To be upset no one asked how I am - long(23 Posts)
OK regular poster name changed for this and I'll try to keep it short but be warned it might not be
I work in a medium sized team and a large department.
I consider myself to be a nice person, and get along with most people in my department. In addition i consider several people in my team friends, and a few in the department too (ie we go for lunch or coffees, have each others numbers/WhatsApp and a couple I am friends with on Facebook -though no one I work closely with as I try to separate work/personal life)
I am also diagosed as clinically depressed, and whilst on the whole it isn't common knowledge, one or two people at work know about this, but mainly keep it to myself.
My manager is aware of this as I had a couple of weeks off last year. My managers manager is not (as far as I am aware - I never discussed it with him)
Cue 4-5 weeks ago I reached breaking point and took time off sick.
Day 1 I emailed (i know some will say this isn't appropriate by email but it is in my team/workplace so please don't pull me up on this ) bosses boss at first as my line manager was on leave. I explained my manager was aware of my condition but would appreciate if they could keep this between them)
I didn't get a reply, not even an acknowledgement. It was hard for me to tell someone else how I feel especially with the stereotypes about mental illness
Day 2 3 4 the same
Day 5 I also emailed my line manager who was back in office
No response at all.
Ok I think, I know they received it as they're emails are saved (correct) in my personal email? And didn't receive an OoO message, put it down to me being sensitive
The following week I see my gp who signs me off, send in a copy of the fit note and get essentially a 2 line acknowledgement and an attachment about some talking therapies.
Next contact is the day note expires (last week) asking if I'll be back next week (had some leave booked which takes me to Monday)
OK I was a bit upset at first as I consider myself to get on well with my manager and I guess I hoped for a bit more of a caring response
The main thing is in the last 5 weeks ONE person I work with has contacted me ONCE
I did ask for my absense reasons to be kept between management but whether people KNOW WHY or not, they can't fail to have noticed I've not been there
We frequently have cards go round for people off sick (few broken legs lately, prolonged stomach bug etc) and even sent flowers out at times
I realise my conditions not helping my frame of mind but I feel horrible like no one cares
Is it one of those 'physical v mental' illness attitudes? I mean the other people off had physical ailments /accidents
Am I just expecting too much? I mean I don't expect card's snd flowers that was just for context but a text or message or email would be nice
Do people just not like me? I'm already worried about what people think of me and think Maybe it just me?
I guess it's not really an aibu but I feel shitty and sorry for myself
I was off work a few months ago for 8 weeks with anxiety & was similarly surprised nobody seemed to bother to contact me to see how I was doing. I called each time my sick line expired & kept them up to date with return dates etc. I mentioned this to a friend who works in a management position & she said they are v careful about coming across as if they are pressuring you for info about returning, particularly if it's long term or mental health related, just from an HR point of view. I hope you are feeling better OP, it is tricky when you are off work with something like this- none of my colleagues who knew ever mentioned it, even those I would consider friends, but I've broken a bone recently & had lots of sympathy about that!
I imagine your (non-manager) colleagues haven't organized a card or made contact with you precisely because they have no clue what is the reason for your absence. They don't know if the contact would be appreciated or if you would prefer to keep details of your illness (whether mental illness, an exotic STD or a dislocated shoulder) private. In case of any doubt, the standard and polite thing is for them to say nothing until they know the contact would be appreciated -to do otherwise would risk intruding on your privacy.
Re your managers, I work in a large public sector and there are huge issues and court cases etc around handling of sick leave. We are trained NOT to make contact with people once sick leave begins, not to make any type "so how are you feeling now" "or just checking things are gong alright" or "hope you're feeling better now" type of outreach. It sounds cold and harsh but all these things (in extremes) have been used successfully in employment law disputes as examples of the manager harassing the employee unfairly and so our policy is once you receive a sick cert, nothing, zilch in terms of contact until the sick cert term expires. Perhaps your managers have similar concerns? This is particularly relevant for illnesses like stress or depression where one person's friendly concern is another's harassment and pressure.
I hope this makes you feel better about your situation. Depression is so very tough, please don't make it harder on yourself by interpreting negatively what may have very rational and well-intended exclamations. I'm sure your colleagues will be delighted to see you return when you are healthy and will be just as friendly,etc. best wishes for your recovery.
I'm off sick with depression at the moment and apart from my manager following procedure by calling, no one has contacted me... Even people who I have contacted to ask how they are when they've been off with lurgies... It's not a great feeling but they're work colleagues not friends and it's not worth getting worked up about
Interesting about the non-contact directive to avoid harassment charges - I think you should go with that as an explanation, to be honest.
Doesn't sound like they're that close as friends, more that they're work acquaintances who you get on with, so wouldn't want to step outside of the work directive in case it causes problems.
Maybe concentrate on working your way through this particular episode and forget about these people. Let your real friends and family help you through.
Oh poor OP, no no no it is NOT just you, it is NOT AT ALL that people don't like you.
That's your illness speaking. Depression sabotages you like that. It makes you think that all your symptoms are character flaws and you blame yourself for everything the illness does to you.
I think there is much less stigma these days around mental health issues but people can still be unconfident and uncomfortable dealing with them and with us who suffer with them.
They may not know what to say to you. They may think you don't want to talk about it. They may be trying to respect your privacy and confidentiality.
They have probably not been offered any reason as to why you are off work and that in itself can create uncertainty and diffidence. It is very straightforward to say "justme has broken her leg"; in the absence of just such a simple explanation, people may feel uncomfortable and unsure.
They are collectively dealing with that by practising the ancient art of avoidance!
They have probably reassured themselves that this is what you need right now; peace, rest and time out.
Of course you are taking the lack of contact personally because you are depressed. And because it is a bit shitty that your friends would rather make themselves feel more comfortable than reach out to you and let you know they care. It is totally fair enough that you want them to. But they are only human.
I am sure they do care OP, I am sure they do like you and think you are a nice person. None of this is a reflection on you.
Could you WhatsApp or FB someone you are close to at work? I know it's hard to make contact when you're feeling grim, but I am sure the positive response you get will be uplifting and reassuring.
I have clinical depression, have had it for years, and have had to take time off sick for it quite recently. The older I get, the more breezily I am able to discuss it. I find that because I am prettty relaxed in talking about it, it helps other pepole to be too.
Hope you feel much better soon
I can appreciate how you are feeling but it must be hard for colleagues if they don't know what the situation is.
Even if they were aware of your situation, sending a 'Get Well Soon' card is appropriate for a broken leg but seems rather inappropriate for someone who is clinically depressed.
Flowers would be nice but I'm guessing they simply don't know why you are off and don't feel it is their place to pry.
Sorry to hear you are having such a tough time
I know in the US it's against the law to discuss health issues of colleagues without consent.
If management was requested not to mention it, they shouldn't. And therefore other colleagues shouldn't really reach out. It'd be different if you had said to feel free to share the information.
Upon your return, you could expect lots of "nice to have you back or we missed you".
There was someone in our department who is off for similar reasons for six months. We were all told not to mention it to her or ask how she was
I was off work for 2 weeks when I had a miscarriage and medical management under general anaesthetic. No one asked how I was during or after and tbh I'd have felt very awkward if they had. I'm sure it's nothing personal, they're just trying to keep out of your business.
We have a chap in our team who has been off since October. He's a really nice person and I have missed him on our team. I would like to get in touch and ask if everything is OK but haven't been able to. None of us have a clue if he's coming back or not.
Please don't think it's you or that people don't care. There are so many ramifications related to workplace sickness, re laws, protocol about what you can and can't say, it's way too complicated. Years ago we probably would have had a whip-round, nice 'thinking of you' card, etc
Don't take it personally
It must upsetting, and perhaps as though they don't care. But, IME people are often nervous to contact colleague off sick, particularly for mental health reasons, as they are worried that if work had contributed to your symptoms then contact from work may hinder your recovery. Perhaps not logical, but often done for caring (if misguided) reasons?
A colleague of mine was of work with depression (I didn't know why they were off was just told they weren't well) and sent an email saying get well soon.
I was told off (indirectly - it was firmly bought up in a meeting) that colleague was not to be contacted while they were off.
I have other colleagues how have been off with anxiety, and while I know why they were off, they don't want it acknowledged.
I can see how it feels as if no one cares about you, but it's better than the alternative for your mental health, I think.
I worked as a manager for a certain large ex civil service, now privatised telecoms company, until a couple of years ago. We we pushed and pushed by higher management to ring people on a daily basis, arrange meetings and home visits with them, remind them constantly of the absence policies and just continually pressurise them into returning to work asap. It was awful, and I'd be amazed if no one has taken them to court over it. The reason for absence was irrelevant to them. Can't believe HR sanctioned this tbh.
Certainly in the NHS you were forbidden to contact sick colleagues and I think it's practice elsewhere- I was told it was because it could be construed as harassment.
I'm sure it's nothing personal op. 💐
Someone was off sick in my group and we were told not to contact her and disturb her. So I didn't. Later through the grapevine we found out she had s miscarriage.
No one said a thing... Don't take this personally.
pretty standard. Management are not allowed to ask how you are and have to keep contact to a minimum. In general unless your best buddies people from work won't contact you, mostly they don't want to intrude or seem like they are being nosey.
esp if they don't have a reason why you are off
Same in teaching, there are strict policies re contacting people on sick leave.
If a colleague was ill with stress/anxiety/depression I don't think i would contact them directly in case they felt under pressure to return or if the stress is work related maybe they want to forget about work completely while they are off. I might send a card if it was someone in my department but not a text, email or call.
Thank you all
I feeling better about it having read those comments (even if you have all made me cry a little)
I am sorry for the delay replying, I'm on new medication taken at night to help me sleep and have had to be up early the last few days for medical appointments and today I didn't and it appears I slept in a little (cough cough)
I appreciate what you've all said - I certainly didn't expect daily emails from managers asking how I was (that would be hard to deal with, I guess it was more that the first week I was off I had to contact someone I hadn't discussed this with previously and didn't even get a "thank you for letting me know" type response.
Right - I'm getting up and focusing on some me time today now
Thank you again for all your kind words
I agree with the comments re employers being very careful not to be accused of harassment when someone is off work with stress or depression.
At my place of work flowers and cards are sent to people off with prolonged physical illnesses particularly if preplanned operations.
Everyone is on eggshells a bit though where psychological illness is concerned.
Hope you feeling better op soon. My dh had a colleague off with a breakdown and there was alot of discussion about contact, and everyone wanted to wish him well. People really wanted to do a card or something and i think the mangers did too but hr warned them not to. Thus colleague was warmly thought of. its very hard as if he had a broken leg a card etc would be ok but it didnt seem right. I know chocolates and a card were purchased before hr said no. I bet op your colleagues are thinking of you and wishing you a speedy recovery. All the best 💐
When anyone in my team is off sick I am told by HR NOT to contact them.
Sometimes I find it hard as I care for them and genuinly want to reassure them to take the time they need, not worry about work etc but I am not "allowed".
and hope you feel better soon x
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