So I’ve documented my journey with depression Depression and me and thought it would be useful to share how my return to work went. It’s good be able to share these things so people can see the truth behind the pics on the gram. It’s also good for anyone else in this position to be able to read and realise every story is different.
I also reached out to Paige over at Sweary_Mummy and asked her to write a piece for me. Paige has recently suffered with a mental breakdown and attempted a return to work.
I thought it would be useful to share other people’s perspectives on mental health and returning to work; including how their story can be so very different. I guess the main point I’m trying to make with this blog is that you really need to listen to your body and accept that everyone is different. You also need to make a decision if it really is the right time to return to work. There is zero shame in asking for more help if that’s what you need!
I decided, with the help of my GP that I wasn’t well enough to be in work. With the support Of my GP I was signed off work in mid December 2018 and made the decision to return at the beginning of March 2019.
[My first day back at work]
Having taken time out of work I was able to get my head in a space where I felt I was able to process things better. I started a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy but decided after three sessions that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t feel comfortable with the therapist. I didn’t feel comfortable with the surroundings. It just wasn’t for me. I was slightly frustrated because I’ve heard so many good things about CBT, but it just didn’t suit me. I tired it, didn’t like it and made the decision not to continue. I may revisit this in the future but for now I am content with the decision to stop having CBT.
I started taking anti depressants in the new year. I was initially prescribed 20mg of Citalopram but this was increased to 40mg after about 6 weeks. It took me a long time to accept that I needed medication and put it off until I was totally comfortable taking them. I had a number of appointments with my GP to talk about the side effects and the length of time I would be taking medication.
The side effects at first were horrendous. I couldn’t leave the bathroom for the first three days. I had a migraine for the first six weeks; I also had a horrible pain in my chest. I was monitored by the Dr and the hospital and my symptoms were confirmed to be side effects of the medication. Once my dosage was increased the side effects pretty much went.
I found myself in a place where I was feeling normal. The old Daddy Hew was back…or so i thought. I started talking to Mummy Hew and my Dr about returning to work. I felt confident that I was ready. I made the decision to return at the beginning of March. I had kept in contact with a few of my colleagues and regularly met them for coffee which made the transition back to the office a lot easier. I can’t thank them enough for their support.
The big day came and I felt really positive about returning to work. The first day back was nowhere near as daunting as I thought it would be. I arrived at the office and just got on with my day as if nothing had changed. I felt really positive about it and was confident that I had made the right decision in returning to work.
As the week went on I started to doubt my ability to do my job. I started to doubt whether returning to work was the right thing to do. I can’t pinpoint exactly what made me feel so anxious but I started to feel a lot less positive about returning to work. I was allocated some work to do and felt lost. I don’t know whether it was too much or just whether I wasn’t in the right head space to get stuck back in. My mindset was very much ‘just get on with this Daddy Hew. You can do this’ in the back of my mind I knew I was only going to be back on the office for three weeks before taking Shared Parental leave….this is what kept me going.
I tied to speak with my manager about how I was feeling, but for someone who can talk loads, I found it really difficult. I didn’t really know what to say but I had this overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t coping. My first week I returned to work on 50% hours….the thought of doing a whole week filled me with dread.
During my second week, I again started to feel overwhelmed. The days felt so long and I found myself watching the clock, counting down until I could leave. I again reassured myself that I was only retuning to the office for three weeks and I could get through it!
Im currently part way through my third week back in the office and cannot wait until the end of the week. Knowing I have 14 weeks to spend with Henry has truly got me through. I guess for me, knowing that my return to work was going to be short allowed me to plough on through, it was easier to put that pearly white smile on knowing the return to work was only going be for a short period of time. I don’t think if I had my SPL coming up I would have stayed in the office. I’m sure I would have needed more time off.
I feel a little bit lost with work at the moment. In myself I feel better than I have for ages.
The thought of work, at the moment still fills me with dread. I know I have to work….shit doesn’t pay for itself. I need to spend some time reviewing how I feel knowing that returning to work will be forever. Is this the right job for me? Do I need to look at something new? Do I just need to stick it out until work becomes normal again. I am going to take my period of SPL to really enjoy being with Henry and then see how I feel at the end.
Paige (@swearymummy) is a frank talking mother of one. Her instagram feed is filled with a frank account of motherhood and her experiences of mental health; and as her name suggests, she doesn’t sugar coat shit.
I asked Paige to write a piece for me because I think it is really important to see things form others perspectives. Paige had a breakdown in 2018 and attempted a return to work.
Here’s what Paige said:
[Paige with her really subtle blue cast]
[Paige enjoying some downtime with her Daughter on holiday]
Here’s what Dan said:
My anxiety levels have been through the fucking roof. 20mg of Citalopram (I’ve been on and off this since 2012) may as well have been a soft and chewy vitamin because it felt useless.
[Dan with Flo, when he was unwell, with low appetite, high stress levels, and feeling like he was drowning in anxious thoughts]
Everyone has shit going on in their lives. Why would I burden them with my problems? Why should they be interested? And would I want to hear their advice? This was an issue for me, so last year my Doctor recommended therapy.
I recently took part in several months of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and it was fantastic. It may not be for everyone, much like prescribed medication doesn’t suit all, but I would highly recommend CBT to anyone that hasn’t already tried it. I was given the option of group-therapy or one-to-one over the phone and with the thought of public speaking giving me those freezing cold hands again I opted for the latter. I was then assigned a therapist who would get in touch every couple of weeks just to catch up, listen to me rant and set small goals (they felt huge) to be completed by our next session.
Emily (Dans wife) was a massive supporter of this. She could see the difference it made and so she would make sure I never missed a session, that Flo was occupied so I wouldn’t be disturbed for the duration of my calls and was just her usual legendary self.
It didn’t take long for my therapist and I to realise that I worry too much about others judgement and what people think about me, a trait that stemmed from years of bullying and I imagine affects thousands of people.
How are we going to deal with this?
Instead of becoming more of an introvert or “shy” (TOP TIP: – the term shy is highly patronising to anyone over the age of 5, so stop it), I decided to put myself out there.
That’s when I started to blog. In my head, I placed myself right the firing line for any criticisms, negative opinions, judgements etc. and honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Apart from proposing to Emily and having Flo, they’re definitely up there.
My anxiety subsided for a while. I’ve been able to interact with loads of brilliant bloggers, dads, mums… I’m yet to talk to a twat actually but I’m sure that day will come.
[Dan with his wife Emily, feeling in control on his anxiety and feeling brilliant]
For anyone else who feels they are struggling with their Mental Health I would really encourage you to listen to the signs and get some help from your GP. Listen to your body. If you have attempted a return to work and it isn’t working for you, take some time to review if you need more time out….or even just a change of scenery.