This morning I received a letter from someone I used to work with. A lovely letter but it made me feel sad all the same. It made me realise that I’m really not going back.
It feels strange even calling it my ‘work’ now, when I haven’t actually been there for almost two years. We are stuck in a bit of a quandry where I can’t resign because I’d lose entitlement to a certain financial benefit; yet they can’t end my contract because Still’s Disease is covered by the Disability Act and if they did I could make an issue of it – not a good advertisement for a top Special Educational Needs school.
The decision we have made recently is to go for Ill Health Retirement, which means an independant doctor needs to agree that I will be unfit for work for the next X amount of years. My employers think this should be straightforward, but we have played it quite positively up until now, hoping against hope that I would one day be well enough to return. That could go against me now, even though my Rheumatologist’s report will stress how dire my circumstances have become. As sad as I am to see the job go, I just want it all tied up now. I’m tired of the ‘disciplinary’ meetings and reviews; the phonecalls and letters, of just having it lingering in the background all the time – guilt.
The letter was from one of the few people that I’ll miss and I’m glad that he wrote, because I made the mistake of isolating myself from them; hiding myself away, embarrassed by the difference my illness made to me from the person I was when ‘well’ and working. I kept telling myself I’d go and see them when I was feeling up to it, but up to it never happened and now I feel bad that two years has passed. This letter has spurred me on to write to the ones I will miss and hopefully we will be able to keep in touch away from work. Maybe one day I’ll even feel strong enough to go into the place that I used to love so much, a space that was once mine.
And hopefully I’ll find another job one day, one that I’ll enjoy just as much and be able to give my all to. Because, despite the retirement label, I can work again in the future if I’m declared fit and that is my goal.