April 16th, 2013
Let’s Talk with Kalola: Coping with Job Loss
Let’s Talk with Kalola, where targets can share their experiences with WBI’s blog readers. Here we go!
It has been more than three months since my resignation. I would have thought that it would be behind me by now. Instead, the feelings of betrayal linger and even are fueled at times. Over the last few months, I have questioned my part in this-which makes me crazier. Was I really bullied? How could someone like me – strong, confident, reasonable- be bullied. Aren’t the weak more victimized?
I WAS BULLIED! There I said it! Isn’t that supposed to make it better? Really, nothing makes it better. The trauma caused by bullying, I’m learning, is devastating. It was an attack on my person, the essence of who I am. The things that were “me” were assaulted and deemed invaluable, even hated! I find myself now asking, “who am I?”
It has been a roller coaster of emotions since the onslaught began more than 1 1/2 years ago. The escalation is subtle. Gestures, overtones, nuances all describe the tactics used on me. Those turned into unreasonable expectations, lies about my performance, ganging up on me with other workers, shunning me, and creating a false narrative about me and my abilities. By the time I resigned, I was broken-I’m still broken. I don’t know how I am holding it together. Well, yes I do- my strong belief in God and family and friends who love me. That’s how I maintain my sanity.
Yet, though I appear together-I am hanging on by a thread. Every day must be filled with constant distraction. I paint my walls, start my indoor garden, clean out my closets, read books, renovate my home-anything that will keep me from thinking about these events. I know I need to work, move on, etc. But how? I am in no condition to apply for a job, I have no confidence!
So, I sit wondering what task I can do today that makes me feel normal again. I’ve read that it may take a year or so to “get over” this. I can’t seem to imagine normal. My normal has changed-I have changed. A friend tells me that this will give me depth of experience-I just see it as plunging me into the depths. It’s sink or swim. I wish my parents had given me swimming lessons. Now what?
Dear Finding Me,
Although it wasn’t easy to do, you quit your job. No one should have to work in an abusive environment with toxic people. Walking away was the best thing that you could do to preserve your health and sanity. You are fortunate to have your faith as well as the support of your family and friends during this most difficult time. You are not alone.
What you are going through and what you describe sounds like depression. However, it would be a good idea to see your doctor as there are other health conditions that have symptoms similar to depression. A doctor can order lab tests to rule out other conditions. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , “someone who is depressed has feelings of sadness or anxiety that lasts for weeks at a time”, and may experience the following:
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment
The CDC suggests that people who suffer from depression or anxiety should seek help as early as possible. Those that seek help for their symptoms when treated with antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of both will see improvement.
Reference: CDC Features—Treatment Works: Get Help for Depression and Anxiety: http://www.cdc.gov/features/Depression/
Another Resource: National Institutes of Health’s Medline Plus. Medline Plus is produced by the National Library of Medicine which provides reliable, up-to-date, free health information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html
Please talk to your primary doctor about what you are going through, and get a thorough health exam. If your health condition warrants medication, your doctor can prescribe it. Ask your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help you to cope with the issues that you have described. The anti-bullying Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) also offers suggestions on how to find a mental health professional, http://www.workplacebullying.org/individuals/solutions/selecting-a-therapist/
You have a strong work ethic. You are ethical and honest, that is, you have integrity. You are well liked by others. The fact is that bullies are not ethical nor are they honest. Bullies lack integrity. They feel no remorse for what they do to Targets. If they are caught bullying and are punished or reprimanded, a rare occurrence, the only remorse they might feel is that they got caught. The single most difficult thing for a target to understand is that they are not dealing with a reasonable person and, therefore, can’t reason with their abuser(s). The bully’s character is flawed.
A 2003 Workplace Bullying Institute survey found that the top reasons Targets gave for being bullied were the following:
- The Target’s refusal to be subservient, to not go along with being controlled
- The Target’s superior competence or technical skill
- The Target’s social skills: being liked, positive attitude
- Ethical, honest reporting of fraud and abuse (whistleblower-type of behavior)
Drs. Gary and Ruth Namie say in their book, The Bully at Work: What You Can Do to Stop the Hurt and Reclaim Your Dignity on the Job: “Justice is a principle that causes Targets limitless pain. The entire complaint-response system disappoints the person hoping to see justice done. When bullies are confronted about their misconduct, they lie. This outrages the Target, who may have taken great risks to have the bullying surface in public.”
What happened to you was not your fault. You worked in an abusive work environment. You were the target of several abusers. Nothing about what happened to you was reasonable or fair. It was not a level-playing field. A level-playing field involves the concept of fairness where everyone plays by the same set of rules. Bullying is about power and control. However, after careful consideration, you took control and you quit the job. No one should have to put up with abuse.
My suggestion to you is to get out of the comfort of your home and go out and explore what’s outside. Yes, easier said than done when you just don’t feel like doing it. The weather is changing, and spring is here. Go for a walk in your neighborhood or in a local park. Take a deep breath and breathe the fresh air. When you go to the grocery store, maybe let someone go in line ahead of you that has less items than you. Right now, you have time on your hands so why not go out and do something nice for someone else. Have you ever noticed that a person might say, “Hi, how are you?” but the person doesn’t wait for an answer. I like to give an answer and ask the other person, “and, how are you?” (you have to be quick in replying and asking the question, and you have to mean what you say). Smiling and saying “Hi” to a stranger just might make their day. It costs nothing to be nice to someone. The point is that I want you to go out into the world, and without thinking of your own troubles be kind to someone who may need a “lift” today, and it can be that “Hi, how are you?” with a smile or simply holding the door open for someone else or letting someone go ahead of you in line at the grocery store or the pharmacy.
As long as you stay focused on things that have already happened, and replay the scenarios over and over; you will not be able to move forward with your life. If you could have done things differently you would have. Don’t let those toxic abusers get away with another minute of your time. Get unstuck from thinking that the bullying was caused by anything that you did. You did nothing wrong.
As you have already done your spring cleaning and spiffed up the house, you can explore other things. For example:
- Take a class for personal or professional growth or to maintain job skills.
- Volunteer in your community for a cause or to help others. Volunteering shows that you are passionate about something, and that you care about others. It also shows character and integrity. Volunteer work can also be listed on your résumé.
- Take a temp job. Try working in a different kind of office or industry that you have normally worked in. If you feel you aren’t ready for a long job assignment, ask the temp agency for short-term work assignments to ease yourself back into work.
- Make a date with friends and attend an event, and later go out for a nice meal.
- Go for walks, or go for a run, or a bike ride. Exercise will get those good endorphins going. Getting in good physical condition will make you feel good about yourself.
The way you are feeling right now is only temporary. Getting help and/or treatment will help you to feel much better. Getting help is as close as your telephone.
If you have been under a doctor’s care and found that medication is not helping, talk to your doctor about this. A doctor can prescribe a different medication. Always tell your doctor about all the medications that you are taking including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
If you are feeling that you are barely hanging in there and need to talk to someone right now, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-273-8255 where you can talk to a skilled, trained counselor now. The crisis line is available 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
The American Counseling Association has designated the month of April as “Counseling Awareness Month.” If you are being bullied at work and are suffering from the health-harming effects of workplace bullying, please get help now. A mental health professional can help you to cope with what is happening to you at work, and help you to develop strategies to overcome obstacles, and the challenges that you are facing. It helps to talk to someone who will listen and understand. Mental health counseling is often covered under your health insurance. When it is not covered, mental health professionals are often willing to modify their fees based on a sliding scale. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Often times we think we can handle the stress and anxiety that we are experiencing, but when the abuse is so unrelenting our defenses begin to break down and the abusive work environment begins to affect our health, the quality of our work, and our relationships with others. You are important. Please take good care of yourself.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.“ … Leo Buscaglia
This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 16th, 2013 at 9:00 am and is filed under Let's Talk with Kalola. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.