A few months ago I realised that I was finding my current job very difficult. The combination of a stressful environment, a doctor husband who works horrible shifts and a toddler got completely on top of me and in the end I realised that I just couldn’t cope.
After months of deliberation I made the decision to apply for jobs at a lower level, less intensive neonatal unit. Initially I was set on remaining at my previous unit; desperately wanting to prove to myself that I was still capable of working at the level I had done before my pregnancy and subsequent mental health crisis. However I was forced to admit that while I may well be able to work at that level again in the future, with my current mental health and pressures of family life I just can’t do it now.
After discussing my options at length I came to the conclusion that I’ve been qualified as a nurse for six years and so have at least 30 years of my career left and so I have plenty of time left to work at a high intensity, high pressure unit. I many not feel ready to step back up until Squidge goes to school or for some years after that but the main thing is that I don’t have to work at that level now. I may never feel able to work at such a high intensity unit ever again but that’s ok because, despite what I might feel, I don’t have anything to prove to anyone.
After making my decision I applied for a post on the neonatal unit at the hospital where the Northern One currently works and is very close to Squidge’s nursery. The Northern One will rotate to a new hospital on August and so unless I began working at this hospital Squidge would have to move to a new nursery. Due to the Northern One’s job Squidge has already moved nurseries once and I really didn’t want him to have to move again. He loves his current nursery and they love him so finding a job that would mean he could stay there would only be a good thing. While I was initially unsure about stepping down to a lower level neonatal unit but the though of Squidge being so happy at nursery was, in the end, the deciding factor.
When a neonatal nurse post opened up at the Northern One’s current hospital I raced to apply and was subsequently called for an interview. Prior to interviewing I arranged to visit the unit (despite having visited previously during my time as a transport nurse) so that I could introduce myself to my prospective employers and to demonstrate my enthusiasm with regards to working for them.
At all stages of the application and interview process I was completely open and honest about my mental health issues and associated sick leave. I explained that I’d become particular ill during my pregnancy and therefore had been signed off sick for the entire pregnancy before taking six months maternity leave. I also explained that I’d had two periods of sick leave since returning to work which had both been related to medication changes and adjustments. I reiterated these issues at the end of my interview, explaining that I understood if they felt as though I wasn’t a suitable candidate at this time. Therefore I was absolutely thrilled when they phoned the next day and offered me the job.
However a few weeks later the offer of a job was withdrawn as my new employers felt I’d had too much sick leave and that employing me would not be in their best interests. I would have found this easier to accept had they not waited a number of weeks, allowed me to complete all my new starter paperwork and habd in my notice at my previous job before changing their minds.
After the initial shock of receiving the phone call stating that they no longer wished to employ me I contacted my union rep for advice. However she informed me that the hospital was entirely within their rights to withdraw any job offers before the final employment contract had been signed and that it was incredibly stupid of me to have handed in my notice. After her suggestion that I contact my old job and beg them to re-eploy me I decided to stop asking her for advice.
After the withdrawal I sunk into a deep depression, completely blaming myself for everything. I felt as though I’d failed Squidge, the Northern One and myself by being so utterly useless that I couldn’t even manage to go to work. I worried about finances, the fact that Squidge would have to change nurseries again and I spent a lot of time wondering whether any neonatal unit would ever want to employ me again. My job is a huge part of who I am and is one of the few things about myself that I’m proud of so not being in work was very difficult and caused a rapid downturn of my mood and destabilisation of my mental health. I found it very difficult to fill my days, feeling unable to do much other than read horror stories and sleep. I avoided blogging, social media and moat other forms of human cobtact. I also struggled to get up every day, shower or get dressed and I only left the house a couple of times a week.
I ended up being unemployed for two months, before finding another suitable job to apply for. I knew the hospital from the Northern One having worked there a few years ago and from having visited the neonatal unit several times.
I was petrified of a repeat of my previous experience and so on the application form and at the end of the interview I explained everything that had happened over the past three years in relation to my mental health, making it perfectly clear that if there was any chance there would be a problem I would prefer it if I wasn’t offered the job in the first place. However, despite sufficient candidates to warrant two full days of interviews for only one post my new employers decided to offer the job to me!
For the first time in many months I’m actually looking forward to going back to work. This new job has dual benefits of enabling me to continue the career that I love whilst also giving me the opportunity to make a new start. My new colleagues won’t know the pre-pregnancy me and so the pressure I felt to be that person will be lifted, allowing me to regain confidence in my abilities as a nurse.
I need this job so much for so many reasons; something outside of being a wife and mother just for myself, to prop up my fragile sense of self-worth and for a chance to find some sort of inner peace.
I need this new start.