Friday, August 7, 2009


As most of you know, I'm on stress leave. I've been off work for over a year now, and still with no plans of returning.
However, being off work doesn't mean I get to sit back and relax... No, there's lots of therapy that needs to be done in the mean time.
Last year I had access (thanks to Ed Dept funding) to 8 Clinical Psychologist Sessions, in which I had to learn about and work though CBT - Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. This was fortnightly, and after each session, I would come away quite sensitive.
A friend asked me, why do it if it hurts so much? (Thus showing the depth of their understanding about recovery at all - even though they're a nurse!!)
I replied, it's like treating cancer, especially with chemotherapy. The chemotherapy makes you sick... physically sick, your hair falls out and it does crazy things to your body... but it helps get rid of the cancer. That's what treatment is like for me. It does crazy things to my body, it makes me more sensitive to things people do and say around me, and sometimes it even makes me physically sick.
My psychiatrist describes it as a large wound that is taking a long time to heal. Every now and then, we need to open up the wound to let some of the dirt, puss and gunk out; but in so doing, it aggravates the wound further, so after working on the wound for a bit, we need to close it up again to let it heal some more, even though all of the dirt in the wound hasn't been removed.
Recently I've been doing a bit more therapy with my psychiatrist. I've had to read through a book called The Pocket Psycho, which is a pocket sized version of a book called Working with Monsters, both by Dr John Clarke. It describes how the Workplace Psycho (aka the workplace bully) operates, the effect it has on the victims, and a few tools to help victims.
I have really, really struggled reading this book. I have avoided, hidden and forced myself to read the book. It has been my homework for the past 3 months, and it has been HELL. I've decided to share some of my journal entries from the last three months, to help others going through the same thing, and the people around them show understanding and support. I should just note, that at my last appointment with my psychiatrist last week, we decided that it's time to let the wound heal for a bit, so the dark cloud has lifted.

I've finally dared/worked up the courage to pick up this book. I think I subconsciously stashed it away in an obscure spot so I wouldn't have to deal with it, but I knew exactly where to find it anyway.

  • The workplace psychopath tries to isolate and then destroy a target. (Gary and Ted were very good at isolating me)

  • Characteristics and behaviours include: a lack of remorse or guilt; parasitic behaviour; seeking increased power & control; manipulating & intimidating the people around them; prolific lying and deception; a constant need for excitement; superficial charm; lack of responsibility; impersonal sex life. (not really relevant here)

"When faced with a workplace psychopath's destructive behaviour, victims characteristically report feeling as though they have lost control over their lives. Panic attacks, depression, disturbed sleep & nightmares, relationship problems, confusion, disbelief, guilt, lack of trust, anger, powerlessness, flashbacks, shame, embarrassment and sexual dysfunction are just a few examples of how these victims suffer.

Some longer-term effects also include being unable to look for another job, as they do not trust people or themselves anymore, and a loss of confidence in their ability to perform adequately in their chosen profession or career.

Employees who choose to stay in the workplace despite the trauma, frequently report feeling resentment toward the company they have given so much to; they believe it has let them down by not believing or protecting them."

The above quotes are in/from the first chapter of the book - the introduction, and it has 'hit-the-nail-on-the-head'. It has described me rather well:

  • lost control of their lives

  • depression

  • disturbed sleep & nightmares

  • relationship problems

  • confusion, disbelief & guilt

  • lack of trust

  • anger

  • powerlessness

  • flashbacks

  • shame

  • embarrassment

  • unable to look for another job - do not trust themselves anymore & loss of confidence in their ability to perform adequately in their chosen career/profession

  • feeling resentment towards the company - that I have given so much to, that it has let me down by not believing in me or protecting me...

Does that mean however, that the company hasn't let me down, that the Ed Dept hasn't let me down and has protected me? Yet despite feeling it (and being told it's only a feeling, not a fact); I know they have let me down and haven't believed in me in the past. The Ed Dept lets nearly all new grads down; lets their teachers in general down AND attempts have been made in the past to discredit me, to make me look incompetent, make me out that I'm a bad teacher. In 2004, when parents were complaining to the Ed Dept about the horrible things that were going on in my school, and in my classroom, they put me up ( with me unaware) as a scapegoat!! I was sent into a meeting I knew nothing about with a random person from the Ed Department who was questioning me about why I was asking another teacher for help in using First Steps in the classroom. I was tandem teaching with another new grad, and they didn't ask her why she was asking for help from other teachers. When I was accused in 2008 of hitting a child with a book (by a parent who had never stepped foot inside my classroom so far that year); they believed them, not me!! The questioned the child - who couldn't be sure about any of the details, the asked other kids in the class, who likewise denied it happened, and yet I still got raked over the coals from the deputy and principal because of it.

I maintain - it wasn't just a feeling I had that the system and company was letting me down and wasn't protecting me. It was a FACT!! THEY BROKE ME!!!