My husband and I are both chartered accountants and I practiced at one of the big London firms for a long time. My mental health had been vulnerable on a number of occasions over the years.
The first time, about 20 years ago I had a breakdown during a particularly stressful time at home and at work. At the time, I put it down to overworking. But 10 years on, I was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder and I stopped working for a little while. I moved into a role that was less demanding, but as people found out about my background and skillset, I was asked to step up into a more challenging role in that organisation too, and once again my stress levels went up. The bipolar meant that I could be very productive, but I also went through times of being vulnerable too.
My mother fell ill 2 years ago and I left paid employment to help care for her. CABA helped me find out about care options during this time and pointed me towards the best resources to get help from. When my mother passed away, it triggered another episode which resulted in hospitalisation. My husband worked throughout all of this, but I'm not the only person in my family with mental health challenges, and the pressure on him was significant as well.
I saw that there was a lot on the CABA website about wellbeing. I started reading the articles and felt motivated to go on some courses to build my resilience. I was determined to get better at looking after myself. On those courses I learned that I could work well as long as I was in a low-stress environment.
I followed up these courses with some career coaching which helped rebuild my CV and changed how I present myself and my skills. I've always enjoyed work, but I do feel my bipolar disorder has interrupted my career regularly and pulling it back on track is a lot of work, so having a coach helped with this. I was also able to discuss the best approach to disclosing my condition at work, if at all, which was a hard but important conversation to have.
I plan to do more with CABA to keep me focused on how I want my life to be. They've funded me to attend some conferences too which will help my job hunt as I now have some CPD to talk about at interviews.
How CABA can help
CABA supports the wellbeing of past and present ICAEW members, ACA students, ICAEW staff members, and their spouses, partners and children up to the age of 25. For advice, information and support please contact us.