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Urgent advice: How to tell work I'm off sick with prenatal depression...

(9 Posts)
30WeeksAndCounting Fri 09-Jan-15 11:37:31

Need some urgent advice, please... Sorry it's an essay, but don't want to drop feed!

I'm 30+2 today. Just had a GP appointment as I have been feeling severely depressed and anxious for some weeks and it's getting unmanagable. I've had 'severe clinical depression' on and off (mostly on, especially in the Winter months) for over 10 years, but came off meds early in 2014 when we started TTC. I kind of expected the depression to kick in again within a few months. Well, it has, been pretty bad and rapidly deteriorating since November. And my midwife has been as much use as a chocolate teapot in terms of offering me additional support, so I've now spoken to the GP.

GP and I agree we'll try to keep me off meds till the baby is here (I get really severe side effects from the meds even when not pregnant - the only medication I get on with is one half decently is one that's not safe in pregnancy. Long story. Suffice it to say that in my case, it's not a good option for medical reasons.)

GP has done an urgent referral to a counsellor and signed me off work for a week to start with, but he said he'll renew it weekly till I feel ready to go back. He's been really supportive, I wish I'd gone to see him sooner.

GP stated prenatal depression in last trimester of pregnancy on the form for work (Fitness for work form) so that I don't have to admit to work that this is an ongoing, long-term thing, which would basically kill my career. I work for a very fast moving, somewhat cut-throat multinational company and in a pretty high-powered job. 12 hour days are the norm, plus early / late conference calls with other time zones.

My boss is not an evil guy, but clueless / insensitive / prejudiced against mental illness. I know this from comments he has made about others over the years. sad

So right now I am sitting here in tears because I can't figure out how / what to tell work. Do I call my boss? Do I email him? Do I email HR? Or HR and the boss together? Do I even have to tell boss what it says on the form? Can I phrase things vaguely and just send the form to HR? And what in the world do I say?

And what do I tell my team? I don't want them to know I'm depressed. It's none of their business. I know it's nothing to be ashamed of, but I am a private person and I don't want to discuss my health, mental or physical, at work.

I also have a huge amount of stuff on at work over the next week. Several things are the kind that no-one else knows how to do. My DH says that's their problem, not mine... but I feel hugely guilty about leaving people in the lurch. Can work expect me to do some of this stuff from home while off sick? I suspect not?

Help, please. And sorry this is such an essay.

onthematleavecountdown Fri 09-Jan-15 11:44:05

Sorry your feeling like this. I would have a meeting with hr and your boss together.

I like that your doctor wrote it that way, it definitely does suggest this is not a long term thing.

In my experience of dealing with difficult situations at work, had to tell my male child-hating boss that I needed time off for ivf....... twice..... I found honesty was the best policy. I involved hr from the start and have found the support amazing

Good luck.

Number3cometome Fri 09-Jan-15 11:51:33

Absolutely so sorry you are feeling like this, must be awful especially with the added stress of work and how they will feel.

Are you planning on staying off work until your maternity leave kicks in?

The only thing I would say, is that if you are off work for pregnancy related illness after 36 weeks they can force your maternity leave to start, however if your sickness is not pregnancy related, their hands are tied and they have to continue with their usual sickness policy.

30WeeksAndCounting Fri 09-Jan-15 11:57:49

Thank you both. onthematleavecountdown, I'm not at work right now (working from home so I could attend the doctor's appointment) and live around 90 mins from work - so can't do face to face meeting. In that case, would you do a call or email? I might get upset in a call, so am a bit scared. Argh.

Number3cometome, I may be ok to go back in a couple of weeks - I feel like I mainly need a break, calm down, get the anxiety under control. This is the first time in over 10 years that I have taken time off work due to depression, I'm normally pretty good at finding ways to cope.

WhyOWhyWouldYou Fri 09-Jan-15 11:59:12

If you really don't want work to know you can ask gp to put down a non mental health reason - for example I had something put about old back injury being flaired up by pregnancy (tbf it was a little bit, so had some truth there), but really it was severe antenatal anxiety and depression that I just couldnt cope with that was keeping me off work. Just phone gp and tell him its making you too anxious and ask if there is some way to avoid mental health being mentioned on the note.

MissTwister Fri 09-Jan-15 13:16:21

I know it's hard. I had a similar situation a few years ago pre pregnancy when I was signed off for 3 weeks with severe anxiety. I worked in a high pressure dynamic company where this kind of thing wasn't the norm. I was so scared and in such a bad way I got my mum to phone despite being about 30 years old!!

However, you just have to think it, your health is the most important thing here not the work in a job you may not even be at in 2,5 years time. Being brutal, companies usually don't take a huge interest in employees' health so you need to. You won't regret it.

In actual fact it was not too bad, work were fine (they have to be), I came back after a few weeks and stayed another few years incident free before I eventually left.

Good luck and look after yourself xxx

30WeeksAndCounting Fri 09-Jan-15 13:44:42

MissTwister, that sounds like my company - you just don't admit weakness, and mental health issues are kind of seen that way. I know it's utterly wrong, but it's the unfortunate reality.

I just called my HR director as he knows my manager is not always too politically correct. He basically dictated an email to my manager to me - bless him! I was advised not to tell my boss the reason I'm off, but to just mention pregnancy related illness and to emphasize that the doctor insists I do not work at all, not even from home. So this way only HR will know what's up and it can't get round the office. I feel a bit better now - my boss hasn't replied yet, but I shall switch off the computer, move to the sofa and try to actually get some sleep for a change...

MissTwister Fri 09-Jan-15 13:54:06

That sounds really postive! Now have a nice nap xx

MissTwister Sat 10-Jan-15 11:51:07

Hi OP, just checking how you're feeling today? Xx

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