How should I structure my gradual return to full-time work after two months off for a psychiatric illness? Have you actually done this, and if so, do you have tips? Have you even known or heard of someone who did a part-time transition after disability leave? All advice sought in creating my return-to-work plan.
I've been off work since 8/31 (for all kinds of serious mental illness stuff
) and my boss is super, super eager for me to get back like, five weeks ago. My EAP counselor has suggested that I come back on a part-time basis, and my boss and I have agreed to this in principle and gotten the OK from the risk management people.
In theory I'm supposed to get the plan for from my psychiatrist. Reality teaches that my appointment with her will last roughly 8 minutes, which is not enough time to go over the situation and explore possibilities. So I have to invent a return-to-work strategy all on my own. This is not my area of expertise.
My biggest concerns are:
a) I need to get used to going to a particular place every single day and doing what other people tell me to do again.
b) I need to establish a lot of new habits and patterns (to put myself in a position to be able to pull this off for months on end.) This will be in some ways very challenging (e.g., I have to transform myself from a 95% passive communicator to basically 100% assertive; I have to actually ask for help when I need it; I have to say "no" when I can't do something.)
c) I need to get used to a new antidepressant (which will hopefully be prescribed tomorrow) that will potentially screw with my ability to get up on time. I'm still sleeping too much and will be fighting off continuing depressive symptoms on the job (I'm resigned to this.)
d) I would like to start to salvage my reputation as a professional can-do person who can be relied upon and who wants to be at work. Said reputation is currently in a state roughly analogous to Dresden in March of 1945
. However, I can't put this need ahead of the "don't let things fall apart again" thing.
No one at my job has ever come back part-time after a disability before, and I don't know anyone who's done it in the outside world either, so I have absolutely no idea what to ask the psychiatrist to put in the return to work letter. All the information I was able to find online specifically tied back to maternity leave, which is... not terribly applicable to me. I was thinking four hours a day for two weeks and then six hours a day for two weeks, but I have no reason for thinking that's going to be more or less helpful than anything else.
I am especially interested in anecdotes. I haven't been able to find anyone who actually did this! Google results that don't involve maternity leave are also beneficial.
(I am going back to the same position with the same duties, and the intention is that after this period is over I will be doing exactly what I was doing on 8/30, just without the "driven to collapse" part. My duties will be sort-of limited for the first few weeks - I have to ask for that specifically, too, but I have a better idea about what I'm doing there.)