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How to tell colleagues I've returned to work?

(45 Posts)
Settlethewreckage Wed 13-Mar-19 13:21:42

Posting for traffic. I attempted suicide last year, and after a period of recovery I am now ready to return to work (go me! grin). My supervisors and higher ups want to announce my return by sending an email to the unit, and I would like that too. I'm just not sure what to say. I am quite open and would like to be honest about why I was off, but I'm lost as to how to phrase it!

When my supervisor asked me I just said "tried to die, but failed so thought 'might as well return to work'..." Can some of you lovely ladies please come up with something a little more 'appropriate'? blush

Shelley54 Wed 13-Mar-19 13:30:00

Depends how brutally honest you want to be. If you’re going for tact and diplomacy, “as many of you know, last year was tough for me. But I’m back on my feet and excited about rejoining the team” or something similar?

Wixi Wed 13-Mar-19 13:31:11

Not really, but what about "after a difficult period in my life, I now feel able to return to the workplace and look forward to the opportunity of working with you all again"? Positive without going into much detail, as they don't need to know details but can ask if you are happy to explain? Good luck with your return.

Ariela Wed 13-Mar-19 13:31:19

How about :
After battling with mental health demons last year, I'm pleased to say I am recovering well and looking forward to returning to work on (date). The chocolate biscuits are on me!

GreenFingersWouldBeHandy Wed 13-Mar-19 13:33:43

Well done you! Great that you are ready to go back. Be as honest as you're comfortable with, but perhaps be wary of the language potentially being a trigger for someone else having MH issues.

How about;

"Delighted to be coming back. Please don't feel the need to tip-toe around me or avoid mentioning what I went through last year; I'm quite happy to talk about my mental health and my experiences."

Hope it helps.

ScatteredMama82 Wed 13-Mar-19 13:34:07

I’m not sure how to word it, but if you’re happy being open about it I would mention mental health/depression. If you’d had cancer you’d say so, so I think you should say what was wrong and not pussyfoot around it by saying ‘a difficult time’. Good luck in getting back into work xxx

EssentialHummus Wed 13-Mar-19 13:36:09

I think any of the above are good options. Please don’t make jokes at your own expense in the circumstances, you deserve better and it will make most people very uncomfortable. flowers

ShinyMe Wed 13-Mar-19 13:37:39

Depending how pushy you feel about destigmatising suicide, you could be very frank. I wouldn't say 'failed' but I might be tempted to say something like 'last year I experienced suicidal thoughts and actions. I'm currently in a much better place, and feel ready to return to work.'

I might be tempted to add something about how you want to be treated, e.g. 'please don't be afraid to ask me about it', or 'please don't feel you have to walk on eggshells around me', or 'I'd rather not discuss it, please treat me the same as before...' depending on how you feel.

Part of the fear and stigma around suicide in society is that people are scared to talk about it, and will beat around the bush, using euphemisms that don't really help, and add to the general fear. If you feel strong enough, I'd be tempted to use the word suicide, and to be upfront about it, without using judgemental language like failed/failure etc.

blockedoffandfuckedoff Wed 13-Mar-19 13:38:40

Please don’t make a joke about it. People will find that more uncomfortable.

Be honest and tell them you’re happy to be back

Glogirl0305 Wed 13-Mar-19 13:40:49

"Delighted to be coming back. Please don't feel the need to tip-toe around me or avoid mentioning what I went through last year; I'm quite happy to talk about my mental health and my experiences."

This. And good work!

Happyhusband Wed 13-Mar-19 13:48:50

"Bad luck world I'm still here!" ??

ginghamtablecloths Wed 13-Mar-19 13:55:32

How about 'I went through some challenging times last year but I'm back and raring to go.'

Pinkbells Wed 13-Mar-19 13:56:26

After a very difficult personal time last year I am in a happier place and ready to embrace the next chapter of my life. I am very much looking forward to returning to work and seeing you all next week.

ILoveBray Wed 13-Mar-19 13:58:53

I wouldn't make any jokes, it just minimises the seriousness of why you were away and appears a bit attention seeking.

I would make it clear you are OK to discuss it (if you are) and that you are pleased to be coming back.

babysharkah Wed 13-Mar-19 13:59:04

After some difficult times with my mental health, I'm back!

That's enough, if they question then it's up to you to answer on an individual basis.

ILoveBray Wed 13-Mar-19 13:59:49

Well done on your recovery BTW. Great that you are well enough to go back.

TheMuminator2 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:00:28

@happy u naughty thing i had a similar naughty line but wont post not making light of it xx glad op is BACK!

Stuckforthefourthtime Wed 13-Mar-19 14:01:50

I'd go with Pinkbells version. You don't know what has gone with other people's mental health and can then be as open as you like in person.

LuckyLou7 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:02:32

Don't talk about attempting suicide in a jokey way, it might be a trigger for other people - you don't know what others are going through at the moment. Lots of people struggle to stay well mentally.
Just say you have been through a bad time, but are recovering well and looking forward to getting back to work. If you want to go into more detail once you're back, go ahead.

NWQM Wed 13-Mar-19 14:03:13

Is to coming from you or your employer?

Either way I think you should think about just being factual about being back, any adjustments for phased return & thanks to the person / people who have covered for you.

I’ve been off work through depression. I am not embarrassed by it but doesn’t mean I want to talk to everyone about it. I pick and choose. Being open may become hard when you are on the 20th conversation that day with someone who thinks they are being kind by being interested but actually telling you about their or their families experience.

Get yourself back into work and decide as you go along how and when to talk to people. It really may not be helpful to lose control of the information.

No-one - expect your manager - has a right to know why you were off. This privacy is important off many people and quite rightly:

After an assult I had a long period off. Well I thought everybody would feel it was long. Most people hadn’t really realised how long it was. They’d been off themselves for holidays etc and life ticks on. One person in particular yes really upset she hadn’t realised. For a few it was obviously glaring - the kind ones were just pleased I was well enough to come back. The horrible ones would have been horrible regardless.

Good luck

Springwalk Wed 13-Mar-19 14:10:43

Thank you for your well wishes and support in the last year, I am very excited to be able to return on xxxx l am very much forward to seeing you all.

I wouldn’t mention more than that, I wouldn’t invite people to discuss MH either. You may not be ready for that, going over it potentially over and over again.
Most people will just be very glad you are okay and back. Well done op!!! 💐💐💐

GBroGal Wed 13-Mar-19 14:11:57

I would avoid joking about it - either in an email or in a conversation. You might be speaking to someone who has had someone close to them who did actually commit suicide.
Well done for getting back to work - I hope it goes well for you.

ReanimatedSGB Wed 13-Mar-19 14:14:10

I also think that neutral language is better than jokes or too much detail. I appreciate that you may want to lessen the stigma around mental health but people wouldn't expect much detail from a colleague who was returning to work after gastric surgery or a breast enlargement, either - or any other physical ailment.

Best of luck.

Boysey45 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:14:56

I'd just say I was unwell and now am better and looking forward to returning to work. Its nobody else's business why you were off apart from the managers.
I certainly wouldn't make a joke about anything to do with mental helath. There will be people there who suffer themselves and who have lost loved ones I bet as well.
Hope it all goes well for you.

Nesssie Wed 13-Mar-19 14:15:48

Definitely don't make jokes about it, not appropriate at all.

Lovemusic33 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:16:44

I wouldn’t make a joke out of it, there maybe others going through it now that don’t find it funny. I do think it’s good to be honest though so people realise that it doesn’t have to be a taboo subject.

rumptifizzer Wed 13-Mar-19 14:26:01

As some of you may be aware I suffered terribly with a period of mental ill health last year which resulted in my absence from work in order to fully recover. I'm pleased to say I'm returning to work and looking forward to catching up with you all.

bethy15 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:27:43

I’ve been off work through depression. I am not embarrassed by it but doesn’t mean I want to talk to everyone about it. I pick and choose. Being open may become hard when you are on the 20th conversation that day with someone who thinks they are being kind by being interested but actually telling you about their or their families experience.

I'd agree with this entirely.

It's great to be open but do you want every single person knowing your business or some saying completely ignorant or inane things or presumptions, even saying crazy things like it's all in Jesus' hands (yes I've had people say such things).

I wouldn't want everyone knowing all of my business and have physical and mental health issues and I'm very selective as to who I say anything to as I've experienced too much utter ignorance for me to be wasting my time with. It can be exhausting and mentally draining when everyone has an opinion on your health.

Well done on your recovery to the point you're ready to go back to work. You're clearly doing really well with your recovery.

christinarossetti19 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:36:47

I agree bethy1. It's very easy to give away information about yourself, but you have no control over how others interpret it.

As a general email to everyone, I would just give the date that you'll be back say that you're looking forward to it and any other relevant info.

Then choose who you tell what and when as you go along. It's easier to adjust the gist of what you're telling someone if you can observe their reactions etc.

MadameDD Wed 13-Mar-19 14:38:28

You don't actually need to say anything to anyone really!

If you want to say thanks for support - yes that's great but I certainly wouldn't be mentioning suicide or mental health issues in your email as this may upset people either suffering with those issues or who have friends/relatives who have gone through the same issues.

If colleagues come to you separately to speak to you about why you're off and you're open about this or want to make people aware of your issues then maybe a fundraiser for World Mental Health Day and/or World Suicide Prevention Day would be a good idea to suggest.

christinarossetti19 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:39:41

Eg if someone has strong moral beliefs about suicide, it's not going to help either you or them talking about it at work.

RomanyQueen1 Wed 13-Mar-19 14:39:46

I'm no good at writing but wanted to say congratulations on coming through what I know is a difficult time. thanks
All the best, and I'm so happy for you. x

Settlethewreckage Wed 13-Mar-19 14:42:05

Thanks for your input everyone smile I have constructed something that largely resonates with what you've all advised. I was not going to make a joke about it in my email, I'm naturally one of those 'laugh it off' people and when my boss asked I panickedblush

With regards to inviting discussion, I actually feel better when I know that people know. I am also quite active around mental health at work and feel passionate about paving the way for better treatment and recognition. I don't work in the same office as colleagues so I can escape any unpleasant convo a little easier grin

7Pip Wed 13-Mar-19 14:47:51

I would keep it utterly professional. A period out of the workplace can make you forget what that is.
I would simply say, 'I'm delighted to be returning to work after a long period of illness. I am now fully recovered and looking forward to working with the team again'.

jennymalone Wed 13-Mar-19 14:50:33

i'm glad you decided to avoid anything jokey OP.

not at all appropriate and would be a big trigger if someone else has been affected personally by similar issues/is being impacted by them (themselves, a loved one).

if you want to raise awareness/de-stigmatise it, there are better ways to do it in a work setting - participate in those. (e.g. mental health / wellbeing teams at work, HR initiatives, informal support networks, charity fund raising, serving as a mentor to a struggling colleague or something)

JustBloodyCold Wed 13-Mar-19 14:51:00

Honestly OP, I wouldn't make a joke. You don't know what other people are dealing with in their lives and it could seriously upset someone. For example, I work with someone whose DP has just tried to commit suicide. After a period in intensive care the DP has only a short time left to live now. A joke could be incredibly upsetting to someone in that position.

I'm glad you are recovered and back OP. I hope your return to work goes well!

GreenFingersWouldBeHandy Wed 13-Mar-19 14:53:33

@Settlethewreckage just wanted to say you have a really nice attitude towards being open about mental health.

Hope all goes really well with your return to work.

7Pip Wed 13-Mar-19 14:56:38

Are you ready to put your professional hat on again OP? It can be a bit of a strain after a period off work.

StellaRae Wed 13-Mar-19 15:04:45

Lots of good advice on here. Just wanted to say best of luck with your return to work!

Justheretogiveaviewfrommyworld Wed 13-Mar-19 15:16:12

I would say sometthing like:

Hi all, thanks so much for your support during a difficult time. Just a note to let you all know that I'm back and raring to go!

Looking forward to catching up on [return date]!

Settle smile

MummySharkBabyShark Wed 13-Mar-19 15:18:31


Congratulations on your recovery. flowers

TheOrigFV45 Wed 13-Mar-19 15:22:05

A PP asked whether the email was coming from you or from someone else. If it's not from you directly, then it's important it states that they have your agreement to send the frank explanation.

I am very glad to hear of your recovery

Deathraystare Wed 13-Mar-19 15:32:13

So glad your attempt failed! Good luck on your return to work. I wouldn't put too much in the email about your illness. Some people will get obsessed and that is all they will talk about (and probably give their opinions too! If that is the case change the subject. You may be open about it now and ok at talking about it but after a while you will want to move on.

All the best!

7Pip Wed 13-Mar-19 15:39:21

Bear in mind that you're coming from an environment where you're surrounded by medical professionals who will encourage you to talk etc. And that is a safe place to talk.
Back in the workplace, I'm concerned that you're not quite prepared to return to a professional environment yet. There may also be silent judgment. You are entitled to privacy about your medical history. It's fantastic that your management are supportive.
However, I would not leave yourself open to public discussion or criticism.
The only thing that your colleagues need to know is that you are well enough to work. Nothing more, nothing less.
My advice to you would be to only discuss it with close colleagues and not publicly, by email or in face to face discussions.
Protect yourself.

Bellasorellaa Wed 13-Mar-19 15:50:44

everyone so far given good advice just wanted to say stay strong, you are needed here and wanted flowers

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