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Returning to work after breakdown(9 Posts)
Hi, I’m hoping someone here has experience of this.
I have worked as a healthcare professional (sorry don’t want to be too outing in case colleagues are on here) for several years, model employee, awards won etc. Then I had severe postnatal depression and psychosis - and since then my life has literally fallen apart. I initially returned to work with a supportive Matron. Then last year a combination of a new Matron, massive pressures in our area and staff shortages led me to lose confidence, relapse and need new medication with many more side effects of medication. I guess the NHS is now just so stretched it doesn’t have any slack in the system to support staff going through a tough time. I’ve since left work due to ill health and ultimately know I won’t be going back. I think my experiences after birth and then the way I went from “hero to zero” in the eyes of my colleagues has dented my confidence too much. I’m no longer resilient enough to do care work.
But what now? And how to explain it to a new employer?
I’m considering taking the exam to be a lactation consultant, but am unsure if there is actually a living to be made from it.
I’d love to work as a Forest School leader but who would want someone like me looking after their children?
Prior to my healthcare job, I used to work in various social care roles and in admin. I’d happily go back to admin, but know the IT has changed so much that my skills are no longer good enough.
Sorry for the pity party. I desperately want to be back in work - to have a routine and a sense of achievement at the end of the day. I just really can’t see anyone employing someone who was essentially fired for their illness.
That sounds a difficult time for you. If you are a nurse the RCN have a website that might help. Would you like to be a medical secretary or admin worker, maybe there are courses available to improve IT skills in local adult education centres and the NHS may have suitable training. What about a health assessor for insurance or the cqc. There are non clinical roles available.
There is a NHS website called returning to work after mental health issues which you might find helpful.
I don't have any helpful advice other than to say good luck and please believe in yourself. Do you need to explain why you are changing career when looking for a new job? Could you say that you just took some time out to be with your young child / family?
There are many many people who change careers for mental health reasons and who are able to manage their health better in a new field so please believe that it is possible for you to do this too. Try and understand what causes you stress so you can manage it in advance - part-time / more rest at home or similar.
And OP, I've been where you are. I was supposed to be the next MD of the company I worked for and I couldn't manage the work / life balance when I returned after having DD2. I eventually resigned but they were super relieved I did and one former colleague memorably told me I had been a disaster in the last couple of months.
I took some time out and I now do project work which allows me to take time off to myself when I need to recharge. Same sector and working initially with some very kind people who boosted my confidence by telling me I was great.
It happened to me - I was an RGN & had a very public psychotic breakdown in 2012. Turns out I have schizoaffective disorder.
I was medicated & had to give up being a staff nurse. The NMC said I could go back to nursing if my health improved in future but it hasn't.
So I became a part time HCA on a surgical ward where I knew some of the staff already.
Everyone was supportive luckily.
But I'm now getting breakthrough psychotic symptoms like hallucinations & may need to change my meds. We've got a new Matron & im unsure how supportive she'll be.
It is very difficult when you have ongoing MH illness to keep your confidence levels up & to not feel paranoid about how others think about you.
I hope you decide on a career / job that suits you. Just don't choose a job that leaves you too stressed or tired as this could cause you to become unwell.
Remember your health is most important (but obviously it helps to be able to pay the bills too!!)
’d love to work as a Forest School leader but who would want someone like me looking after their children?
OP you had pnd, that doesn’t make you a bad person. You have experience that would be wonderful to bring to working with children. Don’t sabotage yourself. Maybe try to get a bit of observation or work experience at a forest school and go from there?
Thank you all for replying. I appreciate you taking the time. It’s so hard to imagine an employer wanting to employ someone with what feel like very obvious extra-pyramidal symptoms (the joys of drug-induced Parkinsonism) and a hideous sickness record. I’m thinking maybe joining some sort of temping agency or staffing bank might give me a gentle foot in the door, without risk to the employer.
* HappyHammy* yes I think I’ll check out the local adult education courses to update my skills. Unfortunately while the NHS’s corporate websites might suggest they’ll support me to return to work, my experience so far suggests the reality is pretty different.
* LilyJade* Thank you for making me feel a tiny bit less alone. I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been through the same. It’s fucking awful and so unfair. You’re right, having an ongoing condition knocks your confidence so much. I really hope you are better supported and feel able to seek help. I watched a really interesting documentary by David Harewood called “Paychosis and Me” recently; the most insightful thing was seeing a psychiatrist talk about people’s propensity to psychosis. It showed that anyone can have psychosis with the “right” mix of environmental stresses (eg immigrant, major life changes, workplace stress, previous cannabis use, childbirth etc). It definitely helped reframe it for me as not just some intrinsic “wrongness” in my brain but a combination of stressors that could happen to anyone. As you advised, it was that which also made me realise I can’t go back to a stressful job. It’s too risky. But then every job advert seems to ask for people who can multi-task, work under pressure etc...skills I used to proudly boast of but have since lost and am unlikely to have again.
* MayFayner* Thank you for your kind words. I’ve really struggled with colleague’s reaction to my illness and feel so much shame - I figure who would want the person who was too mentally unwell to care for themselves to look after their children. I’ve been very fortunate to have a friend ask me to look after her son informally. Having someone who has seen me at my worst, show they still trusted me to care for their child.
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