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Back to Work

An interview with Jake Tarvis.

Adjusting to medication, managing side effects and returning to work after a period of absence can be extremely daunting. After being signed off from work, Jake shares his back to work experience with us. Sharing such experiences is extremely courageous and we encourage others to share their back to work journeys with us!

So you have just completed your first full time week back to work. Congratulations! How are you feeling?

Yes I’ve returned to work after a varied 3 month period of attendance. Being back at work full time has been a challenge to say the least, as anyone could imagine.

The first week I was made to ease into the routine by doing half day’s, coming from the instructions of my occupational health therapist via the reports sent to myself and my team leader.

The week was full of anxiety, confusion and stress, having to jump back into the old habits of taking in information, staring at both computer and laptop screens, and being tested on product/system knowledge that was once second nature, but was far from it at this point. Also experiencing strong bouts of insomnia meant that I was never going to be even close to giving my full efforts and attention.

The second week was back to full time hours, by my choosing and against the instructions of Occ health, as financially I needed to ensure as much of a healthy pay by the end of August as possible, to maintain rent, bills and general peace of mind.

Though the start of this week I was still coming in at minimal efficiency, the support I received from the team, manager and current trainer meant I could take my time and have flexibility. If I needed to come in late or leave early due to my mental state, tiredness, intrusive hallucinations or side effects from my current medication Citalopram, I was assured this was fine for the month of August.

Being that we’ve moved to a new office which is quiet and bright with a good atmosphere, plus having a lovely park over the road for breaks, it helped me concentrate on the positive surroundings I was adjusting to, instead of the stresses that each day could include.

I’m happy to say that I’m at least able to see the possibility of a brighter future ahead if I can keep things as consistent as possible.

Do you feel that having the support of your occupational health, manager and trainer has been pivotal in easing your return to work?

My Occ health therapist alone has been the most important part of my journey I’d say. I’ve been seeing her since Feb 2015 and has been one of the few consistencies I’ve had over the year’s. Going through GP’s, psychiatrists, cognitive behavioural therapists, etc, she’s the one where I can leave our meeting knowing that I’ve gone forwards or backwards in my mission for mental stability and I trusted her company.

Unfortunately, last week she left the Occ health team where I work in Brighton, to work closer to where she lives. On our last meeting she cried, expressed her concerns about me and called me her favourite patient. I truly felt like I lost a limb that day, but I couldn’t thank her enough for everything she’s done.

My team leader is relatively new to me, but she is a bubbly, happy lady who genuinely wants me to get back to health as well as being happy at work. She’s shown real professionalism and empathy.

My trainer is just a great dude, he knows a lot about our roles, business terms and techniques, etc, and is just a fountain of knowledge. And his feedback recently has made me feel like I’m making real strides and progress in getting to where I need to be to be able to do my job and do it well, like I always used to in any role I joined.

Do you know if your organisation has anything specific in place to train managers on how to accommodate employees with mental health issues?

Sadly I don’t hear about anything in place that actively prepares the management teams to deal with the many forms of mental health issues and/or their symptoms.

There is a thing called ‘healthy living’ and ‘healthy minds’ which is there if any employee needs help with financial advice, Occ health, check ups, fitness and nutrition help, etc. So at least that side of it we know is catered for.

It sounds like your return to work has been a positive experience. How are you feeling about the upcoming weeks?

It’s going to be a day-by-day process going forward, you never know when insomnia, anxiety or any other symptoms may show themselves and spoil your day.

But the last 2 weeks and this week so far have been fine, great colleagues, nice working environment in and around the office, it’s the positive platform that leaves me to concentrate on myself and getting me back to the real Jake, or a new and better version, who knows. It’s down to me at the end of the day.

Thank you for talking with us Jake :)

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