I managed to upset myself with a memory. I was reading an article about malicious gossip and how to deal with it. Pretty benign. And then I thought about times I have dealt with that in the office. Mostly hearing it, and trying to be neutral because I loathe malicious gossip so much. I really cannot stand people who indulge in it. Anyway, then I remember the time when I heard about it directed my way.
And the memory was like a punch to the gut. This sense of real sadness. Because it wasn’t about Me, it was about me being chronically ill. So you’d think it wouldn’t bother me. But of course it did because I am the sort of person who literally believes everything is my fault even when there is no humanly possible way it is my fault. So I feel ashamed for being ill when I have no reason to be. Guilty when I have no reason to be. And when people blame me for being ill, think I am slacking, am not in as much pain as Whatever… I feel ashamed I have chronic pain and am failing. I know, at the time, a lot of that shame came from my employer at the time who actually told me I was failing my co-workers, my customers and myself. And I Believed it. She actually also told me other employees were complaining to her about my missing work and having to pick up the slack, which everyone said wasn’t true… but I believed that as well. Because the pain was Winning and I was sucking. I was failing. Who wouldn’t think that I sucked?
I was mentally in a very bad place because of the pain. Not a good time to be giving me ultimatum and making me feel ashamed about the pain. The pain which I felt was out of control and I had completely lost all hope of every managing. So bad mental spot at that time. And it did rather go downhill.
So the advice in the column doesn’t really apply or wouldn’t for me at that time. Because we self-blame. We remember being healthy. A lot. And we feel so guilty we cannot function like that. So we push ourselves. A lot. And that makes things so, so much worse. Then we blame ourselves for that. We take any sign from Anyone that confirms this blame that we should in fact feel shame and blame and guilt. Then comes depression. But we think, well, we are depressed because of the pain. It is just normal. Who wouldn’t be depressed? Who wouldn’t feel utterly worthless?
I wish I could tell people who work with people with invisible disabilities what not to do and what to do. I wish I could have re-written that time. I would be in a lot better place if I had just said, stop, that is discrimination. Let’s try working on ways to help me manage work, not ways to make work so much worse. I haven’t been able to function since then. I suppose because the depression and pain got so much worse. The pain because of the stress. The depression because, of well all the negative thought processes I went through. Just got embedded in my head. Just the memory of it still makes me quite sad. Also angry, yes, obviously angry, but very sad. And I could have died from the suicide attempt that was the end result. I was lucky I didn’t. That is the power of a bad work environment. One employer can just destroy your self-worth. And actually make you worse in the long run, ironically. All the things they tell you not to do for pain, are the things you end up doing. All the things that are very bad for a person mentally, are what the employer does, because they somehow think it is ‘motivating’… like you are some lazy child who doesn’t want to do their homework. I am aware I got substantially worse physically and mentally during that time. I am aware I am better off not being there…as in you literally could not Make me go back there Ever.
Much more difficult to fix the damage. My psychologist says I have a real issue with self-worth. Huh. Makes you wonder where I got that from. But, yeah, you have to believe what is shoveled at you. And I did. We tend to do that when we are chronically ill. I really wish employers had proper training. Maybe from someone with a disability themselves. I am quite ill now and can’t work full-time or straight up hours, but I had quite a great manager recently. I was quite impressed there. And I wonder if it simply is that he is considerate, listens, non-biased and wants a functioning team in all respects? Not sure. But having someone come in and speak with management one on one, or in a group… seems logical to me. Hell, I’d do that (and hey, I could set my own schedule! lol). Because some of them seriously need it. They need to understand some things you simply Cannot say. Other things that should not be done. And ways you should approach things. It isn’t rocket science. It is respect, it is motivation, it is helping them so they can be productive for you and taking care of how you phrase things.
I wish I could tell someone in the same situation I had been in. In survival mode. A lot of pain. Dealing with management like that. I wish I could tell them not to believe the things they hear from anyone especially management.That they should report it. Report it. Report it. Like I never did. Do it. Every damn time. And I would tell them you are chronically ill. It is not your fault. You did not cause it. You are not to blame for it. You have no reason to feel ashamed or guilty. Ever. You are worthy and strong. Keep on doing what you are doing and ignore the rest. Remember to report.
I actually blogger about all of my time there. You have to back pretty far to see it. But yeah fun stuff.