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What Is The Workplace Really Like For Employees With PTSD?

Discussion in 'PTSD Polls' started by PTSD and Me, Jun 19, 2010.

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What Is The Workplace Really Like For Employees With PTSD?

Poll closed Jul 23, 2010.
  1. For the most part I have been treated fairly

    8 vote(s)
    25.8%
  2. Sometimes I have been treated fairly and sometimes I have not

    17 vote(s)
    54.8%
  3. For the most part, I have been treated unfairly

    6 vote(s)
    19.4%
  1. PTSD and Me

    PTSD and Me Active Member

    I am doing some research on employees with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to see what kinds of experiences they have. Available literature and laws seem to indicate that bosses should be aware that these are frequently considered disabilities covered by the ADA in the U.S. and that accommodations should readily be made to keep such employees.

    I have PTSD, but my occupational field is Human Resources where we are required to know the laws and what is expected of a company. I have disclosed my PTSD as a disability to all of my employers so that I could benefit from accommodation under the ADA, and I have been treated with respect and dignity. I now realize that I may have been lucky or it may have been my knowledge of the applicable laws that made my managers happy to make accommodations (rather than face the consequences they knew I could bring about). I am now learning that this is perhaps more the exception than the rule, and I wonder if others with PTSD disclose it as a disability or not.

    I was wondering if anyone has any positive or negative experiences about work that they would like to share?
  2. somegirl

    somegirl New Member

    Not that I have ever disclosed my diagnosis or personal information with anyone in my workplace, other than anxiety, I was still not treated fairly.

    I read somewhere that due to a lack of sleep and concentration, it is difficult for people with PTSD to get to work on time. This was definitely my issue.

    I worked for the federal government (still do, I guess). I had been in roles where I was more supportive to upper management and knew what that entailed; if ever my boss was late or wasn't around for any reason, I had to be there, on time, to make sure his calls were answered in such a way as to maintain his reputation. That boss was never on my case, understood that I could be late 5 or 10 minutes but would stay at the end to make up for it.

    I moved on to another boss who was an absolute bully. Horrid as she was, I worked in HR and because of my position, was not able to appeal to my union. Seemed I had now become an employee in a posisition that was classified "sensitive" and union representation would not cover me.

    I transferred out of that position into another in HR. My acting manager was inexperienced and very high-strung. I no longer reported to anyone who needed me to cover their ass, so-to-speak. Being late every now and again brought a letter of reprimand upon my personnel file. Even though I would consistently do overtime and stay over lunch. Fighting that was futile as I eventually ended up just showing my boss exactly where my weaknesses lie. She took advantage all she could.

    I once had a panic attack as work... Thinking I could trust my boss, I gave her a note to tell her what was going on. That turned into a threat to be sent for a "fitness to work" examination. I was obviously upset by the lack of understanding but what she didn't get what that I actually welcomed such srutiny! I don't have a family doctor. What upset me was her bs and lies. She took advantage of me.

    With the bully boss, had I fought the situation, there was no way I would have been viewed in such a negative light. Seeing as I was in the incestual world of HR and hadn't fought, a false reputation followed me around.

    Sorry, that is my long runaround story. If there was more education out there, I believe that employers might be more tolerant of employees who require different work hours for example. But that was the least of my problems.

    Inexperienced women bosses who feel threatened other women can certainly have a negative effect in the workplace. Or at least, that is the impression I am left with. I never want to work for another woman again!
  3. superjen

    superjen New Member Premium Member

    somegirl,

    I ~totally~ empathise with the way you were treated. But I was actually a little set back by you saying so very blankly :

    'I never want to work for another woman again!'

    That is such a black and white statement. I'm extremely sorry you had a bad experience with a female boss - but that doesn't mean the next boss who happens to be of a certain gender would treat you the same way. You're judging an entire gender based on one experience. I'll tell you right now - I'm female and I wouldn't have done that if I were your boss. And I'm pretty certain many other females wouldn't have either. I sincerely hope you don't take this as a 'statement back'. I just think it's sad if you would write off certain possible future opportunities purely based on the gender of a future employer.

    I really hope you don't hold your experience against 'females' as a whole. We're all people. I'm very sorry for your experience. That 'inexperienced boss' could have just as easily been male or female. We're all people.

    -Jen
  4. PTSD and Me

    PTSD and Me Active Member

    Workplaces

    Hi Superjen & Somegirl,

    I can truly understand how you feel - I have had some terrible bosses, some were men, some were women. I am a woman working in HR and taking on a mission to try to educate employers to what people with PTSD need, what are the most important factors in the workplace?

    For example, what helps the most / least:
    • co-workers understanding
    • manager's style
    • type of work
    • organizational culture
    • work station
    I loved your long answer, somegirl, it said so much about the things bosses need to hear. My goal is to try to give employees with PTSD to coach their bosses back. I think we should give them constructive feedback based on your real experiences.

    If it helps, a good way to answer the questions might be:

    "In my first job ABC happened, I would like to tell that boss that writing me up did no good at all to help me stop having panic attacks, it made things worse. What I really needed was DEF.

    In my second job, GHI happened, and my boss handled it well in that she gave me the flexible time I needed, and never asked too many questions, except 'Are you ok today?'. That let me know she cared, but I didn't feel under pressure to disclose my PTSD so I was comfortable with her."

    Does that help? I love your answers, and you can rail about not wanting to work for a man or woman again if you like - please just be aware that I can only focus on behavior, Ican't coach an employer not to be a man or a woman. ;)
  5. somegirl

    somegirl New Member

    Good morning ladies :)

    Jen - I do understand your point and I bet I would be inclined to think the same thing after reading my post. I am generally a very open and unbiased person, so yes, this is out of character for me. I wouldn't say I would rule out working for a woman again *entirely*. In HR though, I doubt I ever will again lol! Though, good point, maybe it is just the gov't :p

    The bully boss treated me like she treated her own daughter, which was not very well at all. For instance, instead of letting her daughters phone call go to voicemail or answering nicely to say she was busy, she would deliberately put her on speaker phone and say "WHAT?!". Belittling and demeaning her daughter in front of her co-workers every chance she got.

    The boss with little experience worked for another woman and was threatened by my work ethic, etc. She did everything to ensure that her own boss would not see my qualities. In fact, (PTSD and Me, you will love this) when I was brought in for the meeting to get my letter of reprimand, my boss had ever so thoughtfully printed out calendars and coloured (YES, with markers!!) days when I had come in late and days when I had come in on time but "wasn't feeling well". Instead of commending me for coming in when I felt like crap, she colour coded it as if it was a bad thing. The HR reps in the room got really uneasy when she whipped that out. But I digress....

    I can't say I've ever worked for a man who let emotions get in the way like that. My male bosses have never gotten threatened, never treated me like a child, etc. That being said, it could happen and I suppose it is just my luck that it turned out this way. Another factor was speaking with other women (my grandmother in particular) who've had similar experiences. It's a very dog eat dog world in the female bureaucracy race. Maybe it's just that I had two bad bosses in a row who happened to be females, working in gov't HR.

    Thanks for letting me know how you felt. It gave me an opportunity to see how badly that affected me, to elaborate and explore a little bit.
  6. PTSD and Me

    PTSD and Me Active Member

    Getting The Study Back On Track...

    So then, would it be fair to say that the characteristics that made those jobs difficult for you were the manager's attitudes toward you?

    Did they know about your PTSD?

    If so, was this their idea of "supporting" you to be better in your job by highlighting (In marker!?! In a group setting!?! *pulls hair out*) the areas that they wanted you to improve?

    You never know what some bosses are thinking. I once had a male manager twice my age who knew I had PTSD, and who I was complaining to about the IS department not delivering on a promise they made. He started yelling at me, "Don't play the victim!"

    At first I was taken aback, but a couple more repetitions of "Don't play the victim!" and I yelled back at him. "Don't you ever call me that again! I am NOT a victim!" Not a very intelligent thing to do on the whole... but he had the best of intentions, wanted to help, and never thought that I would be so offended. He dropped it right there, and never made a comment about my little outburst.
    712xx likes this.
  7. emmat

    emmat New Member

    I only ever exprienced 'victim blaming' at the hand of my male bosses. They assumed that I had done something to deserve being abused by my ex and two actually told me that '...if it had been that bad I should have left him and because I didn't I had no right to extra support...' If I experienced a flashback I was told I was inventing things/ being lazy/ being hormonal and a varity of other such joys. When one made rape jokes knowing my past I got a disiciplinary warning for walking away from my post in tears.

    In my experience, boses, like so many other people fall into the trap of trying to deny that terrible things happen to people they know, and in doing so often treat people (prehaps not always actively, but often passively) that have suffered trauma like they are weak at best, liars at worst. Lots of people feel unconfortable around people that have suffered a trauma, and where outside of the workplace they can just choose to avoid those people inside it's different.

    Sorry this was a bit tangential... I think I'm getting triggered so I'm going to stop typing now.
    myself likes this.
  8. superjen

    superjen New Member Premium Member

    PTSD and Me -
    I'm afraid I can't really contribute to the study because I haven't had any bosses aware of my PTSD. It's certainly affected me in the workplace (mostly from an anxiety standpoint). I *think* if you asked my past bosses if they noticed they'd probably just answer with 'I just figured she was very shy'. It's never held me back from THEIR end - I was promoted, etc etc. From my end - I've often gone to work VERY anxious and had to talk myself down, which I think makes a regular workday a lot harder. The biggest challenge wasn't the work itself - it's having to do it in such an anxious state. Sorry I can't be of more help with the study.
  9. PTSD and Me

    PTSD and Me Active Member

    Whether They Know It Or Not

    Thanks superjen, actually your input is very helpful.

    I believe it is possible to be treated fairly or unfairly even if your employer doesn't know you have PTSD. So I would be interested in hearing about your experiences just the same.

    I feel (as you seem to) that even if you don't disclose PTSD to employers, they sense that something is different about you. I know they have for me. What they do with an employee who doesn't fit the mold is of interest to me.

    I also wonder, have you ever considered telling an employer? Why did you come to the conclusion that you should not.

    All of your thoughts about how this works are very helpful to me. Without your contributions, I have only my own experience to go by...

    Thank you in advance to anyone who participates! You are helping all of us with PTSD.
  10. superjen

    superjen New Member Premium Member

    PTSD and Me -
    ok, my honest answer would be that I dont think I've ever been treated unfairly. I think if anything has held me back in terms of PTSD its been myself. Also, I was only recently diagnosed so it wasn't so much a matter of not telling them as much as it was a matter of me not knowing myself. Also, I prefer to work for small organisations rather than large ones. I feel more able to integrate into a group if it's small. If it's really big I tend to withdraw more. I'm very much like this in a social sense also. I'm much better in a one or one situation (or a small group). The bigger the group the more I will tend to stay silent.

    In one job I was transferred between departments and my ex manager told my new manager (I overheard it) - 'If she doesn't talk very much don't take it personally, it's just Jen. Just let her get on with the job because that's how she performs best, etc'. I also recall walking around a corner one day and someone was coming and I jumped. And my co worker noted 'you're a jumpy little thing, arent you?'.

    Would I now feel comfortable telling an employer? ...NOT in an interview, no. Because I would be afraid I wouldn't get the job because they would assume I may be unreliable or erratic and that they may have to make exceptions for me which they wouldn't have to make for another employee. Much like someone being pregnant ( ie - oh great, now we're gonna have to replace her, handle maternity leave, etc etc). After a certain amount of time on a job I MAY consider telling an employer, but not if it was a large company where 'word spreads' amongst people who don't really know you. People judge. They sometimes don't even mean to judge, they simply don't understand what it is. I suppose if I disclosed it in a large company I may go to work even MORE anxious because *I* would be thinking 'are they talking about me?', etc. Another irony - I am gay and I have no problem disclosing this so I'm quite brave in that sense - ie, I dont care what anyone has to say about that - it's 2010 - get over it!!! But with PTSD - I suppose *I* am still a little ashamed of it. It's new to me still.

    I do think people notice 'something' different but they can't put their finger on what it is. Funny thing is, a manager once noted to me that I had got the promotion because I got on with the job while many others sat around gossiping. Ironic when I think about why I wasn't off with the rest of them and was just sat at my desk with my head down working, etc.

    The worst thing for me is the anxiety. Especially after days off. I find it's much harder to go to work after days off when I've had time away. I almost feel like a little kid wanting to say 'please don't make me go, PLEASE don't make me go'. Not because I'm lazy - but because I feel so freaking anxious outside of my own little safe world.

    Hope this all makes sense.
    PTSD and Me likes this.
  11. somegirl

    somegirl New Member

    Definitely the managers attitudes towards me. I absolutely had no difficulty doing the job. In fact, I found that I did not have enough work, requested many times to be put to more use, if not better use.

    They did not know of my PTSD, as I didn't even know... I did tell them about my anxiety but only after I'd suffered the panic attack, above mentioned.

    The next day, she pulled me into the office to say that she really didn't know what to do when I gave her the note. She wanted to know if it was going to happen again, how often they happen, etc. and that I should be sent for a fitness to work evaluation. I told her that that was not necessary, that she had done the right thing initially in telling me to go take a walk around the building.... I also informed her that this wasn't my first time and that usually I was able to catch it before it got too far and at least take myself to the washroom where no one could see me, until I calmed down. I told her I was managing it just fine. She didn't really believe me and eventually I had to say "Look. It is going to happen again. When? I don't know. Maybe when I'm driving, maybe while I'm working, maybe while I'm cooking dinner, but it will happen again." Ok, I digress again.

    Here is what I would recommend to boss's of people with C/PTSD:

    • If you are calling your employee in for a meeting with you and you haven't really said what it is for, at least KEEP the meeting time. DO NOT put it off. There is nothing I hated more than being told we would have a quick impromptu meeting at 2pm and then the time comes and they would just say "oh, how about another 15 minutes?"
    • If you have a high functioning employee who does a great job but comes in 5-10 minutes late, though consistently.. especially if it doesn't affect anyone else, and you don't want to give them a half hour variable start time, change their work hours in your brain!! 8:40 to 5:40. It will save us all some grief!
    • Have "meditation rooms". A safe place for people to go to be alone for a while if they need it. In PTSD speak: an escape route!!
    • Try and be consistent with your own attitude. A volatile boss will do nothing but make me vulnerable, scared and on edge.
    • Be transparent or have discussions in a closed office. Hearing people whispering around me spiked my anxiety all the time.
    PerfectEmpire and myself like this.
  12. Grama-Herc

    Grama-Herc VIP Member

    I voted unfairly----but to be fair to those who employed me--I was working undiagnosed. so they did not know and I did not know. But as my symptoms escalated they did not attempt to find out why I was becoming unmanageable. I worked for them for 8 solid years and they watched me crumble. No one asked me if there were problems or even counseled me to shape up.

    Seeing the writing on the wall and realizing I was going to get fired, I did my usual and got a new job. That had been a pattern my entire life. I was blessed, however, with a new boss that only took 6 months to recognize I was spiraling down. I remember her 1st words to me when she called me into her office on the day I was convinced I would be fired. She said, and I quote--"What is going on? You are not the woman I hired." She got me the help I needed instantly and the rest is history.

    But, Anthony, how can this polll be useful to you when so many of people are voting unfair and their employers were never told? Anyway, that is my input
  13. PTSD and Me

    PTSD and Me Active Member

    Grama-Herc - The poll is designed to measure your perceptions of your employers. I can see in your answer that while you feel the first employer may have been slightly justified, that after investing 8 years with them, perhaps they could have invested a little more time in helping you out - even if it wasn't strictly required by law. Your answer gives a perfect illustration of the confusion that can arise about how we are treated in the workplace. Thank you so much for your participation.
  14. Jagged Angel

    Jagged Angel Well-Known Member

    Hi,

    I have told a few people I've worked with, and those I have told have treated me with respect and understanding. Most people I have worked with have noticed that there is something 'different' about me, and treated me with respect and understanding as well. However, I must include a rider here: I have been told that people respect me because I have an 'unknown quality' about me, and I come across as a very strong, and 'dangerous' person (not 'dangerous' as in postal, but 'dangerous' as in 'not sure how far she'll go to get what she wants'). I am not in any way a 'victim' type.

    Those people who have been too... stupid... to see that I'm 'different' have learned really fast the consequences of trying to push my buttons. I'm not a violent person - these days - , but I do 'walk softly but carry a large stick' (Teddy Roosevelt).

    In my current workplace, there are very few people who know about my CPTSD, and these are people who affect when, where and how much I work - they have been very understanding, and I am able to arrange my teaching classes (I am an academic at a uni) to suit. They have also given me an office that is away from the rest of the offices, has its own air conditioning, and has direct access to the outside of the building, so I have peace, control over my environment, and an easy escape route. I have been very fortunate.
  15. dhawkins78412

    dhawkins78412 New Member

    Work place for employees with PTSD

    I think working with a history of ptsd is extremely difficult. At first I was a people pleaser. If someone offered me say gum or candy I felt I had to accept it. I know now that was b/c I was obedient to my parents. If they told me to meet them somewhere I'd panic if they were late. I thought I was doing something wrong. It took years for me to become assertive. I realized at a certain point I saw my supervisors as my parents. What a revelation that was.

    I think too many things come out while at work. It took me a while to figure out office politics. My perspective was that no one was a friend they were my coworkers. And I envied people who seemed to be friends. I felt lonely and isolated. I'd think why dont' people like me. In spite of that I kept plugging away at work. I think the workplace aggravates ptsd.

    I work in a super busy health clinic. Almost all of us voice we're stressed and overwhelmed. Sometimes its so hard to get up in the morning. I just hate to get up and go to work. I can tell how stressed I am by how I feel from when I'm not working to when I am working.
  16. MizzASG

    MizzASG New Member

    It was a very hard choice to disclose the nature of my illness to my employer. My immediate co workers, most of them, empathized and tried their best to help me. My supervisor was the best, but I think only because we became very good friends as co workers before she became my supervisor. She had her own stuff to go through and because work became very stressful at time it was to take over for the other for a few minutes and to just comfort each other.

    On the other hand, the more "up" in management you go, the worse response I got. My site manager attempted to sympathize after I told her, but she is the type of person to tell you about how great her life is in an attempt to make you feel better. She just did not get it, but at least she tried. I told her I had a car accident a couple years ago and at least she understood it was tied to that and tried not to be so hard on me. She wrote me up once because I missed work while attempting suicide. I told her and she hugged me and apologized she had to write me up, but it was only technically a "verbal" warning.

    When it came to more upper management, and I started taking time off work, I chose not to disclose it. Only because I work as a civilian in a company of ex officers, RCMP and soldiers. My human resources manager, being an ex soldier, does not understand how "civilians" get stressed and he believes there is no such thing as PTSD and that those labels are nothing better than excuses. So while I was on medical leave he decided I was too "unreliable" and took me off my work site.

    I am still on medical leave benefits and will quit as soon as my benefits stop because I felt so disrespected by the HR manager. Because I am contracted I have no labor rights, and he is totally taking advantage of that.

    It's time for a change anyways. It was very hard at first but hopefully the next employer I find will go much more smoother =).

    So I had a little of both. I was greatly supported by co workers (they even called around for therapists for me after I told them the mood disorder clinic turned me away) but the higher up in management I went, the less support and reasoning I got.

    I hope this can help you with your research.
  17. Lucycat

    Lucycat I Love Pecan Pie :) Premium Member

    Hi

    This is fascinating research. I hope the information gained will be useful.

    For my own part I have not disclosed my PTSD. In fact my therapist has strongly advised me against it, although at times I wish I could. Earlier in the year I had nearly 4 months off work, and my GP was careful with the wording of my sick note, but that led to rumours and assumptions about why I was off. Since coming back to work I have been asked on a couple of occasions why I was off but have refused to say. This is more about co-workers being nosy than a desire to support me. While I was actually off I have been told that one co-worker went to my manager DEMANDING to be told my reason for being off. What she did not know was that actually my manager did not know either! The same co-worker then came to my home, walking past my husband, straight into my living room and insisted that I needed to sort out some problems at work. She got short shrift then, and I have avoided her ever since I returned. My manager suggested I make a formal complaint but I just do not have the energy.....

    I would hope for support at work if I disclosed, but in reality it is unlikely. It is more likely that my work would be restricted. I trust my therapist, and he knows my workplace very well. I would like to help to reduce the stigma and tell everyone, but not if it is going to negatively effect my own health and wellbeing.

    Good Luck!
  18. PTSD and Me

    PTSD and Me Active Member

    Wow, Lucycat,

    That sounds like a rough ride. I'm so sorry your co-workers are such skunks. That is obnoxious behavior and honestly, I have to agree with your manager that a formal complaint is more that in order here.

    You know, before I started doing this research, I never thought that there were so many people on Earth walking around with PTSD and not getting any support to be successful at work. I certainly understand why you wouldn't disclose it if it was going to be a problem for your health or anxiety level. You can't put yourself at personal risk to fight a social stigma.

    All I can do is wonder about the vets coming back from the Gulf War, there are so many. How are they going to come back to any semblence of a normal life if they can't be honest with their managers about what's happened to them and how their brains are now rewired?

    What kind of untapped talent pool is there in people who just need someone to understand, protect and support them the way the law requires employers to do? Is it such an impossible thing to shut co-workers like yours down? I can tell you if I was your manager, I would have hung that employee from a tree whether you wanted to file a complaint or not. I'd file the complaint myself, as the manager. Then I'd probably find a way to show her the door.

    Anyway, now I'm digressing on my own topic. Please keep telling more about your experiences, this is my way of giving employees with PTSD a collective voice. What works, what doesn't work, what's a misunderstanding and what downright sucks.

    Thank you all for your participation!
  19. syrinx

    syrinx New Member

    Working in mental health I have had some interesting experiences. Overall in the United States it is a little taboo for a licensed MH professional to disclose, not to mention have, a history of mental health issues.

    One job I had not only would have it been extremely detrimental for me to disclose, but the work environment was extremely triggering. It was my first psychotherapist position, I was working with kids, my supervisor was terrible and unsupportive, and I didn't receive even half the supervision and training promised upon hire. Not to mention that the office was extremely micromanaged. The unstable and unpredictable work environment triggered a lot of issues with my childhood and school. Eventually I was asked to resign, even though I was leaving anyways.

    My current job the fact that I had some mental health history was known when I was hired. A former professor was a department head, and he was aware I had accommodations when I was in school. My current agency is extremely progressive and actively encourages people with personal experience in mental health to be employees. It is actually so progressive the upper management who knew about me was a little too excited about me working there and my history, and continued to act extremely embarrassed when they mention it to me forgetting I have chosen to not disclose at work.

    I actually find this kind of cute when they do this, rather than feeling like my privacy has been violated. It is nice to be in a place where I know I am excepted and my life story can't be used against me. It is also good to know if I did hit a rough patch with my PTSD that I'd have support. Honestly, I am really thankful to have my job, and it's a rarity to find something like this in my field.
  20. Samuel

    Samuel New Member

    I work in a small business which is run by a local family. Not my family just others. I live inner-city but its like a country town - My bosses gave me time off when the trauma actually occurred. They treated me differently once it happened - tip toed around me for a couple of months. After a while they knew something was wrong. It was then that they started to be harsh on me. I struggled to keep focused and I'd have flashbacks and stuff at work and get really anxious. Because it was a small business they were always understaffed and over worked - I was the model employee before the trauma and I no my work deteriorated but I didn't get much sympathy or understanding from my bosses. I think In a different job my issues would have been less noticeable. To my bosses credit they never fired me. Im still working there but the owners have changed hands. My new bosses are very supportive - they don't no the extent of my problems or the root of my problems. This is helpful - they always allow we to take days off if I need them (I would never ask if I didn't really need the day to myself).

    Im not sure how useful this is to you - but yer best of luck with your research.
  21. PTSD and Me

    PTSD and Me Active Member

    Would you be willing to go into more detail, Wanting A Life? While the research paper has been completed this topic still interests me.
  22. Thanks for wanting to hear, PTSD and Me.
    I have some general answers and some specific answers that surround one of my traumas. In general - not being able to "escape" to a quieter or less busy place when I need to (of course no one else sees "normal work environments" as something you might feel a need to escape from), having to be around so many people not of my choosing who are putting out all kinds of different energies for hours on end, so much opportunity for normal and relatively minor cristicisms on the job - which my mind turns into, "I'm bad, I'm bad, bad,bad,bad....." or "I don't matter..." The last time I could work full time was 2007. Even for years before that I would come home completely exhausted from the emotion it took to get through a day - if I worked, that was ALL I could do that day. Now I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to find a place to live when I'm discharged from this crisis house - normal work and espeically meetings have so many embedded triggers. I am embarrassed to say that I am applying for SSI disability benefits - and even if I am approved it won't be for months. Very scary.

    As far as my last job, from the end of 2005 to mid 2007 - I knew I had made a big difference by pretty much being given full reign to transform the Alzheimer's unit of the richest nursing home in the county. I keep up to date on progressive ideas and programs around the world, I take calculated risks, I talk directly to the state inspectors and ask what they think about innovative ideas that have had good results elsewhere, and then I implement them.

    So I decided to take on the poorest nursing home in the county specifically because it was the lousiest place to live. There was no program on the Alzheimer's unit, so I had pretty similar free reign as far as designing the program from scratch. That part was great, and I want to be very clear that residents, clients, the people I am serving, are NEVER my stressors or triggers. Rather, I use my own symptoms to gauge how they're probably dealing with their environment. If I'm in auditory overload from the drone of the TV in the corner of the day room, so are the folks with Alzheimer's, whose world is confusing enough already. Even more importantly, I also know that all my folks who are hard of hearing (at least half the room) will be having a harder time interpreting their environment due to the noise clutter.

    So I pretty much had no budget - ok, I don't mind that challenge. BUT what I didn't understand about why this county home consistently had lower quality care had everything to do with the UNION combined with corrupt and just plain lousy administration. Please NEVER put anyone you care about in a union nursing home. The unfortunate end result of this combination is that ABUSIVE STAFF CANNOT BE FIRED. Throw in a culture where "union workers don't report on other union workers," to quote one nurse's aide. Holy cow! I've never seen anything like it!

    My co-worker, who I had to spend significant time with, had a major anger problem which he freely aimed at almost anyone in general but always had a favorite target for. I can still hardly believe that NO ONE TOLD ME until the very hour that I left that the woman who had held my post previously had quit after dealing with his violent outbursts and other abuse for years. She, like me, had complained endlessly to our supervisor (who was too scared to confront him) and then to the administrator. The administrator similarly did nothing despite continuous complaints of his outrageous behavior. Eventually the worker took her complaints to the police and was easily able to get a restraining order against him. Since he couldn't be in her vicinity, the administrator fired him. The union took up the case and he got his job back because there had been no prior disciplinary action - because the administrator had inappropriately ignored all her earlier complaints in the first place.

    When I came in I was John's perfect target. No amount of the supervisor seeing his innappropriate behavior or of my written complaints amounted to any discipline. At one point he was walking aggressively and fast toward the dog I had trained and partnered with in the nursing home. I stayed by her side to protect her and he body checked me in front of the whole dining room full of residents. My supervisor saw it and blamed ME for not jumping out of his way. When we had to be together for outings on the van, he and even our supervisor would put the music up loud even though I had explained that I literally could not tolerate it. Life was absolute hell, because 5 days out of 7 I was stuck in this atmosphere.

    One day I before I realized the depth of corruption of the administrator, I had an unfortunately closed door meeting with him about John. I said that he talked threateningly about his guns and about how he kept them in the car while he was at work, and that I was seriously worried that he would "go postal" one day, with me being his first target. The administrator's response was simply, "Don't you think I'm afraid he's going to shoot ME? I'm not touching him."

    To my endless dismay, I have not had much luck in my life in finding guys who are both strong and good. I'm told and still firmly believe that this mythical creature exists, and I wonder and grieve at not having at least one in my life.

    To make matters worse for me, I was simultaneously reporting on aides and nurses who were being abusive to residents. When I was interviewed for this job and they asked what my "weakness" was, I told them flat out that I could not handle and therefore did not tolerate disrespect or abuse of clients. "That's great," they said during the interview. When they found out that I MEANT it and would report it as high up the chain of command as necessary to fix it, it was a different story. By that time, I myself had become "a problem" for the administrator, and he saw that it would be much easier to get rid of me than scary John anyway. Might have had something to do with the state investigator that I finally had to call citing the administrator PERSONALLY for failing to report elder abuse.

    I was already a basket case from spending my days like this. I was in major depression and found I had to nap on the linoleum floor of my office with the door closed just to get through each day. Spent more and more time holed up in there, crying.

    I made the unfortunate mistake of telling the administrator at one point that I already had PTSD and that John was a major trigger. He said that if I could write it all down he might be able to at least keep John away from me by using ADA code because I had a "disability." Seeing no other options, I did write every incident that I could remember. Regarding my PTSD, I wrote that being forced to work with a constantly angry man who had violent outbursts was impossible. The son-of-a-bitch used that paper to claim that I was therefore ineligible to work on the Alzheimer's unit, which I had in the meantime transformed from a miserable place to a much much brighter, happier place with many fewer depressed residents. He called me to an ambush meeting with no union rep and said I could either sign a paper agreeing to be evaluated by their psychiatrist or be discharged immediately. I signed, but shouldn't have. That meeting was like being raped, with all the details reported to committee. I realize now that the strategy was to make it so difficult there that I would quit and they wouldn't have to deal with me OR pay unemployment, and it worked like a charm.

    For a while I had the satisfaction of being able to air some of this dirty laundry on the local newspaper's comments section during a dispute over other corruption at the home. I haven't quite figured out yet whether that was healthy or unhealthy for me. But in any case, full time and often even part time work has been an impossiblitiy since then. And shame goes with that, not to mention poverty and homelessness... I don't know how many times my aunt (when I was staying with my family in Portugal last year) said, "I was never too proud to work!" My brother's cut me off emotionally, pretty much, apparently mostly because I don't "just get a job!" I even have a hard time believing myself that it's really as hard as all that ... but every time I try, I fall flat on my face. Anyway, long answer to your question I guess. Thanks for listening.
    Zef likes this.
  23. Philippa

    Philippa VIP Member

    I think in my last job, which is the one I can remember right now, I was mainly treated fairly. There were some incidences of bitchiness and weirdness, but on the whole I was treated quite well. The issue for me was with PTSD I kept forgetting things, and blanking out while I was working...ALL THE TIME.

    I would file reports away in totally the wrong places, and not notice until it was pointed out to me. Usually I will learn from my mistakes, but this went on and on, pretty much for the whole time I was employed, so I can understand if they thought I was an idiot. I started to really question my mental health, but I think the nature of the job was just very bad for someone with PTSD to start with, so it wasn't really my fault.

    There was a bully that took over the managers position, but I rarely had any interactions with her, and the women I worked with didn't take any shit from her.

    The smell of the place was overwhelming to me, but no one else noticed, as they'd been there so long and were used to it. I didn't complain that much about it, but somehow the ladies there took it that I thought THEY smelled bad, which was not the case at all. I didn't discover they thought this until the last 10 minutes of my employment there...and by then it was too late to really explain.

    On the whole though I feel like I'm lucky. I've had horrible bosses in the past before I had PTSD, so I feel like I have had a fairly good run so far. I guess there was a bit of exclusion that went on towards the last 6 months from the women there, and we were definitely very different and didn't gel some of us...and when the pack mentality hits, no one wants to be left on the outer, so they join forces.

    I did feel very uncomfortable in the last few months, and new it was time to leave, but it was not from anything they specifically did...I just started feeling pretty insecure in myself, I think my self-esteem was really affected by all the misfiling that was going on. It made me feel stupid that I kept making such stupid mistakes for the whole 2 years, when it seems like a really easy thing to do...it's just filing after all.

    I'm a pretty bright person and can work out complex things very easily, but simple stuff like filing seemed too much for me...which was hard to reconcile with.

    I would also do crazy stuff like turn up to work on public holidays, and be late for work fairly regularly...not by much, but still on a regular basis. The ladies weren't too fussed about stuff like that though, but it was embarrassing that my misfiling kept creating a lot of confusion for them, to the point where the finally had to dissolve my position alltogether, and decided to take over all my duties, as well as there own (which were plenty), as they pretty much HAD to re arrange the files when I wasn't there, just to maintain order.

    I chose not to tell them I had PTSD, and I haven't told the woman I am currently contracted to work for about it either, although she has been very understanding when I say I can't work due to emotional upsets and mini breakdowns and grief periods that have been coming up recently for me. She can be dominating though, and there are power plays afoot, but she is fair, I'll give her that.
  24. PTSD sufferer

    PTSD sufferer New Member Premium Member

    I guess I am curious about this topic...I don't work because one of my primary traumas was work related. I have to say that HR did not offer me support or the union, so I may be biased. But, from my own experience and significant education, I know that HR are not about helping employees, rather about the legalities of protecting managers and organisation. Why is it that CSR and ethics is such a big problem in business today...?? My feelings are that employees are treated like liabilities rather than assets and human beings with rights.

    Firstly, there are new laws in most countries (US not yet) that are designed to stop workplace bullying and ensure CSR/ Ethical conduct in business. Yet, HR does not mandate education/ training around these 'rights of employees'. So, employees are kept in the dark (deliberately to reduce the number of potential lawsuits that a manager or company can face when they misbehave).

    HR are generally expected to create the culture of an organisation. If managers do not understanding how to behave with civility and understanding, then getting in late or going part-time will make no difference.
    The thing is, you need to empower your employees and not just managers to create a culture of transparency and understanding and pull those who create hostile work environments up.

    If you have PTSD or not, a hostile work environment would cause lower productivity levels, late arrivals and increases in sick days. So, maybe it is about generally doing a better job at reducing these hostile environments for everyone that is needed, and not just for those with PTSD.

    Considering the unethical, immoral and hostile environments can cause stress and PTSD, then surely it is not about adding to the list of things you can do for those that suffer, but about HR doing its job better and more pro-active job to prevent such issues in the first place, rather than an insincere list of 'benefits' when you have PTSD. So, my opinion is that HR needs to get better at CSR and ethics, rather than make a list of things a company is willing to do for the disabled.

    Those with PTSD, have different triggers and different needs, so doing a blanket list of things a PTSD person could have is not helpful at all. If HR are going to consider a PTSD persons needs, then that should be as determined by the person with PTSD (and discussed with their T and not HR). Discrimination is a big problem, and obviously, the illness has been used in some cases (in this thread) to make a sufferers life even more difficult. Surely a sensible HR person would realise this tactic and put a stop to it....but they don't because those that complain are liabilities, not intellectual capital, human beings and valued assets...

    People with PTSD can be very productive members of a team, and often the most valued team members. Their disability is not the problem, the environment is.

    So, fix the environment by applying CSR and ethical principles and have the guts to educate employees about their rights in a transparent way. Investigate grievances thoroughly, and with an open mind. Go beyond the legal minimum of protecting the powerful (manager and organisation), and dialogue with the employees (with or without PTSD). Fundamentally change what HR does, because currently, there is no 'Human' in HR. Just 'Resources' that are kept in the dark about their rights and treated like liabilities.

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