I thought I would give you all a little update on my return to work [following maternity leave]. [my baby] is now six months old and I was hoping to be back at work almost full time from this point. However, circumstances have not allowed that and I wanted to explain why.
I have been suffering from postnatal depression again, which was diagnosed in early November. I am addressing it through a combination of pills, therapy, exercise, meditation and I am making progress. However, not as much progress or not as quickly as I had hoped.
I know this impacts the business and all of you (knowing that makes it worse unfortunately), however it’s a very difficult situation and I don’t feel I have much choice in the matter.
My situation is a little different from the typical maternity leave because I wasn’t able to bring in maternity cover while I was off – that would have been very expensive, impractical and mostly extremely risky. Moreover, finding the right person, training them up and feeling secure to leave them in charge of the business would have taken a lot longer than the 7 months I had between finding out I was pregnant and having the baby. So while maternity cover might have seemed ideal to someone looking in from the outside, it is a much more complicated process than that and I wasn’t able to do it.
I’ve done a lot of research and there are many women in my situation. Some decide not to have children or put it on hold, which didn’t work for me. Others, who aren’t able to find maternity cover instead choose to take a really short maternity leave of a month or so. Again, this wasn’t an option for me and this is a personal choice – a month is not long enough to recover physically from a C-section. But more importantly, every new parent’s experience is different. For me: I wanted to prioritise bonding with my baby and managing my own mental health over work, which is why I wanted to take at least 3 months off completely and then work part time thereafter.
This comes at a cost to the business – I know not having a full-time CEO impacts many aspects of a business and these are felt by all of you.
For those of you fortunate enough to never have experienced depression, you might find this odd – people often tell me I seem quite happy, but depression is not linear, and most people who are depressed have some good days. In my case, I use humour as a bit of a defence mechanism – joking is one of the ways I cope with my mood. But I also find it much easier to manage when I am around people. I experience depression as a persistent feeling that is somewhere between helplessness, being trapped and apathy. I am the type of person who is positive, optimistic, has lots of energy and does a lot of faking it til I make it. Depression saps my motivation for that, which means I usually have to pretend, which is in itself an enormous struggle!
I wanted to share this with you all, because I know that even though I have started coming back to work, I am still not back full time. This is because I need a little more time to bond with the boys and take care of myself.
It is very hard for me to stay away from [the business]: it’s been my life for over 10 years and the fortunes of my entire family are tied in with the business. However, I need the extra time so I will continue to work part time for the next few months at 3-4 days a week. This means I still have to say no to quite a lot of stuff that I used to do and still really want to do.
Even though I’m not making as much progress as I had hoped, I am still making progress so I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m back to giving a 100% to the business.
And please don’t feel you either need to discuss this with me, or you can’t discuss this with me.