So, I’ve had some stuff going on lately that’s been distracting me from writing. I’ve started a bunch of posts but not been able to finish them because I’ve been too busy worrying about other things.
I was refraining from writing about the other things because I was worried that wouldn’t be appropriate while I had a thing with a lawyer involved. I was also concerned that by putting any details of the situation on here I might jeopardise my case if anyone else involved discovered that the site was mine.
But that’s not really working for me.
And now I’m hoping that writing about it will release some pressure on the state of flat-out panic that I’ve experienced over the last couple of months, because I can’t carry on like this. I can’t do anything like this.
I’m also hoping that it’ll give me some much needed perspective on whether I really kicked off a process that’s going to ruin my life or not.
Okay, so I went back to work at the end of July after having been signed off as not fit for work for the previous four months, and having been on annual leave for the most of the three months before that because I wasn’t fit for work.
The first couple of weeks were okay.
Because they knew that I had a psychiatrist, and had been involved with the crisis team, and had spent a fair bit of time feeling suicidal they appeared to be worried about breaking me.
But then by week four they seemed to expect me to be on my way to being over it, and by weeks six and seven they’d decided that I was over it. No matter what I had to say.
When I tried to explain that recovery was an ongoing process, and that the, not unreasonable, side effects of my medication were going to continue for the foreseeable future. And that the amount of the future that was foreseeable stretched well into the next year. They decided that they didn’t actually believe me.
Then, they decided that there were problems with my work.
Mostly petty things.
Often I was told that things were missing from my case notes that a person could only think were missing if they hadn’t read beyond the first quarter of a page.
I was literally one minute late to the office on a few occasions, and this was discussed with me in a tone that would have been only marginally more appropriate if I had been guilty of gross misconduct. And the fact that I’m taking the maximum dose of a powerful drug that makes it difficult to remember my own name, much less keep time, in the mornings was deemed irrelevant.
Then the lift broke.
My department is on the top floor of the building.
Now, I’m not especially fit, having engaged in barely any exercise since I slipped two discs and sprained a bunch of joints in my back at the beginning of last year. I also have moderately severe asthma which is worsened by poor weather.
So I started factoring the time needed to climb the stairs into my daily routine.
But on one occasion I was having an off morning, also the wet weather had started and my asthma was bad that day. It took me twice as long to walk up the stairs, and I arrived at my desk three minutes later than I was supposed to.
And so my work station was moved to the basement, so that I could try to be on time there.
Now, at first I thought that this was all my fault.
I still wasn’t well, I was feeling paranoid and depressed. I attributed all my problems, and the fact that it now seemed that I could never do anything right, where once I had been excellent at my job, to my mental health issues. I feared that they were going to cause me to have to give up work.
My PTSD resurged and I started catastrophising. I envisaged Natalie Portman and me, penniless, homeless, and without futures.
Then the subject of my work came up in my therapy.
My therapist said that she had heard bad things about the way my employer treats people before. She referred me to an employment support worker.
The employment support worker advised me that while on paper my work appeared to be doing everything they were supposed to do to support me, in reality nobody could spend five minutes talking to me and not see that I was being discriminated against.
She told me that she thought that I has a claim under the Equality Act and that I should consult with a solicitor.
I spoke to several.
I was persuaded that on the basis of my claim I would be able to obtain something called a compromise agreement from my employer. This would enable me to leave my job with a reference and enough money to take a break and allow myself to get better.
My therapist agreed that it was a good idea. She was basing this on my PQH9 scores which had increased from 7 when I had first gone back to work to 26 when I discussed this with her. She felt that the job was making me ill.
A final straw day at work sealed it for me. I was signed off work and I started the process.
Only it turns out that their idea of quick and simple wasn’t the same as mine.
We are now on week seven of the process. It feels about three times longer. And it’s looking at dragging on well into next year because of the stages that need to be followed.
First there was a grievance letter that needed drafting and sending.
Then my employer’s response to the letter.
Then a hearing.
We had the hearing yesterday. It was long and unpleasant. And I have no idea how it went.
I have no idea because I daren’t ask my lawyer.
Before I went into the hearing yesterday I received an email from her stating that so far the bill for her services stands at more than I had been led to believe that the whole process was going to need. And I have to pay most of this before continuing.
I cannot afford this thing.
And I don’t know if I really want to afford this thing.
While I’m going through this process I can’t go to work. While I’m signed off, I’m on half pay. The figure I’ve been given to expect as compensation, minus the projected legal bill based on what I’ve been asked to pay so far, minus the projected loss of income due to being on half pay, is £2,500.
£2,500 might sound like a reasonable amount of money, but isn’t going to buy me any kind of breathing time before I’m forced to start looking for another job.
And in the mean time I’m just getting sicker.
Yes, going to work was making me sick, but this process has had my head spinning, and my heart racing, and my mind envisioning every possible thing that could go wrong.
I’m still catastrophising about the cat and me being penniless, homeless, and having no futures.
I mean, I have savings. But they weren’t supposed to be needed for this. And as has recently been pointed out to me, once I start using them they’re not going to last all that long.
It’s reached the point where I’m too sick to write well.
Which has somewhat put the kibosh on my fledgling freelancing career.
I’m too sick to go back to work as well. I’m almost as sick as I was back at the very beginning . But I fear that I don’t have any options left.
I can’t continue, and I can’t undo what’s already been done, go back, and stick it out until something else comes along. I’m not sure which factor it is that’s caused it, the job, the process, or this godforsaken illness, but I can’t see a move that I can make now that doesn’t end with my life in ruins.
People tell me that I don’t need to plan for the worst as it almost never happens. But I have PTSD in the first place because more than a few of the very worst things have already happened. And my flat has developed electrical problems today, just to remind me that every single thing that can go wrong me, always, invariably, does.
And to cap it all off my stress-related eczema has returned, my face looks like it’s covered in scales, and my eyes really, really, hurt.
I really don’t know where I can go from here.