Returning to work: Hello everyone, I'm... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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Returning to work

Hazello profile image

Hello everyone,

I'm interested in hearing about others' experiences of returning to work. It's been a time of reflection for me with my son's first birthday and the anniversary of becoming ill. I'm returning to work in a couple of weeks and got some apprehensions about it. My team will be quite short staffed and I'll be part time so worried about fitting everything in, getting myself and son organised and also feeling low in confidence in my ability to do the work after being off so long. But also a little niggly bit of me is worried that I could relapse if I get very stressed. I'm trying to tell myself that I've done it before so I'll be able to do it again but just wondering how others found going back to work, did it take long to get your confidence back? Thank you!

12 Replies

Hello Hazello,

I am at the same stage. My gorgeous daughter will go to crèche from next month at the age of one. I too fear a relapse and what really helped me was the knowledge that the illness was caused by hormone imbalance (and circumstances in my case), thus there is no way that it will happen again. I am back to work next month and just trust that all my abilities are within me and it'll all work out just fine. I think confidence will come back in time as well.

Wishing you all the best for the new start. I know we both will do brilliantly, being as strong as ever after overcoming the challenges of the past year.

Hazello profile image
HazelloVolunteer in reply to cangra

Thank you cangra, yes I'm sure we can handle whatever work throws at us, especially after this year. For me it's often the anticipation is worse than the reality! Will be thinking of you going back too. X

Lilybeth profile image

Hello Hazello

Thanks for your new post. What a great mum you are returning to work after only a year. Such a lot for you to reflect on and it must be difficult at times.

I think when we get our mental health back we really need to take care of ourselves so I understand you are apprehensive. Returning to work when your team is short staffed might be overwhelming so make sure you factor in a few breaks for yourself ..... step away for a while.

My PP was years ago and it took me so long to feel confident about returning to work that my permanent job wasn't available to me after recovery. So I did temporary work for a while, to regain my confidence and I chose the hours I was able to work. If possible, I think a phased return is a good plan for a few hours over a few days for the first weeks. Will you be working every day part time?

There's a section about returning to work in the APP Insider Guide "Recovery after Postpartum Psychosis" which might be helpful.

Try not to worry, I hope your work colleagues will be supportive. You have done very well in such a short space of time so be very proud and take really good care of yourself.

Hidden profile image

Wishing you Hazello and Cangra the best of luck for returning to work. It is good to comfort each other and exchange experiences. Maybe the both of you could update each other.

I do agree with Lilybeth that you need to take it steady and 'phasing in time' (gradual integration into work) might be recommended. In addition it is always good to be informed and useful to look into work conditions and mental health. I do believe that some firms have a good support network for making rehabilitation & returning to work easier. Please, all in stepping stones.

At the end only you will find out what is best for you. The financial independence maybe appealing, however, one has to prioritize health and welfare. Listen to your triggers, avoid accumulation of stresses and pursue relaxation techniques and exercises to wind down...just suggestions...

Best wishes, Sabine :-)

I'm so glad there is a post on returning to work after PP as I'm too in the same position, as due to return in 8 weeks. I'm not worried about my little girl as family as having her, though obviously I will miss her loads! It's just the thought of having to be out of the house for 7.30am as my medication can sometimes leave me Dosey. I am seeing my consultant this week so hoping for a meds reduction. I have asked for a phased return but my managers response was "well that doesn't normally happen after maternity leave". My thoughts "well I haven't had a 'normal' maternity leave!" I have offered letters from my consultant & CPN but I'm first awaiting a call back from my manager. My brain went into shut down when I had PP and I almost had to relearn how to do so many things. Although I am now so much better I guess it's the fear of relapse, though I know its not likely. I also feel abit better after speaking with my CPN as I thought she was leave us when my daughter turns one. She says that she stays to support me until she is around 15months so that's a positive. I hope you all have similar support. X

Hazello profile image
HazelloVolunteer in reply to Libby02

Hi Libby I hope that your manager will be understanding. I've not arranged an official phased return but now thinking will speak to my manager too to work something out just to ease me in gently. Even if I use a/l. Hazel

All the best.

I thought i was going back to work after six months of gaving baby as husband didnt have work. Though i was well enough to work, and i know i dont relapse at all on meds, i knew i would be fine. i chose not too mainly for sons health reasons and it would have ended up costing more for childcare plus new car, unless i worked fulltime. Plus husband got some work.

Its been a big learning curve not working, but ive found it is 'normal' for some mums not to work too. Ive learned instead to be very good at budgeting...making food from scratch etc. I learned heaps from blogs with the word 'frugal' in it. Im making sure i connect in with community cos i need to be round people to avoid relapse, about to volunteer with an english as second language creche.

All the best with work if thats best for you, check with drs if theres a chance of relapse while being on medicine, there wasn't with me. I dont know if you need to keep your work skills up, but another option could be finding another less stressful job/closer to home etc? Even just for a few months. Heaps of new mums do switch jobs.

Hidden profile image

Hi everyone. I just thought I would add to this thread as I too have been worried about returning to work. I was hospitalised this time last year with PPP after spending three months at home undiagnosed. I gave birth in January 2016. I was discharged in August and had hoped to be back at work in January 2017. I still suffer from anxiety (mainly about becoming unwell again) and therefore work has been put on the back burner while I concentrate on looking after my daughter and staying well. All I would add to this thread is don't put pressure on yourself to get back to normality. PPP has changed me as a person and I can't do things I used to do (I was a secondary school teacher which was quite stressful) I now know I can't handle stress and have to reevaluate my career. For now I am just trying to stay well x x good luck to everyone x x

Hazello profile image
HazelloVolunteer in reply to Hidden

Thanks Bethany, before PP I'd always suffered from anxiety which I had always had to battle with while doing a highly stressful job. However I moved job and found anxiety less of a problem when the job was more in my comfort zone. Now due to PP the anxiety is back but having CBT plus hopeful that I can return to where I was before all this happened. Maybe once you're recovered you'll find a job that suits your skills and mental health better than teaching (I have to admit I would find teaching very anxiety provoking! ) all the best with your recovery. X

Hannah_at_APP profile image

Hi hazello , to share my experience, I went back to work after 9months mat leave, as I'd planned to, and full time. It felt like I needed the normality but it was a bit of a struggle at times. The meds made me tired and I definitely struggled to adjust - I also went back to a job that had changed, new dynamics and team members and learning the new aspects through a bit of a haze was hard at times. But I'm stubborn and kept at it until things got easier, which was the right thing for me and my family.

What really helped me was an occupational health appt before I actually started and a phased return. The person I met with was a former midwife so knew of pp and actually congratulated me on coming through it, which was a huge boost to my confidence. A lack of confidence was certainly something that I found in recovery from the illness so this was a real help that someone understood. She suggested gently easing myself in to my work pattern, doing a couple of mornings then afternoons then a couple of full days. I used some annual leave too so that worked well. I think they liaised with my manager so I didn't have to which helped me. It might be that asking your employer if they have a similar dept or policy?

Confidence wise I'd say that it took me a couple of months to get to the point that I was feeling comfortable that I'd done the right thing. I was up to the full time hours after about 6weeks tho. Again I felt that I needed to keep at it and it didn't have any adverse effects on my health, with good support from my cpn who I kept in close contact with.

My son went to nursery and settled really well which was a relief. My husband also helped with drop offs and pick ups so it wasn't all on me. Getting out of the house on time needs good planning - usually getting things ready the night before, something I still do now (with 2 kids and my husband now working away a lot).

As other have said, be guided by what is right for you and your family and how you are feeling. For me, returning to work was important for many reasons but it's not always right for everyone. I now work less than full time and as with everything, especially after pp, it's all about balance.

Take care, I hope that it goes well whatever you decide. I hope I haven't waffled on too much! Xx

Hazello profile image
HazelloVolunteer in reply to Hannah_at_APP

Thanks Hannah, although it sounds like it was full on for you it's reassuring to hear it's do-able working post PP. I too will have help from my husband with nursery runs and will be only working 3 days so think once I get used to the routine should be quite manageable. I've asked for days off to ease me in more gently but not done thro occ health, I decided not to a while back and it's only now work is looming closer I think that would have been sensible. my wee boy has been settling in pretty well to nursery, despite a really miserable virus that's been here for ages and has just got worse... hopefully this means he'll be well once I'm actually at work!

Going back to work is tough especially if ur not well enough. I had my daughter Aug 14 and I was finally allowed back to work in sept 15 I was due to go back April 15. I had 3 Mbu admissions and was signed off sick. From sept 15- feb 16 I struggled every day to get into work and my mental health declined until I had an appoint with OH who decided I wasn't fit for work. A week later I ended up getting admitted to the adult psych ward for 3 weeks. Due to my long term absent HR we're wanting to sack me and I had to fight to get to my Dr to say I was fit work and therefore OH finally to deem me fit for work. I went back in June 16. My confidence at work has been completely shattered and I've had to find myself all over again. I'm now in a very good place and have came off one of my 3 meds and can actually think straight again. Going back to work is tough but don't be too hard on urself or expect too much it's totally to ok to do the bare minimum in order to keep urself well. X

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