56:56

How long are you entitled to off? I work fir an education biard and get 6 months, full pay then 6 months, half pay, anytime after that is unpaid. We get sent to occupational health after 6 weeks off. Speak to your union and the welfare officer at your LEA. Your head can't demand you return to work.

Best of luck thanks

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