Signed off from work, don't know what to do..?:(

Posted , 8 users are following.

Hi I work in a call centre for HMRC. I have worked here for 11 months. In that time I've had loads of abusive customers and suicidal customers etc. This was making me have panic stacks and I got really depressed but still went to work.

 I was coping with this all to a degree because I had good support from my manager but then my manager got changed a few months ago. I can't go into details but the way I was treated by the new manager caused me to get more stressed and after 3/4 months I finally had a break down from the pressure of it all.

This was 2 weeks ago now and I am due back the week after next. I don't feel any better for the time off, as work have been contacting me and pressuring me to go back, I've also had 3 appointments at work which has made me physically sick and I can't sleep.

I want to go back, I'm good at the job when I'm in the right frame of mind and I have made lot of friends there, but I'm not ready yet. My counsellor has advised me not to rush my self. But work have made it clear if I'm not back within a set time frame I will be having a formal meeting. 

I am seeing the gp on Monday because I'm scared of feeling like this for much longer, it's awful..

What should i do? 


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20 Replies

  • Posted

    First of all I sympathise with you for being off work as I am in the same positive, been off now for four weeks and am due to go back next week. If work is your anxiety trigger then they should support u and try to make your workload less so u aren't so stressed. I work for an accountants so know how stressful it can be for Hmrc workers. I would not go back if you aren't ready, wait until u feel u are in the right mind set, u said yourself u are good at your job but need to be fully well to be able to concentrate and work well under pressure. Is there not another department u could work for that is not so busy and stress free?
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  • Posted

    Dear Soph

    This is a horrible situation for you with what seems like no way out. I experienced exactly the same problems a couple of years ago following a severe breakdown at work. Coincidentally, my job was in public service like yours.

    I have a brilliant GP and feel very lucky, but he gave me some advice that helped me and may help you too. He gave me a number to ring a department run by the County Council that give advice on all things work/money/welfare/employment rights.

    To cut a long story short, I ended up receiving a home visit from a very experienced guy who worked on this support team. He explained to me exactly where I stood in terms of how to deal with work, money, and dealing with formal warnings etc.

    He actually wrote a letter on my behalf to my employer, and eventually set up a meeting where I attended, but he was my spokesman and represented me in front of my employers HR team.

    It changed everything and was such a relief. He was fair and explained my employer had rights too, but the most important thing was my welfare and health and basically took his lead from my GP.

    Wherever you are in the country, I would encourage you to see if your local Town Council or your County Council have a helpline for this kind of advice. I think all of them do these days.

    On the plus side, because your employer is the HMRC, they will be well aware of their obligations toward you as one of their employees. There is more than a hint of employer liability or contributory negligence in your post, so I feel confident that things will come right for you.

    Please accept my sincere good wishes.

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    • Posted

      Hello Rain boy

      That sounds a very useful service I could do with something similar having been off work for 5 weeks and very anxious about returning. Did the dept in question have a specific name? Perhaps it was part of social services?

      Thank you for your help.

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    • Posted

      Hello Fran

      Do you know, it did, and when I was writing to Soph, I was trying desparately hard to remember what they were called.

      I'm sure it will come back to me, and when I have some spare time, I'll see if I have kept a reference in my files, as I kept the most important paperwork in case I ever needed it.

      I will make you a promise that if I remember, or if I can locate the info, I will write to you with the answer.

      Lots of good wishes to you.  :-)

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    • Posted

      Hello Fran

      I am delighted to tell you I have been looking through my records and found what I was looking for.

      It was "The Welfare Rights Service".

      Try typing in your search engine the name of your county council followed by the above and see what returns you get. For example;


      Please do not feel obligated, but if you have any success in your search, I would love to know, because it would make me very happy to know that you have found a source of help.

      I'm sorry you've had to wait a few hours for the information, but I had to wait until I finished work.

      I am wishing you a peaceful evening and weekend, and for the record, you are more important than your job. I understand how important having a job is, and nobody can afford to take work lightly these days. But when it comes to your personal well-being, there can only ever be one priority and that is you. If you take care of yourself and get help and support, you end up being a better employee anyway, so it's not in your employer’s interest to harass you.

      Everyone that has replied to you will be thinking of you Fran.  :-)

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    • Posted

      Delighted to hear that Soph.

      I posted it on Frans message as she originally put the question to me, but as it was your thread, I expected you would be notified.

      The message applies to you as well and I hope with all my heart you are able to locate a similar organisation. :-)

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    • Posted

      Your so very thoughtful. I really appreciate your kind words and finding out the name of the service. I've worked at the university I'm at for 28 years since I was 17 and this is the longest time I've ever had off unwell even anxiety. I've never felt this unconfident about work before in relation to my anxiety issues. The current situation at work has certainly added to my anxiety but thankfully I can't fault my manager for her support and understanding.

      Camden council do have a welfare rights team but it seems their remit is helping council tenants with benefits and debt....It might still be worth doing a referal form...

      I hope you have a good weekend too.

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  • Posted

    I too work for HMRC, so I know what the pressures are like there to not be off sick. I know too though that for mental health issues, they need to take them seriously and handle them delicately. You do of course get a lot of terrible managers, the place is famous for them. All I would say is ask the go for a referal to therapy,keep your boss informed,and dont let it bother you, going back because you feel forced will do you no good at all. Tell work that mentally your having a hard time, being in work at the moment is making it worse and you need to follow the drs suggestion and your sure they wouldn't want you to do otherwise and leave it at that
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  • Posted

    No one has the right to harass you or treat you in any matter that would cause you to become ill in the workplace. This is against the law and leaves both the person who is harassing you and the company at risk for a law suit.

    The job you have taken on is not an easy one. Maybe you find that your heart is in the right place - but other circumstances in your life make you currently unable to council others who are struggling with their own battles. If that's the case listen to your body first and foremost and try to understand why you feel vulnerable at this time. I know from counseling others that anxiety increases when 2 people with anxiety try to comfort each other by sharing their distress. It seems right because you have an understanding of how anxiety affects others and you seek to comfort them out of compassion. This is hard to do without triggering yourself if you are still suffering from anxiety yourself.

    Usually one must make a formal complaint to HR about the person who is harassing you. Have proof that it is affecting your health with medical notes provided from your Dr's. Have witnesses that will verify the harassment and show how it degrades you, punishes you, discrimates against you to the point of causing illness, physically, emotionally or both.

    1) sounds like you need to get your own anxiety under control before you take on anyone elses.

    2) Look up your state labor laws to see how your state handles harassment cases.

    Take care of your self now so you really know how to help others later. God Bless

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    • Posted


      Just wished to say that your reply to soph97510 offered both very practical advice, and spot-on information about employment rights. A very sound and well thought out reply that I'm sure will help her.

      Best wishes Pal.

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    • Posted

      I have just read all of the replies and it has really helped me smile thank you so much to every one who has taken the time to reply! I went to the dr today who said I have depression but said he wants to try me on anti anxiety medication before anti depressants. I had one earlier smile

      I got a letter from work today about a formal meeting regarding my absence with it hitting a trigger point sad I have been signed off again for another week and have to ring them next week to inform them. The thought of this is making me ill! X 


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    • Posted


      This is exactly what happened to me. A close friend replied to the letter and explained I was far too ill to even contemplate attending such a meeting. Had it been necessary, there was plenty of evidence to back that up, but the letter was not replied to. I think they got the message!

      It's good news to hear you've been to the Doctor. Does he know about the letter, or did you get it after your appointment. I'm pretty certain that if he knew, and realised how it is debilitating to you, he would say 'that's not going to happen'.

      The opinion of your GP carries weight. I can't bear the thought of you spending the weekend ruminating and worrying about this letter. There is nothing you can do about it until Monday, so if you can, put it away and forget it until then. If you find yourself meditating on it, the moment you realise, do something to change your thoughts.

      One more thing. If at some point you decide to have a meeting with your employer, remember you have every right to take someone with you, and if you wish, they can act as your proxy and speak on your behalf as long as they have the facts.

      Don't be bullied. There are more of us than there are of them, and we are on your side!

      Thinking of you.  :-)

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