How a Workplace Bully Gave Me PTSD
Updated: Aug 21, 2020
I wrote this post in 2013 in a previous blog I had but I wanted to add it to my current blog as it is still a big part of my life. There is a more recent update below.
"It's 5:16am and I can't go back to sleep. I've been up since before 4a.m. and of course my mind has been wandering about a lot of things such as the odd dream I just had, God and His wonderful ways of life, what I want to do with my life, and then I started asking Him what He wants me to do with my life since I haven't had a job since November. All these jobless months have made me think too much about what I want to do and what path I should take that I can't seem to stick to just one thing. Then of course I start thinking about my past jobs and this one person comes to mind who traumatized a lot of my career path.
My mind then drifted to a sick disease we call Cancer, because I found out recently that two people I know have it and it makes me wonder what on earth causes this awful thing to start in the first place...Then that made me think back to that evil person I once knew and I thought, "that manager of mine was like a Cancer battle for me." I can't say what Cancer feels like and I'm sure one can't compare it to anything else, but with the things I went through and the steps of a Cancer battle, I would have to say this person was like my Cancer and I'm in remission. I realize it is a nasty thing to say but it’s not as nasty as the things she put me through.
The fact that I can think of this person from many, many moons ago, and just the thought alone makes me cringe, my heart race, and makes me want to cry all at the same time is a clear sign of trauma and an issue that needs to be resolved.
Why dwell on it still? Well for starters, I think it's because I've regretted so many times not standing up for myself when I should've, especially when she took my laptop and went through my email and forwarded herself an email someone else sent me, without my consent. YES, THAT REALLY HAPPENED.
She somehow made me feel so small and so unworthy that I couldn't bring myself to stand up to her. I guess I felt like if I did, she’d somehow manage to make my life even worse.
Another reason I still dwell on it is that she affected the way I worked at the next job I took and I wish I could change that. I literally had to make a list of EVERY little detail that I did at work and send it to her at the end of EVERY day and call her or email her EVERY morning as soon as I got into work and EVERY evening before I left. By the time I finally got a new job, it felt strange if I didn't run something by my new manager because I was so use to being micromanaged at the previous job. I knew it wasn't right, but it was pretty much all I was use to in a work place. However, my new manager just wanted me to do what I thought was best and just own it like any normal manager would want. It's like being in a bad relationship for so long. You don't like it, but you get so use to it that change would feel weird even if it is for the best. I mean who really wants to deal with anxiety, paranoia, and fear of being fired just about every single day anyway? Why did I stay there for so long, you ask? I actually liked what I did, decent pay and benefits, big company name, and I made close friends there.
Sometimes I wish I could tell her what an awful person she was to me to show her the scars she's left me, but what's the point? Perhaps it's unfinished business or maybe it would make my mind at ease by having closure in a sense. She made up so many lies and told me no one wanted me there all because she wanted me gone, but I never understood why.
I remember on one of the many dreadful occasions, I threw a going away party at a bowling alley for a VP I supported. Another admin / friend of mine helped out and we ordered the food, gifts for the VP, and trophy prizes to hand out at the end of the bowling event. I took pictures and passed out awards to teams, and everyone praised me for doing such a great job at hosting the event. It was a great turn out and I just knew the good news would go back to my manager and she'd be proud of me too...Or so I thought.
She came to me the next day and said she heard I didn't pass out the awards and that the party turned out horrible. I couldn't believe it! It always seemed like stories would always get switched up at that place or she'd try to come up with a story of her own to try to catch me in something to get me fired, because it's what she always wanted. Luckily, I had proof with pictures, which eventually kept her quiet after 5 minutes of unnecessary nagging. That was until she found something else to complain about.
Micromanagers should never be managers and no one should ever be harassed at work and have it be ignored. Maybe this is why I was awake. Maybe God answered my question of what to do (for now) by telling me to write a brief summary of what I went through at work to let people know it's never okay to be bullied at work. No one should ever feel small at work or have to report every little detail about what they did, or be told awful things that they are doing terribly and that no one wants them around. It's not right and if it's happening to you or someone you know, do as Bob Marley said, “Get up, stand up! Stand up for your rights!" Don't worry about losing your job, because there are plenty more out there and remember, what's meant to be will be."
Earlier this year, I went to see a therapist and was diagnosed with PTSD from what this manager did to me. Before working at that big corporate company, I used to be able to know what I want, ask for what I want without hesitation, and since working for her, I have had a hard time deciding on things because I always had to run everything by my old manager. Even knowing that she affected me this way, it became such a habit that it's been hard to out-grow 6 years later. It's something I'm working on and I am getting much better at making decisions for myself without having to ask my husband, for example, and not feeling like a battered child.
In July / August, I went to see an energy healer friend of mine. He said I'm holding myself back from what I want to do and it's because of fear of not being good enough and that I need to forgive. When he did Reiki / energy healing, he told me to forgive myself over and over again and forgive EVERYONE in my life that's ever hurt me until I really forgive them. I forgave my old manager and yes, it was difficult because of the pain she's caused me. I forgave her because I realized I can't control her for being how or who she is. I also had to forgive myself, because only I can control my feelings and my actions, and by letting her do that to me, I caused pain on myself. Had I figured this out when I was younger I'd probably be in higher places, but going through trial and error and tribulations is what makes us stronger.
If you suffer from workplace harassment or bullying, don't let it continue happening. Don't be afraid of losing your job for defending yourself. Your mental health is more important than your job. You can always get another job, but you can't undo the scars of a bully. Document everything as much as possible, seek a therapist for another opinion to see if this person is being detrimental to your health, and if it becomes an issue, talk to Human Resources right away. Trust your instincts on who you can talk to, but most importantly stand your ground.