Returning to Work after Sick Leave

Hi all, I'm new here and am just after a bit of advice.

** Brief background ** - I have suffered with anxiety on and off since I was a teenager (I'm now 25). I never really understood that it was anxiety, as daft as that may sound. I've had asthma since I was a child so always put down chest tightening and any nervousness to that. It's only in the last few years where I have actually been diagnosed by my GP with anxiety as it has been through the roof on occasions and was becoming unbearable.

Long story short, I was signed off from work for 9 weeks and have been back for just over a week. When I was signed off it was because I'd had what I would call a meltdown at work - everything just felt too much for me, I broke down to my manager explaining that I'd felt this way for a while but all of a sudden it was just too much. She sent me home for the day and was incredibly understanding about everything, told me to make an appointment with my GP and to keep her posted about what was happening. I self-certed for that first week whilst I was waiting on GP appointments. I was then signed off, initially just for a month. When I returned to my GP she signed me off again as I was just a nervous wreck at the thought of going back to work.

The whole time that I was signed off my manager and my team leader were in contact, asking how I was and wishing me well. I had to go into work for a brief meeting with HR as it was now classed as long term sick (which I was terrified about). It actually went okay and they spoke to me about phased return, flexible hours etc which sounded great to me as the thought of coming back full-time after 9 weeks filled me with dread to be honest. Anyway, I came back to work a little over a week ago. On my first day back I saw my manager and she just asked me what I wanted to do that first day - would I like to be paired up with someone whist getting back into things, or did I want to ease myself in with some filing.. I decided to be paired up with someone, trying to be brave and just get on with things. She said she would ring me in the afternoon to arrange a proper return to work meeting. I thought it was a little odd that she didn't mention the phased return/flexi hours but figured it would come up in the afternoon in my return to work session. I didn't hear from her for the rest of the day, she didn't reply to emails and always seemed to be 'away from the desk' when I tried phoning her. Two days later I received a calendar invitation by email inviting me to a return to work in the afternoon (this is now 3 full days since being back). In the return to work she was rushing, barely spoke to me and just had me sign the form. (Please understand that there was no way I could bring it up with her about the phased return, my anxiety was already through the roof and she barely even looked at me which wasn't helping).

I've just realised how long this post is becoming so apologies but please bare with me!

So I'm back at work, full time, no support like I was promised and no communication from my manager or team leader. I have been thrown straight back in, no one has told me which reception area I need to be on (I work in a hospital), I have literally just been told by other receptionists when I bump into them where I'm covering with no notice. (On my own and not paired up with anyone like I was promised). I have emailed my manager and team leader, had absolutely no reply and am wondering if there are any steps I can take at work to get back to a place where I feel I am being supported?

They certainly talked the talk whist I was signed off but now I'm thinking that it was just a front because it's the NHS and they have to be seen to be doing everything they can to support their employees. I just feel like I can't cope and no one seems to care. Hopefully you've stuck with me to the end of this post! Any advice or support would be fantastic. Thank you, Ellie x

8 Replies

  • Are you part of a union? if so you should contact them, they can offer support.and can speak on your behalf if needed, you have a right to be provided with adequate support to enable you to ease back into work, I'm on a phase return myself at the.moment and it helps, you can also self refer back to HR, explaining to them that you haven't received the support promised to you xxx

  • I'm not in a union, no.. I have actually just sent an email to occupational health (I was supposed to be getting referred to them by my manager) just to see how long it will take for me to be able to speak to someone. Just feel like I'm lost and no one really cares now that I'm back. Thank you for your reply xx

  • Yes I can imagine how your feeling, I'd give HR a phone call. sometimes actually speaking is better than email, you'll get a quicker response too xxx

  • I'm a nurse and I have terrible anxiety as well as Fibro and degenerative disk, hypothyroid. Etc I too will do one shift tomorrow then go off on sick leave. I can't manage the stress any longer. Occupational health said they do not do modified to any casual staff. So I'm likely to try to find a job I know I can better handle and not return again. Sometimes, the only person who cares is ourselves. We need to keep our health a priority. I wish you luck and perhaps think about the kind of job you can handle. Hospitals are a nightmare. The noise, pressures and workload is not easy.

  • looking4me, I am sooo happy that tomorrow will be your last day. You need that respite. It's true in that we have to be our own health advocate. Wishing you time for some R&R and then getting on to something that you might not mind getting up and going to work for. Best of luck dear. x

  • Thank you Agora1. I am really looking at this as a start of a new adventure. I have to be positive! After my time to heal of course. One door closes another opens :)

  • So true. x

  • Hi all - thank you for your replies.

    Looking4me - I really hope you find a job that you love and isn't going to add to your stress and worries. I'm starting to realise that there's more to life than work and trying not to let work be the cause of my anxiety (easier said than done I know). Hopefully things work out for you xx

    Just to give a brief update, I have contacted occupational health and they have never received a referral from my manager. I'm just wondering what steps any of you might take next? I don't want to be seen as playing the victim at work by using the 'I was signed off sick card', but I really feel like I've been thrown back in and left to deal with things on my own. Hoping you're all okay, surprising how just opening up on here relieves some of my worries!

    Best wishes to you all, Ellie x

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