So my job, it gives me PTO like most other jobs. But it also deposits about 1.2 hours per pay period into something called an EIL account. Ostensibly, this is so that if I am sick for longer than three days, I do not need to deplete my EIL. Nice, eh?
Well, I have an EIL account with something like 350 hours in it. I am not often sick for longer than 2-3 days, so I rarely need to dip into this account.
So, today, when I spoke to my primary care physician about taking a medical leave for about a month from work, she filled out the paperwork and I thought I was good to go.
Why, you ask, am I wanting a month leave from work? Well, because clearly I am making myself sick from the cummulative stress of the past several months. I have been having migraines more often than I am comfortable with. My blood pressure is elevated. And I am now having difficulty eating without pain...in the process I've lost about 10 lbs (I've regained a bit since the initial loss) without wanting to.
When I go to work, feeling overwhelmed with dealing with my own feelings and just stuff (I haven't, for example, been doing well with housework...don't make me tell you about the mold colony that I threw out from my fridge recently - I just hope it isn't out there consuming people) that I feel literally sick and overwhelmed when faced with having to take care of other people's stuff (that's kind of the definition of a social worker, by the way). I spent today feeling that lovely tightness in my chest and burning in my stomach that is really only associated with anxiety. I don't want to be there, and this is a destinct contrast to my previous not wanting to be there. This is more akin to dread, and it is not letting me do my job adequately...creating further dread.
So I want time away. I want time to set up an appointment with a psychiatrist (my MD was kind enough to give me a referral). I want time to see the dietician a friend recommended. I want to get the hypnotherapy tapes about IBS and start listening to them so that they can work their magic. I want to be able to come back to work with some focus once again.
I thought, since I had 350 hours or so of EIL, that this would be a relatively simple thing. My doctor this morning wrote out a slip with dates that I would need away. She printed it out and signed, and I returned to work. On speaking to my supervisor, she talked about needing to apply for State Disability after only being off for a week. That's strange, I said. Don't I need to exhaust my sick leave first?
Apparently not. This EIL account is sick leave, but only sick leave if you are sick for more than 3 days but less than 8. From day 8, until you return to work or have exhausted FMLA, you are required to apply for compensation from State Disability. Is something really a disability if it is incapacitating for a month? Is this, then, a disability?
I know that it is. I know that when the HR woman told me that I would need to fill out these extra forms, I sobbed. This is not the actions of a woman well able to handle the case management needs of over 100 people. But, here's the rub, my doctor had said that she would be willing to write up for sick leave, but did not process disability claims. She said that she would do FMLA paperwork, but I don't know if the state disability process (the same agency that processes the FMLA stuff) is crossing that line for her.
I do have a therapist. I've talked to him about how stressed I am, but I'm not sure if he'll fill them out. I did call and leave a message for the psychiatrist, but he's never seen me...would he be willing to fill them out once I've seen him?
All of this feels even more crazy-making. I don't really know what to do with it, except that I know in my gut that I need time away. I need time to get my head around things and really figure out where I want to go and what I want. S had me do this life plan awhile ago. I want to take that out and revisit it.
So, I'm taking this leap of faith that this will all work out in some form or another. Keep your digits crossed for me, will you?