I’m struggling at the moment at work. Lots of stresses, both physical and mental have been building up over time.
I have never been a bounce out of bed person but I’m finding it harder and harder to get up in the morning and leave the house to go to work. I noticed it started that I was leaving the house later and later and sitting in car at the car-park for longer each day before I can pull myself together and put my ‘work face’ on to do my job.
It all got too much recently at work and I broke down and cried.
They were so understanding, but I knew they would be. I trust my supervisor. She knows what I have been through battling the SEN system for my child. They already knew I was under stress and had put in place flexitime so if we are having a difficult morning at home I don’t have to rush in. They encouraged me to see my GP for support and medication, to work from home, to take time off if I need it, to go occupational health for advice, an employee assistance phoneline for someone to talk to and a referral for counselling if it would help me… basically to offer me support in any way they can to get me back to being able to cope at work.
As a parent of a child who has regularly refused school it struck me how different my experience at work was compared to my child’s experience and those of the other parents I have met whose children find it so difficult to attend school.
- When things got difficult for me at work and I was still holding it together, I was believed when I told my supervisor.
- I wasn’t told that there was nothing wrong with me because I looked fine in work.
- When I was finding it difficult to get into the work on time I was not given unauthorised attendance marks because they had already agreed flexitime.
- I and my family were not threatened with fines for my difficulties.
- If I need to take time off work, my sick note from my GP will not be questioned, a consultant letter would not be required, and my family will not be prosecuted, fined or taken to court because my sick note wasn’t believed or worded in a particular way.
- If I go to my GP I will get an appointment (OK at my surgery, it may take a while to see a doctor) but I won’t be told that I’m not allowed any help because I’m not suicidal yet or that my difficulties don’t meet the referral criteria to get help.
- Once a referral is suggested, I can self-refer myself and following a telephone appointment I’m offered an assessment within a few weeks and then given options for different treatments including medication.
- I wasn’t just left waiting months for an assessment and then many more months for any help or therapy.
- My family weren’t ‘told they are the problem’, or told that they had to attend a course to be taught to put firm boundaries in place as this would make me want to go back to work.
- I was encouraged to work at home if I could and if I have to have time off I would be allowed a phased return back to work – I wasn’t told that sending work home would be unhelpful as the only option allowed was being in work.
- I was fully believed at work, I was not accused of exaggerating or fabricating my stress. No one launched an investigation into my situation or referred me to social care with the recommendation that my family needs monitoring in case they are causing or lying about my difficulties or even that I should be moved to a different family.
- No one suggested I should have my phone, computer and TV removed during the day if I am at home and can’t go to work.
- No one recommended that work staff come to my house to take me to work, in my pyjamas if necessary and thankfully no one suggested manhandling me into my office each day because it was in my best interest to face my fear and deal with it.
- Of course, I can’t be off work forever and still get paid but again they will explore options with me and I would be involved in the decisions about my future e.g. maybe reducing my hours for the long term or moving to another job in a less stressful environment or maybe just accepting that right now I’m not well enough for work.
- Maybe I need a support worker or maybe my job is too hard for me and I need some extra training to make it more manageable.
In the real world, all employers aren’t all as supportive as my current boss. However, thankfully for adults the support I get doesn’t come down to our relationship, or how long I’ve worked there or if they like me or believe me. Although having a good working relationship with my boss has really helped me, the law protects me as an adult in work. I’ve struggled for more than a year and I’m protected by the Equality Act and my employers know they have to make adjustments to help me. They can’t just tell me to stop work and stay at home as they don’t want me on their books any more.
So reflecting on my mini breakdown at work this week, I’m left wondering what it would be like if we as adults were treated the same way we treat our kids with SEND and mental health problems who are struggling to attend school… if I was disbelieved, physically manhandled into work, fined, threatened with court or being removed from my family because I’m struggling. I wonder if this approach would ever help me get well and go back to work…
What an incredible guest blog.
If you have a child that is NOT fine in school then click here for a fantastic guide for both families and professionals.
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