PTSD at Work
On Tuesday, I gave a test. The guy did it wrong but had a valid reason for doing it incorrectly. Since the rep was there, we asked her about it. She told me to throw out the answer key and just grade the test as it was done. She doesn’t care about our answer key, she just needs to know they can properly do the task. I had a few more tests to give that day and I graded them as the rep told me to.
On Wednesday, I came back from lunch and Katherine caught me as I walked past her office. She said she needed to talk to me when I was officially back from lunch. Immediately, there was my friend, PTSD, to smack me down. My heart started racing and I started sweating. What had I done wrong? What if I was doing a horrible job and she was giving me a warning? What if she was going to fire me?
It was 10 more minutes before we could talk because the phone was ringing non-stop. Katherine sat down at my desk and was watching everything I was doing. The whole time she was sitting there it took everything in me to concentrate on the tasks at hand because I was so busy trying to control the PTSD. I was trying to even out my breathing and trying to keep a calm veneer. Katherine helped me out with one phone call since I had started giving the man the wrong information. Her sitting there coupled with the fact that I knew she was waiting to talk to me had me about ready to pass out. It was a terrible 10 minutes.
Finally, we were able to have a moment and I asked her what I’d done wrong. She said, “Oh no!! You’re doing such a great job. You’ve really picked all this up so quickly and we’re all impressed by how well you’re doing. This isn’t an easy job and you’re learning so quickly.”
Part of my brain relaxed and the tension deflated. Part of my brain thought, “Oh she’s just saying that. I’m not doing a good job at all.” Yet, I know I’m doing a good job. The ladies help me out and answer questions (even if I’ve asked it 3 times already) and gently tell me when I need to do or say something different. I even wanted to apply for a different job and two of the ladies went on and on about how I wouldn’t like it and it wasn’t the right fit for me – they finally admitted that I’d be great at it but they didn’t want to lose me. It turned out not to be a good job for me so I’m glad I didn’t pursue it after reading the job description.
All Katherine wanted to talk about was to request that I put some papers in protective sleeves and she wanted to go over the test since there’d been so much confusion the day before. Basically, I had been grading it correctly and the rep was wrong in how she wanted it graded. That man should’ve failed the test. The relief washed over me even as it took me another 10 minutes to get my heart rate under control and for the internal shaking to stop.
A bit later I was passing Katherine’s office and just popped my head in and requested that the next time she needed to talk to me to just let me know it wasn’t about anything bad. Her first question was, “Well, what if it is about something bad?” I told her to just come talk to me. It is hearing that she needs to talk to me that makes me panicky. She asked if I’d had a problem with a former boss and I said, “No, it was my ex-husband. I left because it was really bad.” She apologized and said she didn’t know.
Well, of course she didn’t know because I hadn’t told her. I told her he used to call from work and tell me that he needed to talk to me but wouldn’t tell me why. Then I’d have to sit at home all day, waiting to find out what I’d done wrong and what my punishment would be. I told her I was aware of the fact that this was an issue for me and that it was something I was actively working on.
I hated giving my boss that insight into me, but I needed to. I can’t do my job properly if I’m having PTSD reactions anytime she wants to talk to me about something. Making that request of her – making my needs known – was a huge step for me. Previously, I would’ve just sucked it up and continued to be a nervous wreck. Now I understand that I’m important enough to speak up for. I’m important enough to advocate for myself. This is one area that I can request something small from someone to help my mental health. I deserve to protect myself.
I waited a few hours and popped my head back into Katherine’s office. I just wanted to thank her for hiring me and giving me a chance and to say how very much I love my job. I know it couldn’t have been easy to hire someone who hadn’t been in the actual workforce for over a dozen years and I’m so thankful for the chance she’d given me. She told me again that I’m doing a wonderful job and she’s glad I’m enjoying my job so much.
Bubba is a fucking, rat-bastard. I can’t even go to work without dealing with the effects of his abuse. It permeates every part of my life, nothing is untouched. His abuse is like a festering wound, eating at me from the inside.
Endellion described this healing journey as “debridement.” I think she is right. We have to painfully, tirelessly dig out this cancer from our souls. It is so very painful while we are doing this hard work, but it will be worth the effort once we can say that we’ve cut out all the sickness.
Once we are well and healthy, we’ll look back at the pain of the journey and know that we fought the good fight and that it was worth every horrendously painful step to get to where we are.