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Looking for advice on finding a gentler career after PND

(14 Posts)
HeroShrew Tue 28-Dec-10 12:54:03

DS1 is 18mo and I'm still suffering from some degree of PND. I think that I need to return to work at least PT for financial reasons but my first foray back into work as a PA six months ago was disastrous.

I just couldn't cope with the pressure that pre-DS I could have easily taken in my stride. Anxiety rocketed, the depression came back with a vengeance and I quit after three months feeling useless and humiliated.

My formative career was fairly high-flying in the entertainment industry which I loved, but now isn't practical as I've relocated and the hours aren't compatible with childcare. I have transferable skills in admin, hence the disastrous recent PA job in a completely unrelated industry.

I'm just not sure what I'd be suited to, or what I could cope with. I understand that taking a low-stress job will involve a dip in pay and that's fine. I'm just too thin-skinned for anything too pressurised, but I think I need a bit more stimulation than shelf-stacking.

I can't afford to re-train. Feel a bit stuck and directionless.. does anyone have experience of this, or know of a service that advises on career changes? Thank you.

vintageteacups Tue 28-Dec-10 17:06:35

Why don't you write a list of ALL the transferable skills you used in your previous job and put it on here. Admin is quite vague.

Think of your skills as a mummy too - that could help you think more outside the box smile

inthesticks Tue 28-Dec-10 17:46:30

I did a big "downsize" in careers 3 years ago.
My last job was stressful and demanding but interesting.
I found a part time job in admin in the NHS. No staff, no stress, very undemanding and of course, poorly paid. It fitted the bill and my confidence was restored.
Overall though I still react badly to stress when I come up against it outside work and after 3 years I am severely bored.

HeroShrew Tue 28-Dec-10 18:22:08

That's exactly what I'm after inthesticks - something that'll get my confidence back. Do you feel that now you're bored you could take on a bit more at work or look for something more challenging?

vintageteacups - a list is a good idea. I can't be too specific as it was a really niche job that would make me quite recognisable <paraniod> but here goes...

event planning
talent liaison
travel logistics
budget handling
team & people management
negotiation with suppliers
media liason

umm.. there must be more blush

TheFarSide Tue 28-Dec-10 18:48:26

Could you try temping for a while - with the goal of trying out different jobs until you find an environment which suits you?

You could come up with a list of possible jobs using your transferable skills, likes and dislikes, etc, but I always think it's hard to know what a job is like until you actually have a go at it.

inthesticks Tue 28-Dec-10 18:53:46

What I do is somewhat more stimulating than shelf stacking but it is limited in scope.
Plus of course everyone is shedding staff now rather than hiring.
I look at the managers and know that I could do a far better job but that I would not want to go back to that.
I do keep looking for other jobs, but I am not prepared to work full time, even though the DCs are now teenagers, and part time work is limited unless you have a specific skill or profession.

Sequins Wed 29-Dec-10 01:05:49

The thing is, your PND will get better so you might want to keep your options for interesting work open.

I think it's a mistake to assume that a lower-paid job is less stressful than a higher-paid one. Don't beat yourself up because you found working as a PA demanding.

FWIW I work in a very full-on intellectually challenging job now but in my past through a year out and university holidays I have also done various admin jobs and I would say that the work involved in these is often vastly underestimated.

When I worked as a PA and also when I worked as a training co-ordinator I had to work nearly the same hours as I do now and it was really hard to balance the demands of being constantly on call to answer phones etc. and at the same time have to be really organised and work on projects like sorting out filing systems for things which I would have preferred to have had at least an hour or two at a stretch to focus on and which I never got. As a training co-ordinator I had to set up rooms which was quite physical work and took a while if it was several in a row, and also photocopy large documents, and then come back to several messages from employees who were a little bit put out that I was not instantly available to do things like alter registration details etc.

I am equally if not less stressed in my current job than when I did these jobs, mainly because my current job is interesting, has development opportunities, and pays more.

I would, however, recommend working as a receptionist - I liked that I only had to do the on call bit and nothing that conflicted with that, and I enjoyed printing badges, greeting people, having little chats and fetching cups of tea. It was a bit boring when it was quiet but often the security staff or window cleaners or building maintenance people would be doing something I could watch absent-mindedly and they would say hello, so it was never completely quiet for more than 10 minutes at a stretch. The hours were always as advertised too, no overtime! Some "receptionist" jobs are secretly PA jobs though, so I would avoid these.

Bagabee Wed 29-Dec-10 01:20:19

Just based on personal experience, my advice would be not to take a so-called 'less stress' job as this will not stimulate you fully and take your mind off things. Is there an option to do what you did but P/T? Maybe try joining a smaller company where the environment is potentially more supportive and you get the opportunity to take on more as your confidence grows? You say you had a bad experience returning 6 months ago, but, presumably, you've been receiving treatment since then so are in a much better place now. Good luck - just taking part in interviews, whether successful or not, can be approached as a new 'job' and can help you get your confidence back. Wishing you all the very best x

HeroShrew Wed 29-Dec-10 08:04:49

Thank you sequins. You're spot on about the problem of having so much to juggle and being on call for everyone being really stressful. That's just as common in lower-paid roles too, i guess. I quite like the idea of reception work. Temping would be ideal but doesn't really work with childcare.

Bagabee - I wish that I had treatment that was kicking in but I really arsed up a while ago and wound down my meds before I was really ready and now I'm in a worse place than before, tbh. I see what you mean about interviews being positive whatever the outcome, but I had one just before Christmas where I failed their basic aptitude test which was so out of character, it was so basic. I felt completely humiliated and my confidence is pretty shot.

vintageteacups Wed 29-Dec-10 16:21:51

Hi heroshrew - I wonder if you're on tv?

Anyway - what about waitressing?
You can use your people skills, organisation, attention to detail etc but you could either do a few hours every lunch time (if you have free childcare) or if your partner gets back in time at night, waitress for a few evenings/1 weekend night a week.

The money if you go for a posh hotel/restaurant can be quite good and it'll mean that you don't need to use your brain big time to be good at it.

I think chatting to customers and being part of the team would really boost your confidence.

vintageteacups Wed 29-Dec-10 16:23:24

Or what about somewhere like M & S or John Lewis, where you can work flexible hours, work with a team yet don't have to be einstein. They are really good employers who care about their staff (john lewis moreso) and again, it could give you real confidence.

vintageteacups Wed 29-Dec-10 16:24:15

Or what about approaching a more local hotel and see if they need an events/wedding planner. You could use your experience but on a much smaller scale.

HeroShrew Wed 29-Dec-10 17:42:38

hello teacups, no not on telly grin

I hadn't thought of waitressing. Even better, I'd love to work behind a bar in a local pub. that way I'd get to meet some people in the area which given I've just moved and am a bit lonely would be ace. I could certainly unleash my inner Peggy Mitchell.

DP works shifts which is an arse-ache for childcare, but I'll see what we can come up with.

Thanks folks, some good ideas here

vintageteacups Wed 29-Dec-10 19:12:30

working in a restaurant/pub/hotel also makes you feel as though you're 'out' for the night; you don't get that same feeling stacking shelves I'm sure wink

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