On September 10, 2006 I had what is known in the mental health community as a “break”. “Shrinks” call that a nervous breakdown. As a result of it, my union psychiatrist placed me on two months disability leave from work.
This was the direct result of being assigned to a position on my job where:
1. I had not one drop of training for, but was expected to perform in an exemplary fashion regardless. I call this “The Bricks Without Straw Syndrome”. Please refer to the Bible and the book of Exodus where Pharaoh told the Israelites to make bricks but gave them no straw. . . . . .
2. Said position was critical the function of said workplace.
3. Said assignment was extremely stressful and the working environment hostile.
Before this happened, I’d gotten wind that the “higher ups” were considering placing me in that position. I tried, in futility to let them know that I was not a suitable candidate for that spot. Why? Because I knew I could not handle the stress. In addition, a co-worker of mine who had the self same position a year earlier, had committed suicide because of the same job and it’s overwhelming stress. So you see the position I was in. . . . . . . . . . .
I was sacred to death that some similar mishap would happen to me. Before this, I had never let my workplace know I had “a problem”. Why? There was a possibility they would’ve let me go. . . . .
Of course, the the powers that be didn’t listen to me. I was transferred and ordered to work in the new assignment whether I wanted to or not. I was lucky I had a job. . . . . .
After six months I was driven to the point, where I was ready to tap dance on my desk with a lampshade on my head. Now, I was left with no avenue but to tell them. After they nearly drove me off the precipice.
When I returned to work, two months later, I had a documentation blizzard with me. Letters from my psychiatrist plainly stating my condition (which was diagnosed as Bipolar Disorder – it has since been re-diagnosed as Adult Hyperactive Disorder / ADHD – I’m a grown up “Tigger”). I also had documentation ordering the “higher ups” to re-assign me to my previous position, as soon as possible. Or the union would’ve taken them to court for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
After 6 months of hell, I was back where I belonged.
But, did this have to happen? No it didn’t but it did. I am a firm believer that cruel things happen for a purpose. To make us look up. . . . . . .
I admit this was undoubtedly one of the most unpleasant occurrences in my life. I was an excellent worker for 12 years hence, now that I’d returned, all of a sudden I had become a pariah and had a stigma. I even had a superior flee his own office when I entered. To this day I wonder what did he think little old me was gonna to do to him?
However. I learned a very valuable lesson. I learned how to prioritize!
I yet work in an extremely stressful work environment where numerous things tend to bombard me all at once. For years I couldn’t figure out why that happened until after my “break”. It turns out that most of my fellow co-workers and superiors are just not organized. There is no rhyme or reason why they do things so confusion regins.
Superiors would rush up and want things “right away”, and stupid me, before “the break”, would get intimidated, and rush to comply.
Now I tell them:
“I’m in the middle of something right now. Leave it with me and I’ll have it done for you in about fifteen minutes.”
I’m not saying I’m not going to do it, I’m just giving myself time to complete one task properly before starting another.
In another case a particularly demanding superior rattled off a list of things he wanted. Like so:
“I want this and that, and that and this, and which is what, and what is who.” Yes, of course, it was prefaced with “right now.”
I kindly asked: “I’m currently doing so and so, for so and so. What do you want me to complete first,” letting him know that since he was not the only Big Frog in the Pond he would have to wait too. It also gave him the responsibility of deciding what was really important. I made him prioritize.
I apply the same thing to my personal life. I’ve arranged it like Triage in a hospital. The most pressing things get done right away and the other stuff and wait until I have time. Yes, that even applies to my writing. I’ll get to it, when I get to it. . . . .
Yes, there are many things that I would love to do, but this human body of mine can only be in one place at one time. And despite the multitasking craze, one person can only do one thing at one time efficiently. Doctors, psychiatrists, and scientists have discovered that the more tasks a human being takes on, the more efficiency level drops. It eventually gets to the point becomes a waste of time. Even though one is doing a lot, but nothing is done right.
And screwed up work/tasks means, redo, redo, redo and redo.
So, I’ve learned to take one day at a time, and sing this little prayer:
On day at a time
That’s all I’m asking
Lord teach me to take
One day at a time
I had to learn this the hard way, in order to warn you, so you won’t have to. . . . . . .