For most of us we get up every day and go to work with no issues. And that is something I have been doing since I was 16, throughout my 3 years at university I worked. Only having time off for holidays, I am not one to go sick. In a management position, or even as a colleague as I was at university I wouldn't and don't like to go sick.
So for me having 5+ weeks off was hard, really hard. Initially I was signed off for 2 weeks. I could cope with that, my first week off was a blur. What I didn't know and what I struggled with was being so debilitated but not having anything physically wrong with me. People would say to me if you had a broken leg you wouldn't be in work and depression is the same, but there is so much stigma around depression that makes it difficult for people to accept depression and learn to live and cope with it.
As the time went on with the tablets kicking in and my counselling sessions helping I would do things with my days, at first it was just going for a walk, but slowly it would be meeting friends for coffee, doing the shopping or joining Slimming World. That was a tough day for me, I'd had a rubbish nights sleep which doesn't help and I'd planned to join on the Thursday evening but I figured a morning class would give me something to do whilst I was off and it meant I wasn't going to miss out on time with Jon once he had finished work. The consultants and the class were so welcoming and although they don't know that I suffer with depression and how nice it is to go to meetings and be surrounded with support they really have helped and motivate me.
I was then signed off for another 4 weeks, I remember going to the doctors and expecting him to tell me to go back to work and that was it; and I know there is so much talk about how easy people get signed off work, but I am truly grateful for him signing me off for that little bit longer. At the time I didn't know I needed that extra time off, but I do know and am grateful for it. Although I am going back before my sick note is up, that was my decision liaising with work and my doctor as it feels like the right decision for me.
Whilst I was starting to go out more I was also ridden with guilt, I was signed off work ill but here I was going out. What if I saw some one from work? Posting things on Facebook etc would make me concerned that people would think I wasn't actually ill. That is what I've learnt; not to care what others think, this time off has been about me, about getting myself better and having time to regroup things. Which has helped. Looking back to where I was 5 weeks ago shocks me at how bad I was, but I'm just glad I got help. And I would say to anyone that you know when you've hit rock bottom, but don't let that scare you - use it as the foundation to build yourself back up again. Build yourself back up to be a stronger person, I know I am now, and yes I still have bad days but I cope with them so much better now.
Going back to work tomorrow, even though it is a phased return still scares the sh*t out of me. Everything from how tired will work make me as I've noticed some days I'm more tired than others when I've hardly done anything, to answering questions as to why I was off. Although a few people know why not everyone - and I still haven't decided how I am going to answer that one.
Today I have done a shed load of food planning and preparation so that is one less thing I have to think about. I have a pineapple & watermelon chopped up in the fridge. A slimming world curry loaf baking in the oven as well as a ham & pea frittata which will allow easy lunches for me to grab along with a salad. Planning is going to be key not just to staying less stressed but also to remaining on plan with slimming world once I am back at work.
So fingers crossed to a good nights sleep & a good 1st day back at work. I feel like a child returning to school after the summer holidays!