Coming back to work after mental illness
Coming back to work after being off with anxiety or depression is daunting for lot of people. If the company you work for has good policies, you should have been kept up to date with your work area and had regular check ins with your manager. During these check ins you should have discussed your phased return (if you're having one), how you are, what kind of support you have or may need, what your colleagues have been told and what you would like them to know if anything.
When that first day back comes you can feel like a fish out of water. If you have been off for a while and it's a big company some of your old colleagues may have moved on and been replaced. If you're on phased return and you company has a hot desking policy you may find that you often don't even have a seat!
There is a fear, well, there might be a few fears really.
- Can I still do this job?
- What will people think?
- Will they think I'm not pulling my weight?
- Am I now going to be seen as a vulnerable person in the team?
- Will they still expect me to be the strong one?
- How much should I say about being off?
- Will they think I'm weird?
If you have been off for work related stress, there is the added fear of will things to back to the way they were and do I even want this job anymore.
Your fears are legitimate and with regular one to one meetings with your manager they should be allayed.
You might decide to get some external support for those first few weeks just so you can vent how you are feeling about going back.
One in four of us will suffer a mental illness at some point in our lives. You are not alone and chances are there are others in your place of work who is or have suffered with mental illness in the past. Seek help if you find the experience of returning to work overwhelming. There are people out there to support you through this.
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