How Do You Deal With Difficult Partners?, By Steven Kanarian, MPH, EMT-P

How Do You Deal With Difficult Partners?, By 

There is no denying that partners can make or break your day in EMS.  I have had hard days eased by good partners.  I have argued with partners and become life long friends with other partners.  I have been working as a line paramedic again and frequently hear my advice I gave to others as a EMS Lieutenant, “You don’t have to be friends, just do the job and get through the day.”  I thought it would help many of you to discuss the problems and strategies dealing with partners.

What are the issues that cause problems?

I have found that exhaustion, seniority, personal issues contribute to partner problems.  Being tired is a frequent problem in our line of work considering shift work and overtime.  It is important to realize you are tired and be cautious not to instigate problems with your partner.  I use the strategies of getting out of the ambulance, taking a walk and sticking to the work when dealing with bad partners.

What does it take to make it work?

I have found that being rested and flexible can help deal with partners.  Sometimes it is necessary to be business like and not “take the bait” with partners that are antagonistic or controlling.  It is far easier to engage in negative behavior when your partner tries your patience.

How do I deal with patient care issues?  When it comes to patient care, do the right thing.  I have always said, “Doing the right thing is not always easy, but it is always the right thing for the patient.”   I have found that by doing the right thing, the right way creates a little stress initially but makes for a good career in the grand scheme of things.  People who do not want to do the right thing will find other people to work with and those who do the right thing will seek you out.

What problems do you have with partners?  How do you deal with partners?

Please post your comments below.

Care and Feeding Of A Dinosaur. Dealing With Partners – Part 2., by Steven Kanarian, MPH, EMT-P

Care and Feeding Of A Dinosaur. Dealing With Partners – Part 2.,

I can remember being  a new EMT and having to deal with partners that had seen and done it all.  Partners who had no tolerance for “rookies” and our mistakes.  When you are lucky enough to have a senior partner who wants to teach you, be grateful and listen to their suggestions.

Let’s talk about dealing with “burnout” in your partners.

“About Burn Out”

Burned out EMTs and paramedics are common in EMS because of the nature of or job,  the hours we keep and the stresses we must endure.  Burnout is a condition where a provider has nothing more to give, does not have interest in doing the job and is usually very negative.  Personally I think burnout is the path of “doing nothing” to preserving your career and motivation.  EMS providers should lead a balanced life managing, stress, diet, exercise and personal issues.  We can avoid burnout by leading a balanced life.  Recreation is important for time away from work.  Diet, exercise and relaxation are important to the life of EMTs and medics.  I have always found that pursuing college, reading books that interest and taking weekend trips help me relax and balance the stress of EMS.  The worst feeling is to feel tired and “stuck” in our life.

I once worked with a burned out medic named Richie.  Before I was picked up by Richie at my station I was warned by an old timer, “Boy, just go home sick, do yourself a favor. Nobody wants to work with Richie.”  Being new I did not want to go home sick or find an excuse not to work.  ”How bad can it be?” I thought, we only have 6 hours together.”  Richie picked me up and we drove out of the station.

When we returned in the morning I was pleased to see the reaction on the dinosaurs face as Richie opened the door and thanked me for a ‘fun” night.  It turned out that Richie and I had two common interests off the job, basketball and pursuing a college degree. We talked about what classes to take and what direction to head in our careers.  I also asked Richie about some of his experiences in the South Bronx, he had worked the same unit for 18 years in the South.  We both had a good night and I felt like I had actually helped him.

How to Deal with Burned out partners:

  • Discuss off the job issues and interests
  • Find common interests to discuss
  • Understand why they are “burnt”
  • Remember they are burned on the job, as a person they have experience to offer.

Next time we will talk about why you should help train the newbie’s even though “it is not your job”.

Today is a proud day personally.  I started the NYC EMS Academy 28 years ago today! Although I am retired now from the FDNY I am very proud of my start in EMS.  Looking back at my career it is interesting where my bosses and partners have ended up.  Some higher, some happier.

How do you deal with difficult partners? Please leave your comments below.

WORK ABUSE: THE MISSING LINK TO CHILD ABUSE, by Hare and Wyatt

WORK ABUSE: THE MISSING LINK TO CHILD ABUSE

by Judith Wyatt and Chauncey Hare. Copyright 1988, 2008.

Thirty years ago people thought sexual abuse rarely happened and physical abuse of children was normal. Fifty years ago no one thought of treating a family. Today physical and sexual abuse of children is against the law and treatment of dysfunctional families has become commonplace.

Mental health professionals have been moving deeper into the arena of social issues. Spouse battering and substance abuse are also no longer private problems, but mental health conditions treated by public education as well as therapy.

In the growing concern over child and spouse abuse, and the horror at how widespread it continues to be, we are uncovering a picture of generations of families locked into abusive behavior. We talk of breaking the cycle, but new cases keep appearing; abusers keep abusing. Alice Miller writes a new book each year encouraging parents, the press, and mental health professionals to face the abuse they themselves suffered as children in the past, so they can stop their continuing denial about the seriousness of child abuse in the present.

We believe there is an important overlooked reason why child and spouse abuse continues. We invite you to review with us how unaddressed abuse at work contributes to continuing abuse at home. Child and spouse abuse will persist as long as we fail to confront work abuse openly.

A Major Hidden Cause of Spouse and Child Abuse

What keeps people locked into abusive behavior in their families? It’s not only due to the abusers being abused years ago as children that they continue to abuse their own children. It’s because these abusers are being abused daily at work, and as yet little is being done to stop it. We need to look carefully at how the daily abuse at work reinforces and continues the abuse that people experienced in childhood. We also need to understand why it’s taken so long to see that abuse at work is a result of people’s early mistreatment as children and that work abuse keeps these patterns alive so they are passed on to the next generation.

Every day at work, many Americans are reexperiencing the abuse they grew up with. Most workplaces are abusive systems that run on abusive and unconscious rules. The unconscious rules, or norms, hypnotize employees into obedience and self-deprecation—the same way abusive families hypnotize children to believe that they are at fault. From the systems perspective, it makes scientific sense that most American workplaces can be no healthier than the families of the people who create and maintain them. Eventually, these workplaces must confront and change their norms, just as dysfunctional families must change their unconscious rules if abuse is to cease.

It’s an unfortunate fact that most workplaces keep employees functioning in a state of chronic fear and shame, destroying potential and fostering mental and physical symptoms, just like dysfunctional families. As in families with rigid boundaries, they often scapegoat a selected person until he or she breaks down. Our organizational and clinical experience shows scapegoating is more widespread than work organizations care to admit. Scapegoating often happens to employees who were previously the most creative and productive, because the systems norms often require punishing people who question the dysfunctional rules.

One psychiatrist colleague of ours called work abuse “the missing link” in the chain of conditions that create and sustain abuse, and denial about abuse, in our society. If it’s so important, why haven’t we heard about work abuse until now? The reason is that the misery of daily work is something we all know about, and take as a given–we even joke about it or say, “Oh, come on, it isn’t really that bad.” Like other forms of abuse that people believe they can’t change, we have to deny it in order to survive it.

We can never succeed in stopping child abuse without confronting work abuse openly. As human beings we treat, and will continue to treat, our children as badly as we treat ourselves. If it is “normal” for a person to be demeaned and humiliated by his boss every day, why shouldnít it be “normal” for that person to demean and humiliate his child? It may even seem necessary if he or she believes the child has to learn to endure humiliation in order to survive the work world later on. If dad has to become a block of steel at work just to get through the day, how can he be expected to become soft and caring when he comes home at night? People can’t practice honest and caring behavior when forced to be in denial and uncaring 40 to 60 hours a week.

Denial About Abuse at Work

This paper is an invitation to you the reader to assist us with a difficult task–confronting our own denial about the significance of work abuse as a mental health issue. We know that denial is the defense that seals the abuse cycle–whether we are talking about alcohol, sexual abuse, or battering.

Denial is what prevents us from seeing the obvious. Work is the drunk we step over in the livingroom and don’t see. It is the reality that many people feel abused and completely out of control at work, that they assume work has to be that way, and that they must numb themselves in order to get up and go there each morning.

Beyond sharing in the general denial about abuse at work, mental health professionals may have particular needs to deny the issue. These stem from four sources: 1) how they experience their own work culture in contrast to the rest of the work world; 2) their projection of their own autonomy at work onto the lives of their clients; 3) the systematic abuse they suffer (and later inflict) in their training; 4) the assumed limits of the psychotherapist’s role, and the personal and social risks involved in challenging these limits.

Diane was an employee in the personnel department of a large utility company. Her job was reviewing employees’ mental stress claims. She came across our literature and called us for assistance. She was under stress herself and felt alone because her therapist seemingly couldn’t believe that a large utility was treating it’s employees as badly as she and her fellow employees experienced it. We asked Diane to have her therapist call us. In our phone conversation with the therapist, we were ineffective in assisting the therapist to take a family systems view of her client’s situation at work. Unfortunately, she had not had sufficient training or experience with norms in work organizations to enable her to translate her family systems knowledge to her client’s work situation. The therapist was also reluctant to let us see her client.

Two months later, Diane called again because she was being scapegoated and was in crisis. The next day she called a third time to say that our help was too late, she had been fired. However, she said she now had her therapist’s permission to come to talk to us about what had happened at work.

The Work Culture of Psychotherapists

The work culture of most psychotherapists–that is, the collection of unconscious rules, norms, of how therapists act and what they believe–is unlike the cultures of most workplaces. Therapists, even if practicing in large institutions, exercise a greater degree of autonomy and creativity in their counseling than most people are allowed at work. For the therapists who are self-employed, the difference is even greater.

Therapists have extensive control over their actual working conditions, and they have encouragement to take initiative, be assertive and honest in their communications with others. In contrast, most employees experience being watched constantly; they experience their self-expression being denied and their communications being dishonest. Additionally, their work tasks are designed and controlled in detail by their superiors.

The relative autonomy of therapists in controlling their work is wonderful for them, and should be available in everyoneís life. But the scientifically measured fact (University of Michigan Institute for Social Research) is that 95% of workplaces are authoritarian and clients must adapt to authoritarian systems. It’s a hard fact of life: it’s presently impossible for the majority of therapists’ clients ever to realize the kind of autonomy at work that their therapists exercise. Therapists must begin to assist their clients to handle working in authoritarian cultures, not deny that their clients have to.

Awareness About Child Abuse Elicits Recognition of Work Abuse

We know of a workshop facilitator who conducts child abuse information seminars at corporate workplaces during noon hour. She described to us how employees frequently draw the parallel between their own abuse as children and the abuse that is happening to them at work. The attendees’ report the abusive treatment is supported by the norms of the organization–and they feel nothing can be done about it short of quitting the job. The facilitator feels she has to discourage these discussions of work abuse so that her seminars will not threaten the organizations that have invited her.

Alice Miller in her book Banished Knowledge, in the chapter, Pretending to Want to Know, reports that her articles on child abuse have been refused by publishing companies’ top management. She suspects top managers’ hesitation to confront their own abuse as children is the probable reason for not publishing the material. In our experience, it is likely that articles on child abuse activate an unpleasant awareness of abuse that is happening within the publishing industry itself. Our clients who are employed in publishing confirm this view.

It’s clear that work abuse keeps child abuse patterns current and alive within parents who work. And the daily abuse of parents who work makes it more likely that the repressed pain of a person’s own childhood will be acted out against his or her children. We agree with Alice Miller that child abuse must be regarded as a criminal offense punishable by law. Additionally, we believe work abuse must be recognized–and stopped–as a major source of the pain that makes parents want to abuse their children and each other.

Psychotherapists View Clients’ Work Lives

How does therapists’ control over their own work situation affect their denial about work abuse? First, the independence therapists enjoy contributes to therapists being uninformed of how bad the work world is for their clients. We are all hypnotized by our work cultures so that we see our own particular culture as general reality for everyone. It’s the same way that abused kids assume that all kids get mistreated, and rich kids assume that everyone has the privileges they have. Therapists may believe that their clients can “create their own reality” at work, as easily as the therapist can, and that only personal psychological handicaps are holding them back.

Secondly, for therapists who do acknowledge the discrepancy between their own work lives and those of their clients, there is often a feeling of helpless guilt. These therapists may have escaped from the same authoritarian work world, or knowingly avoided it by becoming therapists, and feel unable to help their clients cope with it any better than they could. Denial helps them avoid facing this helplessness and their own “survivor guilt.” The denial keeps them from reaching out for solutions that do exist and finding new ways that they can truly help their clients.

Therapists Experience Abuse in Their Training

By the time therapists achieve autonomy and esteem in their practice, they have denied the shame they endured as interns during their training years, and the humiliation of the bureaucratized evaluations they went through in acquiring their licenses. Systematic shaming occurs in most supervision situations, which can be as arbitrary and authoritarian as any workplace, but with a veneer of caring in the language.

The shaming is protected by a norm of silence that keeps the intern from naming it and the supervisor from recognizing he or she is passing his/her own shame on to the trainee. Because the content of what is learned in therapy is supposed to be a humane approach to feeling and behavior, the power relations of supervisor and intern are usually ignored and glossed over. Instead there is a norm that supports, “Let’s pretend we are all friendly and humane here, and we are beyond shaming and putting people down, or even feeling one-down because of power imbalances that exist here.”

The intern who breaks the rule by calling the process is seen as “paranoid” or “unable to take supervision.” The person may be told to reenter their own therapy in order to work the issue until they come out the other side (“the other side” is agreeing not to talk about the shame or the power imbalance in supervision). Ironically, this is another version–this time within the counseling community itself–of recommending the identified patient for individual therapy instead of facing the problem in the system. Denial about the shaming of interns sets up the new generation of therapists to deny the power dynamics in their training and to gloss the power dynamics in the therapist-client relationship as well.

Psychotherapistsí Role in Treating Work Abuse

The final source of therapists’ denial about work abuse comes from the prevailing belief that our role should be restricted to the therapy hour, the treatment of particular clients. It is a hesitation and belief about using our influence to intervene in institutions or become advocates of change in the world outside the clinic.

In facing the extent of abuse in the workplace, we are addressing a situation that may seem to push us, as psychotherapists, farther than any previous issue in confronting social and political structures and redefining our role as therapists. We have an opportunity and responsibility before us, and it will require rethinking the presently assumed limitations of our role.

Early on when a concept arose in mental health that challenged the existing paradigm of who we are and what we treat, some professionals put up resistance. Doctors resisted Freud originally, making it too personally threatening for him to be honest about his discoveries of his clients’ sexual abuse. Freud felt he couldn’t say the truth because he believed it would have destroyed his credibility. From the historical perspective–as Alice Miller points out–not saying the truth has in fact detracted from Freud’s credibility.

Psychotherapists similarly resisted the idea of treating the family system when it originated. But family therapy has succeeded, and much abuse has been prevented by family therapy interventions. Family therapists can be proud of their achievement in successfully confronting pressures to treat only the “identified patient” and insisting instead that they focus on the system.

Perhaps the largest part of our resistance to facing the work abuse issue is that it forces us to change our comfortable identity: treating recognized problems in ways we know we can feel competent and at the same time be socially respected. Initially, raising a new issue may seem to threaten our legitimacy and credibility. But in the longer range picture, we can respect ourselves for our efforts, because we are saying the truth.

Talking about what happens inside our institutions does take us into territory about which we feel ignorant and over which we seemingly have no control. Psychotherapists are socially recognized as a “cleanup crew” that assists people with problems to reenter the world as given. When we begin to question the world as given, and suggest changes and interventions to assist the functioning of individuals at work, we are no longer limited to being the “cleanup crew.” We are beginning to take a larger responsibility for assisting our client’s mental health.

Part of the challenge to therapists’ identity is that many therapists feel they know too little about organizations to help their clients at work. As with any new mental health issue, we have to break through our reluctance to approach this new field of information. We are no more to blame for our initial reluctance than our clients engaging the first steps of change.

We can not overlook the seriousness of the reasons for the denial pointed to in this paper. There is no blame for being in denial; it is our learned protection from what threatens us. We can only decide future actions by weighing these reasons against the seriousness of the issue, which demands that we break through the denial if we are to stop abuse from continuing as the rule of thumb in our world. The custom of abusive work is an institutionalized form of self hate. To change it we have to begin to love ourselves, even in facing our denial. We as mental health practitioners are the people best equipped to demonstrate this process. Help us to do this. Thank you.

Aside

Denial

Early last year I found myself close to my breaking point due to work-related stress. Although I take responsibility for the fact that my emotional distress was in large part the result of overworking for many years, I have also come to believe that covert bullying in the workplace also had something to do with me hitting the wall. Here’s what things looked like at an appointment with my family physician on the day before I went on leave.

Doctor:


I think you have exceeded the limits of your reserves.

Me:


Sounds ominous.

Doctor:

Seriously, I think you need to take some time off of work and unwind, take care of yourself.

Me:     

I just took two mental health days and today is my fourth Friday off in a row.

Doctor:


When was the last time you took more than a couple of days away from work?

Me:   

Fourteen months ago, we went to Mexico for two weeks.

Doctor:


Did you do any work on that trip?



Me:  

Just on the plane there and home. And emails. I checked emails, but just once a day.

Doctor:  


And how many vacation days did you take in 2010?

Me:      

Three and a half.



Doctor:  


Are you ever able take a break from working or thinking about your job?

Me:       

Which one? I don’t obsess over my teaching job because that is only one night a week. Plus class prep on weekends. But no, I always obsess over my full-time job.

Doctor:  


And you’ve had high job stress for the entire four years that you have worked there, according to your file? You’ve been in here for stress related issues six times. Although…it looks like the last time we saw you was seven months ago. Did things get better for a while?

Me:  

No. Worse. But I was too busy to take time off for doctor’s appointments.

Doctor:  


What was happening just before you got this job?

Me:      

I had stage three colon cancer and spent a year undergoing chemotherapy. I got my job the week after I was told I didn’t have cancer anymore.



Doctor:   

So you had a year off, but you were fighting cancer.

Me: 

Well, no.

Doctor: 

No what?

Me:  

I didn’t have a year off. I was teaching while I did chemo.

Doctor:

Full time?



Me:    

No! Not for the first semester. Just for the second.

Doctor:

Okay. I am beginning to understand. What about…before cancer?

Me: 

Well we were raising our family so I only worked part-time while going to school. Thirteen years of university in a row, the last six of them were spent on my PhD.

Doctor:

What was your thesis about?



Me:    

History of care of dying cancer patients early twentieth century in North America. Ironic, hey?

Doctor:   

So did you have any time off between finishing the doctorate and getting cancer?

Me:  

Not so much.

Doctor:  

As in?

Me:

I defended my thesis …in the hospital. One week after they yanked the cancerous colon.

Doctor:

It didn’t occur to you to pospone the defence?

Me: 

No. I had to get it done because we were in the middle of a move to another province. I had to finish it and get out of the hospital so I could get our house ready to sell. It was fine. The nurses helped me figure out the timing of the pain control so I could make it through the two hours.

Doctor:  

I hate to ask…but before your final run at the PhD…any break from “working?”

Me:
  

Well, at the beginning of the PhD I kind of took it easy on the studying for sixteen months. So that was for all of 1999, first quarter of 2000.

Doctor: 

Great! And how did that feel?



Me: 

Not very good. I was taking care of my mother who was dying from leukemia.

Doctor: 

You really need a month off. To start.



Me:   

Now isn’t the best time.

Doctor:  


You are crying in executive meetings at work. You aren’t sleeping. You are having anxiety attacks and you think you have Alzheimer’s disease because you keep forgetting words. Now is a really good time.

Me:
      

You don’t think it’s Alzheimer’s? What do you think it is?

Doctor: 

You’re going to need at least a month.

Me: 

Can I keep my blackberry?

POSTSCRIPT: I did go on medical leave, for four months. In that time, I reconnected with my life and the people in it, I started doing yoga and meditating and I worked to regain the balance that had eluded me for so long. I returned to work in June and managed to keep normal hours and stay well. Realizing that I was “not my job” was a good thing – as in mid-November the unit that I ran was dissolved and I was laid off. The lay-off, and the nine months’ severance package, was truly one of the greatest gifts that I have ever received. Today I am training as a life coach to help women recover from work-aholism and other addictions.

This article was thoughtfully donated by Dawn Nickel, PhD.  Work stressed? Her site features a retreat to Tulum, Mexico.

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My experience with Chapter One, “Work Abuse”, “Thank God It Is Friday”

My experience with Chapter One, “Work Abuse”, “Thank God It’s Friday”.

After reading the first paragraph of Chapter 1 of “Work Abuse: How To Recognize And Survive It” , by Wyatt and Hare, again a fourth time, I was re-awakened to abuse I had experienced, and abuse I was experiencing at the time.  The opening chapter says a lot, but right away, what caught my eye this time was the first paragraph:

“In a supportive work environment, you and your fellow workers treat each other with respect.  You take part in decisions that affect how you do your work, what  you will work on, and when you will do it.  Those below and above you in the hierarchy resolve conflicts exhaustively as well as fairly. You feel safe enough to speak about your limits as well as your abilities”

Of course this workplace model was not like the ones I experienced.  I didn’t identify with that experience.  Does that sound utopian?  Well, “…fewer than one in twenty workplaces are fully supportive.  The rest are unnecessarily abusive, which means that, instead of the conditions described above, you find yourself in a situation where work is an endured hardship.  Blame, scapegoating, and denial (pretending to yourself that injury is not happening) form the fabric of your relationship with bosses, co-workers, and those who report to you.  Instead of being enlivened by work, you find yourself becoming numb to the situation, living only for the end of your work week.”

Some people say, “”What’s the big deal? I live with the same headaches and I don’t go to a counselor for help..””  “All of these reactions are understandable.  Given the inescapability of abuse in the workplace, you, like most people, have learned to adapt to self-centered bosses, and turf-conscious co-workers and even take them for granted as “”the way things have to be””.  “You and your coworkers have to hide their inner lives from each other to appear “”normal.”  This fabricated “normalcy” isolates everyone in their experience.  It may make you feel wrongly, that you are weak or inadequate when difficulties you may be having are common to everyone.”

I certainly identify with all the above.  Only my personal life spread around my workplace like a wildfire, and there was no escaping it.  Reading all that really helped me to see; however, I was in denial about a lot of facts.   The first several chapters of “Work Abuse”, as Mr. Hare calls it, are in place to help us break denial, as well as to tell.  Many people do not see that their expressions of their childhood patterns as adults, and their present living situations get impacted by “work abuse”.

My feelings and thoughts are validated by this book.  What I was experiencing was not all in my mind.  Throughout the years, because of my diagnosis, people would tell me certain things were all in my mind.  Some probably were, but this wasn’t, and I eventually found out the difference to a large extent.

The trouble I eventually had the most, is with “turf-conscious coworkers.”  Managers would occasionally bark orders at me in a condescending way, or make verbal value judgements of me.  As time went on, that morphed into a wolves-guarding-the-hen house scenario.  Turf-conscious workers would take over the workplace.  I learned to pet them as if they were animals in a zoo.  This helped me a lot.

This first chapter also has case studies of real people and the experiences they went through.  One of these documented case studies was about a woman who had been sexually and verbally abused.  There are parallels between work abuse and abuse in the home. The people who abused her have also been abused.

My feelings and thoughts were again validated, as I read all the case studies, and the rest of the chapter, which I will cover in more detail later. These are my interpretations only of what happened to me, and how I read the book.  Wyatt and Hare warn: “In reading the following chapters, it is important that you break denial of work abuse safely, to protect yourself against potential incidents of major abuse.”

Even when it seems that there are no options, there is hope

Even when it seems that there are no options, there is hope.

I was a battered and neglected child who was verbally abused and taught not to complain about it. Authority figures were scary people.

As a 23-year-old worker, I was very ambitious, but not particularly savvy.  Nobody told me how the world worked, and I wasn’t educated. I was naïve and thought that the promotions would keep coming if I worked fast.  I was good at my job; I knew my product, I felt excited about doing my work, and I was good at selling it to the customers.

I made more money than others in the bakery department, because I requested a the job after being a cashier, and my pay had to stay the same according to the contract.  Management said I made too much and eventually had me cashier again years later without very much training.
So much had changed from when I was a cashier before. The politics were so different.

Because too much information about my personal problems became known, the information was being used like a knife to hurt me, since the boss decided he didn’t like me.  I was once popular and held the attention and friendships of coworkers.  I then became ill, and not well–regarded over time.  I became excluded from the store gossip and quickly lost my friends after several years with the company.  My friends all fell away.  I stopped believing I could ever succeed.  I got told no other employer would have me.

But my circumstances made it impossible for me to quit.  I had a nervous breakdown.

I kept trying to figure it all out.  The boss said he was trying to save my job one day, and the next he would throw something down on the ground for me to pick up.  Employees who were new would be nice, and then they would soon turn against me.  This happened for almost my whole career.

I tried voicing my concerns, but it fell on deaf ears, or I would get a write-up.  I had educated myself, but realized that neither family nor work wanted to communicate back.   The message became clear that I had a job as long as I gave service to the customers.  And, of course that applied as long as I could stand the abuse.  My youth was going away and I never really got to enjoy it.  I was in emotional pain, and I was numb, all at the same time.  I got a boss in a bit of trouble for his mistreatment of me, but I soon realized that union shops are very creative in lighting fires under certain employees.  My son got confused with me so moody and working any given shift.

Years later, I read a lot of books, including “Work Abuse”.  I was lucky enough to have the concepts explained to me, because in my fragile state I felt weakened.  I got harassed by a whole group of coworkers.  I had already acknowledged to myself that I got abused at work.  What I didn’t know, and learned from the book was that the people I was having trouble with, the managers, the coworkers, were playing out their childhood behaviors They were only doing what they had to get by too.  I learned it was the system that was at fault.  That there was no blame. Not even I was at fault. I learned I wasn’t the only one being abused.

I knew that intellectually, but emotionally I felt compelled to find fault.  So, I compromised: I acted as if I was fine with my situation at work, most of the time.  That is another strategy in the book.  I was trying to behave like others so I would not fly under the radar all the time.  My good behavior earned me some years of a time of some normalcy.  It was a tough act to pull off, and I would occasionally falter, but I’d then get right back up trying again. I re-pursued my hobby which gave me a lot of satisfaction.  According to the book it is one of the self-help strategies.

I had good doctors, and I took disability a few times in 37 years with the company.  I would come back, start over, and regroup.  After years of extreme trauma, I adopted my philosophy that I referred to earlier, for around 7-8 years until I left the workplace.   It worked for me pretty well, though the abuse was still there in the background.  I had learned to see coworkers as children, getting their own way, clamoring for attention, playing schoolyard bully.  I liked my job better then.  I tried being the bigger person.  I was given more autonomy which kept me away from other workers. The job was more responsibility, but I thought it was more peaceful.  It lasted 2-3 years.  I grew as a person.

I don’t believe that would have happened had I not adopted my strategy of acting as if, and trying to fly under radar.  I accepted that there is no justice in the system; not really.  I knew that I was ill and would find trouble at another job.  The time for job-hunting had passed, and I only stayed that long because of my status as a single parent years earlier.  Then, I had racked up a bit of a retirement.

I started to tire, and had health problems that were worsening.  A new, younger workforce had taken over.  The stress caught up with me physically.  I had to work very well, and very hard to avoid abuse.  I eventually became exhausted in every way.  My sleep patterns were unpredictable.  My symptoms were worsening.  I was in physical and emotional pain.  I was 56 years old.  There were rumors that management wanted the old-timers out.  I started working like a youngster, but couldn’t keep up.  Younger people were breathing down my neck wanting my job.  It was just business to them.  I was so paranoid that I started offending customers.  I didn’t feel ready to retire just yet.

I went on disability for a year, and then I did take an early retirement.  I felt exhausted and felt bitter. But I now see the larger picture better.  I had been able to understand and assimilate my philosophy that I learned from the book, but my illness made it difficult to feel at peace with it.  I now see that even “acting as if ” was a huge help to me in keeping sane at my job.  Yes, I eventually blew it and spoke out, but I am only human.

I’m still get stressed and exhausted a year and a half later.  I am trying to get along in a great group my therapist told me about, called DBSA; and I’m volunteering.  I am still afraid of groups, but I am getting better.  I still love my hobby, and am practicing it.  I have found some people who I am sort of friends with.

I have decided for many years now that I did the right thing for me, because I was truly stuck.  The book is thorough, and it is comprehensive.  “Work Abuse”, by Hare and Wyatt, is still helping me cope with my life after retirement.  And I know in my heart of hearts that adopting the concepts  bought me several more years as an employed person.

If I had a choice I would have moved on to another profession, but the facts are that I was in a double-bind.  If I had a choice I would not divulge personal information unless necessary.

I’m very grateful to Mr. Hare for contacting me back after I read his book.   I have a great marriage, and my son is thriving. I may still get stressed, but  this is the happiest time of my life so far.
Here is a good article.  I only wish employers would go by the guidelines set forth:

Social Culling? What is it? How it may have happened to me

Social Culling? What is it? How it may have happened to me.

I saw an article, and it all came back to me as if I was still at work.  It is, “The Culling”, and it’s been posted on, http://www.disinfo.com/.  I will get to it later.

I worked for a few years in one company without too many problems.  I worked fast, which was what the company wanted. I got promoted to the next level twice in a two-year period, but preferred a department for a place, to work which was a notch below the second promotion, which was at the front end of the store.  I moved to a new store in the same company to get away from my meddling uncle who worked with me, and to take a demotion to a job I really liked, and did well at.  The pay was the same.  I did well, but there was a lot of competition, as my cousin warned, and I started to lose ground.

Then I got a new store director.  He got involved.  He didn’t like me.  When I told him I was having a baby, he cringed.  He was very slippery: He asked me to harass a woman who worked in another department.  I was afraid of him from then on.  His daughter who used to work with me came in and told me to go see a psychologist, and she muttered a few things about my past behavior under her breath.  I then regretted making friends with her a couple of years earlier.  However, I did get that help.

For many years I got socially isolated at work.  People would form bonds around me, but I wasn’t included.  I had once been invited to parties, and meetings about work.

Below, I will be referring to Social Culling as in the article linked at the bottom of this article:

On http://en.wikipedia.org/, it says about the word, culling: “The word comes from the Latin colligere, which means “to collect”.  The term can be applied broadly to mean sorting a collection into two groups: one that will be kept and one that will be rejected. The cull is the set of items rejected during the selection process. For example, if you were to cull a collection of marbles such that only red marbles are chosen, the cull would be the set of marbles that are not red. In this example, the selection process would be culling on red marbles. The implicit meaning is that the cull (the non-red marbles) are going to be the group rejected.”  I cannot find who coined the term, “Social Culling”.  If anyone does, please let me know.

I would be working at the counter in the bakery department, and everyone else but me would leave together for lunch together often.  It was hurtful, but I just suppressed the feelings and probably let it affect my performance.  I occasionally begged people to help me get better at my job, but mainly, I was quiet.  I was a depressed and anxious person.  I had those personal problems.  I had a nervous demeanor, and one of the women I worked with pointed it out to another right in front of me.  For the rest of my employment, I would be referred to as if I weren’t there.  It was as if coworkers didn’t know I knew what was happening.

I tried to act as if nothing was happening.  I was in denial at that point.  My work suffered, according to the store director, though I worked extremely fast and sweat a lot.  I was in the service industry, and found solace in the relationships I had with customers.  I would make suggestions to sell extra items.  I knew my product.  I was proud of my customer service skills.  I was often left to the counter while others would be in back talking.  My immediate boss let me go back there try to make the product, but she said I was a perfectionist.  I guess that was not what she wanted, because I never got many chances to do it.  I was the counter person, dealing with the customers.

Time went by; I often got closing shifts on weekdays, and morning shifts on weekends.  It was a hardship for my son not to see much of me.  When I started to work up front again, and I got a Saturday off someone would ask me to relinquish it.  I needed the money, so I took the hours, because the boss told us if we really want hours we will take any offered.  I was part-time after all.  Throughout the years I became ill because of the ill-treatment and lack of sleep.

I got bullied often by my store director; he told me no employer would like me. The man said I was going down the path of the woman he had asked me to harass a few years earlier.  I knew my dreams of a career were over.  The best I can describe her is that she was in her 50’s (I was in my 20’s), and that she was the store scapegoat.  All negativity got aimed at her, and then me.   She knew I was suffering, and gave me a book, called “What You Think Of Me Is None Of My Business”, by Terry Cole-Whittaker, 1988.  I thought that was sweet.  a few coworkers reached out to me for a while, but tired of me.   I just didn’t get it.  All of my old friends were partying and having fun.  I was sure I was in trouble for something I had done, but the punishment seemed permanent.  As an example of how confused I was, when the store director had a heart attack I cried like a baby.

I was naïve, and thought in circles., trying to figure everything  out.  My family didn’t want to hear it.

Over the years I realized I had no choice but to stay and take it.  Opening my mouth brought on retaliation.  I was quiet, and my bosses always asked me to become more friendly and happy, as well as to work faster. I was given little breathing room because of all the hours I worked.  I even signed all my checks to the therapist, or to the landlord, paid to the company I worked for.  I was there all the time.  My son suffered confusion with all the babysitters and his grandmother taking care of him at any given time of the day or night that I I got scheduled or asked to work.

I left that place to go to another in the same company, after many years.  At first they all seemed nice, but soon, I got harassed by the store director with complaints that money had gone missing several times, or complaints from a customer that I was racist.  I was again having my job threatened.  I asked for a transfer to another place in the same company.  It was better for a while.  I was so depressed from being beaten down, and from the medication, my arms just could hardly raise and do the work.  I made a friend, but she stopped calling me after a while.  Also, she didn’t believe I was getting treated the way I said I was.  I had no real friends then.

I ended up at my last place in the same company.  Obviously, a pattern emerged that I was “different from others”,  and there were abuses that caused me to feel down, I would feel beaten down, causing productivity issues, and when I said anything that someone wouldn’t like I would receive a rejection, and schoolyard type bullying from coworkers. If I tried to prop myself up I would be torn down.  I was afraid of being up or down.

Through this I always tried being  friendly, but I couldn’t really ever relax.  There was an unspoken hierarchy, and I was at the bottom of the hierarchy.  I spoke when I got spoken to, but I would say hello and goodbye.  I was cordial if someone did occasionally talk to me.  A friend from high school I talked with occasionally, told me she didn’t know what I was talking about until her company merged with mine.  She, being middle management, said she saw that kind of scapegoating on her first day with the company.  She said there was a type of person my company was looking for.  I tried being that type. For awhile it worked.  I got more advice from a support group that was great, and with therapy, I tried to follow advice.  I was lucky to have such advice. Years went by, and I ended up with a place in the store that really worked for me for a while.

A couple of years later, an “up and coming” manager (though I didn’t know it at the time) made friends with me when she was first hired at our store.  She asked me for rides to the bus station.  She seemed sincerely nice for a while, but I noticed she would be buddies with the middle manager who did me work harder than others.  After awhile, her behavior was more and more competitive and provocative.  She got friendly with customers who were definitely trouble for me.

I kept this all to myself and was really nice.   She tried to start telling me what to do.  She told me she wanted my job.  The customers she was friends with would make it impossible to wait on.  They were stalling me, and even stealing from me when I turned my back.  I had just completed almost a two-year stint doing my job very well, catching shoplifters without any problems or supervision.  Suddenly there was mayhem.  I got very confused.  I got more ill and over tired.  Customers left and right were trying to get away with free merchandise, or they were just messing up. At one point this manager-to-be said to me, “I don’t have to work as hard as you because I make less money.  The said nothing.

I asked her why she was talking to my customers.  She said, “Because you did it to me”.  I didn’t know what I had done to deserve all of the above, except I had refused to let her tell me what to do in front of a friend of hers, and a called her a name that means small-minded.

Suddenly, I couldn’t do the  job that I had been good at.

I tried to tell management that the problems on my station were not my fault.  I had a middle manager see one woman who was making it really difficult for me.  He just said she was high.  I became more paranoid, and customers were sensing something was wrong.  I was distraught underneath the smile that I tried to wear.  I was sweating and exhausted at work because I I was told to go faster and to keep moving to get customers.  I was the only worker who didn’t just override the machine when people put too many items in the bag at self-check.  Management asked me to police the customers, and override transactions.  It made no sense to me.

I ended up exhausted and feared coming to work.

The exhaustion and symptoms of stress seem to never leave me, though I was on disability for a year, and time has passed since then.  I am unable to sleep enough hours, and I have anxiety every night.   I am having difficulty maintaining healthy friendships, post retirement.

I’ve left out many details, and I focused on certain situations to illustrate my point:  I feel like I was being selected to receive the negativity at work because I was a weak link. I did my job good enough, but I was not accepted by management. It’s really tricky to do a job without social support.  I believe the way the system works, it sometimes allows good, honest people to suffer, while others enjoy being disingenuous and purposefully hurtful.  I don’t envy the righteousness, as I feel it is ignorance in disguise.

I read this article yesterday, which posted on a workplace bullying forum. Please read it for insight:  http://www.disinfo.com/2010/10/the-culling-is-here-is-abuse-a-form-of-social-control/

What You Must Know About Where You Work, by Chauncey Hare

WHAT YOU MUST KNOW ABOUT WHERE YOU WORK by Chauncey Hare. Article Revised and Copyright 2011.

Albert Einstein said you can’t solve a problem with the same awareness the problem requires to remain a problem. You have to achieve a new awareness to resolve a long standing problem. Most often a working person is unaware that he or she needs a new awareness to resolve his or her work issue. All the articles on this web site, as well as the book Work Abuse: How to Recognize and Survive It, provide the awareness needed to solve the problems that occur in work organizations. Unfortunately, in most cases, a person must feel trapped in order to begin the search for the new awareness our articles and book contain. This article brings to you the most important first step awareness necessary to resolve any work problem.

The most common error a working person makes is not to recognize he or she is immersed in an authoritarian system. This paper tells about systems, describes the four kinds of work systems, lists example errors people make that cause them to be abused in these systems, and finally why there are so few work systems that are not authoritarian.

SYSTEMS

A social system is the cause-effect framework that defines the behavior of individuals in a group, organization, or a society. Systems create reality for you, but systems rules of behavior are mostly unconscious. Having a systems perspective means seeing and understanding the factors that influence the behaviors of individuals within the system.

It is both difficult and unusual for a person to have a systems perspective that focuses on factors in the system that are contradictions, and that cause people to make errors that lead to their abuse. People are not taught to see systems at home or school. People see only separate individuals, not the systems that underly and prompt their behavior. In order to counter the behaviors that affect you, a person must become conscious of all of the elements of the system that trigger behaviors. This can be called “wearing systems glasses.”

A system can make you do what you would not ordinarily do; and people in a system can treat you in a way they would not if you both were outside that system. Wearing systems glasses is necessary to see this happening.

Blaming is a major hindrance to gaining a systems perspective. Because of the cultural habit of blaming, it is difficult to shift to non-blame of individuals. Non-blame is a natural outcome when a person truly sees and thinks systems.

It is the nature of systems that the behaviors that occur within them are predictable once you have the ability to see the system you are in. Predictability makes it possible to avoid errors and minimize abuse. Similar work systems may have similar rules of behavior. Systems have norms, rules of behavior, that enable prediction of behaviors within one organization and often, but not always, within other similar organizations.

AUTHORITARIAN SYSTEMS

Authoritarian workplaces, which are social systems, exist as the predominant model for work organizations around the world including within countries like the USA that are supposedly democratic and where people are nominally treated equally. This is a major contradiction that people in these systems must adjust to: a supposed democracy, but people will be treated unequally and unfairly, most often without awareness of the contradiction.

People who are not aware of the inequality contradiction and are unable to adjust their expectations will be frustrated by the lack of fairness on the job. An inappropriate expectation of fairness is the number one source of people’s work abuse experience.

So pervasive are authoritarian workplaces that working people are not aware of another alternative to this type of system or that there is a variation in the degree of punitive control within one authoritarian system as compared to another.

People are so used to the authoritarian systems and the control and abuse within these systems that a person may find it hard to believe what this article is saying: although there are three kinds of authoritarian systems there is an non-abusive alternative, a collaborative system that is rare.

There are four kinds of work systems, the first three of which are authoritarian: punitive, benevolent, consultative and collaborative. For each of these four work systems below are example norms, rules of behavior, for five norm influence areas: communication, rewards, task, decision making, and development.

** Punitive Authoritarian:

** communication: Around here we hold information until its safe and benefits a person to reveal it.

** rewards: Around here the pay check is the only acknowledgement anyone receives.

** task: Around here people are terrified of making mistakes.

** decision making: Around here, all decisions are made at the higher levels in the hierarchy.

** development: Around here, if a person needs new knowledge he or she has to get it on the sly.

** Benevolent Authoritarian:

** communication: Around here we share all information except that which will threaten our personal status in the hierarchy.

** rewards: Around here bonuses only go to top performers.

** task: Around here we allow new people a limited number of mistakes when learning the job.

** decision making: Around here, immediate bosses make the decisions based on their instruction from above.

** development: Around here, with management approval, people are allowed limited time off to get knowledge they need.

** Consultative Authoritarian:

** communication: Around here we communicate to people at the top and they do what they see fit with our info.

** rewards: Around here a bonus goes to people whose suggestion box ideas pan out.

** task: Around here it’s okay to ask for help if we have a problem with the job.

** decision making: Around here, we are asked for information that will allow people at the top to decide.

** development: Around here, everyone is asked if they need new knowledge and approval is usually given.

** Collaborative:

** communication: Around here we communicate equally whatever will help our organization and people in it.

** rewards: Around here everyone receives rewards that are decided by all.

** task: Around here we make sure everyone has whatever they need to do the job well.

** decision making: Around here, the person with the most knowledge about the job decides, with the help of others, what to do.

** development: Around here, everyone gets whatever knowledge they need to improve themselves.

COMMON ERRORS PEOPLE MAKE WORKING IN AUTHORITARIAN SYSTEMS

Below are listed organization characteristics that may be misunderstood coming from inappropriate expectations. These spring from lack of knowledge about systems, inability to see and think systems, lack of knowledge about authoritarian systems, inability to see and accept a person’s own response to the system. Readers need to know and understand these listed characteristics which are found in many authoritarian organzations in order to avoid as much mistreatment as possible.

Generally these characteristics may be found in all three types of authoritarian organizations, but are most likely to occur in punitive and a little less likely in consultative types. The items below are not listed in order of frequency, importance or other attribute.

** Human Resources is a euphemism. HR’s job is to assist workers to adapt to the behavioral rules of the organization, smooth over mistreatment, and help management avoid being confronted about inequities.

** Management lacks behavioral skills and will avoid honest communication about interpersonal issues. When behaviors are discussed, it is in the context of who is to blame.

** Management does not confront bullies, because bullies perform a service for the system: instill fear.

** Conflict resolution is avoided because it means airing the organizations fundamental contradictions and confronting misuse of power.

** Individuals, will be blamed often using dishonest information, rather than review the true source of a problem within the system. This is the process of scapegoating: blaming an individual instead of looking into the system to find the cause of the problem.

** Some people may not be able to adapt to the norms of the system. Workplace norms are often held within individuals as unconscious patterns learned and evolved over time. Newer people may not be able to readily adapt to these norms which for long-time employees have become trance-like states.

** Punitive systems are more rigid than benevolent or consultative. Under stress, all authoritarian systems become more rigid: enforcement of norms becomes more extreme and norms may become more ristrictive by unconscious agreement of a majority of workers. Benevolent systems may become punitive and consultative systems become like benevolent systems.

** Unions are structured in authoritarian fashion mirroring the organzations whose workers they represent. Unions may assist management to enforce the organization’s normative behaviors. Unions are not prepared to deal creatively with behavioral issues between workers and management—especially behavioral conflicts that are not covered by the contract.

WHY THERE ARE SO FEW COLLABORATIVE WORK SYSTEMS

In short, there are two main reasons that boil down to one that prevent authoritarian systems from becoming collaborative. The first is the lack of behavioral skill, knowledge and commitment to creating a collaborative organization. The second is the difficulty in keeping the system collaborative over time due to the influence of authoritarian styles of behavior by incoming managers. But resistance to giving up power by top management is the fundamental overriding issue that prevents authoritarian systems from becoming collaborative.

 

Workplace Burnout on the Increase : What you can do about it. Dr Nicholas Jenner Psy.D, M.A

Workplace Burnout on the Increase : What you can do about it. Dr Nicholas Jenner Psy.D, M.A
Burnout is a problem that many people either face or come very close to facing at some point in their life or career and the numbers are rising. According to the American Psychological Association : three-quarters of Americans experience symptoms related to stress in a given month: – 77% experience physical symptoms – 73% experience psychological symptoms. In Germany, a recent study by the government revealed that 5% of all adults between the ages of 25 and 45 are officially suffering from burnout. They cited common symptoms such as: depleted physical energy, emotional exhaustion, increasing absenteeism at work, less investment in personal relationships, increasingly pessimistic view of the world and lowered immunity to illness.
If your job or some other commitment keeps you completely drained physically or emotionally, and if this situation goes on for an extended period of time, you may finally reach breaking point and fall victim to burn out syndrome. Burnout is a chronic condition that happens when your body or mind can no longer cope with overwhelmingly high demands. You are trapped in a state of emotional exhaustion, and it is hard to get out of that state. You stop caring about what you do, even though you may feel guilty about that fact. Even if you still continue working, it seems to be hard to make progress. You hardly accomplish anything significant, just going through the motions.
Burning out is not just stress, it is much more than that. There are people who may experience high amounts of stress in their job at all times but job stress does not necessarily mean that they are at risk of job burnout. However, certain categories of people and professions are particularly susceptible to job burnout. Most often these are people who are highly committed and motivated, who have high standards and idealistic dedication to their jobs. This condition more commonly occurs in such professions as entrepreneurs, managers (in business, education, health care, and many other fields), teachers and social workers or athletes.

There are many different situations that could lead to burnout. Common burnout causes include:
•      An overwhelming workload.  Could be due to insufficient time management skills especially a lack of planning, prioritizing, or delegation skills.
•      Hard work with no clear goals. You work harder and harder, but no matter how long you keep at it, you cannot see any progress.
•      Powerlessness to change something important to you. Something that you are very much emotionally attached to but is at the same time beyond your control.
•      Forcing yourself to make the impossible happen. For example, solving problems without having the necessary resources.
•      A conflict between your personal values and the values of the company you are working for. You don’t believe in or disagree with what you are doing, but you feel the circumstances force you to keep doing it anyway.
•      Hitting the invisible ceiling. No matter how good or competent you become, there is hardly any chance of recognition or promotional opportunities.
For all of those burnout causes what is important is not as much the external factors that fall on you, but how you interpret them, what you say to yourself, and what actions you take in response. Finally, it is important to understand the risks of burnout in your personal or job situations. Once you are its victim, it may not be easy to get things back on track. The condition does not go away quickly . You may not be able to recover by yourself, and you may need to have drastic changes in your attitudes and life style. You are much better off taking preventative measures than putting your life back together later.
If you recognize the warning signs of impending burnout in yourself, remember that it will only get worse if you do nothing about it. If you take steps to get your life back into balance, you can prevent burnout from becoming a full-blown breakdown.

Burnout prevention tips
•      Start the day with a relaxing ritual.  Get out of bed as soon as you wake up, spend at least fifteen minutes meditating, writing in your             journal, doing gentle stretches, or reading something that inspires you.
•     Adopt healthy eating, exercising, and sleeping habits. When you eat right, engage in regular physical activity, and get plenty of rest, you   have the energy and resilience to deal with life’s hassles and demands.
•     Set boundaries. Don’t overextend yourself. Learn how to say “no” to requests on your time. If you find this difficult, remind yourself that saying “no” allows you to say “yes” to the things that you truly want to do.
•     Take a daily break from technology. Set a time each day when you completely disconnect. Put away your laptop, turn off your phone, and stop checking email.
•     Nourish your creative side. Creativity is a powerful antidote to burnout. Try something new, start a fun project, or resume a favorite hobby. Choose activities that have nothing to do with work.
•     Learn how to manage stress. When you’re on the road to burnout, you may feel helpless. But you have a lot more control over stress than you may think. Learning how to manage stress can help you regain your balance.

Bio : Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals, couples, groups and companies promoting stress awareness. Apart from seeing clients face-to-face, Dr Jenner also runs a thriving online therapy business bringing help to those who are housebound or located in rural locations where therapy is difficult to find. He can be booked for online sessions from anywhere in the world. First consultation free. For more information , http://www.drjenneronline.com/

It doesn’t have to be as difficult for you as it was for me

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It doesn’t have to be as difficult for you as it was for me.

I was a depressed child in a family with a lot of problems. In 1978 I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. We didn’t have much, and were living with my parents to save up for an apartment.

My employer asked that I stay home after having been on the job since 1973. I refused. I had quit my second job to have my baby. I needed the money. There had been a change in the contract, and I made more than my co-workers. Management said I wasn’t worth it, though I worked as hard as I could. In 1981 I was given a new place in the company with a minimum of training. I became separated from my husband, and he couldn’t support us. I divorced in 1982, and I moved in with my mother. She took care of my son while I was on call 24/7. I worked weekends, holidays, nights.I tried to go to school because I felt I was on borrowed time at work. Friends at work were backing away from me; the boss knew of my troubles, yet he kept threatening my job. I started to develop panic attacks. They were so severe that when I saw the boss and other people who I used to hang out with I couldn’t get my hands to work, I blushed, and I slurred my words. The boss asked if I was on drugs.

I quit drinking due to the embarrassing words I said to coworkers over the phone. I was lonely, depressed, and angry. I believe that is when the paranoia became clear too. I would over-think and have terrible headaches.

I saw therapists until 1985 when I met one who had a talk with my boss. My boss had dwelt on my sex life. I got hospitalized due to a breakdown. I ended up not having a relationship with any man for 15 years, because I was sober, stressed, and worked all the time. I met a nice man I could relate to, who was a good friend through thick and thin for many years.

People would tell me I needed to learn to communicate. My son was getting older and I had to learn to discipline him verbally. I took communications courses. That helped me see many ways I could take care of myself in situations, but my employers didn’t want to communicate so I realized.

I kept expecting justice, and reality would hit me back in the face. I started seeing and hearing things. I thought helicopters were after me. I started to believe I was the joke of the town, as people rarely spoke to me.

I lost my mother to cancer, and my siblings demonstrated severe disrespect towards me for the next several years. My mother and doctors were opposed to my quitting my job, but now my siblings were urging me to quit.

I married my best friend, my son grew up and out of the house. They alone knew what I was dealing with. I went into the hospital twice more, after I realized that I couldn’t say anything at work no matter how bad the bullying got. I was forbidden to have a school schedule to further my education. “Restricted employees” would be subject to a cut in hours, possibly resulting in a loss of benefits.

I had read a lot of books dealing with work problems. One of them was “Work Abuse”, by Hare and Wyatt. I participated on many forums online. Mr. Hare contacted me personally and helped me beyond measure. So did my husband, son, and cat! We are still in touch, but through people he introduced me to, mainly.

I got a lot from therapy, and this group of people. My husband maintained that I could never retire unless I had enough hours in. He helped me get most of those hours in. He took great care of me. Medication kept the symptoms at bay, but every day was an anxious day at work. I was having bone, skin, cholesterol, nerve, and foot problems. I was working nonstop. A coworker said she didn’t have to work as hard ad I did because she makes less. Almost everyone made less and worked less than I.

I got physically exhausted in April 2011. I was sure someone was trying to sabotage my job. I could hardly do my job, resulting in disability. I was 56 years old in 2012 when I went on disability and never went back. I took early retirement.

I’m convinced that if it was not for the principles I learned along the way, I would have kept expecting justice. I most likely would have blown my cool and not have been so lucky. I learned that the people I worked with had to have their way, and so to a large degree I gave them their way for a bit of peace of mind. Right before I went on disability I blew my cool, and I believe that is what ended my career.  I can no longer work a real job.; I have too many scars.

I am still nice to people because it is the right thing for me to do. I praise workers when they do a good job. I still feel stressed, but I have to live with that. I joined a group that is helping me cope, DBSA in my area.  They are so full of energy in helping people.

I take care of my husband and cat. They need it. They stress too.

My son is doing extremely well, and he is very good to me.

Instead of regular classes, I’ve gone to online classes in digital design since the 90’s.