Community//

Returning to work after a mental health break.

And what to expect from others.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

From an accidental website rebuild, thankfully it didn’t take too long, a few edits to my personal/professional profile and a juggle around on the old categories, so I best explain myself.

If, the blog post title hasn’t already given the game away. I’m finally ready to start looking at returning to work.

I’ve spent the past 12 months or so freelancing as a blogger and a social media manager and while that is lovely. With a family to feed, a house to pay for and bills to sort, I need stability. The kind of stability that only really comes from a career that you know you can work well in, for me personally anyway.

Returning to your career after a mental health break is absolutely terrifying and I have an open mind about what to expect from any potential employers or job interviews.

I thought it may be a good idea to write down my thoughts on returning to my career, a sort of letter to any future employer. And then as I started to write it I decided that it was a terrible idea so it was promptly deleted and I had a little rethink.

Instead I’m just going to ramble on about why I took a break, just the main focal points really and a little insight. Although to be fair I shouldn’t need to justify my mental health to anybody.

STRESS.

This was the biggest factor for me. In October 2016 I was in a terrible place. Having watched my family take several bad turns and trying to hold everything together. My mind snapped and I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I’d recently started a new job and while I loved the job, the people, the business, my mind told me differently, every morning.

I’d drive to work with a lump in my throat, a fear that something terrible would happen to Ben or one of the kids if I went to work. Hoping that I crashed, or something happened so I couldn’t make it to the office and could justify returning home, hiding behind the front door.

It was awful.

PANIC.

Shortly after the above, I was signed off with anxiety. I’d never been diagnosed with this before and it had been a long time coming now that I look back. I’d dealt with a lot of stress, worry and unexpected illness over the course of the year and it was a wonder I coped until then.

It came to a head when we went shopping one afternoon. At the time Ben was still in a wheelchair full-time after his second heart attack so I had the pleasure of learning how to navigate the supermarket as he wasn’t strong enough to propel himself at that point.

I made a mess of it, was hugely embarrassed and lost it at the self-service checkout. Next thing I know I’m on the floor hyperventilating and rocking to try to regain control while the shop staff rush over to assist Ben and help pack up our shopping.

EXHAUSTION

I was exactly that. Exhausted. From all the mental, physical and emotional strain the past 6 months had put on me. I jut gave up. I couldn’t go on like that and that’s when I resigned from my new job and decided to focus on getting better, healing and helping my husband recover at the same time.

I’d stopped sleeping, stopped eating properly and struggled to talk about my issues. This needed to change imminently if I was to recover at all.

FEAR

I got to the point last year where I couldn’t even leave the house alone. I needed someone with me just to nip the shop and I started to become a bit of a hermit. Which isn’t ideal for anyone let alone a parent who had to do the school run several times a week.

I’d spend 10 minutes on the phone to Ben panicking about getting out of the car, and then I’d panic that people would see I’ve been crying and ask questions, I know they would mean well and just wanted to know if I was okay, but that question is enough to set me off at the bet of times.

Mental health and family now always comes as a first priority.

As you can tell, times were tough, and mental health just can’t be ignored or brushed under the carpet any longer. I took the career break I needed to get better and while I know this isn’t always an option. It was a move I had to make at the time.

I’ve been on anxiety medication since October 2016, over 12 months have passed and I can confidently say I am ready to return to work and restart my career. This is the first time I have felt comfortable with applying for roles and while I am not in any rush to accept just any job.

Any future employer will be thoroughly grilled and researched to make sure their policies are in line with my beliefs towards both mental and physical health. In 2018 companies really need to invest in their staff and look after their well-being as a priority. Happy employees work.

I’ve made some changes to my blog, my online presence and my CV to make sure I am ready to take on the corporate workplace once more. I’ve narrowed down my niche and audience to those topics I am most passionate. Hopefully this will reflect in the way I write, the honest approach I want to bring to the table and my professionalism online as a whole.

I’m branching out and working out how I want to spend the rest of my life.

PATIENCE

I need to have patience. I want to get back into work, but there really is no rush. I need to make sure that the role I take on is the right one for me. It needs not only to feel right but it needs to work for me and my family. That work/life balance is incredibly important to me and I will not settle for anything less.

UTILISE MY SKILLS

I know I have built up an incredible amount of skills in the workplace in the past 10 years. From sales and negotiation to looking after key accounts and important partnerships. It is essential that I apply this even if I am moving away from a sales career into the digital world more.

TRANSPARENCY

I will be 100% honest with any future employer. I’m in this for the long run so I need this to be a partnership. We need to be totally transparent, up front and able to talk about the important things.

If I’m having a bad mental health day, I need to feel comfortable with admitting it, coming up with a solution that will work for us both and allowing myself healing time.

TRUST

I’m hard-working, enthusiastic and motivated in the workplace. I require trust and the ability to use my own initiative and creativity. I don’t always take the conventional approach but yes I’ll always follow the rules.

I need that trust to remain solid and if an employee or employer doubts that I hope that I will be the first one they approach to discuss it.

ENCOURAGEMENT

Nobody joins a career in the hopes that they never get promoted. Well actually, that’s not always true. Sometimes people just want a simple job, to earn a stable wage and continue with their lives as normal outside of the workplace.

Some people, want to challenge themselves further. To take on more, to achieve more and to work their way up. I’ll always give everything I can in my position but remember I will always be willing to try out other roles. It’s always worth spending time in all departments to work out what your strengths are so you can play to them. I’ve found this to be really helpful in previous jobs.

It just goes to show that mental health doesn’t have to consume your life. It can be managed and there will be a time when we are ready to return to a career we once relished in and loved.

I cannot wait to get back into the swing of things. I’m excited, motivated, comfortable and ready to hit the ground running in a completely new industry.

I hope you enjoyed my first post in my new career & blog category. I’m super excited to post more content and have some great posts planned for the coming months.

Have you experienced mental health in the workplace? How did you deal with it?

Emma Allen 

Originally published at www.emmalizallen.com

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Leah Lambart
Community//

Building confidence after a career break

by Leah Lambart
<a href="https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-in-black-jacket-standing-on-gray-concrete-floor-4604568/">Source</a></figcaption></figure>
Community//

How Employees Feel about Returning to the Office after WFH

by April Klooster
Community//

BACK TO SCHOOL – NOT JUST FOR THE YOUNG

by Alison Nicholson

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.