Author Topic: How to take leave from work when your mental health is suffering?  (Read 1173 times)

IslandFiGirl

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How to take leave from work when your mental health is suffering?
« on: September 04, 2019, 10:57:51 PM »
So in a nutshell, I'm having a pretty hard time coping with my parents' deaths.  I guess after they each died I just went right back to work and life and tried to move on like life was just fine.  I'm kind of realizing lately that I'm really not all that ok.  I am usually so strong and on top of everything that admitting that my mind is just not in the right place is really hard for me.  I want to be able to handle it all and I just feel like I can't.  Some days I can barely get out of bed, don't want to go to work, just don't have the energy and drive like I think I should.  When I have time off of work, well, I just want to sleep.  I think I can pretty safely say I'm depressed.

I want and think that I need some significant time off of work.  I work in a high stress job and can't afford to make any mistakes.  I won't be specific about what I do, but let's just say a mistake can mean life or death for someone, so I really don't want to take any chances.  I can feel myself being less sharp and I'm worried that if I don't take time away things at work could deteriorate.  At least I think my abilities will deteriorate.  We are very short staffed, as in there is literally nobody that can cover for me and work my shifts.  And as I say that I think well, if I was dead, SOMEBODY would work for me, right? 

So my question is, can anyone offer advice on how to get time off without losing my job, making my co-workers hate me and without telling everyone at work about my damn business?  I mean I understand how to tell my boss, hey I need time off.  But how do I get the message across that this isn't negotiable.  I need to be away.  If not I may just quit.  Has anyone been in this spot before?  I need a doctor's note after 3 days...3 days is not enough.  Has anyone gone to the doctor and said look I'm depressed, I can't function at work, write me a note!  How I do this and not screw everything up? 

Thanks for reading, I appreciate any advice anyone has to offer.

MonkeyJenga

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Re: How to take leave from work when your mental health is suffering?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2019, 12:13:39 AM »

Linea_Norway

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Re: How to take leave from work when your mental health is suffering?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2019, 01:59:08 AM »
In many jobs you can ask for a period of unpaid leave. They will not gladly give it to you, but if you explain your current situation where you can't concentrate and that might lead to dangerous situations for other people, it might be beneficial for your employer too that you take a break. You are currently not fit for this high stress job.

I think you can also talk to your GP. Your GP has confidentiality. Many people have gotten free for being under stress, usually if they get physical symptoms as well. But in your case, also explain to your GP that your job requires that you are in good mental shape and your are currently not fit for performance. 

That there is no one who can take over your shift is not your fault, but your employer's.

Good luck. I wonder if you might have a job like my operational co-workers. I know very well what you mean by having a job where you need to be mentally fit.

DCteach

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Re: How to take leave from work when your mental health is suffering?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2019, 04:22:57 AM »
Wow, different circumstances but similar situation re: work.

+1 for FMLA if in the US. That guarantees you time off while protecting your job.

What worked for me was to visit a therapist and a general practitioner. I donít think a therapist can complete FMLA paperwork, but I signed a disclosure form with therapist, who was then able to speak with general practitioner and share what we discussed. Visited general practitioner, explained all the issues and symptoms to him, and he completed the paperwork for FMLA and prescribed anxiety/insomnia meds. Then submitted FMLA with employer. Honestly, I was surprised at how easy it was to get the time off. 

Also, if you canít get a therapist appt soon, it should also be fine to line up a therapist appt and go to the general practitioner ASAP.

ETA: re: explaining to job, itís up to you how much to explain. But itís completely legit to just say ďmy health has been suffering, and my doctor advised me to take xxxx time off. Thanks for understanding.Ē
« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 04:28:21 AM by DCteach »

Moonwaves

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Re: How to take leave from work when your mental health is suffering?
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2019, 04:57:20 AM »
Has anyone gone to the doctor and said look I'm depressed, I can't function at work, write me a note! 
Yes. I did this a couple of months after my sister died, having only taken a week off (holiday time) at the time of her death for the funeral and spending a couple of days with family. That was in September and by November I was just at the end of my tether, went to the doctor, said for the first time "please give me a sick note for a week" and then explained what was wrong (instead of explaining what was wrong and asking if I needed to be off work, which is what I would normally do). And honestly, I should have taken far more time. I ended up leaving that job a couple of years later just to get away from it and was unemployed for five months but really I should have gone to the doctor and gotten time off for mental health reasons - and probably would have had longer than five months to really recover properly.

Mental health is still health - if you were sick with any physical ailment you would go to your doctor and get a sick note. The same should apply in this case. You should also avail yourself of any help that's on offer, be that therapy, a short stay in a clinic or whatever. I'm assuming that no matter what country you're in, your employer is not actually entitled to know exactly what is wrong with you, just that you are not "capable of working" or whatever term they use.