Dear [Boss] and [Lab Manager],
It pains me a lot to have to write this letter, but I think it's important to tell you the truth. [Boss], as you know, for the past several years I have been struggling with an eating disorder, and although I had an excellent spring semester things have not gone as well this summer. My doctors and I have decided that it would be safest for me to go home to [insert NOS's home state here] so I can be more closely monitored. Therefore I will not be able to work in the lab for the rest of the summer. As of now I'm planning to return to [uni] in the fall and I would be more than happy to resume working then. But I completely understand if you decide that that's not a good idea.
I cannot express how sorry and how ashamed I feel to have to leave you in the lurch again. You both have treated me so well, and I appreciate everything you have ever done for me. But I need to take care of my physical and mental health.
Thank you both for your understanding of this situation.
I got these two letters in reply:
I’m so sorry to hear that things have gotten worse this summer, and I’m glad you’re making your health your first priority.
[Lab Manager] and I have both appreciated your thoughtful contributions and how hard you have worked to make our research a success. If you would like to return to the lab in the Fall, we would be very happy to have you.
If you choose to return, I want to make sure that it’s because you want to, and not because you feel obligated to do so. As we have discussed before, I also want to encourage you to pursue additional research experiences beyond our lab, both to round out your research skills and to ensure the strongest possible letters of recommendation for the next stage of your career. All of this is to say that I see you as an asset to our lab and would like to have you back, but that I also want you to consider what is in your own long-term best interest.
Once you know for sure whether you’d like to return to the lab this Fall, please let me know. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further.
Wishing you all the best,[Boss]
I'm so sorry to hear that things aren't going well for you, and I'm glad you're taking care of yourself. It sounds like going home is the right decision for you right now.
We'll miss you in the lab, but we'll make do, so don't worry about that. Just focus on getting better. I actually had to leave school early my freshman year of college due to a mental health issue, so I definitely understand the boat you're in. If you ever want to talk about it, I'd be happy to get together in the Fall.
We'd love to have you back in the Fall, so just let us know what your plans are. No pressure. Do what's best for you.
Good luck with the rest of the summer.
Wishing you all the best,
This was possibly the best outcome that could have happened. They understand. They have appreciated my work. They have given me the choice of coming back or not coming back to the lab in September. But most of all they understand. I still feel ashamed that I had to leave in the first place, but maybe, just maybe, my life is not in complete shambles.