This is one in a series of stories written by mums for mums talking about going back to work after a career break.
For reasons you’ll understand in just a moment or two, this story is anonymous.
D took a career break following a tragedy however her story underlines the importance of looking after yourself first. It’s a story that really resonates for me because wellness is one of the foundation elements in my Confidence Circle. For me, wellness is all about looking after your physical, emotional and mental health.
1. Tell us about your career before your career break
I was a Reward and Benefits Advisor in the legal industry and loved my job.
2. What do you do now?
I’m currently job-hunting – hopefully for a permanent role.
3. Tell us about your career break
I took a career break because my friend, who lived next door to me, was unlawfully killed by a mentally ill person who also lived next door to me.
My Husband and I had witnessed a series of disturbing actions over the course of a few months and tried to make the various authorities aware that there was a massive issue, however, not enough attention was paid. He was finally sectioned but released too soon and the day after he came back, he killed my friend, who was 70 and had Parkinson’s.
This happened at the beginning of the reward year and I managed to keep it together to deliver the salary and bonuses, but knew I needed to take a mental health break and so resigned from my job. I didn’t want to take an extended period of absence as I didn’t want the pressure of a deadline to restrict me.
We were heavily involved in the Court Hearings at Old Bailey and had to provide a great deal of evidence to the Police etc.
I had intended to take a just few months off, but it turned into 2.5 years.
I don’t regret taking that long as my mental health was very important to me and as we improved, my husband and I did fun things together. For instance, we were regulars on The Apprentice – Your Fired!
We healed and at the beginning of last year I was ready to return to work. I did a full-time contract to dip my toe back into the working world and now I am ready for my next permanent role.
4. What have you learned about yourself and your career?
In terms of my career, I am now much more aware of what I can accept in a role and what I can’t. I am very protective of my mental health and I will not allow anything to compromise it.
5. What was your biggest challenge when you went back to work?
The biggest challenge was the automatic assumption that I’d had time off to have a baby, or have a fabulous round-the-world trip. I was made to feel awkward about having such a distressing reason for my career break.
I had feedback from one interview that the reason for my career break was “intense and make them feel uncomfortable”. No comment.
6. What helped you go back to work?
Family and friends were very supportive, but some people really didn’t understand the need for such a long break. But then, they weren’t directly affected by what happened and, God willing, they will never know for themselves.
7. What’s been the biggest surprise?
I like working! I really enjoy splashing around in the world of spreadsheets – I’m such a geek!
8. What advice would you give to others contemplating going back to work?
Take your time – you’ll know when you’re ready.
Yes, you’ll be trepiditious and yes, there will be times you’ll be unsure, but believe in yourself and listen to that inner voice which says “if in doubt, don’t“.
Join the career break project
If you enjoyed this, perhaps because you’re on a career break or you’ve gone back after a career break and you’d be happy to share tips with other mums, join the Career Break community on Facebook.