Im also planning a return to work as well. I may not have the best advice as this is my first time doing so. (If im wrong please let me know!) You might want to let them know that you’re not ready yet but you’re in discussion with your dr about returning to work in the future. I think I would at least give them a month’s notice. My LTD provider has a rehab program, yours might as well. You can ask them for assistance through the rehab program. So far i havent been able to get help through this. They wont tell me what’s available or allow me access to it.
I contacted LTD and they said my RTW has to be approved by them before I can return. They need the RTW plan, date of return and date of return to full time. They also want medical documentation to prove I can return to work. The dr filling out the RTW form is not enough. I’m going to ask for my dr to add in the note that I would benefit from rehab services. Hopefully they give me access. I’ll take any assistance I can get.
From the time I first had the discussion with my dr until my return to work it will be 6 months. And from when I started talking about it with my employer it will be about 3 months. Don’t feel because you talked about it, means you have to go back right away. That is how I felt. It stressed me out. Talking about it is preparing yourself. If it makes you feel better I’m feeling less anxious as time goes on. I’m sure the first week will be horrible but I can’t wait to have an actual paycheck from working! I miss that feeling.
I’m not sure the reasons your off but that will change how to prepare to return and your accommodations. Mine is for mental health so I’ve been searching “mental health accommodations in the workplace” “returning to work after mental health issues”. Ive gone through them and found ones that would be useful. Im going to discuss these with my dr at my next appointment.
If your employer is trustworthy and supportive you can also ask them for suggestions and what has worked for employees in your situation in the past.
It seems as though my employer prefers no longer than 12 weeks for a gradural return to work. As of right now, mine is going to be much longer. I am going to do a slow return and see my dr in 6-8 weeks to adjust accordingly. Since I don’t know how I am going to respond to going back to work, personally, I’d rather give them the expectation that it will be a longer return to work and hopefully in the end I won’t need that much time. But I personally want to avoid giving them a 12 week plan and then not being able to meet it and having to extend the plan. I think it would be undue pressure on myself and I don’t want to have to deal with modifying and adding weeks to my return to work if I don’t need to. I want to manage expectations from the get go - under promise over deliver I guess is how I’m approaching it.
I’ve changed the date of my return about 3-4 times (I havent provided LTD or my ER any official paperwork yet). At first I was so anxious like you, I was making myself sick. But as time has gone on it’s decreased. Now I’ve (90%) settled on a date I feel comfortable with. Your plan might change a lot too. At your next drs appointment if you feel you need more time to prepare yourself, let your dr know.
If you have access to a counselor you might want to speak to them about strategies to help with your anxiety about returning. They may have some accomodation suggestions as well.
Some things that have been helping me prepare is visualizing work, the potential dangers and how to react, driving around the area (this was horrible when I first started), I see a psychologist often, I have been working with a hypnotherapist which has been amazing. We also have an inhouse counselor, he is one of the only people I trust in my workplace, I have started utilizing him as well. Your dr and a cousellor should be able to provide coping strategies to help your individual situation.
A few other strategies I was given is when I’m having anxiety to tell myself it’s ok to feel this way and a normal reaction and not necessarily fight. It’s taking a lot of practice but it’s helping.
I’ll be in contact with LTD about my RTW in about a month. I’ll let you know about any issues I run into.
Hopefully this was helpful. It’s going to stressful, but I think it’s a good sign you’re thinking about it. Try not to stress about it until you see your dr. Please update if you find any other useful information! Hopefully there will be others on here that have been through this and can provide info based on experiences.