I’ve been lucky that I’ve never had to get a doctor’s note to cover absence from work before.
So when I rang a week before term started I was uncertain what to say to prove I deserved my GP’s written permission. He had seen me whilst I had been properly ill. I wasn’t faking it and I knew he was a considerate man. Nevertheless I was anxious enough about the conversation to have had a few phrases written down next to me on the sofa for when he rang that afternoon.
Two minutes after he’d rang the call was over. “I think you’ll need a month at first. Does that sound okay to you?’ I was a little bit stunned. I believed that incontrovertible proof would have to be accepted before I was granted permission. But instead the GP was simply doing an ordinary part of his job. I wasn’t a special case and he would be making other much more difficult conversations later that day.
My school had also rung earlier that day to check on how I was doing. Amongst all the other palaver and COVID related actions and reactions everyone there is having to deal with, this was a really touching action to take. I was kindly told “What we want is healthy and happy staff. So make sure you are properly better before you come back.” I couldn’t have asked for better support.
What is interesting is the apprehension and guilt I felt about taking time off. I’m still not sure that there is a one identifiable reason for this feeling. It was probably a mixture of factors from the personal to the cultural. Having had time to think and to realise that I am getting better sat at home, I definitely don’t feel that guilt any longer. What I think is important is that we look after ourselves both mentally and physically. The world will not struggle to get by without us if we aren’t at our desk. We aren’t a vital cog in the wheel driving our fellow beings’ survival and happiness. Maybe we should get down from our high horse and not try to martyr ourselves by carrying on when we need to stop. It really is doing us no good at all. Instead it would be better to pause and take stock of what our body is telling us. Become aware of the sensations as they are here and now and treat ourselves with compassion and kindness. Not only we will become happier and healthier ourselves, but we will be able to help others feel so too.