When you can’t afford short-term sick leave

Yesterday, I met with my general doctor. She confirmed that I was in the middle of a major depressive episode. She asked that I see a psychologist on top of upping my current depression and anxiety meds. She also strongly recommended that I take a month off work to concentrate on getting better.

In a perfect world, I would jump at the opportunity to stay home and concentrate on my health and getting better. I feel like I could sleep for a month straight. The problem is that the world isn’t perfect. I can’t afford to stay at home even with short-term medical leave insurance. We have bills to pay. Plus, I’m terrified of what it will do to my career. Even if they cannot legally fire me for a month-long sick leave, it can still affect my path within these walls. We already have 3 people on sick leave in the office and 2 others with chronic illnesses (not counting me). The doctor got mad when I told her that. She said that my workplace should be questioning themselves on why there are so many people on sick leave and not be complaining about the people who take it.

I need to speak to my boss this morning. I am so anxious that I was physically ill last evening and during the night. I am at the office right now, trying to keep myself together. I had a meeting scheduled with my boss early this morning about upcoming tasks, but he just emailed to say that due to traffic he would be working from home until traffic clear. The additional wait time isn’t helping my stomach or my state of mind.

I know that my husband is rooting for me to get better and not have to take time off due to our finances. I don’t want to let him down, even if he assures me that I can’t no matter what happens.

I need to get better for everyone’s sake and my own.

Spoke to my boss. He immediately dismissed my worries about work and career stating that my health is more important. That’s a wonderful response and a weight off my shoulders. I did explain that I couldn’t afford to be home without pay for 2 weeks before the short-term sick leave kicks in and pays for the last 2 weeks. He’s in a meeting now with the human resources manager to see if there are any options. My anxiety is through the rough and I’m shaking at my desk.

This day is full of emotional ups and downs. The Human Resources Manager came to speak with me. I only have 2 vacation days left for the entire year so it can’t cover the 2 unpaid weeks. That being said, they don’t want me to stay at work and it takes longer for me to recover. We are meeting at the end of the afternoon to discuss options. She did mention that if it was okay with my doctor (and only if it’s okay with the doctor) they may be open to having me work from home, full time or part-time. It’s not perfect, but this would let me sleep in longer in the morning and be less rushed. I would be able to pass more time with the kids in the morning. It’s also a much more relaxing/quiet environment at home than at work. So it’s something to think about.

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