How did you feel returning to work af... - Action on Postpar...

Action on Postpartum Psychosis

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How did you feel returning to work after PP?

HKPhooey profile image

What difficulties did you face & how did you deal with them? Did you tell your colleagues about your illness? Did you experience any stigma from them?

10 Replies

Hi everyone,

I read this article & thought it was really good as it certainly described what I experienced, especially the parts about discrimination, the physical challenges of drowsiness & the emotional ones of a shattered self esteem etc. I was wondering what everyone else's experiences were?

Well, I don't really know where to start and looking back it makes me feel incredibly sad that for 3 months on my return to work I was treated almost like a leper. Sorry I think this may be a long reply to give some background previous to having my son I worked as a PA/ customer service manager for the company for 4 years, in that time, I would pick my boss up from the train station and return him at the end of the day (even though it was out of my way) I would lend him my car during the day if ever he needed it until I found out that he lied he was covered to drive any car! When the company experienced financial difficulties I even used my own credit card to buy supplies which would then take ages to get back so I was probably a bit of a mug, due to the company being in financial difficulties they took on new investors and this is when the company changed. I never really got on with the new MD and during a disagreement over staffing when I tried to put my point forward he physically kicked me in a temper. Looking back I should have done something then but I didn't it was brushed under the carpet and I accepted a pay rise as token gesture!

When I was very ill, one of the ladies I was good friends with at work was very supportive and visited me regularly but also reported back how I was to the company, something in hindsight I wish hadn't happened as everybody knew of my illness. When it was approaching the time for me to return I requested part time working, it took them a long time to agree to this and I was told I could go back part time but it wouldn't be to the job that I had left, they would like me now to be non client facing due to the fact I was only there for 3 days a week. I was quite apprehensive about returning and on my first day was shown what would be my new desk, a table had been set up for me in what was an old storage cupboard, I was in an office over the other side of the corridor on my own. My manager was next door, but the team I used to work with were no where near me. I found this quite upsetting and there really wasn't a specific job for me to do, I was just left to get on with things. A few weeks passed and I really felt like a social leper instead of being in constant contact with clients I had no access at all, not one of the management team asked me how I was or if I was better instead I overhead them asking someone else if I seemed normal? A few weeks after my return I came across emails saying that the MD had not wanted me to return to the business due to being mentally unstable and referring to me as a nutter. It then took me about another 2 weeks to find another job before I left. I had a very good case against the company but at the time I was not strong enough to fight them, even though by the time I returned to work I was off all of my medication and well, my confidence had taken a real battering.

jemg23 profile image
jemg23 in reply to hel212000

Oh my goodness. I cannot believe everything you went through and I think you are so, so strong and brave to have come through it. I guess you almost have to pity those people for being too ignorant to really understand. Although it shouldn't have to happen, I agree with your hindsight comment that it would have been better for your colleague/friend not to report back. But then how were you in a position to know that at the time when you were poorly. The reaction I had from people at work was a bit of confusion and that was all really - luckily, I work for a big corporate and also live 30 miles away from the office, so no-one had to know what was going on. They thought it was strange that I hadn't been in touch and were getting a bit worried more than anything, but I just said I had been quite ill after having my son and then people don't ask any more questions in case it's very personal. I hope your new job is a million times better and you got a nice fresh start x

andrea_at_app profile image
andrea_at_appVolunteer in reply to jemg23

I agree jemg23, it's really awful to be treated like that at anytime but especially when you're ill! It's so difficult to know what to do for the best when you go back. My family were just relieved that they knew where I was & that I was with people. I only told the people I thought should know but obviously a lot of stories got round. I worked in an all male environment so they weren't interested in talking about it with me or finding out any more details, so I too was ignored. That suited me to an extent though as I wasn't up to chatting with people anyway. In hindsight I think I'd take the more anonymous route like you jemg23, but I guess all our situations are different. I also went for the new start like you hel212000, & yes it does give your already shattered confidence a real battering! It sounds like a really good move for you, well done in going for a fresh start!

sarah_at_app profile image
sarah_at_appAPP in reply to hel212000

Good luck with your new job. It`s amazing that people can be so cruel and I agree with jemg23 I pity those people for being so ignorant.

After surviving PP it`s hard enough going back to work without those damaging attitudes. Well done for getting away from there and the best of luck for your new start.

Hiya to you all, above my comment! I returned to work recently well just a week and half ago and must be one of the lucky ones as everyone has been very supportive but that maybe as i work in a coffee shop and also serve our customers their lovely food too. We all know how much we love our cuppa and food dont we so pehaps thats why they have all been so caring and supportive! I think its awful that some people just dont understand about the illness and so dont realise just what we have and did go through.Keep your chinny chins up tho as i think it makes us much better and understandng people when we have had pp! At least we can support each other cant we! Kind regardsLavender123 x

After PP I tried to do too many things too soon such as going back to work. Looking back I should`ve allowed myself more time before returning to work. I went back seven months after my son was born. I also did lots of other stressful thinks like moving house and got married all around the same time!

I realised when back in work that my concentration was poor and I didn`t feel like I could do my job safely. My boss said I was doing fine but I knew myself I wasn`t well enough to be back in work.

I went to see the Occupational Health Doctor and he said i`d tried to run before I could walk and wasn`t well enough to be back in work. He said he would review me every couple of months and when ready I could go back but my contract was terminated on the grounds of ill health. it was at this point I became very depressed. This was the first point in my life that I had experienced depression. Throughout PP I didn`t feel depressed.

I felt like I`d let everyone down because I couldn`t work. We were saving for a house of our own and because I couldn`t work I felt like a failure. When I moved house just before going back to work we moved 130 miles away to be near my family, leaving my husband`s family and friends and a job he really enjoyed.

It was then I was referred to a psychiatrist near where we moved. I explained my history of PP and I was nearly recovered and was then medication free.

I was then started on anti depressants and at this time I was very severely depressed. Every time I went back to see the Psychiatrist there was no improvement and he kept increasing them.

Eventually the depression lifted and my mood went to the opposite extreme. Then my moods jumped from a period of severe depression to mania. The Occupational Health Doctor reviewed me and said he thinks I have the signs of Bipolar disorder and asked if I wanted him to write to my Psychiatrist to suggest starting on Lithium. I agreed for him to write.

My Psychiatrist then said Lithium is a last resort and juggled around with more anti depressants. I then went from anything between a week and a month on being depressed then all of a sudden I would come out of it and was so high I felt like I could conquer the world and didn`t know what I was going to do next.

Then I would go back into the depths of despair. I couldn`t speak to anyone, couldn`t look after my baby and felt like I would never get out of this dark tunnel. I used to go to sleep and hoped I wouldn`t wake up but what kept me going was my baby and wanting to see him grow up.

The severe highs and lows went on for a year which damaged my life so much. it was such a strain on my marriage, after going through the devastation of PP this took its toll on my life and my marraige.

Eventually when my son was nearly two my Psychiatrist told us of a Professor in Birmingham who was a leading expert in PP and Bipolar. My husband wrote to him and arranged an appointment with him. At the point when I met the Professor I thought I was never going to get better. He said I will get you better. It was then I was admitted to the Mother and Baby unit in Birmingham and started on Lithium.

Within weeks I stabilised and began to get well again. I no longer had the extreme swings in mood and I could finally get my life back.

I did eventually do a back to nursing course and got a part time job.

I would say to anyone going through PP to not put yourself under any pressure to go back to work. Take your time and allow yourself time to recover. Please don`t make the mistake I did by doing lots of stressful things at once such as moving house to a different area, getting married and going back to work. After going through something as devastating as PP give yourself time without unecessary pressures.

Hannah_at_APP profile image

I went back to work when my baby was 8 months old and 4.5 months after coming out of 3 months in hospital. It's gone ok for me overall but I had an Occ Health referral - randomly a midwife who was very knowledgeable about pp and congratulated me on doing so well. I also had a phased return over a period of 6 weeks or so, starting with part days then a few days and then full time as planned. What didn't help me was a significant change to my job in the period I was off- it was hard going to learn new things and be up to speed through some meds related cloudiness. I was also tired, finding it hard to concentrate and totally lacking in confidence. Although my manager supported me to some extent there were other things they could've done. Keeping on my maternity cover who clearly wanted my job didn't help either. There was an incident of being taken aside and asked if I was "coping", people worried about me appearing "spaced". Try working and functioning on Olanzapine ans Lithium!! A lack of knowledge and empathy really. But I'm philosophical- work is a small, albeit 5 day a week part of me, who I am and my outlook on life. I'm doing well now and can ignore the odd comment, life is so much bigger and more important. It also probably helps that I can shock people with the stories about the more alarming bits of my illness!

I am hoping to start a new job. I will not tell them about any sickness or absence. A word of warning a friend of mine has to go to a disability discrimination tribunal. Her bosses found out about her Mental Health Problems and exploited them..

I have applied for something that I can work from home with as I get very tired with meds

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