It makes sense to feel conflicted in your situation. On one hand you have a prior experience at this workplace and you carry the memory of things that were not sustainable for your mental health and well-being - you know how negatively that affected you and how difficult it is to find your way back. On the other hand you feel the loyalty for this workplace and the need to match the expectations that are sent towards you. You don’t want to fail others - or at least feel like failing them.
A couple of years ago I had a work burnout - the kind that forces you to be on sick leave and to be as such for a long time. I felt all the things you feel there, and for a long time I pushed my needs aside while I knew that it was wrong at the same time. The sense of loyalty attached to that workplace was something to difficult to acknowlege and accept as not being what need to drive my decisions. It’s even harder that sometimes part of you also don’t want to accept the difficulties and needs that you have at a personal level, because it feels like making things too complicated. Others manage to deal with X,YxZ circumstances, so why not me?
Through your message, you said something so very important, which is that you have this gut feeling and inner knowledge that working there still wouldn’t be the right decision - at least in the sense that it’s not one that would serve you. It’s so strong and beautiful that you have this awareness, because it means you are quite connected to your personal needs and aspirations. Now, reality and practical matters make it that it is difficult to give yourself permission to listen to it… and for what it’s worth from a stranger like me, I just want to express to you that you do have the right to make decisions that are safe and healthy for you. Sometimes, we feel loyal to people and places that we can’t keep growing with. And to create distance doesn’t make you a bad person, someone less caring, and even less someone failing others. It makes you someone who knows who they are, what they needs, and learns where to affirm boundaries when they would like them to be present. There are many things you don’t need to keep or accept in your life, even when it comes to work. Your peace of mind, of heart, of spirit, is so important in itself.
Somehow, the extreme stress you have felt previously, and the need you had to step away from work during that time, were signals from your mind and body, that there were things to consider either changing or differently in your environment. To me personally it started by being late too often and dreading being there, having a hard time focusing, not being able to disconnect once at home (reminiscing the day), feeling on edge all the time, feeling very alone and unseen at work too. It’s like a button “on” was activated, and being in the same environment with the same ways to function, was reactivating it over and over, until the exhaustion came. Learning form it, the changes can come with the help of your workplace eventually (manager, boss, etc). It’s okay to bring it up, talk about it and ask for their collaboration on making your work something more pleasant and manageable. Thankfully more and more places are taking burnout seriously and understand that there are accomodations that can be made to make the return of someone to their workplace easier and progressive.
I know the thought of even thinking about what it implies to prioritize our needs when it comes to work is so freaking scary. The easiest solution is to take what we can already have instead of feeling like having to rebuild or start from scratch. We just deal with whatever comes, especially when we don’t want to bother others or put the attention on us. It’s intimidating in so many ways, although I can assure you that paving the road towards your well-being is never wasted, regardless of what it would look like practically. You are not worthless, you are not a failure. You are struggling with a particularly stressful environment and it is not your fault. You’re not less than others because of what you’ve been experiencing. You deserve all the best and to feel the possibility to go to work with a smile.