to think this is a bit much?(25 Posts)
I've been signed off since the start of the year with stress/ anxiety. I was feeling a lot better so thought I was ready to come back.
I've been in 3 days. First day was fine, but yesterday and today have got progressively worse. I get interrupted constantly and am really struggling to concentrate. I've also started to be deluged with work, including something landed with me at 425 today which colleague A wanted me to get colleague B to do before 5. And loads of people saying they need things asap.
Part of the reason I ended up signed off was because I felt completely overwhelmed with work and like a headless chicken. I am quite senior and maybe I should be able to do 30 different things at once but I can't. I have lots of pressures outside work too, which admittedly doesn't help.
My GP has referred me to MIND, but I won't see anyone for another 2 weeks, and then it's a workshop (so not sure how helpful that will be).
Every time another person interrupts me pr gives me something else to do I feel closer and closer to tears. My immediate manager has been quite nice whilst I was off but isn't permanently based in our office so contact can be limited.
Can your work refer you to occupational health? I'd do that if you were my staff member. They might provide counselling, or suggest adaptations to help, or recommend a phased return to work, or something else I haven't thought of. Ask your manager if they can refer you.
We don't have any occ health as far as I know. Also the next time I'll get a meeting with my manager is probably middle of next week.
Can't you email them to ask?
What would be the solution from your point of view. Maybe you just need a bit longer to recover?
I think you need to prioritise, or list out and push it back to those giving it to you and ask them who's work gets done first.
I think if you got more used to asserting yourself and saying, no, I can't do it all and to manage expectations, it might go a long way to helping you navigate this.
I'll ask our HR. I don't have access to any of the firms policies and procedures (no one in our office does, other than those with laptops, wrong network connections or something) otherwise I could check myself. But I don't think we do.
I just think I could be given a break. I can't cope with the volume of work, it's what made me ill before and I'm not sure I'm any more able to cope because I've had no external input, my GP only offered MIND referral; I'm not sure if I'd want to have been given medication but that wasn't offered or even discussed.
I'm expected to do everything though, at my level thats kind of how it works. None of my colleagues say no.
I have no idea how to prioritise it, because thing is I have some tasks that are ongoing (like prep for delivering training in a couple of weeks), other tasks/ reports needed for meetings in the next week or so, then I get asked by someone more senior to me to drop it and do xyz (which may only take 10 mins but stresses me out) and then colleagues interrupt me to discuss a report we're both working on.
Or. I get asked to join an urgent meeting, and so on.
My Love, this s your health, no job is worth it.
I know it's hard, but you will have to say "excuse me, please don't interrupt" or wait for them to finish and carry on exactly where you were until they cop themselves on. They are rude.
Then you have to say no, I'm at capacity, and I've got some catching up to do, you'll have to wait, or ask someone else.
What did they do when you weren't there?
that said, it's your first week back, things might settle down.
Dropping everything to do xyz, you can and must say, I'll be with you in half an hour, or as soon as I'm free, I'm right in the middle of something.
OP is it possible this just isnt the job for you and you need to be looking for something less stressful? If this is just how the job is and everyone else gets on with it there isnt really much they can do, the work has to be done. Have you asked for a phased return? Do you think you came back too early or would it make no difference no matter how long you took off?
Even if you have to listen to thesenior person and can't put them off, you absolutely can tell colleagues that you will discuss their report at a convenient time for you both. Do it nicely and lightly but be quite firm and say you can't spare time before then.
You've said that you're quite senior and to be frank with the seniority, status and money comes stress and responsibility. You've said that others can cope and don't say no but you can't. As a PP said, it really sounds like this isn't the job for you.
Could you investigate a demotion or different job that has less stress that might be more suitable?
Perhaps you have returned to work too soon. I find it difficult to return to work after a holiday until I get settled in again, but you are returning after having anxiety/depression, so no wonder you are overwhelmed.
Admit to your boss that it's too much too soon and see if you can get some support until you feel stronger.
Your health is far more important and anxiety doesn't disappear overnight, it can be a long process.
It was the pressure if work that contributed to making you will, so it sounds like something is very wrong if your employers load too much on to you.
Don't feel guilty or bad. You are ill. Take longer off and don't rush back before you are ready.
Too many people are being made ill because of unreasonable demands of their employers and then being made to feel guilty when they can't cope!
You need to manage expectations. As you are senior you should 'get away' with doing this - I had to do it yesterday and it worked. I said
Thanks for your email. Whilst I am happy to do [this task], I will not be able to get this done before 5pm as this conflicts with another deadline I have - I am currently working on [second task], which is priority. I can work on this tomorrow when my capacity allows. Trust this is ok.
If you carry on, people presume you're coping with the workload when you're clearly not, and you need to manage that yourself - cc your manager in for back up if you need it. Good luck OP, I hope you feel better soon.
I''m expected to do everything though, at my level thats kind of how it works. None of my colleagues say no
Well it shouldn't be how it works. Your colleagues may not say no but it didn't mean they are not stressed or won't end up ill too!
No employer should expect their staff to work themselves into being ill. It doesn't necessarily mean it's your fault if you can't do everything. Your employer could be expecting too much. It's the culture today I am afraid and not helped by those who are willing to be taken advantage o.
Maybe you've gone back too soon. Everyone will expect you to be at full capacity. Either see if you can do a phased return or say unless your workload reduces you're going to need time off again.
I vote "phased return" just do half days for two weeks or so. GP will give you a med cert saying this. Time not at work is sick leave.
I had the same thing. The problem was the juniors stockpiled everything and tried to hand it over to me as soon as I was back. Ongoing work and prep was ongoing. People won't listen when you say no, however nice you are about it.
Totally agree with a phased return. I was off for a few months last year (baby loss) and if I'd gone back full time straight away I'd have been straight back off.
It's really hard to get into the headspace again, particularly if work was why you were off.
Also as pp says. Work means fuck all, really (OK, I said that) and its your health that matters. Nothing else.
Look after yourself
I think you need to take a hard look at the job and work out if it's for you. If it's a senior level and other people on your level are coping with the workload then perhaps you need to look for something else
My doctor gave me a note to say that I was having trouble concentrating. I was allowed back on reduced duties.
I have the same kind of thing. It's constant interruptions, high pressure, I'm quite senior... I do sympathise.
A warning: This might well be a strategy to push you out. Making things untenable, working towards a conversation that it's not working out from either side. Speak to a union or lawyer or at least have a good think about what you want and if there is talk of a mutual separation, getting the most that you can.
When I physically injured myself, making my job impossible, I was signed off. When I was fit to return, my short term inability to drive made many aspects of my job unsuitable, hence I returned doing only the parts that I was physically capable of. I wasn't expected to work my car pedals with one functioning leg, or steer with one functioning arm.
Mental ill health is no different in my opinion, and it's just a terrible pity it's not acknowledged in the same understanding and open way a physical injury is. Tell hr/ friendly boss you aren't fit enough for that role just yet. Dr can also do fit notes. Then it's down to work to find suitable tasks or leave you at home.
I don't know that I can't do the job. In terms of technical demands, it's easy, in fact I'm losing some of my skills. But what I can't cope with is the constant chopping and changing, drop X to do Y, drop both to gp to a meeting, etc etc. The people I report into are disorganised and constantly changing tack, which means I'm expected to as well.
One of my colleagues also had the bright idea that so we can cover for each other, we all should go to each other's meetings. It's just tpp time consuming.
Last year, I was asked to work on a project- basically to fact find, then draw up and implement a plan of action. 3 of us working on it. The fact finding took a fortnight, on and off. Collating all the data another week. We've since had 2 all day meetings (the 3 of us) plus several con calls of 2-3 hours. We've also had a similar number of calls with the.managers who'll be in charge of any changes.
So far only a few small changes have been made. The timetable for the rest is the next 12 months, during which we continue to be involved and have endless meetings. Plus one of our 3 is going off on a couple of months on secondment, so now we have to bring someone else in and get them up to speed...
That's all in addition to everything else I,have to do. It's just all so very longwinded!
Generally I feel as though I have no resilience. Like this weekend, I've got to meet up with friends in the daytime, my builder is also coming over at some point to continue some work so will need to speak to me, or at least needs someone to be home to let him in, so I've got to juggle that with my other commitments or check if my bf or DC will be around ... I've got another friend who might need me to have her DC overnight, I've got housework, laundry, other stuff to sort out with my own DC or remind/ nag them to do, fill in my tax return...the bloody list is endless, and I'm already worrying about how I fit it all in, and what if there's no one there for builder, or the meet up takes longer than expected (one friend is taking us all in her car so I'm tied to her in terms of how long we stay). And all that is overwhelming enough without work!
I just don't feel I'm coping. I should be able to, but I just can't.
That sounds tough, chanel.
As you're senior, at least you get to tell your junior staff how to operate. Can you block out an hour a day or two half hours a day, just for getting on with your own work, uninterrupted. Might not be enough, but would at least give you headspace.
Obviously your juniors won't then interrupt, but also pick a good time when the seniors are unlikely to interrupt as well. Block it out on your diary as a meeting?
Also, or instead, you could have a dedicated half hour, twice daily for interruptions - juniors bringing you problems, maybe try to coincide it with the times your seniors are likely to interrupt?
I'm thinking, if you're expecting interactions with others it might not be so frustrating.
And, if you're senior enough, get your whole department on a time management course.
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