Thursday, 23 October 2014

Half Pay Dilemmas

So today is the 23rd October 2014....I will be on half pay from my part time role as a police sergeant as of the 17th November 2014 and quite possibly bankrupt shortly thereafter!!

Golly I have to joke a bit because just when I thought I was making some headway (no pun intended) the ground goes and shifts from under my feet again. I feel like f I didn't try and lighten my darkness a little I might just end up hiding under the duvet for the foreseeable future. I do feel like I'm on the edge of a cliff hanging on to my normality but only just and I really do feel only a very short distance away from disaster. My head space is so fragile and splintered.

I must look calm and normal though as nobody seems to know or guess. In fact people keep saying 'you look so well' and I just keep wishing that I felt just a fraction of that wellness in reality.

Do these things feelings happen to other people or just depression sufferers? It seems to me that I keep picking myself up off the floor like a proverbial skittle that's been knocked over and just as I regain my balance and think 'yes I can stand firm and not wobble' another blooming bowling ball hits me and BANG there I go again!

Yesterday I arranged a meeting with my police federation rep (union rep) to discuss the fact that as of the 2012 update to police regulations the force now view my long term absence through ill health purely through business eyes and ask themselves 'is she providing us value for money?' The answer clearly is no I am not in the eyes of HR. They then can consider implementing unsatisfactory performance procedures. Apparently there are three stages to this process and the ultimate sanction after stage three could be the force dispensing with my services. I am currently being considered for placement on stage 1. I have to attend a meeting with my line manager, a representative from HR and my federation rep next Monday the 27th October 2014 when the decision whether or not to place me on stage 1 will be decided.

So yesterday we were discussing this process and also the notice that I have had from my deputy chief constable placing me on half pay as of the 17th November 2014.

The fed rep is a genuinely nice guy with huge empathy and communication skills. He has come highly recommended as someone that will fight my corner tooth and nail and also someone that knows his stuff inside and out. I have been told to trust him implicitly and follow his lead. Looking at the federation in isolation for a minute the reps don't get a lot extra if anything for putting themselves out an amazing amount for others. They look after multiple officers who are generally going through utterly life changing crap situations. This is a huge commitment on top of their day jobs, often as front line officers and I for one am very thankful.   He said to me yesterday if you want to speak to me at three in the morning just text me and I think he genuinely meant it too.

So it took me somewhat aback when he said to me out of the blue yesterday 'I want you to go back to work' I was shocked to be honest but when he rationalised to me why he thought it was for the best I could see it made perfect sense. Sitting there in that room at headquarters it did seem to make perfect sense. He said he thought it would be best if I worked reduced hours a couple of times a week and at a different location to where I normally worked. Again perfectly logical. He asked me what I thought... I knew the idea of going onto half pay was terrifying me and the not knowing if I'd be able to pay the bills was an immense weight around my neck so it felt the only rational way forwards was to agree and I did agree if with a fairly large dose of trepidation running through my veins. But as I've said I've been told he's the best and to trust in him.

So I left and started the drive home. Well dear goodness I wasn't expecting the panic attack that ensued or the tears. I wasn't shocked that my head felt like it was going to explode as the splitting pain in my head has been a constant since May. But I was utterly surprised by the violent physical reaction to the thought of returning to work and to say it was overwhelming and hugely scary is an understatement. My chest tightened and my breathing became laboured, my eye sight blurred and I felt really dizzy. My joints all started aching very painfully and my right hand went numb again. I felt physically sick like I had eaten a chunk of food far too big to swallow and it was stuck at the base of my throat.

I had to go and pick my daughter and her friend up from school and it was all I could do to function and communicate with them but carry on I did.

Later after my daughters friend had gone home and I'd done the swimming lesson shuttles to and from the pool I had a text from my best friend asking me how things had gone with the fed rep. I replied that I'd been shocked that he had asked me to return to work, told her that I had agreed at the time but that I had since gone in to meltdown and been very tearful.

This whole reaction and chain of events is very worrying and has left me with the obvious question... 'if this is how the mere suggestion has rendered me, how will the actuality play out?'

I will draw an analogy Olympic athlete breaks his leg just before the main race. His coach says never mind you can still compete. Yes he could but he'd fall flat on his face, he certainly wouldn't win and he'd feel pretty humiliated wouldn't he? That's how I think going back to work is likely to play out for me. I'll fall on my face (not literally although I'd never rule it out completely) , make a prat of myself (some would say inevitable) and I wouldn't win the day and be a healthy rounded person.

BUT and it's a blooming BIG BUT

I am a single parent with bills and commitments how can I not go back to work? So now I've started thinking perhaps I could ask the GP for some form of drug that would quell the panic attacks? A sedation type pill that would just get me through? Or once I got there would I actually cope okay and it's just the fear of it provoking the panic? But we must also remember that I'm only two weeks in to anti-depressant pills and they make take longer to have a positive affect mightn't they?

So when I woke up this morning I decided I needed to know the figures. Exactly what was the difference from where I'm at now to where I'd be on half pay?

Because the half pay would get topped up with a federation group insurance payment plus I'd be able to claim ESA from the DWP apparently. So I've asked for the figures to be worked out if at all possible because just scaremongering and telling me I'd be worse off isn't helpful. Plus I've asked if I can suspend my pension contributions temporarily or whether that's a one off decision. In or out so to speak. Once I can see this amount versus the other amount I'm hoping I'll know better whether it's a necessary evil just to survive.

So as of now I await those figures. Then I'll go and see my GP .... and then I have a pretty vast decision to make.....

make or break literally!

I'll let you know x

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