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Anyone been in a senior position and lost all confidence? What did you do?

(19 Posts)
bluesecondred Tue 08-Oct-13 10:48:42

Hello everyone. This has happened to my DH. He got promoted amazingly quickly to a senior management position. Since then his organization have piled massive, never-ending, pressure on him, with zero support. The business is going badly now, profits are falling fast, and my DH is enormously stressed. Stuff he could do easily before, like client work and presentations, leaves him on the verge of a panic attack. He thinks his team are all against him. He says he can't leave because he doesn't know what he does anymore and nobody will employ him - he feels that he has lost his core skills/expertise as all he does is management. For me, it's like watching a slow motion car crash and I have no idea what to do. Has anyone been in this position? Or their partner/someone they know? Can you offer any reassuring insight/stories if so!

Hardhaton Tue 08-Oct-13 11:41:06

well I kind of feel like this after my dh lost his job we started our own company, and then the panic set in, I have never done any office work ive only ever worked in shops, I never indented to work with him now im a full time office manager, organising, paper work customers ect. it never stops and yes there are times when I cant think straight between the house 4 kids husband and now the business, but taking one step at a time is a good idea.
my only advice is to help him in some way, type up a document for him while he goes to the next thing, or just talking what hes doing through.
I would say he is getting panicky maybe worth a trip to the doctors

bbcessex Tue 08-Oct-13 21:14:56

Hi OP, sorry you are both going through a tough time. I sympathise.

Clearly your DH's firm have / had a responsibility to support him after promoting him, and seems like they maybe aren't doing that if your DH has become this anxious. His health is the most important thing right now (which he may not appreciate) and he does have some work options, which will differ depending on the size of the organisation - is there an HR department, does he have private health etc? If it's a larger company, he may be able to get some stress / counselling help through them..

I'm guessing that for you to post, your husband's anxiety levels have become problematic. It's completely solvable (sp?) and this level of anxiety can be very temporary, but does need addressing to stop it getting worse. There are the usual things that can help; exercise, sleep, relaxation, but if it's the extent that you say, I would say that he needs to visit his GP, with you maybe going too to explain the reality of the symptoms.

I have been in a similar position years ago. I ended up taking a few weeks off work (signed off with stress) and having some stress counselling and also some anxiety medication (which was good).. that was a long time ago now; I'm now in a far more senior position; I no longer 'sweat the small stuff', I see things in a very different light, and have had my mojo back for many many years... everyone , even the best can have a wobble. He's got to address it, which is entirely possible, and he will come back even stronger xxxx

EATmum Tue 08-Oct-13 21:19:12

There's a book I have used called Getting Things Done by David Allen which I found helpful. None of it rocket science but designed to help people at all levels break the work down in a manageable way.

Yoghurty Tue 08-Oct-13 21:39:33

Just posting to say that this is currently happening to my DP. He's booked in to see the GP tomorrow- last Thursday he rang me whilst having a panic attack and he had another one today.
He's not slept properly for months, isn't eating well and can't seem to shake off a cold he's had for ages.

I know what you mean about watching a crash in slow motion- I feel the same.

His work have piled extra duties and responsibility on him with no support- he also does not have a HR dept. He has gone to his superiors and told them he is not coping but they seem unable to listen or help him effectively.

We've said we'll hold judgement until he's seen the doctor, but ultimately, he can't continue to work in his current company if things don't change.

I hope your DH gets the help and support he needs

bbcessex Tue 08-Oct-13 21:47:05

sorry you and your DP are going through that Yoghurty.. it brings back memories for me, and is a time I never want to revisit.

Glad you have the GP appointment; I hope you get some good advice and your DP starts on a good treatment / coping plan.


TheFallenMadonna Tue 08-Oct-13 21:55:29

My DH resigned. There was no option. I was a SAHM at the time, and immediately started looking for a job (found one fortunately). DH took three months off, and then found another job. Similar role - better company by miles. No long term effects on him or his career.

FacelessSeniorManager Tue 08-Oct-13 21:59:43

This happened to me. I was promoted straight after maternity leave into a senior position, and then left to sink or swim. So many of the ways your husband is feeling are striking a chord with me - feeling like the team is against him, like he's losing his skills, like all he can do is manage... ouch.

OP, he MUST get help. He may need medication to give his poor stressed brain a respite, and he will very likely benefit from seeing a counsellor to help him recognise and stop the thought patterns that he's using to beat himself up. He should start doing this NOW, not when he finally comes to a day when he can't make himself get out of bed to face work (which is what I did - I bravely told myself to struggle on, and it wasn't a good idea).

He can learn how to cope with his position and his workplace, but he shouldn't make himself do it alone.

HowGoodIsThat Tue 08-Oct-13 22:04:13

I echo the advice already given to get to a GP. IF stress and anxiety has built up to that level, then he needs a break in order to get help and regroup.

Getting to this state can be terrifying, especially if he always been seen to cope or excel. He needs to recover and then build up new coping mechanisms to protect himself.

There is too high a price to be paid...

bluesecondred Wed 09-Oct-13 10:33:31

Thanks so much everyone for these kind words, sitting in a Starbucks before a meeting and trying not to cry!!! It's so nice to hear that he/we are not alone in going through this (although I would never wish it on anyone). It's been so painful watching my strong, confident DH be gradually taken apart like this. I am worried about his health. He has said he will go to the doctor, my concern is that he will underplay the extent of his symptoms. He says he simply can't get signed off with stress, as he would then lose any final remants of respect from his team and his career would be over. Thanks for your responses though, they've been really helpful.

HowGoodIsThat Wed 09-Oct-13 18:07:29

Hmm.. I battled that attitude with DH - but he got to the stage that we both realised that he was a hair-breadth from losing it and then his whole life and career would be over anyway. He was signed off for a month, went back and lasted two days before handing in his notice. There then followed a long period of career (and family) instability but it was still better than him being in that job.

He needed that month break to return to his right mind, if I can use that phrase, and get enough perspective to see that he was on a hiding to nothing.

If your DH feels that being signed off would sound the death knell for him in that company, then you have to question what future there is for him at all. Doesn't sound like they are going to back off any time soon.

Either what they are asking of him is reasonable, in which case he needs some support to regroup and get back in control - or they are unreasonable, in which case, they aren't ever going to let up and his position is unsustainable in the long term. A reasonable company wants to keep staff and get the best from them, an unreasonable one feeds them to the dogs.

I feel for you - its tough to be on the sidelines and watch your DH go through it. I didn't realise how tough until my DH came out the other side, returned to his happy perky self and I fell over. Make sure that you are being looked after and supported by someone. It can be a long road.

alp Wed 09-Oct-13 19:24:18

OP, listen to the advice on here and get help. I am another who can see a startling resemblance to my DHs situation.

He struggled for too long and after a few periods of sick leave, a diagnosis of depression and anxiety he eventually was on long term sick leave for 1 year and then resigned from a job he'd been doing for 20years.

The instability was horrific - I went from being a SAHM to working full time but seeing the DH I married rather than the broken man he was when working, has made it worth while.

It's a long road and you as well as him need support. But if you both recognise the problem you are going down the right path.

Lots of luck.

bluesecondred Wed 09-Oct-13 20:01:22

Thank you howgood and alp. Although I am very sorry you had to go through it, it's amazing for me to hear from people with similar circumstances, especially as you have come out the other side. What you say resonates so well with my/our experience, I KNOW that the company simply want to chew him up and spit him out, the writing has been on the wall for literally years, but he has this maddening loyalty, and this thing that he's not going to give up, he's going to turn it around, but they simply have never given him the tools to do that. The thing is, because it has been going on for a while, most friends and family just aren't interested anymore, if they ever were. I feel quite lonely as a result, and meanwhile, I'm holding down my own job and looking after the kids. What a sob story, I should say I know how very lucky we are in most respects, so shouldn't moan. But thanks again for responding, it means a lot.

bbcessex Thu 10-Oct-13 17:13:03

Hi OP, I was checking back on this thread to see how you are.

Its good news that your DP has agreed to go to the doctors - that's a great step. I would maybe recommend that you go in to the appointment with him if you can? It's very hard to be clear and concise when you're wading through treacle; it will be easier for you to 'speak' for him somewhat; although most GPs should recognise that the mere fact your DP is there for that kind of appointment indicates that there is a problem, but not all GPs are brilliant - you may need to push (I hope not). There is a close link between anxiety and depression.. although your DH may not appear 'depressed', his stress levels could have tipped him in to an 'anxious' state, which can be well treated very similarly..

Another suggestion: Does your DP have Private Health cover through work? If so, he should ask the GP for a referral to a counsellor. I (believe) that the GP will refer to a psychiatrist first, who will assess what sort of counsellor will be most appropriate (at least, that's my experience).

That was an absolutely brilliant point for me, because when 'spilling' all to the psychiatrist during the assessment, one of his responses was 'well, is it any wonder you feel under so much pressure', which made me feel part normal again! They see thousands and thousands of competent, educated people with similar symptoms - you and your DH are so not alone x

The other thing that helped me, was my DH's behaviour; He was so, so supportive, but didn't let me 'wallow'. When the stress and anxiety was getting very bad from work, and I was really starting to lose confidence, it started to spill into home life; not wanting to go out with friends, not wanting to help out at things I'd previously taken in my stride, overly anxious about everything... my DH was supportive but maintained common sense.. "Come on, you're not staying in, you'll be fine, you're great at this, etc. etc.., you're not sitting in worrying about it"... I think that really helped.

Suffice to say; this was years and year ago. Recounting it seems like it happened to someone else, and I'm certain that my staff now would be astonished if they'd known I'd ever had a 'wobble'.

Keep us posted on how things go won't you, and look after yourself - it's not easy holding the fort together for everyone, so take care of yourself too xxxx

mercibucket Thu 10-Oct-13 19:12:15

dh was like this

hypnotherapy and cbt - do it private and asap

works wonders

HowGoodIsThat Thu 10-Oct-13 19:48:41

Yup - DH went for counselling too. He was referred by his GP and they saw him very quickly.

mirtzapine Wed 16-Oct-13 13:55:05

I'm a DH how has actually lived through this situation. So I'm going to describe how I would have done things differently and if ever DW goes through this what I would do for her.

First take a holiday, somewhere with blueskies and lots of sunlight, relax for a couple of days. Talk to DH about looking for a new job, re-write cv while on holiday because you'll be more positive. Devise a plan to extract from the job. DOnt take the work phone and do not let him look at work emails. Then encourage DH to see GP on return and talk to the GP.

Once back at work encourage DH not to think of work as being the be-all and end-all of life... there's lots to do outside of the workplace. If he goes drinking with work buddies, ask him not to do so while going through this. They can often cause more problems than they think they are solving over a beer or three.

Encourage DH to actually take his lunch hour, better still work to rule, turn up on time, leave on time and take the breaks. I know this is easier said than done - but believe me, getting away from the stress even for ten mins can be a life saver.

Get him networking outside of his job, get him applying for jobs especially one's higher up than he his now, side ways or diagonal, but take your time doing it... there's no need for a mad rush. I chose to go down and its ten times harder to get back up once you've gone down.

Above all let him know that it will end, and to make it end on his terms not theirs.

I didn't do any of the above, I hid it and let it eat at me and it nearly destroyed my whole family.

Annhod Sat 19-Oct-13 13:15:24

My best advice would be to treat this exactly as you would any serious physical illness. He wouldn't try limping along with a broken leg or broken back, so why try carrying on with panicky feelings etc ? Get all the professional help you can for him and you.

Years ago someone told me that our ability to cope with stress is a bit like a gold fish bowl. People who get stressed easily have a small gold fish bowl. People who carry on even stress is being piled on, have a HUGE gold fish bowl. The big difference is that when the goldfish bowl cracks, there is a heck of a lot more water to come out. The trick is to recognise the stress piling on while its still manageable (much easier said than done). He will come out of this with all his previous skills intact (they're still there, just buried) as well as much better stress coping techniques (unfortunately he's learning the hard way). Big hug to you both x

Bumply Sat 19-Oct-13 13:54:15

I was in a team lead role which started out ok as I just had to monitor that the team knew what they were doing and were meeting targets. Then the role changed (but not the pay) so I was supposed to be making decisions on where the dept should be heading and dealing with other teams to make sure this was happening. I got out of my depth at this point, had a bad incident with a team member making a huge mistake and lying about it which lost him his job. I was uber stressed and not coping. My boss recognised that I wasn't coping and offered me the option of stepping down from the team lead role which I snatched up. I've been fine since then and even more so since the person who took over lead role also suffered from the stress and also stepped down. Made me realise it could happen to anyone.
Also made me realise that sometimes it's better to stick with what you're good at and not go for promotion if it takes you away from that role. I'm more boffin than manager and quite happy to remain in current role.

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