Letter of resignation due to mental health issues

  1. I experienced severe Postpartum anxiety and OCD. It did not start to become bad until after I had returned to work after maternity leave. I had just started a new job when my daughter was a few months old. I did my orientation over the next couple of months, and had only been off orientation a few weeks when I started having panic attacks at work. My main phobia is somehow contracting a bloodborne disease such as HIV, Hep, etc. Logically, I have been a nurse in L&D for 3 years and have been around an enormous amount of bodily fluids and was careful, and the risks really didn't bother me. I was aware but not fearful if that makes sense. Well with my OCD I would have panic attacks if I knew I had to start an IV, draw blood, even helping patients to the bathroom. It was intensified when I knew my patient "had something" such as HIV, Hep B, Hep C. My greatest fear was that I would contract something, either knowingly if something happened or not realizing it, and then giving it to my infant daughter and/or husband. I told my manager about my panic attacks and need for a leave of absence, and she was very supportive and told me to take up to six months. I have been going to a therapist, and am on meds and being followed by a leading postpartum mental health psychiatrist. But I am still no where near capable of returning to work. I still have a lot of anxiety issues to work out and it would not be fair to me, my manager, or to my patients. I spoke to my manager on Friday and told her since my six months is almost up, and that I am not able to return to work yet that I need to resign. Again, she was very supportive and told me that as soon as I am ready to come back to let her know and she'll hire me right back. She is SO wonderful and I have been very blessed. My daughter just turned 1 on Wednesday and I was hoping to be fully recovered by the time she was a year old, but I have made a lot of progress and know that soon I will be myself again.

    Sorry for the novel, just realized how much I have written. Here is my question: how do I write my letter of resignation? Do I simply say "Due to my allowed time for personal leave of absence coming to an end and I am still unable to return to work, it is appropriate for me to resign at this time." I want to be clear and professional without the risk of hurting me for future jobs. Thanks for any input you can give.
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  2. 14 Comments

  3. by   psychnurse37
    I suggest you are truthful in your letter of resignation. Accenctuate the positive experiences you had while employed but add something about concern for daughter and husband's health due to exposures. I am a director and have read a lot of resignations and appreciate the ones who are truthful. Then when you do apply somewhere, write the reason you left your previous job (ie concern for infant and exposures to infectious substances.) You may not want to write you had panic attacks, because that is your business and you are seeking help. And anyway, who hasn't questioned the possibility of bringing home some "bug" from work? Just take care of yourself and your baby. There are a lot of fields in nursing with less potential for contact with blood or other body fluids.
  4. by   chuck1234
    I am sorry that you have to go through all this....
    Your idea of writing a letter of resignation is sufficient...better than the one I had before....
    Good luck and did you have a Happy Mother's Day...I wish you had a good one.
  5. by   fattymax2
    I agree with the psychnurse37 about being "truthful in your letter of resignation". It is also important to remember that being a mom includes a tremendous amount of responsibility. While you may be suffering from postpartum anxiety, it is comon for mothers to be sensitive to their childrens' best interest.

    Good luck to you Mama!
  6. by   Jolie
    I respectfully disagree with the previous posters' advice to state the reason for your resignation.

    You have been extremely fortunate to work with a kind and understanding manager. However, there is no guarantee that she will still be there if and when you are ready to return to work. Another (future) manager may take a look at your file, read a resignation letter stating fear of exposure to pathogens, and decide that it does not make sense to re-hire you.

    It is NEVER necessary (and rarely beneficial) to state the reason for leaving in a resignation letter. Your current manager already knows, and will certainly remember you if you ask to return in the future. A subsequent manager who does not know you and your good work history and ethic may read that letter and decide not to take a chance on you. For the same reason, I would discourage you from mentioning your fear of pathogens as a reason for leaving this job when you fill out future employment applications. "Personal reasons" is explanation enough, unless you are going to request employer accomodations for your phobia and OCD.

    Much like giving a deposition, less information is more when writing a letter of resignation. You can always choose to discuss the issue in future employment interviews, if necessary, but once this information is put in writing, you can not "take it back" if you find it hinders your efforts at job hunting. I would suggest the following:

    Dear Ms. Manager:

    I submit my resignation from my position as staff nurse on the Maternity Unit of Community Hospital, effective June 1, 2007. I would like to thank you for extending me the opportunity to practice nursing in a highly professional and challenging setting. I would welcome the opportunity to return to the unit in the future when my personal circumstances allow me to resume a full-time schedule. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Nancy Nurse

    Best of luck to you as you pursue treatment. I wish you and your family good health!
    Last edit by Jolie on May 14, '07
  7. by   Retired R.N.
    Quote from Jolie
    I respectfully disagree with the previous posters' advice to state the reason for your resignation.

    You have been extremely fortunate to work with a kind and understanding manager. However, there is no guarantee that she will still be there if and when you are ready to return to work. Another (future) manager may take a look at your file, read a resignation letter stating fear of exposure to pathogens, and decide that it does not make sense to re-hire you.

    It is NEVER necessary (and rarely beneficial) to state the reason for leaving in a resignation letter. Your current manager already knows, and will certainly remember you if you ask to return in the future. A subsequent manager who does not know you and your good work history and ethic may read that letter and decide not to take a chance on you. For the same reason, I would discourage you from mentioning your fear of pathogens as a reason for leaving this job when you fill out future employment applications. "Personal reasons" is explanation enough, unless you are going to request employer accomodations for your phobia and OCD.

    Much like giving a deposition, less information is more when writing a letter of resignation. You can always choose to discuss the issue in future employment interviews, if necessary, but once this information is put in writing, you can not "take it back" if you find it hinders your efforts at job hunting. I would suggest the following:

    Dear Ms. Manager:

    I submit my resignation from my position as staff nurse on the Maternity Unit of Community Hospital, effective June 1, 2007. I would like to thank you for extending me the opportunity to practice nursing in a highly professional and challenging setting. I would welcome the opportunity to return to the unit in the future when my personal circumstances allow me to resume a full-time schedule. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Nancy Nurse

    Best of luck to you as you pursue treatment. I wish you and your family good health!
    I agree that this kind of resignation letter is far wiser than one that puts anything in writing about matters that are really your own private business. Don't handicap your future job hunt by announcing that you have had any kind of psychiatric problem that was severe enough for you to quit your job or even to need a leave of absence while your were recovering.
  8. by   sunflrz321
    I agree with previous posters that it would not be wise to discuss your reason for resigning in your resignation letter, and that it would be very wise to discuss your positive experiences and accomplishments in the resignation letter. Remember, this is a letter that will go in your file at HR. If you should ever apply to another unit of the hospital, that manager would read this letter.
    This brings up another thought- I don't know how far along you are in your treatment, but would it be possible for you to transfer to a different unit in the hospital, and continue to work? Part time work on units such as pre-op, day surgery, and interventional radiology may be more suited to your needs right now.
    Best of luck in your recovery!
  9. by   rn/writer
    I agree with the posters who are saying, "less is more."

    Anything you put in writing can come back to bite you down the road. It is not necessary, nor is it wise, to provide information that could be used, by a less caring manager, to keep from re-hiring you. Even if a different manager were a kind and decent person, she wouldn't know you and have a context for this very personal and private data. Without being familiar with you as a person, she could develop a negative impression based on limited information.

    Think of HIPPA when it comes to divulging your own health information. You do not want to put in your personnel file that which can be held against you AND that which is nobody's business but yours. Your personnel file is not the same as your health record. It's important that you recognize the distinction between the two.

    As Jolie stated, once you put that information out there, you can't get it back.

    Her example of a letter of resignation was a good one. Professional, short, and sweet.

    The suggestion to possibly relocate to a different unit within the hospital is something to consider.

    Please, let us know how you are doing.
  10. by   MrChicagoRN
    Quote from kristinleeRN

    I told my manager about my panic attacks and need for a leave of absence, and she was very supportive and told me to take up to six months....But I am still no where near capable of returning to work.


    Sorry for the novel, just realized how much I have written. Here is my question: how do I write my letter of resignation? Do I simply say "Due to my allowed time for personal leave of absence coming to an end and I am still unable to return to work, it is appropriate for me to resign at this time." I want to be clear and professional without the risk of hurting me for future jobs. Thanks for any input you can give.
    List the positives in the job, thank them for their assistance & understanding in granting you the LOA, but you are not yet ready to return to work & regretably must tender your resignation.
    State that you hope that you will be able to return to work sometime in the future.
    Throw in a kudo for your manager being so helpful & understanding

    Administration already knows the rest of it. No need to say anything more.

    Good luck with your recovery.
  11. by   justme1972
    Quote from Retired R.N.
    I agree that this kind of resignation letter is far wiser than one that puts anything in writing about matters that are really your own private business. Don't handicap your future job hunt by announcing that you have had any kind of psychiatric problem that was severe enough for you to quit your job or even to need a leave of absence while your were recovering.
    Perfect. I totally agree with this approach.

    You don't want anything referring to your OCD in your permanent file, that is signed by you. Your nurse manager may not even be there if you go back for a job.
  12. by   P_RN
    first see if your place will eextend your fmla another 12 weeks. it is without pay but will hold your job.
    should you still want to resign.......never include what will chomp you in the backside later on.

    "dear nurse manager. after _____good years on the ______floor, i feel that i must move on. my last day as an employee is _______(date). i appreciate everything _____unit has taught me and specially what you have done to help me become a good nurse."

    sincerely.


    that's all.

    things that bite you in the backside might sound good and are perfectly valid reasons for your choice you made, but they follow you forever and alltime. fear of disease, ocd etc are all valid reasons, but keep them to your self. the less in black and white the better.
  13. by   SICU Queen
    Even though your NM knows why you are leaving, it's no one else's business. Not everyone will be as kind and supportive. Keep your resignation letter short and succinct, and leave out any reference at all to your personal problems. Jolie's letter was perfect.

    Good luck to you!
  14. by   gonzo1
    Another vote here for less is more. Perhaps you might think about a job on another unit. Good luck in your endeavors

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