So, I ended up having my first long-term sickness off work. Hated it! Gosh, I hated it everyday. Before this, I had only ever been short-term off work, the odd cold or flu, tiredness or just “couldn’t be bothered to go” attitude…yes just once or twice I told a little white lie…who doesn’t?
But this was different; I had no get up and go, sat there on the sofa mostly all day. I developed shaking, twitches I couldn’t control but knew I was doing them…annoying. Making say a cup of tea became hard, and if I was not sitting I would pace the room. My wife became my carer and my critic, so much that she were my motivator.
Six weeks I was off. My work acted quickly and got me booked in with OH and eventually I returned. But I was changed person…I could tell! Despite all the talk from work nothing seemed to change there…same pressures, same problems, same shallow promises. I also found out that my mental state was classed as a disability…something I worked in my favour but was also to act against me. Strangely, I had a huge distrust of everyone…they say team leaders sit on the fence…well my fence was huge and I was on top of it in a lonely place in the sky, wrapped in barb wire, looking down at places where I did not want to be.
Phased return! That were a joke…oh they sent me to counselling…not sure if that worked. And, I had training, just like every team leader had, developed new skills, new thinking, even pushed myself to the extreme on one course. But mostly I was fighting tiredness, nodding off, loosing concentration, sitting there too scared to say “Excuse me…must go now”, for the fear of being ridiculed by my peers. Nobody ever, at work, actually stopped me and asked how I was or feeling, never tried to get me to open up, I felt alone at work.
At home, our debt problems, with the help of a management company, steadied and we actually had money at the end of each month. At work, I developed a good team, applied new concepts and pressed them hard to achieve. Everything was ticking along so I stopped my meds…big mistake!
They say a leopard never changes its spots, that was so true of work…same old work and yet I was too naïve to notice the pressures building up again. Then it happened again, yet in a different way, a shocking way, which triggered another spell of anxiety. One of my charges had an accident in my area, blood everywhere, fingers crushed. For some reason I was on a different level, acting very professionally, calmly got the first aider; rang for an ambulance; gave directions to my team; and put the investigation team together; and a hygiene team to clean up. I coordinated all this, got due praise for my part by the H&S manager…then…2 days later…bang! My anxiety came along and hit me like an express train.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), my anxiety was weighing me down, dragging me down…four weeks off work, back to the doctor’s, back on meds, back to OH. However, when I returned to work this time they were not so sympathetic, my team were, but my line management was not. Got a disciplinary, written warning…for having a disability? What a joke!
So, I researched my illness, presented my case to the union rep and we took it to the HR manager. It seems they ignored the fact, I had a disability, decision overturned, full stop! Well, I presume this was so, never heard anything, should have pursued it…didn’t matter!!
(to be continued...)