47 minutes | Jul 2, 2021

Episode 259: Supporting a Grieving Parent & Returning to Work After a Mental Health Break

Hello, friends. This is an interesting Q&A in which I tackle two questions from listeners of the podcast relating to how best to support someone you care about who is suffering from depression, and returning to work after taking an extended break due to mental health problems including agoraphobia.

Question 1:

Hey Dr. Duff, my someday-to-be mother-in-law has lost her son to suicide. He just had a baby and was planning a wedding. The baby mama is very cold and distant to her since the beginning of the relationship. My mother-in-law is someone who spreads the gospel, helps strangers, and loves everyone even through her own depression. Recently, my boyfriend and I witnessed her have a breakdown. She became the opposite of who she is and threatened to take her own life. We had never seen her get to this point before. This is a pain I can’t imagine and I feel lost on how to be there for her. How can I be a better support for her? P.s. thank you for creating this podcast and your F**k Depression book. You’ve helped me visualize my struggles in a different light that lead to better days.

Question 2:

First off I just want to say I am a huge fan of your show! I always appreciate when your wife is also on the show and discussing her experience with mental health as a mom.  It makes me feel a little less alone in this journey.

A little background before I get to my question. In 2018 after the birth of my second child I experienced perinatal mood disorder, or as most people may call it postpartum depression. At the time I hit rock bottom with my mental health and had to quit my job to be a stay-at-home mom in order to cope.  I was diagnosed with agoraphobia,  panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder and did not leave my home for months due to the fear of having massive panic attacks in public. I couldn’t even walk to my mailbox due to fear, let alone go outside. I tried about 8 different medications and did not respond well to any of them, so I turned to natural remedies and found a wonderful therapist who has helped me create a “toolbox” of tricks.

Fast forward to now, 2021, I am still having panic attacks mostly in my sleep a few times a week, and able to go places again. I feel more like myself and mentally stable. I am hoping to return to work soon in order to complete my clinical hands-on hours so I do not lose my medical license that I worked so hard for.  I am hoping to find a PRN/as-needed job so I can choose what days I work and for how long.  I have been so terrified at the thought of returning to work because I will feel trapped since I cannot leave to go home without completing whatever hours I am supposed to work that day. I still struggle to go into stores due to the feeling of being trapped but it is something I am constantly working on. My panic attacks in the past completely paralyzed me to the point of almost blacking out so that is another concern. I am also nervous about the crippling fatigue I experience when I get anxious so that makes it hard to keep my mind sharp to care for patients.  I love my field of work and was really good at my job before I had these issues after I had my daughter.

What advice do you have about returning to work after being out for so long due to mental health particularly for those who have experienced agoraphobia and have a panic disorder? Sending good vibes your way.

Episode 259 – Related Posts

As well as listening to the podcast, you can also find my thoughts on the questions in written format in these related posts!

Question 1 – Coping with Suicide: How can I support friends and family with Depression? – Duff The Psych

Question 2 – Mental Health Break! How can I make going back to work a success? – Duff The Psych


This episode of Hardcore Self Help is sponsored by Better Help and Cozy Earth.

If you are in a mental health slump, consider reaching out to a licensed professional to help. Better Help has a large counselor network and you can begin chatting with someone very quickly. Check out betterhelp.com/duff to get 10% off your first month.

Cozy Earth manufactures the world’s softest bedding, guaranteed. Using responsibly sourced bamboo, they make sheets, duvet covers, comforters, pillowcases, and more. They also make it super easy to try out their products with a 30-day free trial! Right now they are offering my listeners an incredible 40% off via their website, cozyearth.com, with code DUFFPODCAST

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The post Episode 259: Supporting a Grieving Parent & Returning to Work After a Mental Health Break appeared first on Duff The Psych.

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