*Content warning: mentions suicidal thoughts*
After nearly two years of a high stress environment at a workplace where staff’s mental health is never openly addressed because of stigma amongst other things – I’ve just resigned. I feel so relieved.
Beyond their overall neglect of overall staff mental health, they’ve been particularly bad dealing (or not dealing at all, basically) with my declining mental health condition.
Let me be clear when I say this a structural/cultural, not a personal failing. Making this about a couple of individual staff members who are insensitive and/or ignorant on disability doesn’t tackle the wider dominant culture where ableist language and exclusionary behaviour is normalised.
I’ve been signed off work this last week & the doctor has me started back on meds, because of being in the worst place I think I’ve been in close to ten years.
Whilst everything is starting to seem less scary inside these four walls, my biggest fear was dealing with work again today. It was made clear there’s no back to work interview, no phased return, and all my workload will have been backed up and I’ll be expected to finish it in the time left over. This is just standard – no support after periods of serious illness like this.
Oh and the other day I found out my serious complaint against my Occupational Health Assessor, in the true style of my workplace, has been done fuck all with. Thanks again, folks, for taking my disability and your problematic culture of ableism, so seriously.
So I decided to resign electronically today, and tell them I’m not coming back in. Seriously, health first (the thought of going back to that office makes me feel physically sick with anxiety). I’ve said I’ll work my notice from home, and my awesome friend and colleague has gone to grab my computer for this morning, and I’m meeting her this afternoon to collect it.
Oh and I sent a litany of complaints detailing my experience to HR. So I’m hoping they won’t contest my working from home this next month to finish up, after everything that I’ve listed that has happened.
I got an amazing (as in, I was literally amazed) response back from a quite senior member of staff last Monday. I had to contact them letting them know I was off sick, because of various people in the chain of command being away. I said I feared for my safety, so had to go to an emergency doctor’s appointment. I said my graphic suicidal thoughts had become more active/prevalent.
Based on my previous experience, their response was ‘utter lack of give a shit’. It’s seeing staff as a piece of the organisation’s productivity, instead of a human being suffering with potentially life-threatening illness.
‘Thanks for letting us know. Let me know if anything needs picking up. Take care.’
WTAF?! I didn’t just tell you I’ve got a cold! Do you really think that when I’m battling with my own thoughts about ending my life, I’m going to be like ‘I’ll just pop those on pause, shall I? Whilst I think about my To Do List, and ping that right over to you in a jiffy.’
Christ, if it wasn’t so disturbingly ignorant, it’d be funny. The problem is for me, if I don’t try to believe that’s just ignorance, it comes off as disbelief. Mental health stigma fun times.
No ‘If there’s anything we can do…’ OR ‘I’m sorry to hear that…’ or any vaguely quasi-human response. ORG BOT’s reliance on its ORGANISATIONAL LENS™ is outdated. It need reprogramming with AI so they can feel – like a real human! (Other more direct managers have been more sympathetic on sick days, but this example is to demonstrate wider organisational culture/Senior Management view, so again let’s not focus on individuals – it’s STRUCTURAL not PERSONAL. Side note: I’m going to get this tattooed on my forehead.)
The awful temptation has been to internalise all of stigma & oppression now I’ve feeling slightly better (‘that didn’t just happen’, ‘it’s not real’, ‘you’re making it up’, ‘you’re attention seeking’, ‘they’ve not done anything wrong – it’s you’). But fuck that, that’s not my reality.
I won’t be shamed into silence after all of this. My experience is valid and real.