Feeling anxious about going back to work after six months

keepswimming

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So in March I stopped working due to the coronavirus situation. I've been in and done a little work since then, but not my normal job role or hours.

Next month I go back to my job. I actually feel like the last six months have been really beneficial for me. Not having the pressure to work or do other normal activities has given me chance to slow down and tune into my body. I think I understand my limits and what I can cope with so much better.

Going back to work, I've dropped my hours (again) so I will just be working two four-hour mornings. My employer has also given me the exact days I want, they will be split up so I have some recovery time in the middle. I will also still be having a mid morning break, I'm hoping to reduce that somewhat (slowly and see how I go) but my employer has said whatever I need I can still have. I would like to stop having the breaks really (someone has to cover me, and I find it upsetting) but I think realistically I may find I still need them, but if I could manage with a shorter period of time it would be less disruptive.

So really I'm in a fortunate situation, to have been able to adapt things to suit me... But still, the thought of going back is starting to make me feel anxious. Six months of going at my own pace makes me nervous about having commitments again! And also, I really want to give this the best chance of working. I can't drop my hours any further, I'm at my minimum now.

I'm doing all I can to make it more manageable:
  • Transport to work instead of walking (my employer doesn't want me on public transport in the current situation, she said she is going to arrange for someone to pick me up)
  • Dropping my hours and changing my days, as mentioned
  • I will snack regularly though the morning - I find this helps keep my energy levels up
  • Now I understand my health better I am going to speak to my employer about what tasks I find lower energy/higher energy. I know she will do all she can to help me and some little alterations in my working day could probably make it easier
  • I'm going to ask if there's somewhere to have my break where I can lock the door. Where I go currently to lie down I've been walked in on a few times, and I find it hard to switch off knowing that might happen! I think this may help me to shorten my break too, as I will be able to get more quality rest so I may not need so long
  • I'm going to try to reign myself in and go slower! In some instances I could spread out my work by completing it at home, which I think may be a better option if it means I can go at a slower pace while I'm working
  • I will also make sure I have a rest break before going and immediately on getting home from work
  • On my non working days, I'm going to make sure I have more time for rest and recovery. I'm going to plan those days as if they're going to be bad days, so I'm not committed to too much if I do get PEM
I'm really hoping all of this will make a difference, so I can still do a little of a job I love, but in a manageable way. I'm very fortunate to have an understanding employer who is doing everything she can to help me keep working.

I don't really know what I wanted from this post - just support from people who understand, mostly! But if anyone has any other ideas or tips about ways to make it more manageable I'd be happy to hear them.
 
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Hufsamor

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I really hope this will turn out ok for you:)
And I recognise you struggle...
I was in your shoes for many years.

Really, really loved to work.
I had an employer who did a lot for me, so I could keep working.
And still this feeling of "this is really too much"

Anyway.
The day I really couldn't work anymore, I believe it was more easy for me than for many others to get my benefits, as they could see I had tried so hard for such a long time.

Good luck to you!
 

lenora

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Good plan, well thought-out and I'm sure it will work out. Just take care of your emotional health also. Glad you made a good recovery from the virus. I have a daughter just n. of San Francisco and she contracted the virus, but no one else in the family did. Very odd....she must have picked it up while grocery shopping.

Her employer is a large one, but very generous to employees in every way. Our daughter made a complete recovery and we hope it is maintained.

I loved to work, but my illnesses were so bad in the beginning that having a shower took everything I had to offer. I'm now 73 but until this year actually thought I'd return to work one day!? Talk about fantasies! It has just changed form and for many years I was a volunteer for people who had no way of standing up for themselves. (Not ME). How can you stay in "that place" when you're dealing with so many who are much worse off than you. Money was always a big problem for them, and we always found a way via govt. programs....whatever it took. Having proper paperwork is ultra-important and everything moves at a much greater speed.

Even today I put on make-up, do my hair and put on a special lounging gown that looks nice and has me well presented. My husband doesn't particularly notice, but it makes me feel better. Good luck to you and your amazing employer. I'm glad for you and the type of person you are. Yours, Lenora.
 

keepswimming

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Thank you so much for your kind replies @Hufsamor and @lenora .

And still this feeling of "this is really too much"
I sometimes wonder, how tired is too tired? Personally I feel like it's worth a certain amount of tiredness if it means you can do something you want to do, but at the same time it mustn't cross that boundary into getting so tired it's going to make you worse... a difficult balance... what eventually made you realise working had become too much?

@lenora what a beautiful message, thank you so much. I appreciate you saying my plan seems well thought out - I'm still quite new to this illness so I appreciate hearing from someone who is more experienced in managing it, it gives me some confidence!

Glad you made a good recovery from the virus. I have a daughter just n. of San Francisco and she contracted the virus, but no one else in the family did. Very odd....she must have picked it up while grocery shopping.
Oops sorry I didn't make myself clear! I haven't had the virus, but I haven't been working due to the coronavirus situation. I've edited my original post to make it clearer! Sorry to hear your daughter had it, glad to hear she seems to have recovered well.

Good luck to you and your amazing employer. I'm glad for you and the type of person you are.
This warmed my heart, thank you so much :heart: like all of us on this forum, I'm trying hard to make the best life I can despite this illness. Your kindness is much appreciated x
 

lenora

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I'm a teaching assistant I work with early years 🙂
Well, keepswimming, no wonder you want to return to work a very few days each week. Is there a more perfect age in childhood than that of 4, 5, 6 up until 9 or 10? The little ones are SO in love with their teachers. It's a joy just to watch them and most children would do anything in the world rather than have a teacher upset with them. Actually those are perfect ages for all of us to really enjoy children and childhood, the innocence, the wanting to please, to learn, to see the wider world until finally they have to break away and step into it themselves. I even like the adolescent years and so remember them myself. The self-questioning, awareness of looks and how to present oneself, but I have to say I've loved every stage my children have gone through, including the difficult years.

The 20's were very special as we often treated them and their friends to meals and then an evening of theatre or a musical. How sad that I can't do that with my grandchildren. Still after a lot of thought I have found ways to make a connection with them.

But yes, the "please the teacher" years are so very special. No wonder you're reluctant to give it up.

Out of interest our "girls" are now 49 and 45 and yes, they'll always be "our girls." The same way we'll be Mom & Dad or very occasionally, Mommy and Daddy. So we love pets and they also form part part of the family unit. There's always someone or something to find love in. We simply have to find it. Yours, Lenora.
 

keepswimming

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Your plan sounds really potentially workable and what a great employer! :hug:
Thank you so much I really appreciate that ❤️ everyone's support has made me feel like I'm doing everything I can to make this work. So hopefully it will ❤️

Yes I have an amazing employer. I actually had a message from her just after I posted this thread, asking if I had any worries or concerns I wanted to discuss with her about coming back to work. I told her I'd like to have a chat about some management strategies for my CFS and how I can apply them at work, so she's arranged a meeting with me on the first week back. I've written a list of the different tasks I do through the morning and what I find high energy or low energy. Hopefully if I can do more low energy activities and lessen the high energy ones that may help.

But yes, the "please the teacher" years are so very special. No wonder you're reluctant to give it up.
Yes it's a great job, I love it. I've had to drop my hours a lot since getting sick, but I would like to keep doing what I can ❤️
 
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I understand what you mean! I teach students with special needs, and in the pre-covid world I was in the classroom 2 short days each week, plus I'd go into our organization's office another one day per week. I absolutely love it, and it's worth being tired for. Teaching is an exhausting profession!

But at the same time, being home for the past several months has shown me how much better I feel when I'm not constantly pushing and crashing. In the past six months I feel better than I have in a long time. Although I'm not going back to work in the classroom every time soon (we're committed to be remote until December, and who knows what happens after that), I'm still anxious when I think about the future when that day does come. So I understand your anxiety about starting up again.

I'm so glad to hear that your employer has been so flexible in allowing you to have the accommodations you need to work. It sounds like you've thought things out really really well! The only other things I would suggest is making sure that you drink when you snack. I find that working with kids gets me really dehydrated, which contributes to exhaustion.

I also wonder if you might be helped by a rolling stool. I used one during one of my student-teaching placements. It cut down on the amount of walking and (more importantly) crouching or stooping I had to do!

I imagine that your first few days/weeks back will be quite an adjustment after being home for so long. I hope you can stick with it, and that all of the accommodations you put into place make a difference!
 
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keepswimming

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@RebeccaRe thank you very much for your reply. It does sound like we are in similar situations! You're right, teaching is a wonderful and rewarding job. But going back to a situation you know is going to make you feel worse is worrying.

Thank you for your support and suggestions they're much appreciated! I tend to keep a bottle with me to make sure I drink plenty. And one of the things I'm going to mention to my headteacher is that sitting down to do an activity takes less energy than standing, when possible.

I imagine that your first few days/weeks back will be quite an adjustment after being home for so long. I hope you can stick with it, and that all of the accommodations you put into place make a difference!
Yes, I think you're right. The first few weeks I'm going to try to minimise other activities so I can just concentrate on getting back to work. And then I can gradually see where my limits are on the others days as to what else I can cope with.

You mentioned being in a "push and crash" cycle when working. I think whatever I do to minimise it, that's an inevitability for me too once I'm working again. Do you think being in that cycle has any kind of effect on your health? Has it made you any worse, or had no effect? I'm just interested because of my own situation.
 
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You mentioned being in a "push and crash" cycle when working. I think whatever I do to minimise it, that's an inevitability for me too once I'm working again. Do you think being in that cycle has any kind of effect on your health? Has it made you any worse, or had no effect? I'm just interested because of my own situation.
I think it depends on how much I overdo it. When I was first sick I was finishing up my final year of college, which meant that I was student teaching every day plus taking classes in the evening several days a week. That was the sickest I've ever been. It's hard to know whether I was so sick because of the exertion, because I had just come down with a new illness, or a combination of the two.

Since then I've only ever taught a maximum of 3 days a week, and usually very short days.

Whenever I've been in a particularly busy period at work it definitely affects my health and energy in the short term. However, after having been sick for more than 10 years I can say that pushing and crashing hasn't had a lasting effect on my baseline energy levels or my overall health.
 

keepswimming

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Just an update... My new work schedule is working much better for me. I've dropped down to working just two mornings a week, on a Wednesday and a Friday. Yes it's tiring and I have to be careful how much I do the other days, but I feel I've found a level I can cope with, and I'm happy to be able to carry on with my job.

Thanks everyone who put supportive comments on this post 👍
 
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Glad you're able to get back and glad you've got a reduced schedule. Earning a bit of money and keeping your mind occupied can be the best thing ever with this disease.

I went back to full time work 2 months ago. Whilst the work is kind of ok because of 100% remote work, I am still finding it draining, although not to the point where I cannot do the job (yet). So for now it's fine. Annoyingly part time isn't really a thing in the software development sector, I don't really know what part time jobs I could get. There seem to be a few part time jobs, so that might give me a few more years if I really really start to struggle. I know I won't get government support until I am truly unable to work.

So I feel your pain on that front. Long may we continue to be able to work :)
 
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Second star to the right ...
I feel like it's worth a certain amount of tiredness if it means you can do something you want to do,
That's sooooo critical, not just to our self-esteem, but to our ability to fight back, in whatever way and degree we can, against this crappy little asphalt-roller of an illness, and to stay connected to the world we were so rudely more or less evictd from.

I'm deeply impressed with the careful considertion and thought you've given to this, and with your absolute gem of an employer !!!
but at the same time it mustn't cross that boundary into getting so tired it's going to make you worse... a difficult balance...
Everything in this miserable little shark attack of an illness is a difficult, crucially important balance. the critical thing is that you decided to do it, and you went about it so carefully and well !!!
like all of us on this forum, I'm trying hard to make the best life I can despite this illness.
You're doing an admirable job of it @keepswimming, and you're totally living up to your user-name !!!

The difficult part of this is exactly that: how to keep on swimming without drowning, how to stay as connected as possible without draining your batteries, possibly terminally, how to maintain a sense of who you are without sacrificing future improvement in your illness....

Swim on !!! You're an inspiration to everyone who finds their way to this thread :woot::woot::woot: :thumbsup::thumbsup: :hug: ...
 

kelly8

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@keepswimming , I'm so glad this is working out for you. I'm about to head back soon and understand your apprehension. I'm not sure how it is going to go but my Dr was able to get me IVIG to keep my immune system up so I don't get month long illnesses any more. Now I'm hoping I don't get exhausted and have PEM when I go back.

This is the longest break I've ever had and resting and the IVIG have really helped, but I want to be able to pay for mold testing in my house and be able to see my specialist and those things take money. I hope it all works out for the best!
 
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Second star to the right ...
I hope it all works out for the best!
Oh, @kelly8, I do too. It's a hard decision at the best of times, but with COVID swirling about like one of those great whirling black clouds that evil magicians arrive and depart in epic fantasy movies, it's much, much harder ...

I know without asking that you know you're going back into a safe environment, and that all precautions are being taken by everyone involved ....


When are you going back? Will you have enough energy to keep us posted? I'll be pulling for you, for whatever that's worth ... I know everyone else on this thread will be, too ... :thumbsup: :thumbsup::thumbsup: :trophy::trophy: :hug: ...
 

kelly8

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I work at a grocery store. I'm hoping it will be as safe as possible but there are times people come in without masks and make a stink. Can't be much worse than being immune compromised and having people in there coughing on everything (as I've watched people do pre-covid).

I need to get special accommodations for the IVIG treatment where I get ridiculous headaches. I'll need to take an extra day off every week I get the treatments. At least I won't be sick for months. And hopefully I'll be better able to handle covid if I do get it. I just can't wait to see people again. I miss people. But I'm worried about how I will do going back. It's so easy to rest now when I need to (as much as i can with a 5 year old).

That is the worry... What if I can't get back to the level I was at last time? I don't want to be labeled a slacker and usually I can push myself but then I pay when I get home or the next day.
Having this illness sucks but I know you all know that.