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How To Get A Job After Suffering From Depression & Anxiety???????


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#1 nattywatty

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 05:02 PM

Almost a year ago, I had to resign from my job as Brand Manager for Roche Pharmaceuticals. I was suffering from severe agoraphobia as well as agitated depression. I quit my job in order to take the time necessary to get well. I was relieved to leave that job, the whole environment was not supportive or helpful to my illness at the time.

Now, almost a year later I have fully recovered from the depression and anxiety. I have taken all the steps necessary to get better including medication, regular psychotherapy, exercise etc etc. I have also made a few major changes to my life including breaking up with my toxic boyfriend and moving back home with my folks so that I feel better supported.

I have been looking for a new job to get back into life. I have been for soooooo many interviews, but I am not successful. I think the reason is that prospective employers see my big leave of absence from the workforce as a negative. I have been using the excuse that I needed a break, and was on personal leave, but that does not satisfy them. It appears that I am going to have to lie and say that I have been travelling overseas for the past 12 months, that is the only plausible explanation I can give, without saying "hey, I suffered a mental illness". I somehow don't think that would go over too well?! Do you?

Why can't we be honest though, and say what really happened to us? Should we be ashamed of what happened? I know I am not, but unfortunately if there is a candidate with a history of mental illness and another with no inkling of such, who are they going to choose?! It's pretty obvious isn't it.

I went for a job recently with another company within the pharmaceutical industry. It turns out that the lady who interviewed me, is close personal friends with the woman who used to be my manager at Roche. Well she rang up the Roche lady (without my knowledge or authorisation) to get the lowdown on me. Of course my ex-manager told her all about my 'meltdown', how I suffered from anxiety and wasn't up to the pressure and couldn't cope etc etc. Needless to say, I didn't get the job. I found out this information via an ex-colleague who works at the company I was applying to work for.

Of course I didn't get given the right of reply, to explain that I have spent the past year getting well again. That I am now better than I ever was before as I am now armed with the knowledge and techniques to better handle stress and pressure, and in fact I am probably better armed and prepared now that the average person who has never suffered from a mental illness! I think that's something to be proud of. Unfortunately though, once you have appeared to have 'had a meltdown' it sticks, and that's all that people remember you for. Not nice. I thought that in the pharmaceutical industry people would at least be more educated and aware than most about mental illness, but it appears the stigma is still there.

I have no idea what I am going to do next. How I am supposed to get back into the workforce with this perceived monkey on my back. Should I tell the truth? Should I lie? I am curious to hear other peoples experience in how they got back into the workforce after a leave of absence. Please tell me your stories! I need the help :-) Thanks.

#2 deeprepressed

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 05:36 PM

Well for quiting your job you could say that it was not what you wanted. And this is true. You can refine it and be as specific as you want and you can also "hit back" if someone from your old job says anything that displeases you. They don't hold a monopoly on the truth and you can be as protective of yourself as you want.
Try to give a plausible explanation.
About the year that you stayed away from the market place, you could say that you needed a break, without elaborating. (I read that this doesn't seem to satisfy some employers, well too bad. You can go on to the next IMO. They have no right to put you into holy inquisition! A break can mean a lot of things. You wanted to deal with family issues. You wanted to examine your career goals. You wanted to re-evaluate if you had chosen the right kind of industry. You wanted some time to relax etc etc. ) It is also apparent that you could afford to be on a break and that shows that you had the financial luxury to do so.
IMO you should find two quick, reasonable explanations and not be forthcoming. Just be confident during the job interview and make it so, so it is perceived that YOU didn't want your previous job. If you quit, that's what happened. Do not show that you are in "need" of the new job but subtly let it be understood that you have other opportunities to choose from while at the same time appear confident about your choices of the past. That is my advise anyway. If an employer "feels" he/she can count on you, that's it, you got the job!
Good luck :)

Edited by deeprepressed, 04 June 2008 - 06:08 PM.


#3 Sheepwoman

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 01:45 PM

I had a 2 year break and didn't work. I lived in Europe those 2 years, so that was an acceptable reason. I had a psychotic break coupled with encephalitis in 2001 which caused me to lose my job in 2002. I felt I was well enough to re-enter the workforce in 2003 and had similar problems as yours-explaining the absence. "Personal reasons" didn't satify them either, but I didn't have to tell them anymore than that. Prior to being hired, interviewers cannot ask about your health, marital status, age, how many kids you have, sexual orientation, etc. This in the Labor Laws. You can also check with your local Unemployment Office regarding your rights.

The Privacy Act in the US protects prospective employees. Your previous work history is not a public record. When prospective employers do a background check with previous employers, all they can have is verification of your employment dates-nothing more.

It turns out that the lady who interviewed me, is close personal friends with the woman who used to be my manager at Roche. Well she rang up the Roche lady (without my knowledge or authorisation) to get the lowdown on me. Of course my ex-manager told her all about my 'meltdown', how I suffered from anxiety and wasn't up to the pressure and couldn't cope etc etc


This is in violation of your rights. Your former manager has opened herself up to a lawsuit if you desire to pursue it.

I worked in HR with a previous employer and do know something about the rights you and the employer have. I've also worked in Managed Care for many years. The medical/pharmaceutical profession is fairly close-knit from my experience. Have you thought about changing to another field of employment?
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#4 John_in_SF

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 10:35 AM

Here's an idea: volunteer with a mental health organization and put your managerial skills to work. Take some time to make a mark, then resume the job search. This time, be forthcoming about your mental illness, how you met the challenge, and went on to help other people with similiar problems. Show that you are a fighter and a winner.

#5 streamlinefd

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Posted 13 March 2009 - 11:51 AM

I agree that your rights were violated. An employer can only speak w/ HR regarding an potential employee. I understand that your potential employer was friends w/ your ex-manager. But because they talked "personally" about you...that is in direct violation of your rights. They are liable for a lawsuit and they as management know this.

The job market right now...(if you are in the US) is horrible. Very limited right now. A lot of people trying for the same positions.

And the reason why not to be upfront about your depression to a potential employer. There is stigma about it. There were prior posts on this forum (I remember at least one), where someone told their employer about their depression and felt some negativity after the fact (unsure if they were let go or not, but I do remember just a bit about it, and that caused them to be hesitant to reveal their depression to a potential employer).

As mentioned, tell your potential employer that there is indeed a gap in your work history. In fact, point it out to them first...this will catch them off guard. Say "I know you are observant and will spot a definite gap in my excellent work history. I'll be upfront w/ you in that I had a personal family matter that required my constant attention. I determined it was unfair to my employer to retain me, and as such...I gave the firm my two weeks notice in order to attend to the situation and also ensured my previous employer could find a suitable replacement. After attending to the situation, I took my time finding a new employer to ensure I find the right next opportunity for me". Something along those lines. You're not covering it up w/ a lie, it is vague enough, and yet you and your former employer remain in good standing.

#6 whimpy2

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 04:29 AM

From my own experience I had to quit my teaching job and had a lapse for 5 years, I just put on my aplications or resume leave of absence due to medical reasons, some employers asked what happen so I told them I had to overcome my physical problems before tackling a job at my best ability. I was suffering from being obese! Could not keep up with the youth. However my passion(key word) is what keeps me going and trying. I too have depression and it is a stigma to some and others give us a chance. Passion if you have one follow it, if sales is what floats your boat those lapsed years are not a deterrent. Best wishes and please feel free to contact me.

#7 lonleysindy

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 08:53 AM

I am in the same boat I am going to have to find a job if they cut me of welfare. I can barely get dressed. Hopefully i will have started my theropy by the time the appointment is and i can get a note telling my worker that i am sick and need an extention to complete the tasks assaigned to me.

I agree that you should just say off due to medical reason and they shouldn't be allowed to ask what it is, but they can say will your medical reason interfer with your ability to perform on this job
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#8 LoonATiK

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Posted 03 April 2009 - 10:16 AM

i was on SSDI for 2 years, but because i was a "consultant" and did various small jobs for a slew of companies, however here were my highlights (and then i listed a few jobs i really did during that time). it may have been a little misleading, but it got me jobs.

i also work in tech though, so there is more demand.

i'd consider another line of work. get a cert or degree in another field and make the transition. that way no one will ask, and if they do, you can say you were taking care of family matters and "soul searching" about your next career move.

i hope it all works out!

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#9 tired_fieldmouse

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 09:45 AM

Hi There.Wow, reading your post made me feel like somebody had written about my life for the last 1 1/2 years.Was very uncanny to read.It's been a while since you posted so I hope things are going better for you now.I'd love to know how you are going. I left my Job in Dec 09 due to my Depression and Anxiety and haven't worked since. Although for the past 4 months I have been applying for various jobs to get back into the work force with no luck at all. I tend to tell my interviewers the truth as I know it can come back and bite you in the bum if you keep any medical Issues from a future employer.It looks like that was the wrong decision as it hasn't got me anywhere.I don't think I have fully recovered from the Depression/Anxiety but I think having a routine again,meeting people,having a pay packet and just generally having a life again will do wonders for me.But as you say, I might have to start saying I've been travelling all this time.It seems mentioning the words mental Ilness is too much of a Liability for them.It's so hard.I'm so ready to work again.Really not sure what to do.I've applied for hundreds of jobs, had my c.v professionally done,have nice clothes for interviews...but nothing.It's very disheartening.

Best of luck with everything :-) It's good to know I'm not alone :-)

Almost a year ago, I had to resign from my job as Brand Manager for Roche Pharmaceuticals. I was suffering from severe agoraphobia as well as agitated depression. I quit my job in order to take the time necessary to get well. I was relieved to leave that job, the whole environment was not supportive or helpful to my illness at the time.

Now, almost a year later I have fully recovered from the depression and anxiety. I have taken all the steps necessary to get better including medication, regular psychotherapy, exercise etc etc. I have also made a few major changes to my life including breaking up with my toxic boyfriend and moving back home with my folks so that I feel better supported.

I have been looking for a new job to get back into life. I have been for soooooo many interviews, but I am not successful. I think the reason is that prospective employers see my big leave of absence from the workforce as a negative. I have been using the excuse that I needed a break, and was on personal leave, but that does not satisfy them. It appears that I am going to have to lie and say that I have been travelling overseas for the past 12 months, that is the only plausible explanation I can give, without saying "hey, I suffered a mental illness". I somehow don't think that would go over too well?! Do you?

Why can't we be honest though, and say what really happened to us? Should we be ashamed of what happened? I know I am not, but unfortunately if there is a candidate with a history of mental illness and another with no inkling of such, who are they going to choose?! It's pretty obvious isn't it.

I went for a job recently with another company within the pharmaceutical industry. It turns out that the lady who interviewed me, is close personal friends with the woman who used to be my manager at Roche. Well she rang up the Roche lady (without my knowledge or authorisation) to get the lowdown on me. Of course my ex-manager told her all about my 'meltdown', how I suffered from anxiety and wasn't up to the pressure and couldn't cope etc etc. Needless to say, I didn't get the job. I found out this information via an ex-colleague who works at the company I was applying to work for.

Of course I didn't get given the right of reply, to explain that I have spent the past year getting well again. That I am now better than I ever was before as I am now armed with the knowledge and techniques to better handle stress and pressure, and in fact I am probably better armed and prepared now that the average person who has never suffered from a mental illness! I think that's something to be proud of. Unfortunately though, once you have appeared to have 'had a meltdown' it sticks, and that's all that people remember you for. Not nice. I thought that in the pharmaceutical industry people would at least be more educated and aware than most about mental illness, but it appears the stigma is still there.

I have no idea what I am going to do next. How I am supposed to get back into the workforce with this perceived monkey on my back. Should I tell the truth? Should I lie? I am curious to hear other peoples experience in how they got back into the workforce after a leave of absence. Please tell me your stories! I need the help :-) Thanks.



#10 skin

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 12:52 PM

This is a good point, if you'd said "I was of work for a yaer due to an illness", such as a heart condition or something like that, they'd probably be sympathetic. But if you say "mental illness" then they get nervous. I think this is because they think it is a social disease that will affect not only you, but them. (Ie you'll start acting strangely.

I'm not sure what I'd do. You could lie and say that you were just ill, or say that you just found it hard to find another role (which is broadly true).

Anyway, I think a personal illness is largely non of their business (in terms of details) so holding some things back is OK in my book.

Maybe its more important to show that you did something during the time you were off, turn it into something constructive.

Anyway, I'm in pretty much the same boat as you .

#11 Kim1969

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 11:09 PM

Its a tricky one. As a female engineer with s male/female name (Kim) i am well aware that labour laws do not stop prospective employers from asking direct qestions regarding marriage, children, what my husband does etc. Once they ask an illegal question i consider it my right to stretch the truth. Where i worked as a casual i would imply it was fulltime. Where i was a contractor i would imply i was an employee etc.

If you cant stretch the truth to reduce your absence from employment perhaps you could say you had time off to care for a relative who suffered from depression. You could talk with enthusiasm about what you learned, what you did, how rewarding it was to help him/her recover etc. Then describe how the issue is resolved and talk enthusiastically about how excited you are to reenter the workforce.

Or perhaps you travelled to India and volunteered at an orphanage?

#12 Geddis

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 12:01 AM

I was still in high school when I quit my last job, I have sincerely looked hard for a new job but the job market is very volatile right now. At my last job I had a bad day at both school and work, when I came home I took what was left of my Geodon in an attempt to OD. After I came out of the hospital I quit my job without the two weeks notice, I felt I couldn't afford to give the two weeks as both school and work were too tedious for me. My mother still works where I was previously employed and informed me how much my former manager still brags about what a hard worker I was. I applied for my old position after I had finally found a medication that controls my depression, no luck, apparently I've been blacklisted by corporate.

I have a very large gap in my employment history, I tried getting help through Vocational Rehabilitation and was accepted, but after months of jumping through hoops they just dropped me off with a regular unemployment agency. There doesn't seem to be any real protection for people who have previously had breakdowns. I've stopped looking for employment in the last month as it's the final month of my semester, classes end the 5th, however during summer I intend to resume my job search. My depression is under control but my anxiety is still rampant so job searching isn't very easy for me.
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#13 Lori123

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Posted 30 April 2011 - 09:35 AM

It turns out that the lady who interviewed me, is close personal friends with the woman who used to be my manager at Roche. Well she rang up the Roche lady (without my knowledge or authorisation) to get the lowdown on me. Of course my ex-manager told her all about my 'meltdown', how I suffered from anxiety and wasn't up to the pressure and couldn't cope etc etc


This is in violation of your rights. Your former manager has opened herself up to a lawsuit if you desire to pursue it.


DITTO on this. Talk to a lawyer. You definitely have a case.

I'm thinking your best bet is to lie about your time off. If you have a deceased family member, say you took time off to care for them. If not, make one up. The story has to be believable. It's sad, but it's true -- the job market is WAY too tight. You are competing against so many people that employers can use any tiny reason to put your resume into the "no" pile. You can also try saying you took off for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but again, the details have got to be compelling. You were offered a chance to study something abroad, all expenses paid. The once-in-a-lifetime part is key, so that the prospective employer feels like you won't be doing it again. "I'll never have another opportunity like that again," "This was my one chance to take that kind of time for myself while I'm young enough to really enjoy it." etc.




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