The Big Return

I can feel my anxiety rising. I can hear the questions dancing around in my head. A low level rumble in my stomach.  Racing thoughts.  This is how it goes.  I am going back to work on Monday after 3 months of bipolar madness.  I faced deep depression, wicked psychosis, and processed the suicide of a friend. My mind likes to take great detail in its torture.  I am wondering if I should say hi to people, like may an effort to say “I am back.” Or lay low and hover over my computer and let people slowly notice.  I don’t mean fan fare. I’m not looking for a big welcome back party.  I guess I am asking, how do I re-enter? I am the longest standing employee in my department. However, it feels like I will be new.

What do I tell people?  Will they ask?  Have they just made assumptions?  Will anyone even care? I am creating a scenario where it will most certainly be awkward.  We are project managers.  So I had 6-7 projects I was overseeing. Of course, someone had to take these over.  Will I get them back? Will people think I was doing a bad job?  Will I get all new projects? What the fuck is going to happen?  I need a crystal ball STAT!

I am trying fiercely to combat all these thoughts and questions.  I really have no idea how my boss is going to handle things.  She is the boss. Not me. I shall leave it up to her to decide. I feel guilty that I have been gone so long. I feel angry that people have taken over what I started and worked so hard towards.  Yet, I am also grateful the projects have been taken care of.  You see, my agency works with individual with developmental disabilities. My role is to work with vendors to secure new resources. I help create new care homes, day programs, work programs and resources for mental health, dental. The population we serve is so vulnerable. I’ve worked at my agency for 16 years. 13 of those years was case management.  I know how the whole operation works, how the wheel spins.  How it all ties together.

Here I am scared to walk through that door again.  This is not new. I have taken months off at a time several times since my diagnosis. But, going back after a long lay off is never easy.  The fact that I have bipolar disorder is not known by most at my work. My boss knows and 2 other people.  I have chosen to keep it private.

My benefits run out December 31st if I do not return.  This has spawned a faster re-entry than I think my doctor preferred.  I will only be working part time for the entire month of January.  I was graciously reminded that the positions at my work are full time, and I am welcomed back at that capacity sooner if possible.  I hope to take it slow. I hope to listen to my doctor and not give in to the pressure of my HR department.  Its really important to be successful. To me, this means taking it slow and making it through the month with no need to take time off. I have to be honest, I do fear I am no longer capable of handling the pressure and stress of my job.  I fear I will push myself too far, too fast trying to keep up with what I used to produce.  I have ideas on ways to stay grounded and remind myself I am still in recovery. The task is to follow through on those ideas and not feel guilty/less than due to the pace others are working.  This is not a race.  I will do the best I can.

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