Returning to NHS work

Hi everyone,
I took time off work to care for my mother in law when her condition deteriorated and within 3 weeks her suffering ended. I have since gone back to work and finding it challenging being back in a caring role in the hospital when i’m having flashbacks and emotions that at times are difficult to control. I recently went down to intensive care and found it too overwhelming and broke down again.

I didn’t know if anyone on here has been through a similar experience and has any tips on coping being back at work.

Thanks in advance

I get flashbacks too every day. They come out of nowhere. Those last few days with my mum were quite harrowing for me. And the last images of her will be etched on my mind forever. I’m finding my job difficult too. I work with children with behaviour problems. I have no patience. I’m on the verge of tears all the time. It’s a real struggle. I took a month off work. But I honestly could take longer off. I’m sorry I don’t have any advice but I do know how you feel.

The only thing I can suggest is maybe just allow yourself a certain time of day where you think about those flashbacks full on. So that maybe the actual flashbacks that come out of nowhere maybe lessen.

Hi Sophpom, I also work in a Health Care Facility, as a Mental Health Counselor. After losing my beloved sister to cancer, I returned to work too soon, and was unsure if I could even function. I was distracted, “drifting off,” and retreating to secluded areas to cry. Most days, I was walking around with swollen eyes and a tear stained face. When my client’s stories were similar to mine, I found myself hurting for them as well as for myself (we call that "Counter Transference in my field). In time, however, I found it therapeutic to be there for them. When some of their life events mirrored mine, my own devastating loss enhanced my ability to be more empathic to their suffering. My boss was not supportive, and expected me to be “over it” in a few months. The clients never knew what happened, only that I was out for 3 weeks, yet they were more sensitive than the so-called professionals. They would ask if I was OK, and express that they sensed I was going through something and hoped I would feel better. This touched me deeply, and reminded me how much I always valued the opportunity to work with those in need.
You are in a position to help others, and like me, you might find strength in all you have to offer those in your care. I know it will take time, and there will be days when you are too depleted by your grief. I hope you have an understanding boss, who (unlike mine) will not expect you to back to top performance in no time.
If you can avoid triggering places on the job, then do so. Be gentle with yourself, and take breaks when you can. I wish you the best as you struggle to adjust. Xxx Sister2

I was off for 7 weeks in total and I went back purely for routine. I know exactly what you mean with the flashbacks and final images. I feel like i’m working hard just putting on a smile and trying to make others smile and laugh like i did before and i’m exhausted. This week has been a real struggle and really knocked me back. I’m expected to do on call working and work are trying to get me back onto it but going onto that environment has taken me right back to the start. They say cry it’s good to let it out, but it’s difficult to control and then silly little things happen and i feel like i can’t turn the tap off.

Thank you so much for your response- so sorry to hear about your situation also. Completely with you about work, you would almost imagine the clients to not be as sympathetic and bosses to be moreso. Mine is very hit and miss. My immediate manager is very good but gets pressure from hers and it just goes up that way. My colleagues are good and I know they have my back but as I’ve said in the previous reply they say to just let it out and it’s good to cry, but there’s time’s where I can’t even talk about her without crying, or think about it or something silly happens and this week has really set me back mentally, i’ve lost interest in things and going to work has been a real struggle, feel like i’m only actually getting out of bed because I know i have to take the dog for a walk. I’m not normally an emotional person but if I start crying it’s difficult to stop and if someone then notices and then just says you ok i’m off again. I’m trying to focus on , like you say, taking comfort knowing that i can help make a difference to people’s lives.