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Support when feeling like i cannot return to work?

Community Member

ive been off work for almost 2 months after having a breakdown due to medication stopping working/ toxic work environment. i was becoming increasingly suicidal while at work until i got to a point where it was becoming a real possibility for the first time in years. after a month or so of time off i started feeling a lot better again but now that its coming time to actually return to work due to not being able to afford food rent etc im back to exactly where i was. i cant seem to get any help from my gp or psychologist about it, keep being told that work usually helps when you are feeling depressed/suicidal as it can give you purpose despite me telling them time and time again that in my experience it does the total opposite. 
anyway what im asking is how can i try and access some kind of monetary mental health support without having a gp involved as this is the final straw for my faith in them. does such a thing even exist? 

3 Replies 3

Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi asdfvfdsa,


Welcome and I’m so sorry you are going through these difficulties. What I am hearing is that your experience is not being recognised and validated by your GP and psychologist. Were you able to communicate the extent of your level of distress? It sounds like you’ve been really trying to do that. Sometimes I think they are not fully getting it, but I know in my case I can downplay how hard things are for me until they get really, really bad, so others may not grasp the extent to which I’m struggling.


The source of monetary support I’m aware of is via Centrelink. I had to go on Centrelink as I have had worsening mental and physical health conditions. I’m now in the process of applying for the disability support pension but in the past 3 years I’ve had periods of medical exemption from Centrelink obligations and when not on exemption I’ve been with a disability employment agency where the obligations are less stringent and more flexible. To get any medical exemptions while on Centrelink you will require a GP to do a Centrelink medical certificate that Centrelink will need to approve.


I’m not sure if you are still currently employed at the same place or planning to start work somewhere else? I’m guessing from what you’re saying you may be on leave from work without pay? If your instincts are clearly telling you that you’re not up to returning at this point, I’m wondering if it’s possible to negotiate more time off or potentially look for another job if it’s a toxic work environment in your existing job? Are you relying on the GP and psych to support you with a medical certificate?


I’m reluctant to provide actual advice as it’s hard for me to know what’s best for you. I just know for myself I had to go on Centrelink as my system had broken down. I’ve made attempts to return to work, retrain etc but I’m just not well enough. If you did go on Centrelink and you are with a disability employment agency you may at least get some support to retrain/study/upskill in a job that’s much more supportive of your mental health.


While it’s true work can help with mental health in terms of a sense of purpose, being part of a community etc, if the workplace is unhealthy it can have negative effects. I went through a similar mental and physical health crisis when I was 30 and managed to find my way back into work that was meaningful to me at the time. So in that instance the work benefited my well being, whereas now my body has just screamed no with each attempt I’ve made to return to work. So I think it’s something where you have to really listen in to yourself to find the answer and then seek the right support whatever that answer is. Sometimes that can mean trying new GPs and/or psych support as well to find practitioners who are understanding and connecting with you.


Remember there are helplines you can chat to as well such as the BB helpline 1300 224 636 and Lifeline 13 11 14. I would say try talking through your situation with a few people as it can help clarify a way forward.


Take good care and trust your inner being and what it is telling you about what you need. Best wishes,


Thanks so much for the reply ER i really appreciate it. Ive also been on centrelink with a medical exemption (from a good gp who is no longer practicing) in the past which has been helpful, i think i just need to try and find a gp that will actually listen to how im feeling. By all means i am the type that can downplay things but when im bad which i have been theres no downplaying and i feel like im not being taken seriously even when i do all their mental health reviews and admit to how suicidal im feeling.. 

You are correct im currently on leave without pay, its the best/ most enjoyable job ive ever had and its ruined by the people i have to work with which youd imagine makes it even harder to quit and look for other work but i think that is just what i need to do when/if i feel like im up to try to return to work.

I really appreciate your response its been super helpful, i guess im biting the bullet and continuing the lifelong endeavor of finding a good gp haha 


Eagle Ray
Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Dear asdfvfdsa,


I totally understand about the struggle to find a good GP. I eventually found one in 2021. She was absolutely wonderful, compassionate, really present with me and made such an effort to be helpful. However, I only saw her about 5 or 6 times as she had to go on extended leave for personal reasons. I've struggled to find another good one since then but I'm actually seeing a new one in a couple of days who describes himself and his practice as non-judgemental and he also specialises in some of the physical and mental health conditions I have. So I am at least hopeful. I think you just have to keep trying and holding out hope. I think it can help to do some research about different medical practices and trust your instincts about whether you are actually really being heard by the GP. I have had some be so dismissive of what I'm actually going through, so I so understand that awful feeling you can be left with after a GP visit. I'm learning not to take on whatever incorrect projections and assumptions that are coming from them and seek out better help.


I really feel for you in that you've found the best job ever but it's ruined by the people you are having to work with. That is incredibly hard and disappointing. It would be good if you can find a similar job but with a better work environment. While they can be hard to find at times there are workplaces that are positive and supportive with a good work culture. Until a couple of months ago I was doing volunteer work in a similar environment to where I have done paid work before. I was one of a few volunteers while everyone else was a paid worker. I noticed how supportive everyone was of each other in that place. I never saw any of the toxic elements I remember from some workplaces I've been in. So those good workplaces do exist. I guess again it involves that searching and researching to find them.


I wish you all the best in finding a good outcome for your well being (the most important thing!) and that you can find options that are supportive of you going forward.


Best wishes,