Employer PTSD


On a day filled with friends and support, my previous employer came up in conversation.

Within a few minutes my anxiety started to climb higher and higher. By the end of the gathering my anxiety was swimming freely about along with my disequilibrium, pounding heart, difficulty breathing and trouble walking. I spent time fearing a medical event.

It’s funny how days are improving to the point that I CAN have a gathering but not funny how talk about my previous employer can wreck me almost completely.

I wonder if there will be a time that they can come up in discussion and I am unphased.

It’s not that I spew venom when someone mentions the company. I am upset that they have lied and done very unethical things but being that angry only hurts the person that is mad. I don’t engage in bashing because they know what they’ve done and my circle of friends is well aware if how this company and their leadership behaves.

But

That doesn’t change how my mind and body react to the discussions about them.

It doesn’t change the near panic levels that my anxiety boosts to because of them.

Had I not learned how to deal with panic, I would be in a different frame of mind but my system sure likes to push that envelope when its given fuel.

So in the wake of a lovely pre-fall day filled with laughter and friends, my employer once again rises up to destroy any ground I can gain.

It’s a form of employer induced PTSD that I would be willing to bet others have experienced. There is no way I am the only one.

My hope is that one day I will cross paths with Senior, Director, Old Boss and Minion. That I will be polite and humane to each when I know they are not capable. My desire is to be respectful and neutral when I know they don’t deserve it.

I will spend the next few hours or even days putting myself back together again but my worst day away from them far outweighs my best day with them. That pretty much sums up who they are and that’s a shame.

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Legal Chest Pains


I have been worried about my heart the last few days.

Having PVC & PAC activity is always disturbing but it seems a little different lately. More episodes, stronger extra beats or like this morning, two quick episodes of sharp pain with them.

I am sure I have had pain in the past. A faint memory is lying there but I can’t wrap my full attention around it.

When you have sharp chest pains and you are someone with “health anxiety” (the polite term for hypochondriac) then it sets off all sorts of warning alarms that I have mentioned in past posts.

For those not familiar, it goes a little something like this:

Minding my own business

Pain or dizziness – something out of the norm – could be a twitch or twinge

All systems stop in their tracks while the mind and body “listen” for anything else to happen. If it does, that occurrence is analyzed fully and completely.

Analyzing an occurrence goes like this:

What was THAT?

It was a…..<insert symptom here>

I wonder if that is a problem!

<Insert symptom here>

There it is again!

Okay, it was a sharp pain. It was in the center of my chest.

OH MY GOD ITS A HEART ATTACK

~ Launch all systems GO evaluation~

Blood pressure cuff – on and inflating (please be normal, please be normal….)

PulseOx meter attached (DON’T look at it for 10 seconds because it is always off while it calculates. DON’T LOOK YET)

Blood pressure results – within normal ranges (Thank goodness….)

PulseOx within normal limits (Thank goodness)

Pause……

“I wonder if I did them right.”

Relaunch check of symptoms

Within normal ranges

“Oh thank God! But…what is that pain? I’ll just look it up on the Internet….”

FAIL

As someone with health anxiety (don’t be rude, that is what we are calling it. YOU can be a hypochondriac…I am NOT!) searching the Internet for what ails you is the kiss of….well…..anxiety or panic…we CAN’T say the other word or it provokes nervousness.

If you are not in a full-blown attack then, you will be within a few minutes of clicking and sifting through the best terrorizing medical information the web has to offer.

The thing is? We KNOW this yet…we do it again and again.

I did it this morning after my bout of chest pain. “I can’t go to the doctor so I almost HAVE to rely on the Internet, don’t I?”

Um, no but that doesn’t stop me.

I sit down on the edge of my bed facing the window. This is where I go when I start having anxiety. That SHOULD be my first clue but it never is.

I bring up the search engine. “Tell me what my death sentence is Dr. Google” I almost say as I begin my sifting.

One thing I have learned is to stay away from WebMD as it will ALWAYS tell me absolute death is impending. Paper cut? Can become infected leading to death. Hang nail? Seek emergency medical attention as you may die.

We stay away from WebMD but Mayo Clinic is my golden child of the “What am I dying of today” world.

Mayo Clinic tells me the facts but almost leans toward not telling me enough. They always throw in when to seek medical attention but it doesn’t seem as ominous as WebMd does.

So far it could be spasms in my digestive track, PVC/PAC activity just causing pain or…brace yourself, it could be anxiety.

So, I launch another round of vital checks and determine that if I am going to die today, I need to accomplish something worthwhile.

Instead, I start writing.

What I have learned over the last year of my life is that I have become a VERY anxious person. I was always a Type A personality before but never full of twists and turns like I have now.

My previous employer shares much of the blame of the creation of the mess we all see before our eyes.

Years of being treated poorly and differently than my peers took its toll but nothing like the last and final month of my employment after returning from FMLA. The torment elevated to amazing new heights as they clearly felt the need to retaliate for my absence and then plotted my departure.

I have YEARS of excellent service to that company and needed time off to put Humpty Dumpty back together again because I was torn down from all of your games and demands and you couldn’t get past the time off I needed so you termed me? Makes total sense.

I am being told that my life will be better without my involvement in that company, in that department and certainly in that toxic environment but while I wait for that “bliss” to hit, I am left worrying about medical insurance, life insurance and of course, the almighty dollar to pay my bills when I did everything you asked me to do.

One of the things about the culture I worked in was that they pushed “We will provide you with all of the tools you need to do your job effectively” yet when I reminded them that I don’t have the tools, I was written up. When I didn’t quit as they thought I would, they fired me.

 

As your employee you promised me that you would lead me with all stops removed, to the type of manager you wanted me to be. I did as asked, when asked and usually much better than I was asked to do it, and then you let me go?

That just doesn’t seem ethical. Considering the source, that isn’t a shock.

So today I am fighting my way through the worry that the after effects of your poor and tortuous treatment of me have caused permanent damage.

I pray. I hope and I know that God will take care of me but I also hope that I don’t “go” before I have something important to leave behind. I am not ready and hope God allows me the chance to do something of value for Him, and me.

 

 

 

 

Outta the Blue


Like a hawk diving on its prey, anxiety sweeps in and kills the day.

 

My morning started out great. A little tired, a little stressed from the trials and tribulations at the job but I was trying to push that all behind me and enjoy a nice sunny day with beautiful weather.

We were driving on the highway having a conversation about a creeper blowing past my boundaries when I felt like my blood pressure dropped crazy low. Twice. I was driving as I always do so it startled me for my spouse and me.

As we continued on our path I kept telling myself it has happened before. It isn’t real, its anxiety.

That doesn’t work today.

Symptoms erupt.

Hands and limbs that don’t feel like they move right. Tightness in my chest. Foggy head. Fear.

This one person and their actions touched off a firestorm that has demolished my day….so far.

We started the morning with plans. We talked about how beautiful it was outside. We talked about our first “date” and our future. I was feeling pretty good and relaxed. I turned to my spouse and said “I think for the moment, I am doing better.” I had hope.

Within the hour plus, I am home and checking my blood pressure. My hope has been smashed.

I feel wonky. Out of sorts. I keep trying to push my brain and body to pass these symptoms off as anxiety but they refuse to accept it. It doesn’t matter that “we” have felt this way at different times for over a year.

Part of my resistance is down because of work. I know they are trying to drive me out and I am doing my best not to let them. At some point, they will probably win. My concern is at what cost. They almost killed me the last time. Will they succeed this time?

I ask questions and get no response. No acknowledgement of even have asked the question. My emails go unanswered. Its like communication has been severed. Are they getting ready to fire me? Maybe. Hope your documentation is better than all of mine from the last decade.

I am exhausted from the stress and cleaning up what was left. When I get too tired, anxiety is hard to fight. My symptoms can erupt at the slightest provocation (like today) and it takes me hours or days to manage them back to tolerable.

It is days like this that I wonder if I will ultimately become disabled. These days make it very hard to live. I feel bad for my spouse. A day of promise dashed. I’m sure its getting old.

I have been trying to manage my work stress. It isn’t easy. It is almost like they see you floating and keep throwing more and more bricks at you to try to get you to sink. If you pop back to the surface, it seems to make them mad and they try even harder.

I hope I am wrong. I cant imagine wanting to sink someone. I wouldn’t want that on my conscious but again, I have one. A few of these people don’t.

I’m really trying to keep things in perspective but all of these unknown factors make it terribly difficult.

If they fired me tomorrow, I should probably thank them. Sue them, yeah, but thank them for putting me “out” of my misery they have created. But, who wants to be fired? I have a family to support.

I was told once that I will never amount to anything at that company because I wasn’t liked. I said what I thought and tried to do the right thing. (This was a VP) Because of those things, the key people in charge of my area were never going to allow me to move forward and were probably at some point going to combine forces and destroy me if they could.

At the time I agreed with the moving forward. They would never allow it. But I found the destroying me thing a little out there. Now, not so much. I do think it is in their top 3 goals. I represent some sort of discomfort of fear for them. Maybe they fear they have told me too many secrets that I can share and it would be easier to get rid of me. Maybe I bother them because I refuse to quake when they come near or refuse to treat them as if they are royalty.

Don’t get me wrong, I am respectful and try to do the right things but I will not cave and act like they hold the moon and stars. They are no different than anyone else and the rules apply to all of us. Equally. They don’t care for that so much.

SO, here I am on my day off, worrying about worry and fretting about work. Chicken or the egg? It is hard to say.

As far as the creeper goes, it was a terribly upsetting situation and I think it has come to an end. Almost. I just need to give it a little bit and then I can break free. Ultimately this situation (began at my place of work….of course) will resolve but apparently will crack apart my day first.

My plan to wrestle with this anxiety?

Drink some water in hopes that helps the feeling (and actual) slipping of the blood pressure. Read, study and do what I can, when I can.

I know I need to push, but no so much that I go from a 5 to an 8 on the freak out meter.

I had coffee today. I shouldn’t have. I was feeling good and branched out. Too much too soon on a day when I am reeling from my week. Moderation.

That’s the key.

Yeah


It’s been 2 weeks and I feel like I need to write an apology to my company and bosses for being alive.

I can’t tell if I’m being punished for coming back or being gone and in the end, it doesn’t matter. Punishment is punishment.

I’ll keep going until the day I’ve had enough. They can celebrate then.

Being the “most” hated person in your company is hard on the soul when your life outside of that place is the absolute opposite.

What causes the shift when walking through those doors? It’s hard to say.

In my personal and other jobs – life, I’m respected and admired. At this job I am despised and ridiculed.

Crazy.

I was told by therapist that the world they live in is polluted. It doesn’t matter who I really am, they’ll never allow anything other than the image they prefer. It benefits them in some way. The company villain.

They’ve always had one. When I leave, they’ll have another. I pitty that soul. They have no idea what they are in for…

This job, my bosses have nearly killed me. Wrecked my self-esteem/value. Made me doubt that I am worth the air I breathe.

And yet…..I’M the bad guy….

God Grants


Things are chaotic today and my adrenaline is freely flowing.

I asked therapist once what the difference between anxiety and panic was. I didn’t get a response because we got off topic so I think I will ask again.

My anxiety is creeping up. It is time to be released and I know I am not ready but I have to try. I have difficulty in my own home let alone a place I have to be for 8 hours at a stretch.

My fear is that I will fail in an epic manner. My fear is that I wont ever be that highly productive person I used to be without terrible consequences like anxiety attacks and unexplained physical difficulties.

I spent some time again today wondering where that confidence went. Man, I knew what I was doing and motivation was not an issue. Fear happened but I walked through it and spit on the way by. I never let it see me sweat.

Now, if I even THINK there is a chance of fear, I develop anxiety and refuse to engage. If I think there is negative responses or consequences, I avoid it. I refuse to look fear in the eye because its stronger than me and might kick sand in my face.

Ridiculous I know but very cemented in who I am.

What I have noticed without a doubt at this point is that my body/mind cannot handle too much of anything. I have mentioned it before. I cant take anything more than a flat-line of ANY type of activity or emotion.

I was excited about something yesterday. Not over the top, jump up and down and clap my hands excited but just super hopeful and I paid the price.

So, I wonder if there is more lessons I am supposed to be absorbing.

My life prior to all of this was not one of extreme emotion unless I was angry about something. I still have moments of anger but I don’t allow them to creep too high because that adrenaline dump is very excessive and overwhelming.

However, I also have to keep myself in line when sad or happy. The consequences are not as severe but the same symptoms appear in a lesser volume or intensity.

Before all of this, I would have joy. I do not have joy any longer. I have moments where I am less anxious. THAT has replaced my joy.

I would have moments of peace. I do not have peace any longer. I have moments where I am less anxious. THAT has replaced my peace.

So I wonder.

God helped me resolve panic. I WAS inundated all day every day previously and then was shown my way out. I have a respect for those that suffer from panic and feel for them. It wasn’t that long ago that I was chained down.

Now, I have an equal match with anxiety. I cant figure it out and I don’t understand it. It has no rhyme or reason, just like my panic didn’t. But, it hangs on for dear life. Just like my panic did.

I wonder if God isn’t trying to teach me control. I do believe my lesson last year was in humility and this year it is humanity. Perhaps control because I was impulsive. I like thinks to be resolved NOW. Good or bad, I like them to be settled as soon as possible so I can move on.

Life isn’t about me and my comfort OR wants. I do know that…now..

Perhaps learning how to control the impulse to make decisions (it was a 50/50 split as to how good or bad they turned out) that are based on time and space rather than speed or resolution.

I have said this entire time that my hope is that I am on a path that serves God. I refuse to believe that a soul goes through this much torment with no benefit to mankind. Those that want to serve probably need to learn what the trenches look like in order to keep them empty.

It is miserable but, I have to keep trying to push forward. My worry is that I am headed back and there are days I cant push. I am weak and don’t have it in me. Days that I feel like my body has a mind of its own and I am just along for the ride. There are days I feel as though I could faint or collapse any given second so I retire for a while where I feel a little better but still inundated with negative emotions and symptoms.

I worry that those days will come because I just had one and I am not at work yet.

This stuff is so hard to navigate. It is like I am just well enough to be considered right on that boarder of well, but not nearly well enough to be considered a resident.I guess that would make me a tourist!

Therapist suggests that this awkward balance is why I fall through so many cracks. Not sick enough to end up in treatment and not well enough not to.

Where does that leave me and others like me?

Sitting in the same boat circling the harbor between crazy and sane with no real help out there I guess.

If only FMLA were 24 weeks….12 weeks has been beneficial but I truly think I am a year or so away from being able to walk forward on a regular basis. Why?

Because I poured everything into my work for years and left nothing for myself. Stupid thing to do and I am getting ready to enter the life that expects it, once again.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change! Courage to change the things I can and man, I sure need some focus on the wisdom to know the difference.

Spouse says “Dont sweat the small stuff” which is great advice unless you are a Type A+++ personality learning to be just an A at the moment.

Through these 12 weeks I have learned a few things about me.

I am a control freak. If people that knew me read that they would outwardly laugh in my face. I never believed it to be true but when I am able to do my laundry, I am super particular as to how it is folded, hung or stored.

I am the center of the universe. It is possible that many of us that have blogs suffer from this same issue.

If you don’t call me back its some issue with me. It would never enter my mind that it is because you are out of town. Oh, it may fly through but it wont land. If you scowl as you walk by, its because you have an attitude about me. It couldn’t be because you forgot something on your desk. that isn’t possible because I am not on your desk!

I always think it has some negative thing to do with me.

The thing is, I cant figure out why I allowed that to take root. I believe it is partially the environment I work in because you never know when that shoe is going to drop. They love a good ambush and they will lay low for weeks before you are blindsided over the smallest or largest issue. 

They do this because they want to get their ducks in a row but they also do it so you have no warning. They want you defenseless so it is an easy attack and then it is over. I know because I have seen it done on employees. I hate it. 

This environment isn’t a great one and I do believe it directly contributed to my fall. I worry it will happen again and this time there wont be any question as to which island I am circling.

So, I am bracing myself for a siege of emotion deep from within.

In the meantime, this was a lot of excitement so I am going to retire.

I pray for resolution and I pray for each and every person that has to walk this path, or one just like it. It sucks.

 

Fade to black


Have you ever fainted? Have you ever nearly fainted? Then you understand.

For those that haven’t, its an odd sensation.

Yesterday I was sitting on my couch. Knees bent, feet on the coffee table, working on my laptop.

I kept hearing some kid screaming at the top of their lungs. It sounded like a tantrum but just kept happening. Finally, I thought I should look out, just to make sure nothing was wrong.

I jumped up, walked 5 steps, looked at a house across the street and everything started going black. I held on to the door and for some reason, in my head, kept repeating my name.

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Weird. The blackness almost took me completely over, but then faded away.

During those seconds, I didn’t feel a thing. I knew I was going out. I knew it wasn’t a good thing, but it was like reading a book.

Once it was over however, the terror was on.

I raced to my room and repeatedly took my blood pressure. I called my spouse at work who couldn’t come home and at that moment, couldn’t talk. I decided to get dressed as I felt so shaky and weak that I was likely going to have to call 9-1-1.

My spouse called back and was good about it but not leaving work. My spouse offered my mother-in-law or daughter-in-law, our son or EMS as my spouse is the only person in the office on Saturday and not past the 90 day probation period. It’s understandable.

So, pulse ox, blood pressure, heart sounds with a stethoscope monitoring galore.

I accessed my Facebook support groups, put a call into the Cardiologist (Who by the way, never called me back), and went to that answers website where you pay a fee and professionals will respond, even doctors.

The website doc could have made matters much worse but oddly, I didn’t fixate on what he said. He thought it was likely common but listed all of the textbook reasons why I should immediately go to the Emergency Room. I can Google for free, thanks.

When pressed as to if he himself has experienced such a thing, responded curtly along with how to make sure he gets paid for his answer.

My Facebook group was most helpful along with websites. I tried to stay away from worst case possibilities as its not a common thing for me and I was on the dehydrated side. But. That didn’t, doesn’t keep me from worrying it will happen again.

In my reasoning mind I know such a fast change in position coupled with dehydration can cause exactly what happened.

In my fearful mind, I don’t care. I’m scared and worn out from being so fearful and unhappy for the last 9 months.

In my fearful mind I feel like a victim. I feel trapped in this haze of terror, fear, unrest and disbelief.

It had gotten bad enough that I finally broke down and took .125 mg of an Ativan.

For those not aware, I am terrified of medicine. I have pills that are .5mg, but fearful of them, so I quarter the pill.

It’s just enough to eventually bring the terror down to just a hair below panic. Semi-tolerable.

It takes a long time to work. Probably close to two hours yesterday. Of course, such a small dose has a big hill to climb.

Once it finally kicked in, I felt partially normal.

Earlier in the day I started reconsidering Zolof again. My doc gave me 12.5mg to start but I just can’t take it. I’m fearful. I went to the answers website and chatted with a Pharmacist who was bewildered as to why such a low dose was an issue. I don’t think he ever got it. He eventually resorted to it being such a low dose that it wouldn’t register and talked about the benefits of SSRI meds, well tolerated at such a low dose, etc.

Yeah, its still sitting there. I put my 1/2 of a micro pill up next to my spouses who takes 100mg. It looks like a fruit fly in comparison. Harmless looking really….but….nope. couldn’t do it.

I have actually considered just taking the Ativan for a few days instead.

I know literature suggests no more than 2-4 weeks. My doc thought with the nano dose I will take, it could be longer. She actually wants me to take the Ativan along with the Zoloft in an effort to preemptively strike the inevitable terror that will come with me taking a new pill. Which would be awesome….if I could take the damned thing….

So, Ativan is on the table. This morning I am PLANNING on taking my nano dose and maybe “enjoying” my day. I figure if I take it once we are up and before we start planning our day, I will be capable of leaving the house and perhaps experiencing some true relaxation or dare I hope, joy. At minimum, I’m hoping to have a normal outting less torment.

Planning is the key word. When you’re terrified of meds, a plan can fall apart quickly. It can be something as fast and simple as a news blurb. “Taking Ativan? You won’t want to miss this at 6.”

That’s it. I’m done. I won’t take it.

Someone who hadn’t fallen off of the normal wagon can’t comprehend my plight. You’ve never been to the edge of crazytown. You don’t know the amount of fear and torment I face just by having a day off.

A day off used to be pure joy. A full two or God bless, three days off was cause for celebration. I was in bliss.

Now, its torment. It’s unscheduled time for my mind to pick at the fear wound.

Odd since work also causes me torment.

Think about that. I have hell at work, I have hell at home.

Where do you relax?

You don’t.

I have varying degrees of torment. The Director is out of town, no games going on, no daggers to remove from my spine, I can relax a minute. Maybe even enjoy my job a little while.

Then I go home and fear death.

The Director returns to work, I wait for the next assault, amped up and trying to step cautiously as you never know where she has placed the next landmine.

I go home and fear death.

Once in a great while I am able to not fear death, but mostly, I do. Well, its a give and take really. There are times I’m terrified and begging God to please give me my life back while other times, I beg Him to just let me go because I can’t live like this any more.

Ultimately, I age daily. Yes, I know, we all do. But I LOOK like I’m aging. More grey hair. My eyes look worried. Wrinkles have set in. I look worn out because……I am.

So, its 8:18 on Sunday morning and I just took another quarter of an Ativan because even at this hour, I’m already fretting. Already fearful. Already jumping head first into torment.

It’s too bad really. Just about a year 1/2 ago, I was counting my blessings. I couldn’t believe the life I had. I was grateful that I was able to provide for my family and still do my own training. I was starting to see signs (in retrospect) that the Director, then District, was likely doing things that I didn’t fully understand but wasn’t ready to assign reality to yet. I started being worried about losing my job. I started feeling down. But, I kept pushing because there was no solid evidence.

My worry continued to eat at me while the District (now Director) would tell me how much people didn’t like me. How I set people the wrong way. How she was ghetto only one that “Got” me, but not to worry. She was always looking out for my best interests.

I felt grateful that she was on my side, while at the same time distraught that I was so despised and didn’t understand why. I did my job. I was honest, I was helpful…yet, hated.

I didn’t understand it.

Now, I guess I do. She was busy weaving lies about me while telling me she was my savior.

It’s dizzying to consider that someone could be so….I don’t know the word….not quite Evil…because I don’t think she is, but…..maybe, manipulative….at minimum.

It’s stunning to think someone would want to be like that. Do those things. I just don’t understand

So, as I lay here waiting for the terror to quiet to simple agony or despair, I know I have to leave this job in order to save my life.

It doesn’t seem fair. I treat people well. Do my job. Extend a helping hand any time needed, yet, I’m the one that has to leave.

There is a perfect picture of the state of our world. Our culture.

The bad people advance while the good ones give up and go away.

Chaos


My days are chaotic right now. I’m in a new place at work that is a mess.

I had a huge blow out with the Director last week. She spent about 15 minutes literally screaming on the phone at me because I dare confront her about gossiping about my personal information…again.

She always says things like, “Did I…., maybe. Maybe I was mad at you. Maybe you irritated me that day.” and then seems bewildered as to why that’s not acceptable, especially at her level of employment.

I talked with her boss who tries to keep reassuring me that she is working on the problem…..but, she’s stuck too. Directors Dad is everyone’s boss….so….who can reign her in? No one because he’s the one that has created this mess for our company.

In the meantime, I am sure the Director, with her lack of boundries and blurred sense of morals, will be plotting ways to get back at me any way she can. If that includes losing my job, then she wouldn’t blink.

On the anxiety front, its been okay. Oddly. Not solved, just tolerable-ish. Probably because I’m angry. When you’re angry, anxiety and panic seem to know to stay away.

I’m a tad worried about what happens when my anger fades. Will I be overrun with symptoms? Its a terrifying thought….