Work is driving me to nervous breakdown(114 Posts)
I'd appreciate some advice on what to do as I'm at breaking point with both my job and my home life.
I work 75% hours over four days and I have three small children. My husband works shifts. I am constantly under pressure at work to make early meetings or go away for two or three days at a time. I have no team support around me, my job is done by me and me only in isolation. I'm always late for work as my children are frankly a freakin nightmare to get ready in the morning and my commute takes 90 minutes. It's frequently nearly 10am when I get to work and I'm constantly worrying I'm going to get fired. I'm often overlooked for extra work and ignored in meetings. I feel like they are doing me a favour by employing me. The Brexit decision has made my job likely to disappear as I do a lot of EU work. I've been paralysed with fear about this as it would give them a reason to fire me. I've tried to talk to my bosses about it this week and they've dismissed me as being hysterical. I've left work early today as I've spent more time crying than working and I'm crying my way home tonight again.
What also doesn't help is that me and my husband are on the verge of separation. He doesn't take my work stress seriously (I think he thinks my job is just a hobby) and every time I try to tell him I can't cope anymore he just says 'yeah I had a shit day today too'.
What can I do? I fear I'm either going to get fired or end up walking out because I can't cope with the stress anymore.
First of all you are obviously doing a good job. Which is why everyone understands you getting in late (you didn't mention whether or not anyone pulls you up on this.) You work hard and get your work done and, as you say, you work on your on own. Maybe the reason that you get overlooked for extra work is the fact that you are obviously under pressure already so no-one wants to add to your problems. Kudos to you for working such long hours with 3 small children. I've done it myself and its no walk in the park.
Take a deep breath: it doesn't sound the best job in the world with a 90 minute commute etc. so if your job does disappear with Brexit, it wont be your fault, but it will give you a good opportunity to find something that is more suitable . Also, nothing is going to happen immediately, so your job will be safe for a while. You could have a think about what you would like to do and have a plan and CV prepared in readiness. Hopefully you would have some redundancy pay to give you some time.
You do sound at the end of your tether and on the verge of not coping. This would be a disaster for you and your family. Things will have to change. What about taking a couple of days holiday for yourself? Time to quietly reflect on your situation and think about what is important and sort out your priorities? Are you and your husband on the verge of separation because of all this pressure, or is it another reason? Is your relationship worth saving?
Is your salary critical for the family? If your husband sees it as "just a hobby" then how would he feel if you found another less demanding job closer to where you live? If he feels that the household income is dependent on your salary, then you must demand a bit more support at home. If you feel that your independence and self-esteem is linked to your current job, then you need to find ways of easing your home-life.
Life is short and the time that your children are young flies by (my youngest is now 18 and it seems like only yesterday she was starting school). You need to make the most of this time, so put your family life at the top of your priority list. At the end of the day, friends and family are the only thing that counts.
I really hope you get lots of good advice on here. Mixing work and family is never easy, but work is never worth making yourself sick for.
Thanks for your reply.
We are totally dependent on my income so earning less isn't an option. Our relationship is failing for a number of reasons, lack of emotional support being one of them. My husband has a bad case of the 'me too's' - no matter what goes wrong for me, he has it in spades. I can't see us staying together forever, but for now we are economically bound.
I'm in tears every day at work. Is that normal? Does everyone with kids have to cry with exhaustion and frustration every day in the office? I just feel so overloaded. The announcement of the teachers strike next week tipped me over the edge today. No idea how we'll manage that one (I do support them though)
Do you have the option of breakfast club? Working from home?
Bump. I feel for you. Am experiencimg something similar myself right now and once we can move house I will leave as it is making me ill. However my DP takes my stress seriously and this helps.
Is there any scope for your husband to change his job? Its always been a bug bear of mine that I am left to all school runs and house ( and my DH knows this which is why he is supporting my plan to do something else - we cant both be stressed).
Can your DH help more or let him change jobs? Support is ethg in terms of sharing the responsibility of family and work.
I wish I could offer some wisdom as I have to leave my job as it's just too demanding and I have little physical support at home and Im not coping. All I can say is family and health must come first. I will find another job as we need the money. But something has to give - can you reduce your hours OP? Work from home?
I already use breakfast club but by the time I've dropped the kids there and then got the bus, two tubes and another bus, it's usually 9.45 (a whole 7 miles travelled as well).
I'm terrible at working from home. I just sit there fretting about the washing, ironing, shopping, contents of fridge, paying bills instead of concentrating on my work. I also find it more isolating too - if that's even possible in an office with hot desking so you never sit next to someone you know. And my profile is as low as it could be, so not being in the office just makes it worse. I work in a very male dominated profession so I'm pretty much derided all the time. People would rather take advice from the guy who used to do my job a couple of years ago. Imagine what that does to your confidence and self esteem.
My husband does his share of the chores and he always does the after school bit as his shifts start early and finish by 2pm. It's just me. I can't cope anymore. I've tried telling him, I know I can't leave my job, I just feel trapped and desperate.
I'm thinking up reasons not to go in tomorrow.
No, it is not normal to cry every day.
Book a day off and go out, cinema or museum or whatever, don't sit at home and stare at chores. If you can overnight somewhere, so much the better, but realise that may be tricky.
Whatever your DH thinks, if you break, the economics stops working. He needs to be more supportive.
Can you get emotional support from someone else? Friend. Family, counsellor, Samaritans? Then more practical stuff fro, DH - is there stuff he could do the night before, laying out uniforms etc, to help? Could you improve your commute at all, even if temporarily (if you took a taxi for a week instead, it would give you a break)
I would echo what PP have said but add that maybe a visit to your GP would be a good idea? Life shouldn't be this hard and no, crying every day is not a good sign. You can turn this round but you may need to accept a lot of help. Relationship counselling might be a good step? It sounds as though you're both unhappy.
FWIW I spent two years in a job I loathed surrounded by awful people. I wish I'd followed my instincts and left earlier.
I've no emotional support from anyone else. My family couldn't even tell you what I do for a living (I think my mother thinks I type up letters and do a bit of filing. Like its the 70s or something)
I've tried counselling with three different counsellors and all were terrible and made me feel worse. Ive asked the GP for diazepam to help me cope with the stress but they wouldn't give me any. Just suggested more counselling (both career and marriage).
I've tried telling my employer that I'm struggling but firstly they don't really want to know and secondly it's seen as a weakness. I don't want to give them any more reason to get rid of me.
And I'd love the idea of getting a taxi to work, but it would be about £80-100 a day for that (and would probably take longer!)
Try the doctors again, crying every day is not normal and if it's been going on for a while they might think differently. Working part time can be the worst of both worlds as the conflicting expectations on your time/attention from both sides end up adding to more than your capacity. Its not weakness to admit you're not bloody superhuman. Hope having a vent on here helps a bit but you need some real life support too. If it's turning into a competition with DH about who has it worst off and there's really no one else, try approaching it with him from a different angle? Try and get a few hours headspace and to make a list of things that would change the situation - easier said than done I know when your brain is overloaded to start with. Little things (cleaner?) and big things (new job!). Then run through this with him and say you need his help and support to decide what to do and then to do it. Once you have an escape route from the current situation planned you might feel better. Fwiw I find getting the kids out the door on time so stressful and if I have a bad morning with them playing up it sets me up on the wrong footing for the rest of the day, but I only have to do this on my own a couple of times a week. Is there anything you can do to change that? What are you doing for childcare over the summer hols? Will it give you a break from this at all?
This was me last year OP. I have never experienced such awful stress in a job and it ended up making me physically ill.
In the end I was made redundant abd I've now got a great new job with better pau and more flexible hours so I can do the school run two days a week.
You need to give yorself some breathing space. No job is worth this amount of stress.
Purely practical advice coming up: Crying everyday at work isn't normal. Nor is it very professional to be honest. You really should try to keep an unemotional facade on at work if you want to be taken seriously. Leave your family problems at the door and act, act, act - paste a smile on your face and be really upbeat and give the impression that everything is under control and you are a strong member of the team. This is particularly true if most of the team is male. Emotions freak them out at work. No-one will come and ask you advice if they think you are going to burst into tears. Harsh but true. I think you will soon find that people will start to treat you differently at work, and that will help you feel better about yourself.
Please don't think that I am belittling how you feel, I'm not at all, as I have been at work where I am falling apart inside. Its a horrible feeling.
If you really feel that you can't go on as you are, then I would spend some time preparing your CV , speak to some agencies, build up a strong LinkedIn profile, and start applying for some other roles. No job is worth being so miserable over. As my parents always told me, its easier to look for a job when you are in a job. Time is on your side at the moment.
Getting to work: If you only work 7 miles away, have you thought about cycling some or all of the way? Maybe a folding bike? You would feel better with some fresh air, you would probably get to and from work faster.
Could you work from home one day a week? I work from home. It does take discipline to ignore the household chores, but if you drop the kids at BC then come home, make a cup of tea, shut the door, switch off the phone, you will be amazed how productive you can be without interruptions. I often put a load of washing on before work. Hang it out in my lunch break and bring it in at the end of the day. (I'm not perfect: if I see the rain coming down I do run like a bat out of hell to get it in, working or not!)
With regards to your husband's attitude to you. Maybe you need to change how you respond to him. He may subconsciously find your job intimidating, maybe he feels that you consider your job more demanding than his (just a thought) and feels a little belittled and ignored? Maybe the next time he says that he's had a crap day too, you could ask him to tell you about it and see if there is anything you can do to help him. If you get a positive conversation started with him, you could then ask him if he has any advice for you.
Your OH may also be panicking inside: he knows that the household needs your income, but is terrified that you are about to be ill and lose your job. He may well be worried about you but doesn't know how to confront it. Maybe relationship counselling would be a good idea to open up the communication a bit.
Your kids really need to be at the forefront of all this. Are they suffering from your and your husband being so unhappy about this situation? No-one wants to grow up in a miserable house. What practical steps can you take to improve the situation for them? Star chart for being ready on time for school, with a monthly outing or reward. Mealtimes or a quiet time all together each evening with everyone telling a funny story or something that happened to them that day. Simple things can make a lot of difference.
Also, have you tried Mindfulness or CBT? I know it sounds very hippy, but I have seen proof that it works (my OH had a breakdown a few years ago and this was the way forward for him). You could ask your GP for a referral or there are some good podcasts that you can listen to.
Can you look for a different job?
Can you move closer to the school?
Can you move your children to a different school that's closer to your home or your work?
What would work for you?
I'm just shovelling in my lunch while reading this (my 10 mins of lunch break that is) so quick replies.
I'm not sitting at my desk crying! Christ no one at work should ever do that. I have my cry in the loo, nipping to the bank, mostly on the train home. No one at work has a clue I feel like this (I mostly sit next to a stranger each day so why would they even notice my eye make up is blotchy or care?)
And I don't cycle because I don't wish to die.
I've refused couples counselling as I don't believe it could help. My husband would use it to bully me "see, I told you it was your fault" and I've had three different counsellors who have screwed me over each time I've tried counselling.
One other thing ( just quickly) kids school is at the bottom of the garden - it couldn't be closer!
What is your current childcare cost? Could you afford/have space for an au pair to keep the mornings and evenings ticking over properly? At the very least you need to be able to give work it's proper attention during working hours in order to feel less stressed.
that sounds hard going op, I've no great advice for you but sending you some
Sorry OP I read your post wrong. I thought it takes you a long time to get the kids to school and then get to work.
Could you possibly consider changing your job? Is it particularly well paid for what it is? I am just trying to understand why you are holding on to something that clearly is no good for you.
It's good to hear you're not in tears today
I think she's holding onto the job as she needs the money, I must be living somewhere else to most of you here, getting a new job is really really difficult now and if there were more jobs out there people wouldnt be as stressed and upset as the op is, we'd get out of stressful jobs sooner.
The only thing I can see is changing my job, but I would definitely end up with a salary reduction. This would have a massive impact on my family - probably having to move further away to a cheaper area. I'm not sure I'm selfish enough to do that to them.
I've thought about morning help but I'm not sure we could afford it. We haven't got the space for an au pair to live with us (and tbh my youngest is too young to be entrusted to a 17 year old on a gap year)
I've lost all confidence in my abilities too. I've been ignored and undermined in this job for 3 years now. I don't think I could successfully apply or even give anything to a new job. I'm so anxious that even the simplest of requests sends me spinning. Recently the smallest thing outside my comfort zone makes me feel sick, like driving my son to a school camp. I had to come home and go to bed after that. I'm a wreck.
And I love the idea of happy mealtimes with my kids! They mostly spend the time trying to stab each other with forks or race to see who can eat the fastest and get back to playing. Plus I don't get home until nearly 8pm at night (90 mins home after my 90 mins in) so the littlest is in bed and I briefly see the older ones before rushing to eat my meals at 9pm.
I don't think mindfulness will fix this somehow.
Can you detail your hours?
I'm estimating 28ish? Would you be able to do them over 3 long days? Just to cut a day out of the equation? Or just a few on the 4th day from home?
Or make a better go of working from home - say 2 out of 4 days in a dedicated space with some discipline? Or even the nearest library/coffee shop?
You need to get some headspace as you are running around in circles here.
Me again..can you find another job? One that's easier to get to and with more flexibility?
I know you need the money and sm not suggesting you don't work, but this isn't the only job in the world and, I'm not hearing a compelling reason (other than you need the money) for you to stay. I know it's hard to move. I was made redundant when mine were very small and thought that was it but I went freelance (considering this again) and we all survived. Could you consider freelance OP?
I do 28 hours a week - 3 long days and one 5 hour day. I mostly do the 5 hour one from home so that I can spend some time with my youngest in the morning.
Three days would mean three 9 hour days and what with the commute that would mean 12 hour days.
I know I sound incredibly negative. I just feel so trapped, demotivated, exhausted and like a failure. There are plenty of others who manage to do this, so why am I failing?
Others are not necessarily managing OP, remember you assume they are and you look with confirmation bias.
Would you consider a career coach rather than a counsellor? Focus on giving you the confidence to feel you are doing a good job and to eventually look for a closer one?
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