‘Return to Work;’ the Date Looms

The date has been set. Just a few weeks to go.

It’s looming and making me anxious; I really don’t feel ready. I don’t entirely know why.

Undoubtedly, everything is a good deal better than it was 4 months ago when I first went off. I’d say, at best, I got to 80% better. Now, I’m probably back at 60%, just because there’s been a lot to cope with in the last 4-6 weeks including unwell children, Christmas and an increased intensity of the usual day to day stresses, mostly to do with being a parent. Days vary of course; sometimes I almost feel back to the old me (usually when I am quiet and alone!) and other days feel more like I was in those first few weeks and I just want to curl up in a ball on my own again and shut the world out. And that’s without work.

My decline into burnout and depression was most definitely ‘multi-factorial.’ Work certainly weighed heavily as a burden. Home also did, and still does. Then there’s lots of other bits and pieces that all have an effect too.

I can’t fix all the triggers. I can’t make them go away. I can’t make my life what would be ideal; it’s not practically possibly. I can’t just be on my own and have a bit of peace whenever I ‘need’ to. I don’t do a job that can be done sitting quietly alone. I can’t stop caring for my children whenever I feel I need to switch off. I just have to push through.

There are small changes I can make to optimise my life situation. The rest, I’ve got to learn to adapt to cope with things better instead; ‘better resilience’ as was said to me at one stage. I’ve had great support from a practitioner from the GP Health Service and have recently started seeing someone for some CBT. I think I know what I need to do to keep improving and prevent another major dip, but I need some guidance on how to put it into action. Namely, make sure I have quiet and alone time regularly to recharge.  Also, use opportunities to ‘find’ me again; do things that make me me, not just a GP and mother, robotically functioning to fulfil everybody’s needs except my own. One of the other issues is being ‘too empathic’ and over-sensitive (I have a half-written blog just about this!) so I carry a huge emotional burden; I need to learn how to create ‘boundaries’ to manage this.

My biggest concern about work is probably my lack of energy. I have pushed myself bit my bit since I’ve been off. I know that progress only happens by making it happen and that energy only comes from the best possible combination of sleep, nutrition and activity/exercise. So this is what I have tried to do. But, after doing a few small tasks, I feel desperate to rest again. Why?! I can’t explain it and it doesn’t seem to be improving. I’ve always just got on with everything in the past so I hate feeling held back. Are my body and mind still trying to regulate my activity??

Admittedly, motivation and energy is better for some things than others. I have enjoyed doing some of the little home improvements; the house feels so much more pleasant already which therefore helps my sense of wellbeing and so is hugely satisfying. But the things that need doing that I find boring, tedious, difficult to understand, laborious etc just seem too overwhelming. If I manage to get myself to start them, I tend to find it too difficult to focus, so get distracted and give up easily. Then these tasks hang over me like a dark cloud because they need doing and are put off and I get more and more behind.

I also find it difficult to tolerate ‘extra’ input. I cringe when my mobile pings for fear of what might be required of me. I dread being asked to do something else on top of the list I already have. I lack patience with the children and am still fairly intolerant of their ‘noise and demands.’ I still actively avoid negativity if possible because I can’t cope with it e.g. the news.

So, how on earth am I going to manage work? Nearly 40 people talking at me and demanding something of me at pressured time intervals, and then everything that goes with this, for up to 12 hours a day. Argh! Can I enjoy this job again? I don’t know yet. I think, subconsciously, I am forgetting that I will be phasing back in gently so it won’t be this intense straight away.

It has be done. And all will be well. One step at a time.

7 thoughts on “‘Return to Work;’ the Date Looms”

  1. When I went back to work after suffering from burn out my practice asked for an occupational health assessment. He recommended a phased return to work over 2 months. This sounds like what you need to negotiate. (Just did morning surgeries and no paperwork initially 2 days a week and built it back up to a full time 8 sessions over the 2 months) Worked well for me and I have been back at work for 3 years. Certainly recommend continuing with some form of supervision, wasn’t convinced by CBT but have a really good councellor who also supervisors other councellors and me! I go once a month and she has helped me to maintain my boundaries etc.


  2. You have made great progress. I hope the return to work is a positive step for you and you cope with the pressures. I have followed your journey and you have helped me understand my daughter as she walks a similar road. Thank you.


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