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Going Back To Work


Leslie

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Hi all--

I need some advice. I head back to work on Monday and the very thought of it is making me panic. I wasn't really happy at this job before my dad passed away....but the job was very flexible and I was able to go home a lot to see my dad. I also obviously wasn't in a place to make any major changes in my life while my dad battled cancer.

I haven't been to work in almost a month. And now, the very prospect of going back makes me feel so anxious that I feel like I am having a borderline panic attack.

Any thoughts on good coping strategies?

Thanks as always for your help.

Best,

Leslie

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I wish I had better answers. It just takes a little time and practice to get back into the swing of things. Waking up a little earlier to decompress or do something just for you to make yourself feel good before you go into work?

I know that people were extra-kind to me when I went back to work- but that lasted as long as it took for them to ask "how are you?" and for me to lie and say "I'm ok." I was off and running and expected to be "back".

It took a good week or two for me to be able to really focus again and then I fell back into the swing of things.

If I came online to LCSC during the day at work, I'd completely lose it and I was a mess. I can't imagine how I looked to my clients and my colleagues looked at me like I was crazy- alot.

I guess what i am trying to say is keeping a one-track mind at work helped me thru things at first.

It's also been said not to make major changes after a tragic loss in your life...as those decisions can be made on impulse or grief/emotion and not responsible rationale.

Give it alittle time. If it doesn't even out and feel right to you, then you can always look for another job and start fresh somewhere else.

For me, my life turned into advocacy and in this direction, so I quit that job to focus on LCSC- but not until almost a year after forming the non profit and my decisions were well thought out ones.

Good luck. My heart feels for you.

(((hug)))

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Hi, Leslie:

Probably the first step is to try and understand WHAT it is about going back to work that's making you so anxious.

The only thing in my own experience that comes close was when my first marriage fell apart nearly 40 years ago. Very few people knew that we were having problems, and I dreaded returning to work not because of the job itself, but because I didn't want to keep rehashing the story when someone I hadn't seen for a while asked "how's [wife's name]?" Even worse was when I went on a trip and ran into a friend, actually a former roommate, who had been in our wedding 9 years earlier. He wanted me to come over to his place for dinner, but I made some lame excuse and sort of brushed him off. At the time I didn't really care what he thought -- I just didn't want to tell him about or discuss the pending divorce because the edges were too raw.

I can't say I did anything to "cope" -- but I did sort of operate on autopilot for a long time, dealing with my job intellectually with no enthusiasm or drive since my emotional well had run dry. It was like I was wearing blinders, focusing only on the tasks straight ahead that I absolutely had to do. What I really wanted to do was go to a place where no one knew me and start over from scratch.

So, two very different situations, and yours had a satisfying conclusion, but maybe you'll see some parallels. My best to you.

Aloha,

Ned

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Hi Leslie,

Part of what you might be feeling is "life is going on without my dad." I went back to work a month after losing Bill. It was an awful feeling. My co-workers were wonderful and I was given much flexibility. But it was like, "Bill's gone -- how can I just be getting up and going back to a job??? How can this world around me possibly go on as normal?"

If you think that might be part of it, I would say the best advice is just to do the old "one day at a time." After Monday is over, the anxiety of anticipation should subside. Then perhaps you want to think about moving on, if it's not for you.

Take care,

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i understand how anxious it must make you, but folks are right, i think the first step is figuring out what about it has you in a panic. if it is truly the job, then maybe it is time to look for a new job. if it is like others have said, the fear of starting back to life as normal or of having to rehash the details with people, which kinda opens the wounds up again, then i think it is one of those things where you just have to jump in with both feet and get it over with.

i had started a new job, on paper anyway, whiie i was out of state sitting in the hospital with my mother knowing that she was dying but not knowing when. at one point in the hospital i just looked up at my sisters and said, i can't start a new job now. i was ready to go call the guy i had met only once and tell him i changed my mind. they convinced me to wait and see and that i knew my old job would take me back if i wanted to. in the end, going back to a new job was a Godsend. but i have a job that allowed me to sit in my office and work, often with tears streaming down my face, but without having to interact with others very much. took me a while but eventually i came out of my office. the point of that story, and there is one, is if you can go back to work but sort of hide away for a little bit, that might help some. though many jobs wouldn't work that way, i was lucky that mine did.

i guess i would tell you that despite the anxiety, remember that going to work can't be nearly as tough as losing your dad, or watching him suffer. so know that you are strong enough to face it and to not only get through getting back to work, but to triumph over any old job or anxiety attack!

hang in there.

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(((Leslie))),

I don't know about the panic attack aspect of going back to work. For reference, all three of my kids (and DIL) reported in that the week they went back was the longest week of their lives. Apparently jumping back into "real life" is very surreal at first. Just a heads-up from their experience.

Hoping that things go as well as can be expected for you.

Hugs,

Debi

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You got a lot of advice here.

Mine is take a valium, that helps. :D

Seriously, it will take a little while and then you will get back into the routine. I don't like my job since my company was sold, but I still have a job with the new company which I could write a book about stress. but you just have to go with the flow.

Good luck... ( a valium does help!)

Maryanne :wink:

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On panic attacks in general, breathe in through the lose out through the mouth deeply, slowly and evenly, and I concentrate on my hands...when my hands start to "warm up" you know you are coming out of it.

On work.It depends on you environment...I'm in an office and when I need to, I come here (don't rat me out Rick :)).

I have also availed myself the opportunity to get up and leave for 5 minutes if I feel the need to....knowing I didn't have to sit at my desk, let me not FEEL overwhelmed with the prospect of being there.

Good luck to you .

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Thanks everyone for your helpful thoughts. I think part of the difficulty has been that I've been surrounded by this coccoon of love and nurturing over the past few weeks. While this period has been so hard, it has been made somewhat easier by the fact that I've been surrounded by people who know and love my dad...now I am walking back into a professional environment, where the focus cannot be/should not be my dad.

In these past few weeks, I've found this incredible openness--to my own experience and to the experiences of others. I want this feeling of openness to stay with me--and I'm afraid that work--and some of the weirdness of this particular office--will force me to lose that openness. At the same time, I'm reminded of the fact that this office has treated me with incredible compassion--as they have been very flexible and understanding through this period.

So, my resolutions at this moment are: to stay in the moment, to trust that I can handle whatever comes, and to know that it's okay not to engage at this time--to "work with blinders on" (as Ned so aptly put it...).

Wish me luck.

Leslie

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Hi Leslie,

The worst part of going back to work for me was the anticipation. I absolutely dreaded the thought of being back there, although my co-workers and supervisor was so incredibly caring throughout the whole journey (most of them came to Dad's memorial). I just had to put myself on auto-pilot to make the drive, took a deep breath and opened the door. After the initial hugs and "How are yous?" people pretty much left me alone. And even though I welcomed the concern, I was relieved when it stopped.

If you find after some time that it still doesn't feel right, maybe part of the problem is the job after all. But give it a shot and see how it goes. You may find that it becomes a welcome distraction to just get back into work mode.

Good luck - I'll be thinking of you tomorrow morning...

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Hi Leslie,

I can totally relate. I was working a job while my husband was sick and they were wonderful. But things were just different after he died. The job just working for me anymore and I resigned. I went back to Nordstrom on the sales floor. It is just a transitional move until I can decide what I want to do and get it together again.

The big thing for me right now is what I have been through has completely changed me. My goals a year and a half ago have changed and I haven't figured out what they are at the moment. So I have been reinventing myself so to speak. Hopefully I will like the results.

Just take time and don't rush it and don't let anyone rush you.

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