Category Archives: suicide

Talk About A Bad Day At Work

I was reading that resilience comes from talking to people about your troubles. Sharing the moments that scare or confuse you. That the act of talking it through is in itself a decision to be resilient.

This year I experienced an extreme act of professional bullying. It wasn’t just aimed at me, it was aimed at everyone in the business, slowing ebbing away any semblance of independence and confidence. Micromanaging bullshit and game playing that eventually ended up in me leaving in a manner that meant I spent the evening on the phone to Lifeline, pondering my pain and self-worth. Should I stay or go?

In an act of desperation, I wrote about it on Facebook, asking a few close friends if I was what he said I was in our last meeting. A deeply personal accusation that bordered on cruelty.

I’m not usually that person who puts up the sad sack post on FB but I needed help. I was drowning. It played over and over in my head. I couldn’t stop crying. I was sick to my stomach. My children cried watching me cry. My husband was furious and helpless. I didn’t want anyone to feel that way because of what happened to me. So I asked. Am I what he said I was? I had been misunderstood and I was punished for it. I was punished for being myself. For the way I wrote, and the way I expressed my enthusiasm.

The love and support I got was amazing. The care and kindness. People called me to tell me I matter. People met me for coffee and talked about their own experience with this tyrant. I got job offers. I gained an amazing new client from it, and I felt so deeply loved, that I cry as I read this. I asked and I received.

I talked to my psychiatrist about it and she said that our support networks are our lifeline. Sometimes it’s okay to be vulnerable and say, ‘This happened and I’m in a bad place.’ Because those people will remind you that they got through similar and worse, they will have advice, and the act of talking it through helps your brain make sense of it, and you can begin to practise options for recovery and coping.

I am not someone who shies away from emotion. I am okay with the ugly cry. I am okay with the rawness in life. I can talk about death and suicide, and mental illness and grief. The dark waters don’t scare me anymore. But being frightened by someone else does. I was frightened. I was traumatised. I was in shock.

I asked my doctor when other people would find out what sort of a person they are, and she said, when they open their eyes enough to see the bigger picture. Emotional intelligence isn’t something everyone has. Sometimes they avoid the behaviours because they are getting something out of it. The greater good doesn’t always play out in the world.

We live in a society where excuses are made when people’s bad behaviour is overlooked because they might give us something. Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Michael Jackson, Louis C.K, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump. We can forgive anything if we are getting something out of it. But can you ethically and morally separate the art and artist or the boss and the bully, especially when their behaviour traumatises people?

You cannot excuse them just because you enjoy their work or they make you money. The long game means that many will eventually end us losing. History tells us so. One law suit. One review. One person says something and soon the others come. The truth, just like the moon, cannot be hidden long.

But the lesson isn’t about that. That will sort itself out.

My lesson is that it’s important to share when you’re struggling. Talking helps you makes sense and decide. That great friend’s and loved ones are your safety net, and that you will be the same for them or have been. It’s called love. So work hard and be nice to people. It’s easy if you try.

* Graphic Design -Anthony Burrill

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Not Everything Has To Be Hard

Yesterday I read quite a number of articles about the reality of being an entrepreneur and the rise of depression and suicide in those who are trying to make something happen in a start-up. Failure isn’t an option for many, and hours and hours of work can often amass to nothing.

It’s interesting that the honesty stick is being handed around and people are willing to be more open about this topic. It’s been a long time coming. Not everyone is a Zuckerberg, or an Elon Musk.

Trying to make things happen in your career and business is often like slamming your head into a wall to try to make a doorway for yourself.

I worked in a business for fifteen years but one day, after coming away with a depression from trying to make something float through a GFC, I had a breakdown.

I was tired of the pressure, the phone calls, the worry, the sleeplessness, the maxing out on credit and loans. I sold my much loved Cartier watch to get my kid to a compulsory three-month term away at another campus, and I worked any job I could to put food on the table. Nannying, census collecting, cleaning, selling everything I could on Ebay to pay a mortgage and keep my kid in school. You think you know what is tough? Tough is crying while driving and then hitting a pensioners car and finding out your insurance has bounced and you’re no longer covered.

When I read the articles about the truth about business struggle, I felt such deep empathy, it was a visceral pain in my chest.

I started to write a book to stop myself from thinking about where I could get my next mortgage payment from, or how to feed my children, or the best way to leave the party early, the words flowed from me onto the page.  They actually poured out of me, and I wrote three books in a year, and in between, got a two-book deal and then an overseas deal, and then a Young Adult book deal, and so it went on.

I said to my therapist that it felt too easy; when all I knew was struggle.

She answered, ‘Not everything has to be hard.’

Elizabeth Gilbert talks about having a bigger, smaller life. This has became my goal when I finally realised I couldn’t stand living in such uncertainty, and I sold our house and let go of any idea of being back in business.

I needed a bigger, smaller life, and writing has given this to me. It’s still uncertain, but it’s not as heavy. I still worry, but less so. I still shop at Aldi, and make my coffee at home, but I also buy peonies when they’re in bloom.

I don’t miss my fancy watch. I don’t miss the labels. I don’t miss the struggle, and I sure as hell don’t miss the burden.

I have fewer friends but those who stuck around cared more about us as people than as a bottom line and when I spend time with them, it’s a beautiful,  and truthful experience.

When I look back at the past five years, I now see a veracity in my life,  that wasn’t there before. Facebook and Instagram offer us a chance to show the life we think we should be living, but this blog, and others, and any of other the articles about life and business pressure gives us an opportunity to be honest about our lives.

My skills have grown immeasurably in the past years.

I can make a $100 feed a family of five for a week. I can negotiate with anyone. I can write 5000 words in a day. I can work four freelance jobs at once time and still meet my daily word limit on my book. I can fly to Sydney for the day to brainstorm and be back again to make dinner. I can read a blood work result. I can reel off chemo drugs like a freestyle rapper. I can read five books in a week, and come away with thirteen ideas on what to write next. I can parallel park, while calming a beloved on the phone who thinks the cancer is back. I can remember to call a dear friend every week who has cancer. I can remember to call a dear friend every week who doesn’t have cancer. I can drive to the state border with my kid and philosophise over donuts, and I can spend time with new friends over coffee who make me laugh and think.

These are my successes. Not the bank balance, or the labels, or the watches, or any other badge that is deemed socially and economically acceptable.

Be real with yourself. Be honest with your friends and family. Don’t pretend. Don’t be ashamed. Ask for help and change your life, and remember; not everything has to be hard.

 

Much love,

 

Kate

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