Am I Dangerous?

Dear Reader,

I fucked up, I fucked up bad. I decided to talk to, work about my mental health problems. Part of me instantly regretted it but, I have been telling myself it would be ok. Then on Saturday I was told my manager wanted to know if a risk assessment needed to be done for me, at first I thought maybe it was a good idea. But as my manager is completely useless in doing anything proactive I found it disheartening to know that was his response.

It took me a while to work out that this probably wasn’t for my benefit, but was because he probably now thinks I’m dangerous and going to kill someone, or hurt someone. As he probably thinks people on the bipolar spectrum and incredibly dangerous and murderous. I am not dangerous. I have absolutely no motivation let alone desire to hurt anyone else. I am perfectly content with only hurting myself. I have to admit he is a fantastic actor because he hasn’t once let on that he knows about my condition.

So a call was made to HR, and good old HR. Human resources, looking out for the welfare of their employees!

I feel a little let down, well. Not let down. Sad, I guess. They don’t know me and their generic response is If I have a panic attack to send me home. For some that might be a good idea. But not for me. If I get sent home, I will worry about work, I will worry about if they got someone to replace me, i’ll worry about money and how I’m going to get home and how stupid I looked leaving work for what looks like no reason. And then I will worry about the fact that I am now alone, because of my stupid brain. Which, as I have come to realise means that I will probably end up hurting myself.

It’s been 4 days now since the call was made and I have pretty much just made jokes about it “Oh well, I guess I will have to go home!” or “If I start crying will you send me home?” I really need to stop joking. My partner was horrified to discover I have named my blade “Mack”, it’s a silly joke really, I probably shouldn’t be personifying it, I’m making it all a little too personal. He asked why, so I quoted random sections of the song “Mack the Knife”…. “Because I keep it out of sight.” I’m glad he doesn’t speak German because the original German lyrics of that song are far more graphic. There’s a dead guy in the street and a woman gets found with a knife in her chest. And I am about 50% another woman gets raped. I’m digressing, regardless. I need to stop joking about serious matters to do with my mental health. It is not helping me, and it is not helping others around me accept it more.

So. I guess I have to make a choice. Do I pretend that I’m ok at work and not mention my panic attacks etc…. Or do I carry on being honest and get sent home? I don’t want to go home. But I am beginning to worry, I generally work with my sleeves rolled up like Rosie the Riveter on that World War II “We Can Do It!” poster. But, I have become paranoid at the state of my arms. Ironically, the lower parts of my arms were cut accidentally when I was shaving my arms. Not that anyone who knows about my cutting believes me when I say that. I haven’t lied to those people before about cutting, I have been honest with them about when and where I have done it. So why would I lie this time? Oh! And there is also the fact that my cat insists on being held like a child with his front paws on my right arm. Unfortunately, as he is old and lazy and refuses to use his scratch post, he does have incredibly sharp, long claws which also make me look even worse. Again, why would I lie about those cuts? They aren’t deep enough, or even consistent enough to be something I did to myself.

I had a pretty harsh, mood swing today, I woke up feeling pretty happy, on the way to work, I was happy and I was great until 5PM when I absolutely crashed from what felt like the moon, right down all the way through to the earths core, where I stayed for a good 30 minutes to a point where some of my fellow staff members looked genuinely looked concerned for my safety. And they probably should have because at that point I wanted to go home and be alone and I was so very angry at myself and this damn situation. Work used to be the place I went to get away from my shitty life, now it’s just as shitty as all the other parts of my life.

As Always,

The Elephant in the Room

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22 thoughts on “Am I Dangerous?

  1. Sounds like some of the people at work are shallow, narrow-minded and a little too innocent. The cat is out of the bag now, so I say do what you have to do to keep your job. Maybe it’s time for some of them to carry you for awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My sister had to go through something like what you’re going through recently. Her coworkers found out she was depressed, and their reaction was to hospitalize her. After that, she got sent home a couple other times (including once when they found writings she made about her depression medication not working properly). In my mind, and correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like your coworkers aren’t really caring about you, but rather they’re just not knowing how to react.

    I wish there was a better answer I could give than, “I don’t know.” For myself, the only way I could find a way to tell people I have depression is to blog anonymously. You had a lot of courage coming out and talking to people. That being said, I really hope your coworkers come around and realize that you haven’t changed. You’re still good people, whether they know it or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry you are going through a rough time at work. I imagine that after enough time passes, they’ll understand you’re not dangerous and it’ll blow over or something. For now, maybe it’s good that you have an “out” from work if you need it. ? I usually panic less if I know I have an “out” available, but I’m not in your shoes.

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  4. This sucks! You were brave and spoke out and what they want to do isn’t beneficial to you. Can you be strong enough to tell them that you already know it won’t work going home. Is there somewhere you can have a time out maybe. A back room where you can collect your thoughts. We have meeting rooms and I have been known to just go in for a cry. Xx

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  5. Me personally if I were you I would tell my work as little as possible about my mental health. They can’t handle it. The world is not kind to people with mental health problems. I would try and confront your fears and panic. It’s hard but that always works for me with my anxiety.

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  6. Ive had a similar situation happen to me. . .except my co workers welcomed me with open arms. They helped me when i was feeling depressed during work. I wanted to be a work all day because they kept my mind off of things

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  7. Sorry to hear about the unsettling reactions you’ve felt from the people at work.
    It’s not an easy thing to try and talk about mental illness to your employer and I commend you for bravely approaching them and making the effort to try and see healthy strategy put in place!
    Unfortunately although HR are supposed to act in the best way for the staff as a group and individually, they don’t always seem to have a clue what the best approach is. I’d say their concern is that they will put too much pressure on you or overwhelm you at work and that you will harm yourself, it may not be that they think you are dangerous to others.
    Without meaning to seem like I’m pointing out the obvious, what if you considered re-approaching your management staff and telling them how you feel about the idea of being sent home? Perhaps even with a doctors letter of similar effect. If management can be confident that you can take a time out during a panic attack, and if there is somewhere you can go for a time to recover, perhaps they will be able to see that being sent home isn’t your only option?
    I’m hopeful that with a bit of education about what works best for you they may be able to adjust their thinking. It seems like your work is important to you and I don’t want to see you lose something that helps you keep going!
    You’re doing a fantastic job! Remember the strength you have shown thus far and know that in time, people at work will see that you haven’t changed just because – that you are still who you were before they knew about your mental illness – and maybe they will be able to see your illness needn’t be as scary as they may feel it is.
    Aimee xx

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I can understand why you’re feeling very stressed and vulnerable right now; it took lots of courage to be open about what you’re dealing with. As I read through your post, I wasn’t clear about the actual reactions of your coworkers being. A lot of what you say is about what you *fear* they are thinking about you. They gave you concerned looks, and HR came up with strategy that may not work for you, but no one has yet sent you home or made negative comments. You didn’t mention anyone avoiding you, and when you mentioned that they looked concerned late the one day, you also said they were probably justified. So I’m wondering whether you’re doing what I do, which is focus on worst case scenarios about how other *might* react or what they *might* be thinking and then I react as though those people have actually said or done the things I fear. I speak from a long experience of having that over and over. So I wonder how it would feel if you imagined everyone’s reaction in the best light (or at least a better one that you view them through now), then deal with negative experiences if and when they occur. If I’m wrong about what you’re thinking, I’m sorry. It just sounded familiar to things I’ve done.

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  9. I also wanted to add that I absolutely *don’t* think you “fucked up” by being honest. In my experience the worse and most isolating and harmful part of mental illness came from *not* telling others about it. Even when people reacted badly (as my mother once did in a therapy session I invited her to), I knew I was dealing with reality as opposed to reacting only to the fears running around in my own head. The more people realize that they already know and work with and live with and love those who are mentally ill–that we’re all around them–the better our chance of reducing the stigma that we keep talking about. Please don’t let your fear or other people’s fear silence you. You should be very proud of yourself.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. When you said Mack was the name of your blade my mind went directly to Mack the Knife. Wonderful piece as far as how it’s written; sucks to have that all happen to you. Being one with bipolar you summed it up perfectly what it’s like to work with another that has no idea about the disease. I had came out to my manager about it a few months ago and asked for some type of plan if I kept having panic attacks…his response was to fire me the next day and not tell me about it.

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  11. It all boils down to only you know if you are dangerous and when, and how best to take care of yourself, whether they know or not. I have pretty much been advised not to out myself at work bec. intentionally or not they will discriminate. But since they do know, it could be used in your favor – whatever work accommodations you might need.

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  12. You didn’t “Fuck up” you did the right thing. IDK where you live, but if you are American look into your rights under the ADA (American Disability Act). They legally can’t discriminate you because of your mental health, so if they are sending you home because they are “afraid” or if they dismiss you they could be in serious trouble. They are supposed to make “reasonable accommodation” for you, but that doesn’t mean sending you home when you are not asking to go home.

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  13. This really spoke to me. What I’ve done, and has helped immensely, is that when i have to “go home,” I instead go to my face place. That happens to be the botanical gardens, which I’m a member of so I don’t have to pay admission. You could instead go to a park, or the library, or a friends house. Go where you feel good.

    As for HR, you’re protected under the ADA. THEY CANNOT TERMINATE OR REPLACE YOU. So you should stop worrying about that. However, i wouldn’t make your condition known to everyone. Try and keep it private. That way they don’t think you’re not handling it well. Instead, blog. That’s what I do.

    I have so much to get out that if I didn’t blog, I’d end up running my life.

    Hang in there.
    -Grace

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sorry to hear that you are going through such a rough time. As far as talking about your illness at work, there is no easy answer for that. But you were honest, and that’s the main thing. I find that, in dealing with people who don’t have mental illness, it can be difficult for people to determine whether I’m serious or not. So I’ve come to the conclusion that I only make jokes about my illness when I’m around others with the same issues. They are the ones who “get” me. But at any rate, hang in there.

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  15. Oh my goodness. It drives me nuts that people are not more understanding of all mental illnesses. I have struggled with telling my employer about what is going on with me but I haven’t because of fear of judgment and because I have not been officially diagnosed. Best wishes to you.

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  16. It’s a good idea to talk about your problems with your boss, however if he’s dolt, he will lack any understanding about your MH problems, and I fear HR are no better they are simply not trained to deal with this, but will hand out leaflets with numbers to call.

    You joke about because it’s self preservation kicking in, however they could send you to a company doctor(who will generally agree with yours) that perhaps you need some time off to begin the process of perhaps getting professional help, but that too brings it’s own anxieties, and that can’t happen until your ready.

    With the company I worked for we had private health cover and therfore were sent to outside professionals who did help and were supportive, because they are trained to deal with it as Idiscovered companies tend to use MH as an excuse to meddle, and their ideas of confidentiality are vastly different from mine..

    Saying all this it was a proactive move to open up and seek help and hopefully you’ll get the support you need.

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  17. That’s a tough place to be in: wanting to be honest and bare your soul but being hesitant and paranoid about the outcome, whether it will be helpful or hurtful. Despite the outcome be proud of yourself that you were brave enough to share that delicate part of yourself. If they fail or choose not to understand then shame on them! Unfortunately their shame will not help if by chance you do get sent home if your symptoms become noticeable. But all you can do is take one day at a time… one foot in front of the other at a time and be gentle with yourself. You have my support =)

    And it is amazing how cats can be such babies at times but when you want some hugs and kisses they can’t be bothered with you. =P

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  18. This sounds like rough stuff Dear Elephant In The Room. Keep on working things out and trying. Best wishes that things go better for you soon. Thanks also for liking our bloomfield sepac page on wordpress. That was kind of you.

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  19. Work is the one place, for me too, that I use to get away. While I work from home, it is still “seperate.” I love my job. While my self-image and depression issues are not anything like yours (nobody realises but we are all affected differently and there is no textbook definition for any of us or we would all be “cured,”) I am not sure what I would do were I to end up feeling like that at work.

    My work place knows a little bit about me but it is just enough for them to understand if I have to leave. Maybe they will calm down a bit if they realise that you are only human. In the mean time, keep your chin up. I know its easier said than done but, what else can you do?

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Wow, you have quite the supportive blogging community! Thanks for liking my post. I’m new at this and it means a lot. As with any disability the workplace is obligated to accommodate your needs but they don’t get to tell you what your needs are. It needs to be a collaboration. Unfortunately there’s no clear directive that HR can “implement” and you have to create it as you go along. So this kind of flexibility would benefit you. It’s up to “us” as mental health sufferers to be advocates and know what we need and then ask for it.

    We can’t except “them” to know . And by disclosing you might as well be telling people you have leprosy. People ARE afraid. If you have enough energy one day maybe organizing a community mental health advocate to come in for a meeting and “educate” their asses. Remind them how valuable you are to the company and let them know you’re not gonna go down without a fight. Sometimes we need to take on the Italian mobster persona (tough) for people to take us seriously.

    Take good care
    La Panzona

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I hope this works out for you. At my last job, I was there for 6 years and never trusted anybody about my mental illness (depression). My job was in a call centre on the phones all day, and I’m sure if I told them the whole story, it would have made a difference when they listened to my calls every month a rated them. I didn’t even trust the women I went to lunch with as on other subjects they had ‘loose lips’, so I kept my trap shut.

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