What should I do?


I have got myself into a pickle regarding a doctors note and funding. I was depressed at the time of requesting a temporary leave of absence and didn't go to the doctor (at the time I wasnt even leaving my bedroom never mind my house). I said I did and disappeared off their radar.

Now they are requesting the doctors note if I want to return.

I know theres an ethical and moral dilemma but should I get a false note, get a note and change the date, or just own up?

At this stage I just want to own up but i'm too embarrased about being another "depressed" arts student. And if I now reveal the truth they are going to throw me out.

I've handled this very badly.


When I took a medical break (AHRC-funded) I was asked to get a doctor's letter at the start, and a separate doctor's letter at the end saying I was fit to return. Might they be asking for the latter, and the first one doesn't matter now?


That's a difficult situation.

How are you doing now?

Did you speak to any health professionals about your depression? You could be in a bit of a pickle because most Doctors will only write a note if they've actually seen you however, with something like depression where understandably you might not be able to attend because of your symptoms they may be more sympathetic. I would talk to your GP. Explain your situation. Most GPs are fairly understanding.

If they say no, own up. I would strongly advise against a false note. If you got caught, I would worry that your funders would consider it fraud and then it could be more than just a moral and ethical dilemma.



Hello, this sounds like a stressful situation but I would say don't produce a fake Doctors note. If you are ill again (hopefully not of course), you may need to go to a doctor and get a note and this may prove problematic. Have you had depression in the past and seen a Dr. ? If you have a history of it (my brother suffers with severe depression and goes through bouts periodically), and explain this to your funding body am sure they will understand. If not, be honest, at the end of the day your funding body and University wants you to complete. They just want proof that you fit to work (to cover themselves in case you become ill again) - go to your GP explain the situation, your symptoms etc. and that you are feeling better. They will more than likely write give you a note so that you can resume your studies.

DON'T be too hard on yourself a Ph.D is one of the hardest things that you can do and many people get stressed and depressed. I am sure your not the first person to find yourself in this situation. Funding bodies and Universities are used to dealing with it and they are on your side generally. Honesty is always the best policy and you were genuinely ill. What have your supervisors said ? Can you talk openly with them about it ?


Hey there! I have had time off with depression (I had to drop out of my year at uni a few years back) and they asked for a doctor's note before I returned, just to say that the doctor was happy that I was fit to return. It doesn't sound like you are going to need a note from when you first went off ill, just one to say you are okay to go back. I would go to your doc, explain that you have had time off but that you feel well enough to return, and ask for a note to back that up...I don't think it will be a problem. If they do kick up a fuss about the original (non-existent!) appointment, I would come clean and explain, I wouldn't risk faking a note- being done for that is the last thing you need. I've been quite honest with my supervisors and workmates about my health issues (bipolar) and they have been nothing but understanding and supportive- they're only human! Hope it works out okay for you, KB.


======= Date Modified 18 Nov 2009 22:17:05 =======
Thanks for the very supportive replies - I was expecting widespread ridicule!

The funding body is looking for the doctors note from the time that I took my LOA. Basically in the form that I submitted my supervisor recommended that I take time off due to family/personal problems - which was "supported" by my "visit" to the doctor. It was a very dark time and I didnt intend to lie - basically my supervisor (who I thought had it in for me at the time - after my MA diss mark was lower than expected - again due to staying up all night having panic attacks) asked me did I go to the doctor and I said yes in a flash.

I think I'll go to the doctor and explain the situation. He wont give me a note for that period Im sure but Ill show him my supervisors statement and see what he thinks. I always have problems in the winter time and maybe its related to that. If that doesnt work out then Im going to come clean to the funding body and see what they say. They shouldnt really be letting me back and they might use this to finally say no. I dont know.

EDIT: Edit to say I've never spoken to a doctor about my feelings - What is depression really? I know Im over self-critical and think underneath it all I'm not good enough for this but I wouldnt have been accepted and my supervisor (who is the head of the department) has agreed to take me back and likes my revised structural plan.


======= Date Modified 18 Nov 2009 22:56:38 =======
Hi there,

I think anyone who has suffered with depression will understand completely - I've suffered with it on and off my whole life and know so well the urge to hide away, lock yourself up and end up in a total mess - I've done it, recently as well, but I seriously think you need to speak with your doctor - what you did is a classic 'side effect' (for want of a better word) of serious depression.

Nobody is going to ridicule my friend - many of us have been there - more than you could imagine! You wouldn't be turned away from a PhD because of this - far from it - you've been sick! It happens, its life, and it doesn't affect your ability to do this other than needing to take extra care of yourself and spotting the signs early and getting help.

Please go and see your doctor, explain to him/her what you've explained to us and accept their help and support. Do you have (you must have) a student support section at your uni? Student support always has people who are trained to help students suffering with stress and/or depression and they may well be able to intervene for you if you need extra support getting through this.

Take care of yourself, don't feel embarrassed, depression as you know is a physical condition and not a sign that you are a weak or stupid person - its just an illness in the same way that nobody would ridicule you or think any less of you if you came on here and said that you were having problems from any other illness.

edited to say please please don't be tempted to fake the doctors note - just don't do it!!!! See what they can do about it to backdate your LOA claim and explain your situation


Thanks for all your replies.

this thread as been great for me. I just cant talk about these things - not even to my wife or parents. the idea of going to see a doctor scares me a lot. I have a separate cronic condition that is triggered by stress and i have no probs of talking about that as its a physical condition - but speaking about psychological symptoms that in my mind cannot be proven, makes me think I will be doubted by everyone.

For me the big thing is taking in my supervisors email and showing that I spoke to someone at the time, who, lookingback on it now, gave me great support that I didnt appreciate then. I do suffer from bouts of it, especially as I say in the winter when it gets dark at 4pm, but hopefully hte doc will be sympathetic and at least give me some sort of medical note, though I'm guessing a 5 minute visit isn't going to lead to any serious trust building on his part or desire to write me a medical diagnosis on the spot.


I think that you should speak to your doctor and certainly not get a false note!!!!

BUT I also think that you should speak to someone special about it. The forum is great, but people in here are no specialists. They can speak about their personal experiences or about theie experiences of people they know, but a specialist can help you with YOUR situation. Everyone is different and deals with problems/issues differently....


Go to your Doctor and explain, I think in this kind of situation GPs are usually quite supportive. Don't get a false note, you'll jeopordise everything. You haven't handled it badly at all: dealing with depression is difficult, and only those who haven't directly or indirectly experienced or seen how debilitating it can be would write you off as 'another "depressed" arts student'. Don't forget that most people appreciate that independent study can be lonely, intense and stressful - your GP will certainly understand. If I were you, I'd see him/her asap.


PeteManic....I am new here but felt compelled to reply to your post. I hope you follow everyone's advice here and go to your doctor and explain the situation to him or her. Depression is very difficult to deal with and it's very easy to hide yourself away and as someone else said...that is a major symptom of the illness. For many people it is very, very difficult to talk about feelings...but you've made the effort here (albeit in an online forum where most of us can sympathise and understand) so you can do it again. Just take the bull by the horns and speak to your GP...if he or she is any good then she will understand too and be helpful.

On to more practical matters...like others have said...don't produce a false note or that will just cause you more problems later. However, GPs can issue back-dated medical certificates. It happens if they haven't seen you during your illness or if you saw another doctor who didn't write you up for one at the time. I've had two back-dated certificates in my lifetime...it is usually green instead of white and the doctor signs it with the date and time that you saw him/her and writes that you should have stayed off because you were ill with...and then he puts in the diagnosis. It sounds to me as if you would be a candidate for this but you need to go and talk to your doctor. I don't know the time involved with your leave of absence and I don't know if there's a time limit on back-dated medical certificates but your doctor can guide you, and he can also issue you with a 'fit to return to work' certificate that others have mentioned....that would show the funding body that the doctor is saying that your were ill with depression but now you are fit to return and that is a validation in itself. I wish you loads of luck and I bet that once you've spoken to your doctor and got all this sorted out then you will feel loads better. :-)


I think I'm going to bite the bullet and phone up for an appointment for tomorrow afternoon

I'm extremely nervous about going but I've rehearsed what I'm going to say over and over in my head.

Lets see how it goes.


Good luck.