Taking time off work for Mental Health
This time last year I signed myself off from work due to being ill with my mental health. I was so embarrassed by the decision it took me at least a day to tell my other half about it, and I didn’t tell many other people. It was pretty much just my friends at work who knew.
I had almost 2/3 months off at the time. I already worked part time so it was quite easy to hide from the family and friends I didn't want to tell about it!
I remember about 2/3 days into being signed off I decided to take myself off to a yoga class, but my other half said to me “be careful, you don’t want to get caught”…which at the time sent me into a bit of a panic that maybe I shouldn’t be leaving the house.
I’ve been signed off sick so I must spend that time in bed.
Luckily though, I had a good think about it and decided the point of me being off was to feel better, to make myself feel better, if possible. So, how was best to treat a mental illness? In particular, for my, I was suffering from a very low mood.
I decided to make a list of things that make me feel happy, that make me feel safe and supported and even some things that would help me to step outside of my comfort zone. The list I came up with was:
· Walks in the forest
· Spending time with family
· Getting ready for Christmas
There were days where all I wanted to do was lie in bed, and if I did, that’s what I would proceed to do! But, I knew that wasn’t going to make me feel better if I continued to do that.
What I’m trying to say is, sometimes we can worry so much about what other people think about us that we actually hinder our recovery.
We can worry that people will think we’re “putting it on” because we “seem to be doing fine”. But, if what it takes to make you feel better is putting on a brave face and going along to a yoga class-that is what you need to do. People will always have their own perception of you and others around you, but their perceptions really don’t matter.
As I said, I was so worried about telling people I had been signed off with a mental illness, I was worried I’d come across weak or attention seeking and I didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for me. But, talking about it is what breaks the stigma, it makes it just as normal as a broken leg. It may even help people recover quicker.
If you are off work now or if you feel you need time off work to recover from a mental illness, this is OK.
Everyone needs time to recover and work can really affect you whilst trying to live with mental health problems. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to people about it, this is also OK, do whatever you feel comfortable doing.
I’ve always really struggled with lying, but lying is OK!
Speak to your GP, tell them what’s going on, explore what options are available to you, but also do research online and explore yourself all the different ways you can help yourself!
If you ever want to chat follow me over at www.instagram.com/victoria.apperley