One of the weeks under discussion was 'Work Week'. I can't work, so I wasn't sure what I would do. I already have a lot of avatars, and when a theme week comes up, I try to find one of them that can be shoehorned in. So for work week, I decided, I would use this one:
In answer, I wrote this:
I was in insurance, processing paperwork. The actual work I loved, and most of my coworkers I got along with great, but there were a few in management who were bullies, played favourites, and had a few people who were targets. I was reprimanded for having a few pieces of paper in my trash bin instead of the recycling bin, for leaving a box of tissues on my desk at the end of the day in supposed violation of the clear desk policy, for going to the bathroom too often. Never anything substantive. Never anything to do with the quality of my work. Since it was financial, the work quality could be judged objectively, by concrete numerical measurements, and so there was nothing they could say about it. So they had to look for petty things. But nothing they said or did was the kind of thing I could make a legitimate complaint about either.That was the first time I'd really considered how the stress from that time has left a mark on me. I try to picture the me who would have resulted if I'd been able to take the full rest that I should have, with no demands of any kind put on me. She would probably be only forty or fifty percent impaired, instead of seventy percent. She'd still be able to walk short distances, and wash her own hair. She might even be showing improvement and able to consider going back to work a few hours a week.
The worst of the bullying happened around the time I got the virus that was the trigger for my M.E., and I'm sure the stress from that worsened the illness. There is evidence that the most important factor in the level of impairment from M.E. is how much rest the person takes in the very early stages, and those early stages were me going back to work for a few days, facing more bullying and stress, then getting sick again and having to take time off, several times, before I was finally not able to go back at all. I believe I would still have M.E. if I'd been in a healthy working environment, but I probably would be less impaired.
Wow... I haven't let myself think of those days in years. How the hell did I put up with it for so long?
And the transition to 'she' just happened as I wrote, because I can't see myself as her. This is me. I live in a bed, with occasional jaunts to the toilet or the comfy chair. I would like to be able to do the things that other person does, but I can't. I'm not her. I'm happy the way I am. If I were able to walk, I'd be happy that way too.
For all the anger I felt then, about how I was treated at that job, I don't seem to feel any anger about the long term effects it has left. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's too new. Maybe I used up all my anger yesterday - after I 'rageblogged', I had three or four more things happen that angered me. It was just an all around miserable day. But I suspect the reason I'm not feeling angry is because there's a dam holding back so much anger and rage that it would sweep me away if I let it all out at once, and it's going to have to be trickled out in small doses over months and years to be safely drained.
When I got my M.E. diagnosis, my two dominant emotions were relief that I finally had a name for what was wrong with me, and fear because the name was the name of something that didn't have a cure. But I'd be lying if I denied that there was another emotion in there, much much quieter than the other two, but able to be heard: jubilation that I wouldn't have to go back to work under those managers.
I ought to be very angry about that.