February 28th, 2014

Let’s Talk with Kalola: The ER Doctor’s Warning – “Get Rid of the Stress”

Dear Kalola,

My bully boss enacted a posse of others to support her gossip and lies. She ran several major grants at a public university. I was her star employee, the go-to for all the hard tasks that she felt she did not want to do (or procrastinated on doing). She relied on me to support more than $8 million in grant-funded project activities. And, she never gave me credit or praise for any of my hard work or dedication. I remained behind the scenes as her “secret weapon.” She called me on weekends, evenings—just about any time she pleased.  She gossiped, slandered and complained about everyone in the organization. I listened to her endless lies and complaints—all generated from her own insecurities—for nearly 7 years. I always knew, listening to her, that it was a matter of time before I became her next target.

After nearly two years of working for her, I had my first warning sign that I was under unusual stress. I went the the emergency room at my local hospital with stroke-like symptoms; they told me it was a TIA and sent me home with aspirin. That first warning should have been my last, but it only incited the bully to heap on more responsibilities and a little bit more monetary compensation to keep me in her grasp.

At year five, a fellow employee attempted to expose her bullying and discriminatory behavior. Courageous soul; the university backed her up because she brought in millions from government grants. He left distressed, distraught and demoralized. I knew that I was next—I had complained to several co-workers and one higher-up about her bad behavior. I had started to capture the outrageous lies, the slander, the falsified data she used to support her claims that she was “doing good” for students in need.

My second TIA was more dramatic. It happened nearly two years after the first one. I ended up in the hospital emergency room again, but this time the doctor issued a warning: Get rid of the stress. After that second TIA, her madness escalated. My productivity had plummeted. I scarcely realized that I was depressed and could not focus or function much. Thoughts of suicide were daily and normal. I dreaded each new day … even the weekends, because I knew that she would probably call me to continue her gossip and lies.

When she realized that I was planning on leaving, she resorted to keeping information away from me, using our shared social network to malign me and my good work; she even paid off several of my colleagues with “new” contracts and enlisting them in spreading lies about me, anything to keep me dis-empowered.

I did finally get up the courage to leave. My doctors helped me to make the decision. Medication also helped with my depression. It’s been over a year and a half, and my health has rebounded in the most miraculous ways. My spirit has been set free from the tyrant and her posse. I only hope that I can help others to break free and claim their right to greatness and joy.


Dear Joyce,

hank you for writing in and sharing your workplace experience, and why you resigned from your job.  Your health comes first.  The Emergency Room doctor who told you to “get rid of the stress” may have saved your life.  No job is worth your health or your life. 

You worked for a bully that expected you to be on call 24/7.  You were the go-to person or as you describe your bully’s secret weapon, that is, until you experienced not one but two TIA’s.   Getting a little more on your paycheck for doing more work and being available around the clock doesn’t mean much if you die or become disabled due to a stroke or a heart attack.  Working for the bully was a thankless job.  You did all the hard work and she received the accolades.  The bully really has no friends.  Your bully enlisted others to gossip and lie about you.  There may be those that will align with a bully mainly because they don’t want to be the target of the bully or feel that they can get on the bully’s good side by doing what the bully wants them to do. Those little tidbits/crumbs thrown to co-workers by the bully do not come without a cost. 


The month of February is American Heart Month.  The National Institute of Health’s— National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute says that high blood pressure is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and other health conditions.  It is estimated that 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure.  High blood pressure is dangerous because it often has no symptoms and is often called “the silent killer.” 

What is a TIA?  Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA is often referred to as a “mini stroke.”  According to the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association, a TIA is more accurately described as a warning stroke that should be taken very seriously.  “A TIA is caused by a clot; the only difference between a stroke and TIA is that with TIA the blockage is only transient (temporary).

From the American Stroke Association website:  Warning signs of a stroke:  F.A.S.T.

F—Face drooping.  Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?  Ask the person to smile.  Is the person’s smile uneven?

A—Arm weakness.  Is one arm weak or numb?  Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift downward?

S—Speech difficulty.  Is speech slurred?  Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand?  Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.”  Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T—Time to call 9-1-1.  If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately.  Check the time so that you will know when the first symptoms appeared.

Other symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

The American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association both say that “If anyone shows these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services.  The same goes for heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately.  Don’t delay getting lifesaving help.  The warning signs for a heart attack and stroke are from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association websites.

From the American Heart Association’s website:  Heart Attack warning signs:

  • Chest Discomfort.  Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back.  It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in Other Areas of the Upper Body.   Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of Breath (with or without chest discomfort)
  • Other Signs.  Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

When you are young and healthy, it never occurs to you that in a single second your whole life can change.”  … Annette Funicello, American Actress

In 2012, the anti-bullying Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) did an instant poll:  Impact of Workplace Bullying on Individuals’ Health a 52-item health checklist that asked about stress-related physical health complications that occur after exposure to bullying, psychological effects.  Four additional questions were asked whether or not respondents were treated by either physicians or mental health professionals.”  There were 516 respondents.  Excerpts of the survey/instant poll results:

  • 71% reported being treated by a physician for work-related symptoms
  • 63% reported being treated by a licensed mental health professional for work-related symptoms
  • The top 15 work-related symptoms reported by respondents were:

  • Anticipation of next negative event
  • Overwhelming anxiety
  • Sleep disruption (difficulty in getting to sleep or too little sleep)
  • Loss of concentration or memory
  • Uncontrollable mood swings
  • States of agitation or anger
  • Pervasive sadness
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Obsession over personal circumstances
  • Intrusive thoughts (flashbacks, nightmares)
  • Loss of affect (flat emotional responses)
  • Depression (diagnosed)
  • Migraine Headaches

Also read the WBI website section on Physical Health Impairment:  How Bullying Can Affect Your Brain and Body.

Joyce—thank you, again, for sharing your story.   I hope that targets will read your story and hear your important message.  My best to you.





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This entry was posted on Friday, February 28th, 2014 at 12:28 pm 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.

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