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Please help me help my wife(58 Posts)
I'm very worried about my wife. She's dangerously unhappy in her work place and has recently talked about wanting to kill herself. I thought I might see if anyone here can help - it's my first time here so please be gentle.
My purposes are twofold - to see how I can help her situation with coping with the pressures of her work, and to see if there is anything I can do to help in the long term, both in terms of finding a new job and helping establish a support network for her.
As a bit of background - she's an events organiser for a foreign investment bank in central London. In the past she's had normal stress levels however in the past year she's had 2 new bosses who seem to have it in for her and are making her "life hell". She's been looking for a new job for over a year now and although she has got close several times she's never quite got over the finishing line. We're also in the middle of buying our first house and it's gone quite disastrously, with us having to move into temporary accommodation this week due to a few hiccups in the process. This has obviously not helped her stress levels.
Two weeks ago she came home crying, saying that between the stresses of work and the difficulties at home she'd been "thinking of killing" herself.
Then last night she found out that she hadn't even made the pool, let alone been considered, for a job that she'd very much set her heart on. She's at breaking point and is now talking about taking leave due to stress or just leaving the job without a back up plan. I'd love to say I could support her financially but it's just not feasible.
So, I am here asking what I can do. I've talked to her about trying to set up some therapy however she seems quite reluctant. I try to talk to her and be as supportive as I can but whatever my tact it seems to anger her more; I don't mind being a punching bag but can't help but think that it's counter productive. Taking time off with stress seems like career suicide - what can we do?
And what can I do to help her get a new job? She seems to have tried everything and it's not helping. Is there anyone in Events Management that can offer a word of advise?
Thanks for your time.
I think you have to start rethinking your position. You say that time off with stress is career suicide, but it's not actual suicide, which is the worst but possible outcome here. I think you and your wife are locked in a trap of your own making- you want her to have a blemish free CV, all the money to buy the house you are buying, but also for her not to be stressed. But this job, this life, IS the the thing making her stressed.
I would let her resign, or go off with work related stress and take a couple of months out.
Of course you can support her financially- you could rent somewhere extremely cheap for a few months. What you mean is you can't buy the house you want and rent where you want if she's not working.
I am all for steadying the ship when work related stress happens, but if it gets to the stage she is thinking of quitting or even feeling suicidal, then her mental health has to be the absolute priority at this stages, above getting this house, above her perfect CV, above moving seamlessly to another job.,
Get her out, or stabilised, get her to see the GP and get signed off and then think what to do.
No job is worth your mental health, it just isn't.
Really, what napoleon said - no job is worth risking your health, mental or physical.
Has your wife considered a career change? Something less stressful?
She needs some time away from the stressful environment of the workplace to be able to deal with the other stresses of moving home etc. at the moment.
I would say GP as a matter of urgency. My understanding (from websites such as the Samaritans) is that when people actually get to the stage of talking out loud about suicide they are in a very dangerous place indeed. Get her signed off work for a couple of weeks, longer if at all possible, and when she's in a calmer place, talk to her about the long term future. No job is worth that level of stress.
I think he should consider a move away from London
Can ye hold off on buying the house & get out of the rat race for a while.
To address the house thing; this is her house and she wants to buy it, I was happy to stay where we were. She had wanted to move for a couple of years now, just to get out of renting as buying a house is much more affordable than renting.
To Napoleon; I don't know why you are being accusatory or presumptive. I don't care about her CV, she does. If it made her happy to work in McDonalds then I'd be all for it, however, I know that she would be unhappy being out of work - this is a job she's studied at Masters level, she has said that she doesn't want to throw all those years of education away because of one sh*tty employee. Pedestrina, I think she may have too much pride to swallow a career change, but I can only try and talk with her about it.
LurcioAgain, should I talk to a GP behind her back, or ask her to seek one? Should we talk to a GP before a therapist?
Crje - she has only ever lived in huge metropolises, I've tried convincing her to move to calmer places in the past but she really is a big city chick!
I can sympathise because I was in a similar position to your wife. I had a new job that was incredibly stressful AND we had decided to buy a house too. I say 'we' but it was my DP who was very keen on it and I went along with it. I was crying, not sleeping, hated my job and resented DP. But! when I told him how unhappy I was and that the stress of the mortgage was making everything else worse (he hadn't realized that) he immediately said we should put it off and he really regretted having put so much pressure on me. When we finally backed out of buying, things got much better because I wasn't going to work thinking 'I have to put up with this, I have no choice, I hate my life, can I run away' etc. In the end I actually stayed in my job because once I got a bit more confident, I got better at my job too and I love it now. I'm not saying your wife should stay but it seems that maybe your financials are putting too much pressure on her.
Postpone the buying plans. Let her breathe and figure out what to do because currently she really is trapped - can't quit her job because of the mortgage, can't find a new job probably because she is so stressed that she is not doing well in her interview and is probably not performing at work either. Getting signed off work with stress is not career suicide but carrying on doing a bad job because of how stressed you are is.
There is probably no other work environment more stressful or more full of complete assholes than an investment bank, especially the large ones. Really. ANY other type of employer would be better. Even for the most psychologically healthy, it can be hellish with the wrong bosses or people you may be contact with. I'm with those that say get her out of her job, regroup and figure out the rest later. And get her to the GP.
My brother committed suicide as an adult; any verbalisation is a waving red flag. Act.
Get her to the GP and if possible go with her. She sounds in an awful state. Her workplace may well have counselling services which would be confidential. Having some time out, possibly with meds isn't career suicide, if there was any hint of prejudice at work she would be in a strong legal position though of course she wouldn't want to be in this position. I just wonder if she has blown everything up into such monumental scale that she can't see she is unwell. She very likely isn't performing well at work and people may be concerned about her.
Please tell her you are taking charge for a little while and make that GP appointment urgently. House etc will wait until she is well.
I get why you are saying you don't think it is great that she jacks in her job, I really do. But if work is getting this out of control there has to be a limit. It isn't as though you are saying your wife always reacts to stuff like this - so clearly the job is a problem.
What about if you talked to your parents/hers about a theoretical loan if she did just leave this job? (obviously they might not be in the position to help, but they might be). What if she talked to agencies about interim events management jobs rather than going for this permanent role she's keen on? What if you agreed between you that if she doesn't get a job in the next two months she quits regardless, so there is an end point to this in her mind?
My sister is a senior PA. Early in her career she had two dreadful experiences. She got a job the work was overwhelming and the boss awful to her. She quit - it then transpired the boss had got through 8 PAs in a year. It then happened again - she was bullied by a female boss who said she 'didn't like women'. She was in pieces - quit - and the HR department told her they'd give her a reference because 'they'd had problems' with the boss before. PA work can be like that - and from what I've seen (I work in a related field) events management can be too because you are often working for a senior person and dependant on their personality.
These days, my sister has an excellent job with a nice boss BTW. Quitting made no difference except to cut short the pain.
Please encourage her to see her GP. I think her mental health has to be the most important thing right now.
Cross posted , sorry. I see it's her wanting to buy the house etc. I'm not sure what to say then. She needs counselling, so try to convince her to see someone ASAP (privately is much better if you can afford it because it will be much faster). And I stand by what I said about being bad at your job/interviews if you're that stressed. She needs to take some kind of a break soon.
Maybe talk to her about how this affects your relationship too. It must be very hard to try to support someone who isn't willing to do anything about her situation.
Taking time off for stress can indeed be career limiting. That's why you need a GP sympathetic enough to put something else on any sickness form (gastric issues, for example.)
I absolutely sympathise with your wife. I've been there myself and the only thing that will help long term is getting away from her vile boss.
However, what you need is short term help. So.
1.) men like to 'fix' things. Some things aren't fixable. Just being there for her, listening to her, is immensely supportive. You don't have to take on the burden of fixing it - just being there for her is helping. I have to keep reminding my hubby of this . I don't need him to fix it, I just need him to be there!
2.) GP. See if they can sign her off with something other than stress.
3.) if that doesn't work, take some PTo.
4.) a move. She has to get away, be that sideways within the company (my plan) or externally. It is soul destroying getting knocked back, but she has to keep trying.
5.) therapy can be helpful. Of course it doesn't help the core problem but it can help you deal with it.
6.) no going behind her back. She must be actively involved.
Overall, hang on in there. My husband is absolutely my rock through job hell and we are stronger for it. Hope it works out for her!
however, I know that she would be unhappy being out of work - this is a job she's studied at Masters level, she has said that she doesn't want to throw all those years of education away because of one sh*tty employee.
You don't throw away your education if you change careers or have a less-than-ideal CV. I know this from personal experience. I left a PhD program in astronomy with a master's degree, and went into IT. A few years ago, I left a job where I had a shitty boss, and was out of work for a year. It was hard, I'd be the last person to say it wasn't, but I survived. I did get another job, and now I get a lot of calls from job recruiters saying "we saw your resume on Monster".
To Napoleon; I don't know why you are being accusatory or presumptive.
You're not the only one wondering that.
I too have been in a similar place to your wife, and a DP in a similar position as you. I think I would advise you getting your wife to the GP in the strongest way you feel you can get away with. (I'm thinking make an appointment, out of her work hours, and then drive her there).
Sorry, on the house front, we've done all the hard stuff, all our earthly belongings are in storage, we're in temp accommodation for a couple of weeks, then we move in. When we move in she will be in her element as she loves the architecture of house design, in fact that's what her first degree was in. Until then we don't have anything to worry about as everything's in place except for the final 'searches' pack.
I just spoke to her and she's happy today - she's got two interviews lined up for tomorrow and is excited about that. After she's had them I'll have a talk with her seeing if together we can go to see the GP. We all agree though that she needs to get away from the banking district asap!
She needs to see her doctor. My DH was in this state last year - GP prescribed anti depressants, beta blockers and two weeks off work. Work were great - similar kind of organisation - he went back after two weeks and now can't see what stressed him so much re work. The boss who had it in for him (in his eyes at the time) actually didn't. They had some good conversations on his return to work and things are well. Pls encourage your wife to seek medical help (although do appreciate her circumstances may be different)
Btw, in that time of mental distress, he would have interviewed terribly for a new job although did very much want one
She really needs out of that job. When l was younger l had a vile boss and l used to drive to work thinking if l just had a little accident l could have some time off.
When l finally left the release of pressure was amazing and l have a completely different outlook on work and shitty bosses and it's actually been a bonus to my career.
Being a bit ballsy and truly not caring puts a lot of arseholes back in their boxes.
But firstly remove the stress, get rid of the job and don't buy that house yet.
Good luck to your wife as l do remember how utterly shit it was.
I think the delay with buying the house has given you both a golden opportunity to pull out now.
Rent somewhere very cheap.
Pack in the shitty job.
You must have a fair bit of cash that would have been the house deposit.
Use it to live on if necessary.
You will not be homeless in a job doorway if DW hands in her notice.
Show her this thread.
My advice would be that she should not resign but should most definitely follow her instinct and see her GP so she can take a step back and concentrate on improving her mental state.
If she resigns now, while in her anxious frame of mind, she will have burned her bridges, so to speak.
Having no income is not likely to help her feel better.
After a period of sick leave, she may be in a better position mentally, to make long term plans and if she feels then that resigning her current post is best for her, she will at least be making that decision from a more stable place, mentally.
In the first instance, you should encourage her to see her GP to get signed off from work.
Given that she has already suggested this herself, she may be amenable to this suggestion.
The GP is unlikely to discuss her situation with you "behind her back".
The only way you could help her get a new job is to employ her.
You cannot fix this - and, possibly, she doesn't want you to - all you can do is listen sympathetically, and encourage her to take the necessary steps to recover.
The first thing is to get sick leave from work, she needs to see a GP and have a psychiatric assessment asap.
Once she's off work and having some therapy she can decide whether she can face going back until she's secured another job or whether to resign.
Are you giving her sympathy or logic? When I try to talk to my husband about my stress, he looks at me with a dead look in his eye and makes logical statements....which makes me hate him, and my stress even worse.
And for the love of god...if she does exaggerate, DO NOT POINT IT OUT! If I am crying, and close to a breakdown, I dont need my statements picked apart for factual accuracy.
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