I almost had a nervous breakdown – and then I realised that it wasn’t me, it was my workplace

Thank you for a great speech yesterday at Creative Summit in SkellefteĆ„. I’ve been pregnant and screwed, twice, at the same place. I did stay until I got out of the haze, almost had a nervous breakdown/burn-out and finally realised that it wasn’t me – it was the workplace.
I ironically moved back to Sweden after having had a career in advertising abroad. I thought that here, there’s equality, and I could find a way to combine carrier and having a family.
After having my first child, I (and another colleague at the same level – also a new mum) returned to work only to find out that our maternity replacements were now permanent, holding our old titles as account and strategic director and we were to be production/project managers. Clients were taken from us etc. OK….
Three years later, I return from work to find out they reorganised again. I do get the question about my preference – production or a account director, but with added responsibilities. I was bored already before, so I say I want to take the challenge and take on new responsibilities. My (woman) boss askes if I’m sure, considering my children are so small (the other two account directors are male and have kids in approx same age). I do get to be account director but it’s like I can’t do anything right, even though led a team to win prizes (and didn’t get cred for it) and eventually I was made production manager again, from one day to another. By then I was on the verge of burn-out trying to get something right, ended up going to therapy where I finally realised that it wasn’t me. I spoke to my boss, but she couldn’t or wouldn’t see my point of view and I left. My clients never even got to know that for the last 6 months I was there I was but wasn’t their (underpaid) account director.

Am I bitter, yep. Still get upset when thinking of it. However, I did my best to leave with my head held high. I started my own business and even if I’m really bad att putting the right value on my services, I do receive a good amount of appreciation and respect for my work. Including from my old office. I guess I need to work with myself to get a right “pay” and not only think that I need to offer a lower fee because I am a mum and sometimes I need to prioritise my family.

Thanks again for gathering all our stories, feels good to know that I’m not alone. Together we can hopefully make a difference for our daughters and sons by standing up for ourselves.

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