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Any Advice Welcome - Return to Work and PTSD

Discussion in 'Social' started by piglet, Apr 2, 2006.

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  1. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

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    I've been thinking about getting back to work. The Easter vacation has just started, so teaching doesn't get going again until the 24th. I'm wondering if I'll be ok to go back in a couple of weeks. Trouble is, I'm unsure of my motivations to return to work.

    On the one hand, it would reduce financial worries, get my managers off my back and give me more freedom (I live on campus and my movements are restricted at the moment - apparently it's not fair for my colleagues to see me out and about when they are having to cover my lessons). I would get more social contact, as I'm very isolated at the moment. I would be doing something useful.

    On the other hand, I am desperate to do something to try and take my mind of my nightmares etc, so maybe it's an avoidance issue. Also, I'm still hardly sleeping (although still fitting in the nightmares - how unfair is that!), feeling sick a lot of the time and tired also.

    I don't want to go back full-time as I'm no way ready for that - the thought scares me. My employer has previously said that my return to work would be phased - 2 weeks part-time, then back to full-time. I don't think that is workable. If I go back, I want to be back part-time for as long as I need to be to take care of myself.

    Also, at the back of my mind - ok, at the front really - is an experience from my last major problems with this in 2001. I went back part-time for a few weeks, then back full-time. All the problems came right back and I nearly did myself in (just luck that I made it - I got disturbed). Terrified of being in that situation again. It took 3 years before I was ready to get back into a job - this is the job I do now. I like teaching and I really don't want to have to leave, but the longer I stay off, the harder it's going to be to get back - even if my employer shows some patience with me.

    Not really sure what to do. Any suggestions or advice is very welcome. Obviously, I will be discussing things with my Dr, but there's only so much you can talk about in a 5 minute appointment, and it's usually "have more pills, here's a new sick note, call me before you jump off a bridge" kind of thing.

    Hope you are all having a peaceful weekend. We have a typical spring day here - wind, sun, rain, sleet and hail pretty much in the space of a couple of hours. Love the British weather! :rolleyes:
     
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  3. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Geez, British weather sounds very similar to Melbourne weather, four seasons in a day. LOL.

    Its hard for me to say, as I don't work, and I doubt I would ever go back full-time into anything, as the stress would just be too much. Just running this network as my hobby becomes quite stressful at times, and thats from home... and a hobby.

    From what I have seen from people returning to work with severe PTSD, is follows:

    Initial Stage

    Begin returing to work for approximately 2 hours, once or twice a week. This is to simply familiarise yourself with the work environment again.

    Work Stage

    This can vary per person, but generally you extend the initial stage to half days, once or twice per week, so the person is actually working, and coping with the work load and stress factors. This is generally where a person will know whether they can continue or not.

    Increased Work Stage

    Start pushing the work stage out across more days, and generally throw in a full day once or twice per week.

    Final Stage

    Basically each work day is pushed to normal hours, maybe across a four day week or even full five day week.

    The return to work that I have seen done with people has stretched over months, and often gone back and forth between stages before possibly moving up a stage and increasing the work load. I have seen people successfully return to work, then crash within a couple of months after full-time return, and done exactly as you said, either did succeed or ended up quite ill as a result.

    Honestly, I have seen or heard off very very few people with severe PTSD ever have a normal working life again. It is so few and far between, it is rare. Whilst some will work, they may not ever work a full five day week, or even some go on the reverse of all this, and become work acholics, attempting to suppress the stress and anxiety... which always catches up with them.

    At a guess, I would certainly be medicated if returning to work, unless you are one very strong person who can control PTSD within themselves to get through. I haven't seen many of those either.

    I know this sounds negative, but in fact I am just trying to fly past the bullshit and give the honest truth about the illness and what I have seen with return to work. I know that some people fall at the bottom end of PTSD, and really, their diagnosis could even be wrong... as their symptoms are very managable and allow them to carry on through life pretty normally. These are often the cases I see where doctors use them as examples. Wrong for most of us, but doctors need results!

    I think it is very possible for someone with PTSD to return to work though, its more a case that our available resources to cope with work capacity, generally doesn't fit with 99% of employers, thus they push and push to get a person back full-time to please themselves, not us, and we suffer each and every time.

    I would honestly say that it needs to be done very slowly...

    Where I have seen positive results, is where some people work within their bounds, ie. they take up a job completely different than they may be used too, either adventurous, working from home within their own scope, running their own part-time business, and even things like becoming a personal trainer, where people can work their own hours around PTSD symptoms, or only enough not to provoke PTSD symptoms.
     
  4. bennjamin

    bennjamin Member

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    its been just on 3 years for me ~ and i found myself going from "forcing" into full time work AND study (to keep my sane ?! i dont know lol) ...to nowdays with 3 casual jobs and running a little car website too.
    Ive found i just cant focus on a single "job" for a whole day even so i just do alot of different things at once.
     
  5. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

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    I fit with the second option here :) . I started my new job knowing that I had to make sure that I didn't take on too much. I was assertive and turned down an opportunity to course manage as I thought it would be a mistake to take on the extra work. Unfortunately, I ended up getting lots of extra work "because I wasn't a course manager". When I started getting nightmares and flashbacks again I just tried frantically to keep control of my work. Crashed and burned in the end though - again!

    I'm thinking this time that I might not ever go back to work full-time. At least with teaching, I may be able to go back as a 0.6 or a 0.8 of full-time. While it would be harder financially, I think I would be happier and I would have free time to devote to looking after me.

    The problem I anticipate is whether or not my employer will allow me to change my contract to part-time. I think that they might be obliged to under our disability discrimination laws, but as I haven't been officially diagnosed with anything yet I'm not sure that I qualify for "reasonable adjustments and accommodations".


    I tried this - I used to be in pig farming before I took time out to sort myself last time. I retrained for teaching. I do really enjoy teaching and I want to keep doing it. To be honest, I don't think it would matter what job I do - I will still have problems unless I can learn how to manage this thing properly.

    This is what I need- no bullshit - just plain truth. I need to understand this thing if I'm going to learn to control it. I may not like the truth, but these rose-tinted glasses need to come off!

    I tend to do that too - I particularly applied for my job due to its variety. I go from teaching mature students at high science level to teaching special needs kids "this is a rabbit". I also do student welfare work which is great, cos you can make a huge difference to some of the homesick teenagers just by playing a game of pool with them (and I'm quite good at pool too! :D )

    I think that I need to slow down and stop careering from one class to the next. Maybe my brain is just telling me that I need to look after me a bit more.

    Thanks for the advice guys!
     
  6. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    The really funny thing about career moves and PTSD, is I often see a percentage of PTSD sufferers move into the mental health fields, attempting to know more, help others in the same situation, and know even more again... From what I'm told, it is quite therapeudic for them, as they are dealing with those they are familiar with, ie. themselves, and they are always learning ways of helping themselves in conjunction with helping others just starting out with the illness. Strange, but very very true within PTSD sufferers. One of our lecturers had PTSD from when she was within the concentration camps back in the war, and she moved into pain management to help herself, and pass what she has learnt to those of us who don't know, nor understand these things that well as yet. It was a job that she knew she could do with PTSD, as it was something so near and dear to her own heart.

    That could be a solution to some peoples problems in this area.
     
  7. piglet

    piglet Well-Known Member

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    I get what you mean - I often find myselk wishing that I'd done psychology at college. I've spent loads of time researching and trying to understand what goes on in my head - I guess quite a lot of people here have done that too. It is incredible how it all works. A bloody pain in the arse though!

    I guess that's what I like about my student welfare role at work - I remember all too well what it was like for me when I was a teenager, so I tend to listen to students instead of judging them and telling them what they should do. I think that's why I get on so well with my students (they are very impatient for me to come back to work - it is nice to be missed!). I'm still their warden or tutor, but I'm ok to talk to and don't freak out at them if they tell me something shocking. I wish there had been people like that I could go to when I was younger.

    Ok. I'm clearly in one of those weird philosophical moods this morning, but the sun is shining and there is blue sky, so I'd best get out and walk awhile.....
     
  8. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    Your sounding better already.... see what we do to ya... stir your brain up enough so that PTSD can't get through.... :) Don't we all wish anyway! You enjoy your walk, and have a great time.
     
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