It finally happened. Something had to give and it happened to be me. I am currently signed off work with stress.
At the moment the thought of returning to work makes me want to hide and/or burst into tears. If I think about work for too long it makes me feel physically shaky. I have been told it could take up to 6 weeks for the anti-anxiety medication I have been prescribed to take full effect. I have done my best to make sure I don't just hide at home during this time and have I tried to go out somewhere almost every day. The trouble is my job is following me around.
Yesterday I bumped into a lovely neighbour who, knowing I was off work, asked how I was and then asked "You will be going back though won't you?". I also saw the parent of someone I went to school with. She asked why I wasn't at work and was extremely sympathetic when I explained, but she also followed it with, "But you'll be going back after Christmas won't you?" To both these people I said "Yes", but the truth is I have no idea. At the moment I can't face it and I definitely can't go back to things as they were but I also now feel a little pressure to go back to work, this is obviously what people are expecting.
Today my bubbly friend came to pick me up and take me out for lunch for a girly chat and relax. We went to a quiet pub near to my house and a long way away from where I work. It should have been lovely but it was neither lovely nor relaxing. Whilst there I was spotted by a parent of a child in my class who knows I am off sick but does not know why. She did not speak to me or ask how I was but did send her partner round to the table my friend and I were at to look and see if it was me. Within 10 minutes of her leaving I had a phone call from my Headteacher, checking in with me to see how I am and how I was spending my time. I'd like to believe this is a coincidence but I know it isn't. I'm also certain that the rumour mill that I already know exists outside the classroom door at the beginning and end of the day will have been in overdrive this afternoon.
A big part of my problem is that my job has taken over my whole life and now, even when I am officially signed off work by my doctor, there is still no escape. I'm very worried that all the parents will now think I'm skiving and I feel guilty for going out with my friend. She was great and said that they need to understand that some illnesses you can't see and just because you're not in bed doesn't mean you're not ill. I know she is right but I also know that the parents won't see it that way.