What About Us?

8 Mar

There are so many helplines for children and young people, and now that i’m reaching the age of 18 i’m starting to worry about not being able to get help.
I’ve had a few people talk to me about bullying in work so i am writing this post.

I haven’t seen any helpines for people being bullied over the age of 18, it seems like people don’t think it happens.
I know i’ve wrote about this before but i keep looking and i don’t really find much, and i’ve had a lot more people come to me and tell me they are being bullied at work so i wanted to write more about it.

Bullying can happen to anyone, of any age, and can happen anywhere. Uni, college, work, school, home, online etc.

Lea’s Story:

 

As a child, I was pretty lucky. Despite always tending to be a tad heavier than the other kids, I wasn’t picked on. Despite being fairly withdrawn and somewhat odd in high school, I was never teased. I survived my school years relatively unscathed. It was not until I reached my early 30’s that I came face-to-face with my bully -my boss.
I worked for a small company with approximately a dozen employees for several years. I successfully worked for one manager and then another earning pay raises and positive annual reviews. Then, I was promoted. My promotion, unfortunately, landed me under the supervision of the second highest ranked person in the office. We’ll call her Stacy.
Stacy was our company’s bully. She’d been with the organization since it’s creation -even longer than the president of the company. She apparently felt very secure in her position and with her status within the company and community. She worked very hard and thrived on her successes.
However, Stacy had issues. She indulged her anger and frustration by shouting at her employees and belittling us in front of one another. Tears often flowed within the walls of our offices. The turnover rate was high. People routinely quit of their own free-will, were forced to resign or were fired. In five years, I can recall six employees (out of a staff of about a dozen) who left. I know, for a fact, three employees sought out counseling to deal with Stacy’s bullying. Essentially, Stacy caused a quarter of her workforce to seek therapy!
Stacy’s worst, and most feared, bullying tactic often took place behind closed doors. During weekly meetings, each staff member under her direct supervision was required to meet with her to provide updates on projects. Stacy seemed to revel in making us squirm. Instead of providing guidance to her employees, she sought to humiliate us at every opportunity. The tone of her voice was both condescending and cruel.
Moreover, she often set her employees up for failure. She assigned tasks that could not possibly be completed on time or the way she wanted them done. She promoted me to a position I was not qualified for because it was easier on her. I was responsible for developing a program from scratch even though I had no background or experience in that particular area. The number of goals she set forth for this program were entirely unattainable -even for someone who knew what she was doing. I failed miserably.
During the course of the two years she was my manager, I slowly unraveled emotionally. Our company was too small to have a human resources department. So there was no one to talk to about my manager’s behavior. The president of our company wanted nothing to do with “personal” problems. We employees occasionally talked amongst ourselves seeking encouragement and understanding. However, in a professional setting, it is unwise to complain too much about the boss with fellow co-workers lest your complaints make their way back to the boss.
Eventually, after a certain nasty situation, Stacy decided she really did not like me, did not want to work with me, and essentially made it her mission to get me to quit. The last six months of my employment were dreadful. Stacy gave me the silent treatment. Except when we had an official one-on-one meeting, she did not speak to me. We had fewer and fewer meetings, which was fine with me but also detrimental to my career! She went around me to get information about projects I was working on. She took projects she knew I enjoyed away and left me with projects she knew I didn’t want. Occasionally, she sent me a snarky email. She never smiled at me if we passed in the hall or during our weekly all-hands staff meeting. Being ignored by your boss is terrifying.
At the same time, my job performance declined substantially! After two years of criticism and fear, I think I just gave up. I did become fairly incompetent and a rather bad employee. I was afraid of any sort of confrontation with Stacy, so I hid from her as often as I could. I literally hid in the bathroom when I heard her voice in the halls of our small office building fearing she might pass by -or worse enter- my office. On more than one occasion, I caused myself to throw up, the sound of which was audible outside the small bathroom, so I could leave early. The last few months of employment, I began calling in sick.
Once, I went to my doctor essentially asking for time off! Knowing I have long suffered from depression, he gave me a note for a week out of work so I could attempt to gather myself together! Though, ironically, the bullying I experienced at my job did in fact make me sick. I constantly had stomach aches, headaches and I was diagnosed with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (I clenched my jaw shut causing pain, which stopped entirely when I no longer worked there). I was also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and prescribed medication.
I wasn’t sleeping well and could not concentrate at work. Some days, during my last few weeks, I sat staring at my computer screen the majority of the day. I typed nothing mindlessly and then deleted it just so it would appear I was working.
From the ages of about 12 to 22, I was a self injurer. After I graduated college, I was able to stop. However, the stress from my boss’ bullying caused me to begin self injuring again. I started scratching myself, something I’d never done before. I knew I was in serious trouble, so I scheduled an appointment with a therapist. I hadn’t been in therapy since college. The trauma of beginning to self injure again and returning to therapy, along with two years of bullying, caused me to have a nervous breakdown of sorts. The day after my first therapy session I went back to my regular doctor and showed him my injuries. He hospitalized me.
I ended up losing my job.
Looking back, I wish I had quit my job and found a new one! Unfortunately, I was too afraid. I was afraid my boss would find out I was looking for a new job and make life worse. In reality, if I went to her and told her I was looking for a new job, she probably would’ve helped me find one (to be rid of me)! But, I also lost confidence in myself and my abilities. I was afraid no other employer would want me. So, I stayed and suffered.
Having a bully at work, especially a bully who is in a position of authority, presents unique problems. Jobs provide essential income for a myriad of living expenses. Losing my job meant losing my ability to pay for my housing, utilities, food, and insurance. For many people, losing a job can literally result in homelessness and hunger! Being bullied at work can seem like a hopeless, no-way-out situation. However, I would encourage anyone who experiences bullying at work to find a way out. Contact human resources if your company has a human resources department. Find a new job, if you feel you need to leave your employer. You may have to take a job in a different field or one that pays less, but it’s worth it. The painful effects of bullying are too great to justify staying and suffering.
Releasing Lunacy
Please note: This post was written exclusively for @Hidden_Beth at https://underneathmymask.wordpress.com/ (because she rocks!). I ask that no one republishes this post (in part or in its entirety) without my written permission. Contact me at releasinglunacy@yahoo.com. Thanks!


*Please comment below with any helplines for people being bullied that support people over the age of 18, or tweet me – @Hidden_Beth, thank you*

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3 Responses to “What About Us?”

  1. fromawhispertoaroar March 9, 2012 at 1:00 am #

    Thanks for sharing that. I know those feelings too well! The only reason I made it out alive is that I was a member of my profession’s union. Unions often get a bad rap (in Australia at least) but for my tiny fees they helped me when no one else would. They still fund my legal representatives to this day. Well done on looking after yourself! It is excruciating, lonely and bullying in the workplace means you face losing your years of training/education as well as all the rest. The more we share, and support others at work, the better our chances of being heard. Good luck with everything you do in the future. I hope blogging helps you like it does me!
    And Beth, this is why I nominated you for an award in my last post. I am heartened and inspired by all of your efforts. The world is a better place for your bravery x

    • hiddenbeth March 18, 2012 at 11:03 am #

      oooo an award? Thank you! 😀 x

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. kinda ok | Lunacy Released - March 10, 2012

    […] the computer. I followed through on a promise to write a blog post for a friend’s blog about my experiences with being bullied at work. I visited the horses at the ranch a couple times to groom them and give […]

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