With the arrival of the new year I can put the trauma of the past year behind me.
Fortunately my main stressors have now gone- most significantly those who questioned the existence of my illness.
The future is uncertain new opportunities are awaiting.
Keeping in place my destressors -walking, meditation, cooking, yoga and reflexology as part of my lifestyle has really helped.
A new more positive future awaits.
So my return has been thwarted by a fractured wrist.
But which is worse the dark days of my breakdown or the excrutiating pain?
For me it was the breakdown. I still have anxiety issues. The wrist might be painful but apart from that I am perfectly well.
Sympathy about my injury in a freak accident however has been much greater than when I had my breakdown. A sign of the continuing stigma of mental health issues!
With the support of my family, friends and colleagues and professional association I have made it!
Despite being a special school the nature of my illness is a taboo subject. The irony of being asked for money for flowers for a fellow member of SLT who had had a fall whilst for 17 weeks nobody enquired about my wellbeing.
Initially a phased return in which during the early days I felt like a character from an old star trek episode who had landed on a familiar but strangely different planet.
Eventually back to full time.
It’s not been easy.
But I did it!
Into my tenth week of recuperation.
Some days have been better than others. Find me on a good day and you would question why I am not in work.
Physically I am well. Occupational Health have confirmed this. I walk daily in the hills around where I live. It is true I am in great physically condition. But that is not the issue.
So I feel like I am in a limbo state. Emotionally the scars are not yet healed, but physically I look so well.
Occupational health have made suggestions but meetings have not yet happened where issues can be addressed and a potential return negotiated. These delays play on my anxieties and contribute to my on-going stressful state.
After 7 weeks away from the daily grind I am beginning to feel refreshed and revitalised.
It has been hard work getting this far and wouldn’t have been possible without the support of family and good friends and backup from my professional association.
There is no quick fix but I’ve perservered with daily walks. Some have become quite lengthy. My fitness levels and energy have been boosted.
Rediscovering old hobbies I had curtailed due to the demands of work has helped return joy and pleasure to my days.
Mindfulness training using an app has helped calm my mind, appreciate the now and stop worrying about the past or future.
My biggest hurdle is getting closer. Returning to the place and people who were instrumental in my breakdown will be difficult. Maintaining the lifestyle changes which have helped my recovery will be a challlenge.
After 6 weeks of reflection I have realised we all have a responsibility to look after our colleagues. But knowing what to look for and having the confidence to start that conversation with a colleague is difficult.
5 warning signs something is going terribly wrong:
Wanting to be alone –
Not talking to colleagues
Lacking motivation to do anything
Have the difficult conversation with a colleague!