I went to see Occupational Health on Tuesday last week. At the time I didn’t really see that it was necessary as I knew that the environment I was going back to in work had changed, there had been work done to the offices – new heating systems put in and walls taken down which meant that the seating arrangements and whole office layout had changed which had changed the dynamics of the team I work in. I thought that, until I returned to work I wouldn’t know if that environment had affected me or whether it would.
I got ready on the morning of my appointment and the anxiety started to creep in but I managed to control it. I was really anxious about the drive there as I’ve not really driven much since I have been off from work. I was also really worried about the actual appointment, what I needed to say, whether I would forget to mention anything, whether they would see me fit enough to return to work and whether I would be allowed to return to work full-time.
When I arrived I had to fill in a form with all my details on it, it was a quick form to fill in and taking time to answer it seemed to calm my nerves a bit. I was 10 minutes early so I thought I would have to sit and wait but the doctor was able to see me straight away. I think this helped too as I wasn’t able to start overthinking things.
We talked about how I am feeling now, how I was feeling, my medication, anything that may have triggered my anxiety, stress and depression and what sort of things I was doing to overcome my illness. We talked about my worries about returning to work and how I’m still not sleeping properly. The doctor was really lovely, she asked lots of questions and listened to my answers without brushing them off, and she gave me some really useful advice. She also said that I would be ok to return to work on an extended phased return as she felt that it would be better for me. She suggested that for 2 weeks I work a total of 12 hours over 3 days, the next 2 weeks increase to 15 hours over 3 days, the 3rd week 24 hours over 4 days and the final 2 weeks to work 30 hours over 5 days. After that period of time I could then resume working 37.5hrs a week.
A report was written up and a copy was sent to my employer. I spoke with my line manager on monday this week, it was the final day of being covered on my sick note and we discussed my return to work for Tuesday. I decided, with her, that I would attend work at 9am and we would have a meeting to discuss my phased return.
So, yesterday, I got ready for my first day back. I was really worried about going back, namely about how my work colleagues would be with me, where I was going to be sitting, if I could remember my log in details for my work computer and about what was going to happen during the day.
I arrived at work, found my desk, my computer took an age to fire up as it had been switched off for some time, then I had problems with my computer screens (I use 2 for work), I then got locked out of the system as the password I did remember didn’t work. Eventually I was able to get into the system! I spent time sorting through my emails (all 600 of them!) then I had a meeting with my line manager, we needed to fill in some paperwork about returning to work, then my overall manager joined us to discuss the Occupational Health report. She said that it was a really positive report and that she could see that I was taking steps to help myself which was good. We then discussed my phased return. Both my managers agreed that the proposed return was a good idea and that they had worked out a timetable of hours and days for me to work which was nice, and they asked what sort of hours I preferred – I said mornings, as eventually I would need to be getting up in the mornings to come to work anyway and a routine would be really beneficial to me and probably help with my sleep patterns.
After the meeting I went back to my desk and managed to do the work that had been allocated to me before it was time for me to go home. My work colleagues were lovely and all said hi and had a chat with me. One of my work friends had left a note on my desk welcoming me back and put a little Hello Kitty figure with it. That really made me smile and was such a lovely gesture to come in to.
I’m back in work tomorrow and really looking forward to it. I just have no idea what to wear! This time last year it was freezing in the office but now the heating has been upgraded it seems warmer so I am unsure how to dress.