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Going back to work after a mental breakdown(7 Posts)
In 2015 I had what in hindsight was a mental breakdown caused by several years of infertility, IVF and a horrendous work environment throughout. Despite talking to my line manager and HR I ended up having several very public emotional breakdowns in the office over a period of several months and taking up to my limit of paid sick days, in the end I was forcing myself to get up and go to work for the maternity pay and took early maternity at 34 weeks.
I've been on maternity leave for almost a year during which I've had CBT to deal with depression and anxiety. I've not really resolved anything and my anxiety is still very severe.
It's now coming up to the time where I have to return to work but I'm so anxious about it. Ideally I wouldn't return to the same company as my boss is horrible he nit picks everything I do and sets the bar for me higher than anyone else. I've been working towards a promotion for 4 years, a promotion I've more than earned (several senior members of staff have recommended me for promotion) everytime I meet the criteria set to be promoted he adds one more thing I need to do, it's this environment that initially triggered my breakdown coupled with the stress of infertility at home.
The things that worry most going back are
1. Ruined reputation and colleagues thinking badly of me due to what happened when I was ill.
2. Becoming ill again because of the environment. My therapist says I need to just accept that it's a shit environment and get on with it.
3. I'd like to find a new job but I'm worried about my reputation being ruined and other employers hearing about my previous behaviour when I was ill.
I just think I've ruined everything and now I have a child it will be a hundred times harder anyway, I know I'm thinking catastrophically and building up worst case scenarios but I just feel so helpless and out of control.
Does anyone have any experience of going back to work after having a meltdown? Tell me it's not as bad as I'm imagining!
Rationally I know I can go back and be normal and sane again build my reputation back up but the anxiety tells me it's ruined forever and my boss is going to use it to essentially demote me.
Sorry this is so long tell me some good stories!
Not been in this position myself op but I used to manage someone who was off for quite a while with depression.
Honestly? There was some gossiping about her but after she returned it was yesterday's news soon enough. Things went back to normal.
It sounds like your shit of a boss is the bigger problem and personally I don't think any job is worth jeopardising your mental wellbeing for.
Could you consider returning then looking for a new job asap? One advantage of sexism is some people assume pregnant women are irrational anyway, so you could frame your breakdown in terms of pregnancy related depression.
Ps. I don't agree with your therapist that you should accept it's a shit environment and get on with it.
You should accept it's a shit environment and get out of it.
I agree with Patsy, and would start looking elsewhere. It's a sign of progress, though, when you describe those incidents as happening when you were ill. Because it really is an illness, not a character flaw or weakness. It's good that you recognize that you have catastrophic thinking - in the sense that you can rationalize it a little better.
I am a fellow anxiety sufferer and I sympathize. I had lots of therapy, CBT and an in-hospital treatment program. The CBT was useless but the sertraline was a life saver. Best of luck to you.
Hey, I didn't end up using it but I looked into this and they said they could help if I applied for it: www.remploy.co.uk/info/20137/partners_and_programmes/227/workplace_mental_health_support_service
I wouldnt go bk there... i would apply elsewhere. Srart afresh. Not because of your breakdown but because its a shit working environment and you have a shit boss.
Hi - I am so sorry to hear about this. You are describing almost carte blanche what happened to me a few years ago: a massive breakdown after years of slow burn stress, (mostly due to horrendous pressure at work, 14-15 hour shifts, too many nights etc) It boiled over after a string of traumatic life events that I couldn't handle which badly affected my performance.
I too had to return to the office with my reputation trashed and numerous people lobbying for me to be sacked. Its taken a long time for me to recover and its only in the past year or so after a lot of therapy and some big changes in lifestyle that I have turned the corner.
I am sorry to say I went back to my old office earlier this week and still find I am getting horrified/ filthy looks from all and sundry (and I work for a BIG employer). One bloke actually laughed in my face when he saw me, though to my own surprise I pulled him up for it and he soon scuttled away with his tail between his legs. (These people are usually cowards.)
I too am trying to move on to something new but the job hunt is getting nowhere as I suspect my reputation now goes before me.
I am still angry about what happened, the way my employer handled my case and more generally about the way people with mental health problems are treated in the workplace. But sorry to say I have accepted now that I cant repair what's passed. However desperately unfair it all is and however furious you may feel, drawing a line under it and moving on is often the only option, for if your own mental well being is to be preserved.
The most important thing, as someone here has said already, is your own recovery, as you have to live with yourself before anyone else, and the fact you recognise it as an "illness" is an encouraging sign (even if other people can't.)
I wish you health, peace and happiness. Only when you have been through the hell of a breakdown do you truly realise these are the only things that matter.
And for anyone else who is reading this, (who assumes of course that nothing like this could possibly happen to them) - a message.
If I had been given the option of a being in bad car crash, having a serious illness or a breakdown, I would have taken the first two ANY DAY. Getting knocked off your bike or suffering a heart attack or organ failure garners untold sympathy and support. A major mental health event however .....
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