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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I've gone back to work after my diagnosis and it has been a mixture of ups and downs. In some ways my line manager has been very supportive in others she has made it 100 times harder for me.

However I have a 'reasonable adjustments' meeting in a week to talk about what my employer might do to make work life easier for me.

If you didnt know it's because PND is classed as a disability you are entitled to ask you employer to make some reasonable adjustments for you. This might be things like - time off work to go to counselling etc.

I was wondering whether anyone else has been through this process and if they have any advice?

I have been in touch with some local organisations like MIND who might be able to give me an advocate to come to the meeting with me, which would be brilliant.

Thanks,
Dom
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I just thought I'd come back and share what I did in case others in the future need to know.
  • I spoke on the phone to someone from MIND Advocacy - normally they would have come with to the meeting but on this occasion it wasn't possible.
  • I jotted down what I really wanted in terms of what would make a real difference to me.
  • Then I wrote them up in more of an official way and tried to keep emphasis on me and my needs not on others.
  • I then took three print outs to the reasonable adjustments meeting and we discussed it.
  • I decided to include background info about what PND for me is and stuff but that is OPTIONAL I think that by law you don't have to disclose very much. For me and my organisation I thought it was appropriate but it might not be for you.
I have taken some telephone support and advice from a MIND representative who was not able to make this date. If there are future meeting I would prefer that an advocate was also present.

About Post Natal Depression:
It affects around 1 in 10 women starting within the first year after birth. The signs and symptoms are broadly the same as with non-pregnancy related depression and anxiety. In this case the trigger may be the birth of a child but other stressors such as moving house, divorce, ill physical health, death and/illness of close ones can also be triggers or make the condition worse .

Risks of PND
Post-natal depression is difficult because of the challenging set of responsibilities and pressures that come with parenthood. Such as caring for others continuously, lack of sleep, ensuring financial security etc

PND untreated is a risk factor for other health concerns for children such as poor emotional development of the child, neglect, poor communication skills, social skills, increased likelihood of divorce of parents and depression in children. PND affects all relationships connected with the sufferer - child, spouse, family and friends and colleagues which in turn can make the symptoms worse.

Normal PND symptoms include:
· Low self esteem
· Greater sensitivity to stress
· Difficulty managing emotions in certain situations
· Anxiety and sometimes panic attacks
· Poor sleep
· Slow movement in speech or action
· Fatigue
· Poor memory
· Separation anxiety from child or emotional distancing from family
· Feelings of despair (feeling very low, or despondent, thinking that nothing is any good, that life is a long, grey tunnel, and that there is no hope)
· Feelings of isolation
· Overwhelming sense of responsibility in all areas of life
· A sense of inadequacy; feeling unable to cope
· Feeling guilty about not coping, or about not loving the baby enough or doing enough for others
· Being unusually irritable, which makes the guilt worse
· Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
· Physical symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, exhaustion
· Obsessive fears about the baby's health or wellbeing, or about myself and other members of the family
· thoughts about death.
· Good days and bad days

Treatment
Every case is different as no two people are the same and therefore treatment is usually tailored by health professionals in discussion with the patient.

In my case, different types of intervention such as - CBT therapy, counseling and small daily adjustments are what have been recommended.

This meeting
I understand I have been invited to a 'reasonable adjustments' meeting because my condition is classed as a disability and that XXX has a responsibility to consider adjustments it may be able to make. These adjustments need to be discussed and agreed before implementation and will take into consideration both my needs and those of the sustainability of the organisation.
I am aware that the XXXX is a small organisation operating in difficult financial times.
I see that I have an integral role to play to inform the XXXX about ways in which I believe my condition can be improved or worsened by certain factors in the workplace.

My personal and professional aim is to make a full recovery as quickly and sustainably as possible. I would like this meeting to discuss ways to reduce the impact of my condition on my productivity and ability to perform my job.

Being at work whilst this condition is still symptomatic carries some risks of:

· Bullying and harassment by other employees
· Increased stress
· Encountering triggers which worsen the effects of PND

It should also be said that the work environment is also a source for helping recovery, by encountering positive situations and opportunities to improve self-esteem through accomplishment and positive communication.
Practical suggestions for adjustments

My main contact and communication is primarily with my team and with my manager. Therefore these adjustments focus more on these relationships than others.

What: In general, communication with me should be clear, positive and friendly where possible. In both written and verbal communication.
Why? If I receive an email that is brief I read it as though it was impersonal or negative towards me. Which affects my recovery in which I am trying to build my self esteem and confidence.

What: Time off to attend medical appointments such as visits to GP, Mental Health nurse and therapy. Understanding that these appointments might sometimes be telephone appointments during the working day.
Why?: My day starts at 6.30am and I arrive home around 6.30pm, finding suitable appointments outside of these hours is extremely challenging. This would not be an indefinite adjustment but should be revisited as recovery progresses. Although it may not make up the full time - I will endeavour to build in some flexi-time to allow for adjustments by doing an extra 30mins of work each day (starting at 8.30am).

What: Additional liaison/support within the organisation. In the occasional instance where my manager is either unavailable due to meetings/annual leave etc I would like there to be someone else I can talk to for line management responsibility. Given the small nature of the organisation I can only suggest xxxxxx who has taken line management responsibility in the past.
Why?: In addition I am aware that my line manager also has some health challenges and I feel that sometimes our needs may collide and in these situations I don't feel that myself or my line manager are supported by the organisation as well as there could be. If there was some additional person I could approach then I feel that would lesson the burden on our relationship which I value highly.

What? An expectation that I take my full lunch hour.
Why? Recently my colleague and I were told that it is not setting a good example to take the full lunch hour in this economic climate. This may be the case but I feel that an opportunity to take a proper break during the day is critical to my mental well-being. Given that I am away from home from 6.30-6.30 and that when I arrive home I take on child care duties and through the night. That one hour to eat a proper meal and attend to personal chores is essential and not a sign that I am not committed to the organisation.

What? Occasional personal phone calls that last not more than 5mins during the day.
Why? One of the most emotionally debilitating factors of PND is the impact it has on family relationships. In particular feeling disconnected and cut-off from loved ones. Spending such long hours away from the home mean that I spend only an hour or so of each day with my son. Being able to have a quick phone call to enable some minimal contact with him during the day makes a big difference to my stability and will help me feel more positive and confident. Usually this will be during my lunch break but sometimes because he is sleeping over the lunch period (as toddlers need to nap for 1-2 hours each day) I might miss this. I am asking if I can receive this personal call at another point in the day on some occasions.

Positive things that I don't want to change but would like to recognise.

Friendly chatting in the mornings about weekends/evenings before and pets
  • Work load meetings
  • Positive encouragement from my manager
As a final note I would like to be treated equally within the organisation outside of these adjustments and that if people find out or know about my mental health that they try not to draw conclusions about what that might mean for what I am or am not capable of but instead to contact me and ask me directly.
 

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Thank you, that is a wonderful list - can you let me know how you get on?

I had a horrible time on Mat Leave ( if you have access to work board you can see history).  The one thing I wish I had realised is how much an advocate can help, but I was given VERY bad advice by a trainee and it cost me.  By the time I got a proper advocate had been well and truly beaten, so would advise anyone in a similar situation to establish exactly what their rights are.

I also wish I had written that letter ...................

Good luck  ^hugme^ ^hugme^ ^hugme^ ^hugme^ ^hugme^
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks sosad - what this letter doesn't address and what I didn't have the guts to say because my manager was there and I didn't have an advocate actually present at the meeting is that I have actually been bullied and harassed by my manager. I only had the guts ot say that my condition would make more susceptible which I don't even know if it's true but I wanted it somewhere.

At the next meeting I'll have an advocate there and she'll hopefully give me the support I need to actually confront some of the comments my manager has said to me.

- Like she told me I should take drugs to feel better.
- When I cried in a meeting because she was saying that people in the office were watching me and that I shouldn't be taking my contracted 1 hour lunch, she told my colleagues to just ignore me as I was just being emotional and it would pass soon - even when I was sobbing she would stop and let me go.
- The next day she said I was being paranoid because of my mental health issues - even though she actually used several times the phrase 'people are watching you' 'people are talking about you' and "you were seen returning from a 50min lunch looking happy" my colleague can verify this.
- She made me cut my annual leave by two days and said that given that I had been off sick I shouldn't really have taken it and that she was generous in allowing me to take it (it was pre-booked holiday from months before) and that given I had been recently off ill I should have cancelled it, and when I said that even if I had wanted to it was all pre-booked (to America) she said that I should have cancelled on mental health grounds and claimed back on the insurance.
- She decided that I should write an email to the whole company listing what I am doing in my job every two weeks (no one else has to do this and it's so humiliating).
- She wouldn't let make personal phone calls - not even to the doctor or mental health nurse
- She regularly makes nasty comments.
- As an example - I made a spelling mistake in an email and she printed out, highlighted it and then patronisingly came over my desk to point it out.
- When there was snow and I couldn't get into work she has told me I have to take it as special leave whereas other people in the organisation didn't.
- To be able to make time so I can go to counselling I am having to do 2.5 hours of extra work a week even though counselling hasn't even started yet.
- I could go on but it's depressing!

My colleague and I are trying really hard to work up the courage to make an official complaint. Here is the most ironic bit - because my manager has a mental health condition that has DDA status - my employers are too scared to say anything to her about her behaviour in case it makes it worse. She has good days and bad days but she expresses it by being horrible to her employees which shouldn't be acceptable as I'm sure she has made my stress much worse.
 

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dom - I found your description of your manager so much like my manager is towards me! ever since I disclosed we were TTC but needed tx and I woujld need time off work for appts and tx she turned into an evil moo to me. After my 1yr mat leave with emily I returned from 5 days a week to 2 days a week...then we had phoebe and I am currently on another yr mat leave, due to return in about 3mth time (yuck, eeuurrghhh  :'( ) I know she dislikes me, and it upsets me as I have never done anything to hurt or offend her  ^idiot^
anyway, I have digressed  ;D  sorry.
what I wanted to say was that your list was really helpful to me as I have to go to a 'return to work interview' about a mth before my mat leave ends and I think I may well print your list out and tweak it to fit my role / environment  :)  - if that would be ok with you??  ^reiki^
I didn't realise pdn was a disability, that is interesting also, thank you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hi Hbrodie! Good I'm really glad you found that useful. Reading it back now I can't believe I let her have so much power over me when, like yours, she is an insignificant flea compared to our babies and we shouldn't let their jealously/ignorance/sheer spitefulness deprive us of our right to be happy. Hey if they have a right to be miserable...

Having said all that - when my boss is having a bad grumpy day I just keep my head down and pray she doesn't talk to me.
 

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WOW reading your post has given me so much to think about. I'm due to go back to work tomorrow and have been dreading it as my pnd is worse at the minute. I hadn't even considered telling my employer as i was worried about the repercussions  and being treat differently for taking anti-depressants. The list of symptoms and your needs in the workplace almost mirror mine. I opted for the meds and turned down councelling but after reading this i think i may go and get some professional advice. At the moment i feel that telling work is just me making an excuse for being snappy, lazy , easily upset. I wouldn't really want all my colleagues knowing but on the other hand would be nice to have their support. Problem is most are 'old school' some still treat me differently cos of ivf and see depression as wanting to jump off a bridge or crying all the time.
 
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