I am angry. I am angry and I can’t get past it. I am angry and it is not doing me any good. I am writing this in the hope that it will be cathartic and I’ll stop having nightmares about the place I used to work at, that I’ll stop being terrified of not being believed, that I’ll stop thinking about it all the bloody time.
If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know something of what I’m going on about and might not want to read anything else about it, so here’s a Get out of Jail Free card; collect £200 and pass Go without reading any further. I wouldn’t blame you; I’m sick to the stomach of the whole thing. If you haven’t read it before, here is a brief synopsis: I had depression and was signed off work. A nasty, grubby individual wrote to my employer saying I was faking it and using my tweets as ‘evidence’. My employer investigated me, found me guilty of misconduct on the basis of my tweets and precious little else and began disciplinary action. I was suicidal. I resigned.
I’ve tried so hard to get past it. I cleared my desk on 10th January this year. Time has gone on and yet I can’t stop thinking about it. It affects everything I do. I am so fucking angry.
They knew I was on a waiting list for therapy. They had medical certificates from my GP stating I had depression. They had letters from my GP confirming the severity of my illness. They had reports from their own Occupational Health doctors who having met and examined me on at least three occasions agreed with my GP’s diagnosis. And yet, on the basis of what I put on Twitter and a telephone conversation with a different doctor from Occupational Health who I hadn’t even met, they told me I was a liar. They told me my behaviour was not consistent with that of someone with depression.
This, from a manager who, by her own admission, had no experience or understanding of depressive illness. This from a manager, who, when I said I felt uncomfortable talking openly to her about my symptoms told me “Stephen Fry talks about his depression…” This, from a manager who whilst carrying out the investigation into the veracity of my mental illness, was also appointed as my line manager, responsible for over-seeing the phased return to work recommended by the organisation’s Occupational Health doctors. Conflict of interest, much?
Of course, everyone asks why I didn’t take this to an employment tribunal. I thought about it, I really did. I sought advice. In the end, I was still too ill. Even though I was told that legally, I had a strong case. The prospect, however remote, of being found guilty a second time of something I hadn’t done was just too terrifying. I’d pulled myself back from the brink once; I knew I couldn’t do it again. It’s too late now, you only get so long to lodge a complaint with an employment tribunal, and honestly despite being more mentally healthy now than I have been in a long while, I don’t think I’d ever be strong enough to fight that battle again, even if it were an option.
I’m starting a new job soon. I am terrified of it all happening again. I’ll never be able to say where I work, or have any public facing role in the new organisation, for fear of the grubby individual who began all this, sending their nasty poison pen letters to my new employer as well. I’m not angry with the grubby individual anymore; they are not worth the effort. They are nothing. I am angry with my old employer. They knew me. They knew my past history of depression. They knew I was good at my job. They knew me. And they called me a liar. And I can’t forgive them.