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Returning to work after time off

(12 Posts)
Mollmoo Mon 26-Sep-16 22:34:03

Nearly 3 months ago I was signed off by my doctor and diagnosed with depression. Tomorrow I am due to go back to work on a phased return. I think I'm feeling well enough to cope with being back in work and feel that I want to try. My issue, and what I'm worrying about tonight is facing people. I thought I was friends with my colleagues but none of them have contacted me at all while I've been off. The only contact I've had has been with my manager about returning to work and also a few work queries (which really pissed me off!!!) My husband can't believe that I never had a card or flowers or anything. Something that we always usually do for colleagues. I'm worried about feeling lonely and that they are all just being fake as clearly we aren't as close as I thought we were. I can appreciate that they may not know what to say, but I'd like to think if the shoe had been on the other foot I'd at least drop a text to say hi, hope all is ok, fancy a coffee sometime?
Am I over thinking this?

dangermouseisace Mon 26-Sep-16 23:20:26

Hi Mollmoo

I think you are over thinking…or maybe not thinking in quite the way that your work might. I've had a few periods of time off for depression but never received a card etc- do they usually send them to people off with depression? In my experience when people are off with something physical- e.g. had appendicitis etc it's generally common knowledge what someone is off with, and also it is something they'll get better from, AND it's nothing to do with work.

If someone's off with mental health issues…then there is the concern that anything from work that is not completely necessary could act as a trigger, the worry that work has been a factor in the person becoming unwell in the first place, and also the fact that whereas a physical illness will generally be freely spoken about (with permission), managers etc don't tend to let colleagues know what it is a person with MH problems is off with. I'd go back to work with an open mind. Sometimes people worry too much about how someone will react if they get in touch, and so it's easier to do nothing. Good luck on your first day back!

AnxiousCarer Mon 26-Sep-16 23:24:22

Hi, I agree with dangermouse. Work collegues shouldn't have been told why you are off work and may have therefore not known how to respond or what to say. See how it feels when you are back. Depression is very common, just not always talked about.

Mollmoo Mon 26-Sep-16 23:46:07

Thank you for your replies I hadn't actually thought that they might not know exactly why I was off. I think I'm just feeling a bit nervous about it. xx

erinaceus Wed 28-Sep-16 18:43:50

Hi Mollymoo

I was in a similar situation at the start of this year. I was off for several months with depression and went back to work on a phased return. One of the most helpful suggestions came from my employer's OH department, where the OH practitioner who worked with me when I was off and through my phased return suggested to me that when people start asking why I was off, just to say "I'm back now", or "I've had a period of medical leave, and I'm back now" and keep emphasising that I am back now.

I found this a bit too direct, so instead I used the script "Occupational Health told me to emphasise that I am back now", which I found a bit softer, and seemed to help the other person to understand that their curiosity about why I had been off was not particularly helpful to me.

I was terrified before I went back, but it did go smoothly, even if I did find it exhausting in the beginning, because I had been off for a while and there is a sort of work stamina that you lose, this is how OH described it. It took maybe six months before I really felt as if I was back to where I had been before I started to go downhill with my mental health enough for it to effect my work, which was maybe a few weeks or a month before I was signed off.

Sending supportive flowers and I hope it goes as smoothly as it can.

ProfessorPreciseaBug Thu 29-Sep-16 08:50:59

Been there, worn the T shirt.

Good luck. Please post further to tell us how it is going.

Squeegle Thu 29-Sep-16 08:56:02

Don't worry. I'm sure they will have been concerned, but not sure what to say. Just concentrate on the fact that you had to have some time off, but all is well now.

Squeegle Thu 29-Sep-16 08:56:45

Just realised you will have been back already, hope it went ok

everdene Thu 29-Sep-16 09:02:02

Moll I had exactly the same thing - got signed off (tho with anxiety not depression) and people didn't get in contact. Realised when I got back that no one had been told why I was off.

I was bowled over by how kind people were actually. I sent an email round to my team explaining what had happened and they were very supportive.

Good luck OP.

Penfold007 Thu 29-Sep-16 09:04:32

Hope the return went well. One of my colleagues had two long periods of sick leave, first time we were not told why and nor should we have been but we were reminded of the company policy of not contacting employees off sick. Second time she asked for us to be told and for us to keep in touch. We did care we were respecting her privacy.

IzzyIsBusy Thu 29-Sep-16 09:10:02

I returned to work in January after 8 months of with MH.

It was scary and i had all the same worries as you which only increased my anxiety issues.
None of my team knew why i was off so i made the choice to be honest with them. My managers supported this and were fantastic.
For me being honest really helped as it to away the anxiety of people guessing/assuming. I took control and the reaction from the team was brilliant. It really helped my phased return as they understood my illness and worked with me and supported me.
You will be ok OP and returning to the routine of work really helped even though i was petrified.

Mollmoo Sun 02-Oct-16 22:28:40

Hi everyone, thank you so much for responding. It went well, I was absolutely terrified going in, but feel stronger for doing so. Everyone was lovely and it felt good to be getting back into it. It turns out that no one had been told why I was off. I've been very open with people about why I was off, which I've actually found quite therapeutic.
everdene I've been thinking about sending round an email. But just couldn't think how to phrase it and was worried it was too late now. But if you think it was helpful I might rethink it.
Xx

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