I believe today is the anniversary of when I was unfairly made redundant. As a direct result of this, the past ten years in the workplace have been very difficult for me.
Since that time I have had some kind of Fairy Godparent. They have watched over me, intervened and manipulated down the years. It was being done with good intent, although this immediately gives me a huge problem. I resent the fact that someone acknowledges that there is something that needs fixing, but they will not do it honestly, and in the open.
The persistent intervention I have experienced has had the opposite of the desired effect for several reasons. One is that I always know when I am being handled. Second, I have always had a aversion to being handled - because I am so aware - I find it dishonest and sneaky. Worse still, a big part of it took place when I was trying to recover from Clinical Depression. Constantly reminded that I was not on level ground delayed my recovery and gave me a total aversion to handling. It caused other problems too. Thirdly, it has been done remotely, through third parties. Who have been incompetent, to say the least. Plus you only get one side of the story, feedback is selective or inaccurate. And last, if it is being done through guilt then I have my pride. If you know you owe me then stop expecting me to pay what you owe.
I know that folk find it difficult to understand, but when I say I *always* know when I am being handled, then I really mean it. I sometimes get things wrong and see something which is not there. False positives are an occupational hazard. It is *possible* for me to miss a single, isolated incident, so I guess strictly speaking I don’t *always* detect the handling. However, I have been so sensitised to this type of activity over the recent past that I would bet a week’s pocket money, a whole 3d, that I haven’t missed anything in a decade.
Trying to explain it is hard. It really is like trying to explain colour to a person who has been blind since birth. Just a short while ago a young lad at work was trying to convince me that you cannot tell what someone is thinking. At any single point in time I agree. I can’t. What I am talking about is being able to detect that what is being said or done is unusual in some way. I don’t always immediately get specifics, like motive. However, surprisingly often, a single data point is enough. I get a feeling that something is odd. I am frequently unable to verbalise what I feel at this early stage. It really operates at a very visceral level. Instinct. Intuition. Feeling. As it is called in the Meyer-Briggs world.
(It did not escape my notice that this was raised because he too, had been part of my latest problems. I had suspected he was involved in the Rent-a-Mate franchise and the fact this was on his mind and popped up out of the blue confirmed my suspicion.)
What triggers my intuition can be any number of factors. Typically it is the way something is said, the context, or the timing.
Don’t misunderstand me. Some of the descriptions of the INFJ type can get a bit carried away with the 6th sense idea. It is much more grounded than that, it genuinely exists as a distinctive ability. The best analogy I can come up with is the game Only Connect. Many people will get the sequence or connection after four clues, given enough time. Imagine that 1% of the population always get the solution after one or two clues, within the time allowed in the game. This is the equivalent of an INFJ. For me, it means we are able to instinctively detect an anomaly in behaviour, with minimal data and without having to do the maths.
Straight after I was made redundant I suspected that my interviews were being “managed”. I then experienced incidents which seemed to support my instinct at the first role I took after redundancy. However, my judgement was very cloudy at this time. I was still very much suffering from Clinical Depression trying to recover from the relapse caused by my redundancy. It was a struggle just to function. It took a big effort just to get through one day at a time. I ended each week exhausted. There was other unpleasantness at work which also blurred the issues.
This role cost me a lot of money in failed attempts to move to the area. I was working four long days and living and sleeping in the car three nights a week. It was not a good experience.
When I left this first place I had a much clearer impression that at least two interviews had been set up, especially for me. There were things about the manner of the agency person and the behaviour of people in the interviews which were not natural. When I took the second role after being made redundant however, I was still only about 80% convinced of the job management activity. I took the role on the basis that there seemed reasonable cause for doubt and that if something was going on then I just had to last less than ten years. I thought I could tough it out. I was wrong, as it turned out.
After just a few weeks in the new role a senior person asked me how I was getting on. This was distinctly odd. The way it was asked seemed weighted with expectation. My suspicions had already been aroused, so I was sensitised to the possibility of some hidden agenda. I said that it was OK and that it looked like it was the best company I had worked for. His reaction was a complete give away. After that, I knew I had been handled into a job and that the people there were in on it. Subsequent events just kept confirming this.
What I call the Rent-a-Mate franchise has been a feature of the harassment I have encountered down through the years. The franchise has manifested itself in many forms over the years. It has been employed for a variety of reasons.
In the early years this was both upsetting and annoying. I was trying to recover from depression, but someone thought it was a good idea to keep sticking people in front of me who were being too matey without following normal social protocols. It was like I was constantly being told to “cheer up”. The most insensitive, f*cking stupid, thing you can say to anyone suffering depression. Like saying to someone with a broken leg, “You can run it off.”
The first manifestation of the franchise was before I was made redundant, when I was ill, and work did not believe I was ill. I was sat next to someone who pretended to be my mate. But he wasn’t.
In all this time recruitment agencies and social media sites have featured heavily.
Agencies have been used to “manage” my career for me. I got at least one job, possibly two, by this means.
I have had agencies put onto me for some kind of joke.
I had agencies put on me to test if I was looking for work, but with different motives.
Then there have been times when agencies have been put onto me as a smoke screen to “prove” that agencies were not being put on to me. This behaviour is very common among those who like to “social engineer”. If they think they may have been rumbled then they do something else in an attempt to show that they weren’t doing it. All it does it confirm that they were doing it in the first place.
Many, many, times I posted public pleas about this activity. I said how it really upset me. How it reminded me of a terrible time in my life. But people kept doing it.
The result is I have not used an agency for years and years. I will never use one again.
I have had a string of people on social media and at work put up as a mates, dispensing their emotional Germoline. I prefer not to take part in your games.
There have been examples of how some people’s idea of being a mate and showing “empathy” is just sick and insensitive. I have had cancer rubbed in my face on more than one occasion.
There is a very strong connection between people I have actually met and other, more distant, people. The USA is the other focal point in the ellipse that has been my work life. I say ellipse, but the last decade has been more like a journey along a Möbius strip, constantly passing the same events and behaviour. Many people I have encountered at work have connections there. Some of those US connections have offered threats as "friendly advice". Yet I was meant to turn to them. Doesn't it strike you as a funny way of encouraging an approach? It did me.
I have received a lot of interference and abuse through social media. Some of this has been from people who have taken advantage of the carte blanche given to them by a single senior person going around talking about me and effectively pinning a target on me. It has been open season on me for years. At one point he realised what was happening because he actually mentioned it. His concern was that people were behaving like animals who scented a wounded animal. Well, yes. Thanks to you.
This is why, as a manager, you should never discuss anyone with their colleagues. It bypasses and undermines any normal social process. It sets the wrong example of what is acceptable behaviour. It draws it to everyone’s attention and some people are really not very nice people and react to the scent of blood.
I recognise that some of the incidents could have happened anyway. Some people don’t need any excuse to behave like a ****.
Unwanted events have occurred on a regular basis. involving dozens of people. There were scores of incidents down the years, maybe hundreds. Believe me, I am not exaggerating.
When I was still recovering from depression I found them more upsetting and annoying than I did later on. But a lot of damage had been done by then. The fact they just kept happening wore me down. Early on, they made me feel very self-conscious, uncomfortable, and insecure. I got anxious. It affected my ability to do things like presentations. I started getting bad anxiety attacks just thinking about having to do presentations. On several occasions I had to get a stand-in.
This behaviour got so bad that I could not stand being in the same space as this increasingly large group of people who clearly had no idea how to behave. It made me feel very uncomfortable and even threatened.
It got to a point where I found it very difficult to attend internal talks and meetings. I started to get panic attacks about meetings. As much as possible I attended internal meetings via remote access.
About half way through my period in this role my brain finally recovered. I knew when I had got everything back together and had a celebratory coffee with the Consultant. I stopped seeing him shortly afterwards. I stopped taking antidepressant. I also came off the medication I had been taking to prevent acid reflux. But by now the damage had been done.
One lad liked to discuss me on a personal level with his mates while I was standing in Ops. This happened on a least two occasions that I heard.
A former team member asked another former team member “Does your mood change when I do this?” as he was closing the blind within my hearing, and clearly referring to me. An attempt to cover this up was made in a 1-2-1 with my manager. He had obviously been briefed by the senior manager, my main protagonist, to say that my health issues had not been discussed with anyone.
There was a bit of a theme running through my former team. Three of them made a sport talking about me. I heard them on several occasions. Two of them were proactive. On two other occasions there was a deafening silence as I approached and they stopped talking about me.
Then there was the one where I was sat at my desk posting something on Twitter about my father and his involvement in WWII. The person sat at the desk behind me was on the phone. He starts laughing and not in a nice way. “Don’t mention the war” he says, obviously repeating what has been said on the phone. The person on the other end is evidently watching my feed and commentating. So I post a great Eleanor Roosevelt quote “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” I paused a moment, then I stood up and looked at the person behind. He could not look at me and was busy trying to disappear into his chair. I moved desk after this incident. It wasn't the first nonsense I had experienced from this group.
I had a spell where I experienced the Case of the Intermittent Wifi. It lasted a couple of weeks or so. Whenever I used my notepad at lunchtime and tried to connect to our open office Wifi, in communal office space, it worked for a few minutes, and then refused to connect. When I returned to my desk after an hour or so, it magically worked again. I have very good reason to believe I was being nobbled by the people in Ops.
Speaking of Ops, there was the time the senior Ops person decided he was going to give me an impromptu interview. Clearly my knowledge and capability had been discussed. In the middle of what started out as a perfectly normal conversation about a minor work detail he started talking about DNS. So we talked about ANAMEs and CNAMEs and ALIASes. Just like that. It was pretty obvious I was being tested. All in all, not very nice. Like the manager phishing about mental health, the manager phishing about my finances, the manager phishing about personal details. It just kept happening.
I heard at least 4 people who had the label of “manager” discussing me in open office within my hearing.
The same thing that I believe happened to me a number of years earlier repeated itself. I had someone sat next to me who was a plant. It was nasty. I was still recovering from depression, and this did nothing for my trust and confidence. It raised my anxiety levels. He showed an unnatural and unhealthy interest in my involvement with LinkedIn, for example.
This person then teamed up with someone else to give me the most bizarre experience of my time at this place. The other person wanted me to look at a YouTube video of some poor chap with ADHD. It was presented out of the blue, and in an odd fashion. It was sick. There was a creepy interest in my reaction.
The same week, another person with the label of “manager” had a very short and odd exchange with me at my desk. In a very contrived way, he managed to suggest that programmers were natural schizophrenics, he then stuck his face right into mine while staring at me in a way that suggested I was supposed to confess I was one.
It looked like the possibility I had some certifiable mental health condition was being discussed at this time. I had Clinical Depression. I was surrounded by Sociopaths.
A lot of people interfered with my blog and web sites when I first started them. I had to delete them.
There was interference on my first Fantasy Premier League site. I gave up on this for a while, too.
There was a lot of social engineering and interference with my first LinkedIn account. I deleted it. The second account I opened did not fare better. I deleted it.
One person took a dislike to me and set up a campaign of threatening emails. Within a few days I received a succession of ominous emails about life insurance. He was mistaken. It wasn't me.
My email address was used to register for all kinds of services and accounts. Betting companies. Goods and services. It got so bad that it eventually led me to change my ISP and online identity.
My phone number was heavily abused in similar fashion and was a reason I got a new phone.
I know there has been a lot of social media “social engineering” going on. I have now deleted all my social media accounts. I have no plans to use social media in the future. I do not look at any now.
I did report some of this activity to my manager. It was like shining a light into a black hole. The response was to make an announcement that if anyone had any problems then someone would be available on Fridays at 3pm to talk.
I started the role with a senior manager acting as my manager. It turned out that he would be my main problem. When I tried to explain my situation after I started at this second place following my redundancy, I felt it would be a good idea to come clean and talk about my health, my situation and my relationship with the workplace. Just so we both knew the score. New job. Fresh start. I tried to open a conversation. He clearly didn’t want to talk about it. I was surprised that he recused himself from direct contact with me. Any competent and conscientious manager should have opened a dialogue. As a manager, I would have. This was another very clear sign that everything was not what it seemed. It told me he was in on the underlying conspiracy.
I then had two managers over a period of a few years. I told both that I was aware of this senior person’s manipulative “social engineering” activity. I told them I did not like it. I said it made me ill. I said I wished he would stop. I said he was shit at it. I said this at more than one meeting. Nothing happened.
My early experiences broke my morale and enthusiasm. I started out making some decent contributions, but these tailed off as my confidence and enthusiasm was drained. I was ignored or fobbed off. I was marginalised over a period. The last "team" I was in went off to a development conference without me.
A few times I was steered towards the group doing work like logging and Chef. I was not averse to this, but it would mean working with the person who was chiefly responsible for all the nonsense I was experiencing. (This is another common practice among those who like to "social engineer". You face up to the victim brazenly, as "proof" you have not been doing anything.) He was an active member of this group along with his drone - the one who was sat next to me for several weeks, phishing and reporting on me. His ADHD accomplice was also in this group. Absolutely no way was I going to join them.
I did have one serious interest for which I still had some enthusiasm. I dearly wanted to work on AI and Machine Learning projects. I had a lot of basic knowledge and was willing and able to learn whatever it took.
For some two years I asked to be able to work on projects around AI and Machine Learning. I had loads of ideas and suggestions, but I wanted anything I did to be useful and properly sanctioned. I could see tons of opportunity in this space. Instead of anyone sitting down and discussing this like grown-ups I was fed tidbits and had carrots dangled. It was very frustrating.
The final few months were a little different. I was finally "allowed" to do a meaty ML project on which I made excellent progress, starting from cold. The way it was handled was not very supportive. I got the distinct impression that everyone stood back and watched to see if I would fail. This was a project to detect anomalies in log file content using research done by Ericsson and Uppsala University. After 3 months I had a processing pipeline and pilot system up and running. It needed more research, but I knew I could crack it.
Instead of being able to follow through, I was then moved on to something completely different. This was to use some very new Amazon services to collect and analyse financial data. Again I made good progress, even though there were issues and it was not as straightforward as it could have been. This was not an ML project, it was more data warehousing. It was a let down, but it had some very interesting challenges.
I was not able to see where things were going at this stage. When I did ask the senior technical person, he dropped hints that it could involve ML and data analysis. I smelt a rat. Making vague promises that fit with what someone wants to hear is yet another unacceptable management technique.
As part of the preparation for this second project I had a long sit down discussion with another senior person. Probably the second oldest person in the company. We covered the technical issues and then in a Rent-a-Mate fashion, he started leading the conversation and went on about our age, out of the blue. Which he segued into money and pensions. I kept quiet. This was obviously another phishing trip.
Towards the end of that year I was presented with an impossible choice about my role. Around this time, a couple of years ago, in fact. Yet another November anniversary.
This is an another example of unacceptable management practice. When there is a big choice, make the individual choose. Then if they don’t like it, you can turn around and say "you chose". Even more nasty, give them Hobson’s Choice. Don’t treat someone like an individual, a person, a human being. This was the crunch point which I should have anticipated.
It had all been leading up to this decision. There was also something odd about what was being done. For me, what was happening, and what was being said, did not add up. One option would mean doing what I wanted to do but working with the senior manager who was to be my nemesis and the person he had sat next to me as his agent. I had already avoided this situation more than once. The other option meant doing something I was interested in, and which I recognised has significant value to the company, but was not exactly what I was hoping to do. And by now I did not trust the person who made vague promises about ML options.
It had become abundantly clear that I was being deliberately kept from the group who had been specifically set up to work on ML projects. Other people joined but I was being kept out. I got included in one or two of their meetings. Then I was excluded again. They pretended to be interested in what I was doing, but for me this was fake.
The person running me sat with them, but I was sat well apart and separate. The treatment I received was just unacceptable. From people for whom I had completely lost respect. I was just being manipulated and messed about. They showed no respect. They had spent years showing a complete lack of consideration. I clearly did not have a future here.
This dilemma set up a big internal conflict in me. I got very upset and anxious and had to have a week off ill, with very intense chest pain. The pain was as bad as I have ever experienced. I started to fear for my long term health. I thought about it for a few more weeks, into the New Year of 2017, and then I decided I had to accept that I could nothing about it. I could not continue.
My offer to do an exit interview was not taken up, even though I understood it was standard practise. Here it is, anyway.
I seriously considered taking them to Employment Tribunal for Constructive Dismissal. I could see a very good case being made. But it was going to cost me some £1500 to bring the case, with a less than 15% chance of success according to advice. It was too big a risk. The fee was repealed a few months later. Too late.
Some **** thought they would be funny when I left, like terminal cancer is funny. I was registered for a lawn mower repair job at a company in West Wales. A pathetic reference to garden leave? This is pretty typical of the undeserved harassment I have experienced for years. As I said earlier, dozens of people have been involved and there have been scores of incidents, maybe as many as a couple of hundred.
As if this wasn't bad enough, the so-called management and their practises have been derisory. Childish. Inept. Insensitive. Inhuman. Patronising. Condescending. Lacking consideration and respect. Indifferent to my condition. Psychopathic, in fact. I was not treated like an individual. It was nasty. It came with a lot of very bad side-effects. There have been similar numbers involved in these management related activities. Dozens of people, scores of incidents.
Then there have been the number of times I have simply heard people talking about me,. I know I come from the age of the dinosaurs, but I do not understand why anyone does it. Some things are none of your business. Gossip is a bad thing. Spreading stories and rumours is destructive and is unacceptable. The number of these observed incidents may only be a dozen or so, but there was enough evidence to show it was always going on behind the scenes.
It all added up to a very toxic environment, and ultimately, an intolerable one.
You need to choose your friends more wisely. You must always get a balanced view. Remember there are always two sides to every story, at the very least. If you haven't seen it, then please watch Rashomon. I hope you get my drift. I never got a chance to put my story in any meaningful way. No one was listening when I tried.
I had to take a few months out to recover. I was more stressed and tired than I realised.
I am trying to set myself up as a small business, so I can avoid those situations and people that just have a negative effect on me. I will get there.
I had a local software development interview about a year ago. It was obvious that those sitting on the other side of the table had been briefed and that this was another “managed” interview. The thought of experiencing yet more of the same was unthinkable. I could not follow it through.
I started a new job just under a year ago. Something very different. Hardly ideal, but I had a friend who had done something similar, and it worked out very well for him.
But not for me. From the start it was odd. I was being handled again. From some of the social media activity it looked like the early effort was directing me to some external opportunity and I was being fed a load of grief that meant I was expected to leave to take it up. I did not oblige, so I was led by the nose to other “opportunities”.
This was all denied. Of course. Subsequent behaviour demonstrated I was right.
There was an attempt to renew my role at this place. Once again, there was evidence of intervention. I had another anxiety attack because folk do not understand and are not listening. My confidence and trust was shattered. I could not continue.
After 3 strikes I am out.
The interference and harassment continues. The Rent-a-Mate franchise has been talking to the art club, for example. I got a series of phone calls last week as a result of severing close connections with the art club and water works the previous week. The number was one digit difference from the local Southampton dial code, but it was from Hamm, Westphalia. Slightly odd MO with this one, and the timing, number and location are significant.
The only choice I have now is to completely avoid any person or situation that may be used as a channel to interfere. This causes more than a few problems. Not least, it constrains my social life. It adds obstacles to my projects and future development. It completely closes some of my options. I cannot look for work again, for example.
I absolutely have had more than enough of this cat-and-mouse nonsense. I don't play games with people. I never have, and I don't appreciate it happening to me. It is a complete waste of intellectual effort, it takes up time, drains energy, and now it makes me ill just thinking about it.
How many times do I have to say it before the penny drops? Your behaviour causes me to have anxiety attacks. I have had several in the past few weeks as a direct result of your behaviour.
I have spent over 12 years of my life being harassed and handled in one form or another. It has done untold damage to me, my family and my life. I cannot, and I will not, put myself in harm's way again.
[This section was updated 6th March 2019]
I am not so green as I am cabbage looking, I know how many beans make five. But there are none so blind as those that will not see, especially those who can't do right for doing wrong.
Writing this has been reet cathartic, but I am going to stop harping on now. I'd best get weavin’.
This time of the year, in 2008, I was made redundant. It has been the most significant event of my life, so far. It was the culmination of the worst period of my life.
It is no exaggeration to say that it changed my life, and not in a good way. It left me with scars I still carry.
I started a new job as a Software Engineer around March 2006. I made it clear at my interview that I did not want to be a team leader, or a manager, or take on board any responsibility that may increase my stress levels. I had good health reasons for avoiding stress.
I had two remote managers. Our team was small and consisted of a handful of developers. After a couple of weeks or so I was approached by the local Director to become a team leader. I turned it down.
After this my situation changed. I felt isolated. I was sure I was being treated differently to the other team members. I started to get uncomfortable and anxious about this, and wondered where it was going. It seemed I had been sent to Coventry by the remote managers. I considered leaving and cutting my losses, but I was keen to do the job.
I went on holiday early in October 2006. I started getting a sore throat about a week after I returned.
My throat got worse. I also developed a chest pain over the next few weeks. Just to rub it in, acid reflux appeared. I was very worried that it might be something serious. We have a family history of cancer and I was very scared it might be my turn. I went to my GP who referred me to an ENT Consultant. He did not find anything. I was then referred to a Consultant Gastroenterologist. He did not find anything. They had prodded and probed, inserted cameras under anaesthetic, and more painfully, without anaesthetic. I had been fed barium and X-Rayed. But it seemed physically that I was OK.
I continued to go to work. It was a way of taking my mind off what was happening to me. I spoke with my remote line manager. He just hinted I take time off sick. I explained I did not want to, but he was not sympathetic. By this time I was imagining all kinds of things, including cancer.
On 22 January 2007 my father-in-law died in his sleep. He had been unwell for some time, but his death was unexpected. We had to make a lot of trips up to North London where they lived, to organise the funeral and try to support my mother-in-law who was hit very hard.
I got much worse at this point. The pains became very severe. I was signed off sick in early February 2007. I still had not received a diagnosis. At this point, I suspected that work did not believe me, and thought that I was faking illness.
Work sent me for an independent medical assessment. Although on one level this made sense, for me it reinforced the idea that they did not believe I was ill.
The doctor renewed my sick note monthly. At renewal time I received a flurry of contacts from recruitment agencies. I had records going back years and I knew that I had never contacted them before. They were very abrupt and rude. No foreplay. “Are you looking for work?” was a common opening gambit. I knew they were being put onto me by work. It confirmed what I had already suspected. Work did not believe I was ill, and were checking up on me. Looking for another job was definitely not on the radar at this time. I was desperate to know what was going on and get it fixed.
For the next few months I was off ill, but I did not know what the problem was. There were clues, such as the day I lay on the sofa in the foetal position, crying, wishing I was dead. This was a significant low point. I badly wanted the pain to stop. I hated not knowing what was going on. I did not like the way work was treating me and the way some individuals behaved. The pains were very bad, my misery and despair was very real.
My wife was also struggling with her work at this time. She had a boss who expected her to do his job too. She was off work with Clinical Depression the same time I was off. After three months she tried to go back, but after a short period could not face it and ended up taking early retirement. This put more pressure on me to continue.
Finally there was a breakthrough in summer 2007. The penny dropped with the GP and he put me on anti-depressants. These helped, and after a month or so, I started back at work. He also told me about somatization. This is a condition where stress gets turned into physical pain. When stressed I still suffer pain in my throat and chest to this day. Even though there was a general improvement with the anti-depressants, it was very tough going. The medication helps you to keep your mood up, and therefore to function more normally, but it does not cure all the symptoms.
In the meantime, I received news from my sister that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This was a huge blow and it set me back a lot. Both our parents had died from cancer. It was one of my biggest fears before I was diagnosed.
I missed her 50th birthday at the end of August 2007. I had only recently started back at work and I was simply too tired to make the journey to Cornwall. A few weeks later I visited her in the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro. She had just started her chemo.
When I started back at work, I was separated from the team and sat outside the local manager’s office. This was not very helpful. Being treated like a naughty boy. More great management.
The GP referred me to a Consultant Psychiatrist. He was to supervise my medication and therapy for the next few years. I started going to monthly sessions. Over the next few months he sent me on a CBT course lasting a few weeks and provided me with a lot of material to help me understand what was happening. He controlled my dosage. We talked a lot. He was someone I could talk to when no-one else seemed to be listening.
During the summer my mother-in-law's condition deteriorated. She ended up in Northwick Park Hospital.
I made more trips to visit my sister in September and October 2007. It did not seem to be going well and her friends who had been helping could not be expected to do more. I brought her home to live with me at the start of November 2007. She made visits to the local Oncologist and spent some time being treated in hospital in Winchester and Southampton. She gave up on the second course of chemo because it seemed futile.
I made another trip down to Cornwall before the end of the year. She lived in a little hamlet called Polgigga. Turn left at the last exit off the A30, just before it turns into a dirt track for Land’s End. Polgigga is a couple of miles down the lane. Just about as far west as you can get in England.
My sister deteriorated rapidly. Our dining room had been turned into a hospital ward. It was very distressing for me, because it was the third time I had seen a similar progression with a close family member. They all died at home. It is a difficult thing to watch, but it is the best for the patient. The local GP and support team were excellent.
My sister died on 22 January 2008. Exactly a year after my father-in-law.
My mother-in-law died a few weeks later, in February 2008.
There were several more trips to clear my sister’s flat and affairs and to sort out my mother-in-law's property and her affairs. It seemed I was on the road all the time.
Over the 12 months from early 2007 until early 2008 I did a lot of motoring. The drive to Cornwall was a 500 mile round trip. My parents-in-law lived in Harrow Weald, and while not so far, it meant negotiating the M25 and London traffic. It added to my fatigue. I wore out a set of new tyres in that period.
My son had to go to the doctor around this time. He was very low. We were concerned for him. He had witnessed the death of three people he had grown up with, and with whom he was very close. He was also trying to finish his degree.
After the funerals were over, for the next few months there was some improvement in my condition, but I started to feel increasingly uneasy about what was going on at work. It was clear that something was going on that was not being discussed. I received a pay rise. A lot of fuss was being made about turning the company into a billion dollar company. A China office was being expanded rapidly. Things were clearly not what they seemed. (See my posts on INFJs. I *always* know.) This did not help my recovery. It raised my anxiety level.
I scattered my sister’s ashes in Sennen Cove on 5th June 2008, along with those of her black Labrador, Jess. I had wanted to do it on the 4th, which was our father’s birthday, but the sea was too rough.
We had a work performance review in the middle of September 2008. I was told I was a 3. This was middling. 5 was excellent and 1 was awful. In the circumstances I thought this was fair enough. I had had my moments, but I was still really struggling. I was anxious about the unknown. I was tired. My concentration was not great. My memory was not great. My personality was still on holiday. (It would be a few years before I got my pre-frontal cortex back, this is commonly the last part of the brain to regain function.) My confidence was shot, indeed, confidence is still a problem for me.
I was still significantly affected by Clinical Depression. If you look the symptoms up then you will find that there are a lot of them. Not surprising. When your brain is broken, then pretty much everything that makes you what you are, is broken. In all the time I was ill, one symptom I *never* suffered from, was thoughts of suicide. I wanted to die, but I never, ever, considered doing it myself. I experienced many of the other symptoms.
There were announcements about redundancy and, at the start of November 2008, I think it was my father’s anniversary, the 4th, I was called in for an interview with my local manager and the HR director. I was told I had been scored a 1. This meant I was going to be made redundant. I was not given an explanation. They ignored me when I said that they were marking my illness.
A week later I was kicked out.
This caused a massive relapse. I was worse than I had ever been, in spite of the anti-depressants. I spent the next few weeks preparing the paperwork to take them to an Employment Tribunal for Unfair Dismissal. Under the rules you have 3 months to lodge a claim and I spent that time trying to pull myself together to fight. But when it came to the crunch, around January and February 2009, I could not face it. I was still hurting badly and very low. The thought of adding more stress and anxiety to my life was basically unthinkable. And I had to start looking for another job.
Other things I have not mentioned in the narrative above, had a serious, negative, effect on my life and my health during this period.
One member of the “team” took a dislike to me and made it her mission to prove I was not a nice person.
On one occasion she stood in the middle of our row of desks and, while looking at me, loudly mentioned a recent story that suggested Rupert Murdoch was anti-Semitic. I did not say anything, because I knew what she was doing, and I am not anti-Semitic. But it was a clear test aimed at me.
Another day she went around introducing a new team member at the time when I had been removed from the team and was sitting outside the managers office. The new person was introduced in summer 2008. A few pleasantries were exchanged. Nothing unusual. As she walked away with him, she said “See, I told you he was attention seeking.” Even more shocking, he agreed.
The person I was sat next to was not much better. There was the time he probed me about my sore throat. It did not seem a natural conversation.
I suffer from hay fever. Sometimes quite bad. My neighbour probed me about my use of hay fever medication including offering me his. Another unnatural conversation.One conversation about the medication included the same person who felt I was racist. From what I heard of that conversation it seemed clear I was not believed about suffering from hay fever, either.
I got the impression I gained a reputation for being a philanderer about this time. This has followed me down the years. If a period of time passes when I am not obviously being a philanderer, then the story changes, and I am gay.
There were many other incidents. Collectively they were an indication of what was happening. I was continually under observation, being discussed and tested. Something that has continued to this day.
It has added a lot to my anxiety and discomfort throughout the years. It did nothing to help my recovery. For all I know, the false stories contributed to me being made redundant. This fits with the way my redundancy was handled.
The result of these experiences have lasted until today. I did not have these issues before this time.
I still suffer from anxiety attacks when I get stressed.
I still somatize stress into a severe pain in my throat and my chest.
I do not trust directors, managers, and especially not HR personnel. Nothing I have experienced since that time has shown me that this view is wrong.
I have a complete antipathy to certain management styles. In particular, the “social engineering” style is anathema. I do not consider it an acceptable management “style”, under any circumstance. I never have done, but now I am in a much better position to explain why it is such a bad idea. Skulking around suggests you are hiding something. Motives are opaque and therefore suspect. The uncertainty of having a person sneaking around behind your back makes me very uncomfortable and anxious. Not only is knowing that someone is going around playing puppet master very unsettling, but the fact I was being treated like some kind of lab rat is very upsetting. Being observed, discussed, and effectively experimented on, is not very nice. When this happens it affects the way people around see you and interact with you. It effectively declares open season and then more undesirable things start happening. I *always* know when it is happening (INFJ remember), I know this is *exactly* what has been going on, which is why I get really upset and ill.
It should be obvious that "social engineering" - interfering with a persons reality, messing with their head - is the opposite of helpful, especially when that person is very aware of what is going on. If mental health issues are involved, particularly if someone is trying to recover from something like depression, then this behaviour is not only unhelpful, it is positively unkind, cruel and destructive.
I tend not to trust co-workers. This is obviously not fair. Not everyone has been involved but so many have taken part it makes it very difficult to tell who is natural and who is working an agenda. I know *many* people have joined in and some have been evil. They don't know me, but are willing to be complicit in behaviour where they have no idea what they are doing and the effect it is having. Or perhaps they do, which makes it even worse.
The company were taken over about a year later. The price? A billion dollars.
I am a big fan of the natural world. I am especially fond of the coast and the sea.