Stress in the workplace.
I've discussed how stressful the environment I worked in was (please read, suffering with stress), it was a generally judgemental place, with lots of finger pointing, and apportioning of blame. I of course include myself in this. There was also a never-ending game of ‘top trumps’ being played out, which was admittedly in some ways real (I’ve always said we had some technical ability as a company, that others simply didn’t have), yet, completely unreal in others. I believe if I'd been in a healthy place mentally, and an environment that was also healthy, this wouldn't have been such an issue. Instead forever listening to unrealistic self-appraisals, it became monotonous and another cause of frustration, I found it impossible not react to behaviours being displayed, when it suited. Again, my strategy of self-regulation was not a healthy one.
I've also I believe, been honest in my account of the alcohol and the quantity of it I was consuming, along with my behaviour and whatever the reasons were, that was causing it. What I cannot change, is how I felt at that time, even now having the understanding someone only has power over the way you feel, if you allow them to have that power.
I feel, there was never any real concern as to why I was drinking the amount I was, simply that this is what was happening, and it was to stop. However, the way it was attempted to be 'dealt' with, was completely unprofessional, and again, as I've stated previously. This wasn't going to happen, if that was possible in the longer term, because I was being told to do so in such a way. It probably wouldn't have helped, but, we didn't ever have a formal meeting about the situation. Although I do know for a fact, that my alcohol consumption was spoken about outside of the business, with third parties. The person that did this, told me himself, he'd been discussing the subject and where.
When we started the business, it was decided we wouldn't label ourselves directors. It was felt that it would make the business look smaller if every member of it was a director. Instead we gave ourselves the same title as we'd had in our previous employment.
This didn't last long, although the title didn't officially change, the word director was being brandished about in no time. I was by far the youngest member of the 'team', I've also stated previously that I wasn't using my surname. It took some time for me to use the word director and that was when it really was necessary.
There was little point on most occasions, it was useful when somebody would call and attempt to supply the company with their product for example. You could answer these people with, I am a director of the business and no thank you.
When it came to the other directors and the few employees we'd employed over the years, it carried very little weight, this was highly frustrating. Some of the employees accepting the other three directors as their boss but would disregard my status.
Clearly living the way, I was living, hating more every day. Not sleeping most or all the night, then walking into the office the following morning, saying completely the opposite thing to what I wanted to say, wasn't good for my wellbeing.
I was also witnessing 'justifiable' behaviour which wasn't acceptable, it was mentioned on a 'few' occasions by my father. Who was realistically at the helm of the business, but never needed to be in 'control' of it (although there was a clear fear of this). Before it could be brought up, I would have to be squeaky clean myself.
I had other ideas, my behaviour would change, when other people’s behaviour changed. Another mistake, I'm now fully aware of, this wasn’t going to happen.
The issue here, when everyone involved believes that are right, pointing fingers at someone else's behaviour, while not looking at themselves. It is a recipe for disaster, the situation can only escalate out of control.
Working evenings and weekends was something that "went with territory" I'm told, this started when I was first employed. Where I understand on occasions, you'd have to work later, or on the odd weekend. This is part of the whole being employed scenario, unfortunately it goes further, speaking to people now about similar situations, the attitude you're lucky you have a job springs to mind.
On many occasions, working weekends and bank holidays was the only time where our own systems at the office could be updated, maintained and rebuilt. The worst thing about this scenario being, isn't it done? On the return to normal working hours, this after a bank holiday, was particulary annoying.
This was the case with customers systems also, one example of this. A relatively short time before I was taken seriously ill. I’d like to point out, I’m in no way attempting to say this made my health any worse, I was already highly stressed and wasn't sleeping anyway. Although recently I've been introduced to the concept of threshold of stress and reaching saturation point. I’d be working at 4am attempting to monitor a customer’s systems across the world, which were replicating. The other people involved in this particular project, would be ‘nowhere to be seen’, until we had a meeting with the customer. This customer asking me to begin work, after 6pm, when his office had closed, allowing his people to save everything in preparation.
So, I'd arrive at the office around 9am, not to be too late. At 12:30pm when leaving for lunch, I'd sheepishly say, I'll see you guys tomorrow. Anticipating the response, what do you mean? Which wasn't long coming, this adding to the whole negative experience, of anxiety and stress. I couldn't understand, I had to explain why I didn't want to work 18 or more-hour days.
I've discussed the situation with one of my, at that time partners, calling in to his house on a couple of occasions. I no longer hold grudges or have bad feelings, there was no reason why I shouldn't do this. Importantly before making any firm decisions about the future, I needed to gain knowledge, which when utilised, would further enable me to make that decision.
We had an extremely interesting conversation concerning the whole situation, the dynamics, how I'd felt, and how he now felt. I was also explaining how instead of simply telling people things with the business were great. Which astoundingly, from a purely business perspective, they were, it was a fantastic business for its size. I can't imagine what it would have been like, with us all paddling in the same direction.
It was also I felt important to point out, I should have been eager to get to work, to be energetically involved, watching the business grow and be as successful as possible. As opposed to getting by, doing what I had to do, while wanting to seriously hurt someone.
Ridiculously, loathing the fact, that I might be contributing to people I hated. I couldn't see that I myself would receive more, along with my immediate family, and be content with that.
On receipt of a dividend, I of course felt a little better. I now had more funds, with which to drink. I'd be seething, at the thought of what someone else was receiving.
We then discussed the mental health aspect of what had transpired over the years, not just the symptoms.
I was suffering with all the issues that have been discussed, throughout the website. Also, feeling demotivated, disempowered and unappreciated, I certainly wasn't an engineer. I was just the guy that put the systems in, this I heard on too many occasions.
Computers, software, networking, building and installing systems, plus technical support and liaising with customers, were those other things we do, not skilled work.
When it came to computers and systems, the attitude was, "There's no money in it", on one occasion in particular, being told to tell an upset customer, "Tell him, it's not what we do". I now believe I understand where that attitude was coming from, the reasoning behind it.
There was no one person at fault in this situation, there were more 'dynamics' involved, that were not discussed. Dredging up bad memories and emotions, seemed like a complete waste of time. This would only cause more harm than good; it wouldn’t move things forward.
Everyone involved contributed in their own way, it is my belief however, on many occasions a 'line' had been crossed. This just made the anger more intense, along with the feeling that action was required.
Deciding that the business was no longer a viable option for me, alleviated many tensions. After my initial recovery, I'd began to worry about when I'd be expected to return to work. Each time I made a visit to the hospital, for scans and check-ups, I'd be anticipating them signing me off.
There were other reasons why this didn't seem so ridiculous, comments were being made at the office etc.
Very early in my recovery, particularly. I was unsure where I stood exactly. This added to the fact that my previous experience was a literal nightmare, I decided to discuss these issues with my doctor (GP), which put my mind at ease.
Making this decision to leave, gave me space, allowing me to release the anger and hate, that had been consuming me. Letting go has enabled me to revaluate life, what's important and what is not.
I'd brought up my frustrations on numerous occasions. Firstly, I'd been advised to ignore the situation, apparently, as other people were themselves doing. I'd also been categorically told, not to bring up the subject with the persons involved. It was also strongly suggested, whatever I did, do not assault or hit anyone.
I couldn't comprehend, why my own father would tell me not to address the issue. Why he would back someone else over his own son. Clearly, I am now completely oblivious to what reality is. The feelings of, I am all alone, and I can’t beat them all were now at the forefront of my mind.
Since returning to some sort of normality, I understand, if I had hit anybody. Life would have taken a dramatic turn for the worse, it would have degenerated into a bigger fiasco than it already was. During that period, this might have been unrecoverable.
I now believe my father, in the only way he could at that time, was protecting me, not necessarily from other people, but from myself.
Discussing the whole experience with him over the last few years, he was obviously, as was my mother, in a situation where they had no understanding of what was happening. I wasn't explaining the thoughts of deepness and darkness I had about life, they should've simply understood, shouldn't they? How could they possibly do that?
That’s all they were witnessing, was their own son, becoming progressively angrier and more distant, while at the same time, turning grey and yellow. They were themselves frightened as to the outcome of these events, but had no power to do anything to prevent it.
I now also understand, the position my father had been placed in, admittedly again by myself, but also by the other people involved. He was successfully guiding the business, amid all that ‘carnage’.
One day in my hospital bed, I had a lucid moment, I witnessed my father sitting at my side, as he did everyday whenever possible. He had his head in his hands, a few months later I asked him, what was that about?
"I was watching, my little boy at forty years of age dying, and there was nothing I could do about it"
I have tears in my eyes writing this, that man is a legend, I love him and my mother dearly, I will cherish them, and our memories made together, forever.
Teacher stress and wellbeing.
According to an NASUWT report published in 2017.
Teachers health and wellbeing depends on may factors. There is a considerably high percentage who believe they aren't empowered.
The main reasons listed being, working in an environment of: -
- A lack of respect.
- A lack of understanding.
- Constant change.
- Unrealistic expectations.
There is a feeling that the professionals working within the occupations, health and wellbeing isn't seen as important. With over 60% suffering with a lack of job satisfaction, 83% at that point, experiencing more workplace stress over the previous 12 months. A moderately larger percentage still believing the job has impacted negatively on their wellbeing, 60% also believing the occupation had adversely affected their mental health.
The general feeling being, that job satisfaction has declined, with just over 3/4 seriously considering leaving their current job. Sadly, there is a slightly lower percentage, considering leaving the profession altogether.
During the period of the study, teachers experienced: -
- Anxiety or anxiousness 80%
- Impact on physical health 55%
- Irritability and, or mood swings 61%
- Low energy levels 71%
- Loss of sleep 84%