Going back to Work following PP and P... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Going back to Work following PP and PND.

Daninicole profile image

Hi everyone, just looking for a bit of advice.

My boss got in touch with me recently asking about how I feel going back to work. I can't go back to the job I was doing previous to my maternity leave as I've been told that I can't drive on the medications I'm on. (Also, I'm terrified of being in the car at the moment.) I don't know if I'll be able to work, or what I'll be like holding down a job at the moment. Its only my second month our of hospital. However, I need the money, me and my partner wouldn't be able to keep up our rent if I wasn't working,

Any thoughts? What did you do?

Cheers

Dani.

6 Replies

Hi Dani,

Going back to work is a very personal decision, but one that was high up on my list after PP. I went back after 9 months, which had always been the plan, as I was desperate to return to some sense of normality. I thought getting my identity back and somehow proving myself was what I needed to do. My confidence was badly hit by PP but I wanted to get back to "me" rather than just someone who was struggling.

My employer had a good Occupational Health dept, and I had a meeting with them a month or so before I went back. They were really good at talking about the kind of things I would be doing and how I might adjust back to them (as my job also changed whilst I was off). I was also really lucky that the person I met with knew about PP so I didn't have to explain it all to them. She was an ex-midwife who congratulated me for getting myself there, which really gave me a boost. I think they may have also had to declare me fit for work, although this was never really said. Perhaps you can ask to be referred, if you employer has this service available?

Another thing that was really helpful for me was doing a phased return; I started with a couple of mornings, then a couple of afternoons - with the meds I was taking, this was useful to see how I coped at different times - then full days. In the space of 6 weeks or so, I was back full-time.

Do you think work are aware of your illness? Some colleagues thought it was "just a bad PND", which wasn't always helpful for me. If I knew then what I do now, about how PP can be different to PND, I may have sent them the APP website, so they could be a bit more aware (perhaps also the Recovery Guide, which has some good info in: app-network.org/what-is-pp/... Unfortunately some people were less than supportive too, which didn't do much for my confidence, and it was really hard fitting back into a team which had changed, after the horrid experience of PP itself. I'm fairly thick-skinned, but it did upset me at times. I'm also stubborn, so just kept on going I think.

Finances were also a big part of going back to work for me too. The main thing I found hard, looking back, was the adjustment and the meds, with change of role, which made things hard going. Are you still under a mental health team? It might be worth a chat to them, and making sure that you are happy with your meds, perhaps requesting a review if you need to. Did you have a planned return to work date? Only being home from hospital for a couple of months is still quite early days in some respects, and I hope you aren't feeling rushed.

In hindsight, I think I could maybe have gone back later, or done less hours, but at the time it wasn't an option. And it seemed like I just had to keep going, which was also helpful in pushing myself I suppose. I would really advise to have good support around you too - my husband was great, and although some colleagues weren't brilliant, I knew that Occ Health were "on my side", which gave me strength to keep battling through.

Sorry for the long reply, this is something I really identify with and I hope some of it is helpful to you. Please feel free to ask any more questions. I hope you are keeping well with your recovery too, take care, xx

Hi Hannah,

Thank you for the post, its good to get another perspective on the issue. I 'm so worried about going back to work. I don't even know whether I can hold down a job at the moment as I know I am not fully recovered. However, we need to pay the bills.

You have given me some really good solutions, thank you.

Dani

Lilybeth profile image
LilybethVolunteer in reply to Daninicole

Hello Dannicole

I'm really surprised that your boss rang to ask about returning to work when you have only been out of hospital for a few months. I understand how difficult it is to make ends meet but I think you need to be sure you will be able to cope as it can be overwhelming at first.

My PP episodes were years ago and it took me a long time to fully recover and regain my confidence and place. To ease myself back into the routine of work I registered for temporary employment with a few agencies. This meant I could be flexible with how many days / hours I worked and slowly helped rebuild my confidence.

It's quite a balance, juggling work and routine so make sure to factor tea or coffee breaks into your day, or a lunch break if you work longer hours.

Take very good care of yourself.

Daninicole profile image
Daninicole in reply to Lilybeth

Thanks so much for this response. I think i haven't realised yet the seriousness of what I've been through. Going back to work is a scary prospect. I think I may take sick leave for a little while.

I had the same dilemma, it's not nice being asked straight away. I recovered well but had no idea two months pp. I chose to take twelve months off, though I was well enough to go back at six. Then I never went back as we moved interstate. Many mums without pp do twelve months, so I figured it was ok. I'm glad I took the extra time off coz baby got sick with colds all winter. I'd recommend taking till at least eight months off to deal with all the teething. Then after this you need to be prepared for separation anxiety if you leave baby for work. Every month gets easier with a baby. Our baby was a dream sleep wise after 7 weeks, which helped me to recover, but not every baby's like this. My husband was out of work, we had no government income as I earned too much that year (wasn't much). We will be renting all our life, but we made it work. In Australia, we got food bank to help with food, found everything second hand for bubs, went to the library and other free stuff thru church. Ended up moving back with parents. Husband now has a low paying job but we've survived. I think I'm much happier for the rest, though being in the workforce 13 years, not working was the hardest adjustment to make. I will work again one day as I love my job, but I've adjusted now to staying at home. You may choose a different pathway and that's fine too! Many mums in my city go back part time, perhaps think of this As well?

My advice, no matter what the decision...listen to your dr.

Thank you suzannah for your advice. All the best for the future. Xx

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