I graduated with my Bachelors of Psychology in December 2011 and in June, 2012, I got what I thought was my dream job, although, has nothing to do with my degree. In fact, I don't need the degree for the job.
The job offers good pay, good insurance, and has very little contact with the public - which I thought was a good thing, considering I have generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. As these conditions are exacerbated when dealing with large amounts of people or stress, this was a good thing, or so I thought.
I work in a small department - only nine people - coding insurance claims for a local medical company. All of us are women.
There were many red flags, which, in hindsight, I realize I shouldn't have ignored.
During my interview, my soon-to-be boss told me that the girl who I was replacing was leaving thanks to a horrible rumor about her husband that another girl (who'd been fired) started. I couldn't understand why she was leaving as the girl responsible had been fired, but I chose not worry about it.
I was a little surprised that The Boss was sharing this during the interview, but she said she wanted me to be aware of the environment I'd be entering. She wanted me to know that no one else started rumors; that she considered it an awful thing to do. I agreed with her; if you have a problem with someone, you should talk to the other and work it out, rather than talking behind their back, allowing rumors and half-truths to be spread.
She also said during the interview was that the two women had gone to HR and The Boss's boss to complain about her, which she was deeply offended by. She explained that if you have a problem with her, you should come to her first to discuss it. Another flag, but I figured that she was right; it was professional courtesy to take it to her first.
It wasn't long before The Boss asked me how I was enjoying my work. I assured her it was wonderful and during our conversation she began complaining about several of my coworkers.
I was shocked.
She'd been clear during the interview that she didn't like talking about others behind their back. Plus, she's The Boss - The Boss isn't supposed to complain about employees to other employees; it causes huge problems. Backstabbing from the top leads people to believe they're better than everyone else, and it makes the more paranoid among us wonder what she's saying about us behind our backs.
After that, I started avoiding conversations with her. I wanted to avoid hearing her complain about other employees so I wouldn't see them differently. Plus, I didn't want to give her ammunition to complain about me.
Soon, I got comfortable enough with one of my coworkers that I started talking about my problem: sometimes I wished we didn't have so much overtime, because it made my new husband upset that I didn't have as much time for him.
Shortly after that conversation, we learned that our department might be outsourced. I told the same coworker that I'd be updating my resume in case we didn't have jobs much longer.
Then, The Boss stopped talking to me entirely. The other girl who did my job began ignoring me when I said anything, gave me sideways looks, and started keeping her headphones on. Several times a day, she'd go into the back and whispering with The Boss.
To cope, I started listening to music - I figured it was okay as my coworker did it.
At the beginning on January, The Boss asked me aside for a talk.
She proceeded to tell me that everyone in the office hated me - no one wanted to work with me, because all I did was listen to music. They thought I was a snob. I'd made my primary coworker cry as she thought I wouldn't work any more overtime; she felt she was doing more work than me (not true). That I'd said to her The Boss was "ruining my marriage," and "I hated my job so much I was revamping my resume."
Everything I'd said to my primary coworker was repeated, and twisted to The Boss to make me sound awful. I was sobbing.
The Boss continued - she realized that I was introverted, and while I'm good at my job, and she felt I was highly intelligent, if she'd known, I was introverted, she wouldn't have hired me, as the position required an extrovert. Which is silly, because half the people in the office are quiet introverts.
Finally, she named the people who hadn't said anything about me; that she was guessing how they felt. I learned that the only person who has a problem with me is my primary coworker whose lies The Boss believes, as they're friends.
After that, I tried to change. I quit listening to music. I made an effort to talk more, even though my work suffered. I worked more overtime, and began working on some of my primary coworkers work to help her.
It hasn't been enough.
For a week, The Boss and coder coworker seemed to like me more, and now things at work are just like they were before I was taken aside by The Boss. What's worse, I absolutely hate my job. I have horrible stress headaches that radiate into my teeth. I can't sleep because I'm so sick with worry about the next work day. I get physically sick to my stomach at work. I can't eat. I'm having daily panic attacks. I cry all of the time.
I can't take it anymore.
My husband might have a job that may allow me to quit, but that might take awhile. We're likely moving in the next couple months, either for his possible job or to be near family.
In the meantime, I have bills to pay. I can't just quit my job. He makes enough now that we'd still make our bills, but the credit cards we stupidly got in college would go unpaid. I would feel awful. And, frankly, I don't want to try to find another job to have to quit in a month or two.
I just don't know what to do.
I just know I can't continue working there.
Nearly 3% of the US population has Bipolar Disorder.
This is her husband's story:
When my husband and I were newlyweds, he had these moments in which he made really poor decisions.
He was sometimes depressed, spent money without considering consequences, as he charged into huge grand plans that didn't work out. Sometimes, I wondered what on Earth I'd gotten myself into.
Like the night he and his buddy went out and he spent $200 that we didn't have. I was sick about it. I had to ask my mother for help to pay some bills.
I was ashamed; I had no good explanation about the money - I had to tell her the truth. She resented him for it.
I vented about it to my best friend.
She asked, "Is he bipolar? That sounds exactly like the kinds of things my brother did before he was diagnosed and medicated."
I turned to the Internet where I found an online test. I took the test based on what I knew about my husband. If the test were scored like a scholastic test, he'd have gotten a 90%. It may sound odd, but I was THRILLED to have an answer to his unexplainable behavior!
That night, when he got home from work, I had him take the test. He scored even higher than I'd thought. We made an appointment with his general practice doctor.
We hadn't chosen this doctor specifically; he just happened to be the only doctor my husband had seen for an unrelated issue. This doctor was old and judgmental, but we thought he had my husband's best interests in mind. We were very honest with him, confiding in him my husband's previous drug addiction and his attempts to turn his life around.
When we went in to talk about the possibility of bipolar disorder, I never imagined the doctor would suspect that we were faking it.
I didn't realize that the doctor thought my husband was a drug-seeker.
The doctor handed my husband a piece of paper. I was excited to see that it was the same test I'd found online! In my mind, that meant that we really were on the right track! We were finally getting him some help!
I smiled and mentioned to the doctor that it was the same one I'd found on the Internet. He gave me an odd look and left the room to let my husband fill it out.
He came back in and read the answers on the paper, the same look on his face. He looked at ME asking my husband, "Were you coached about this?"
My jaw almost hit the floor - the doctor was implying that I was helping my husband to FAKE being bipolar to get drugs! I was so offended I could hardly stand it! I wanted to call in all the people who knew me at the hospital to tell this jerk doctor that I would NEVER do that.
He referred us to a psychiatrist whose waiting list was four months long. Before my husband got to his turn on the waiting list, he was offered a job out-of-state so we moved.
After adjusting to a new life in a new town, we talked to our wonderful nurse practitioner about the possibility that my husband was bipolar.
She believed us; helped to get my husband the help he needed. He's been treated by a psychiatrist for over a year now and the medications have made a huge difference for both of us.
I wish I could go back to the doctor who was so horrible before and slap him in the face with the paperwork showing my husband's diagnosis.
Serves him right.
I've written here, for The Band to help work through both my failed marriage and my unemployment. Quite a bit has happened in the last few weeks - so much that I don't know where to start!
I'll start with the good stuff - I'm now employed! I've been officially offered employment with the local University. I was THRILLED.
Ready to celebrate my impending employment, I flew stateside to visit my family whom I hadn't seen in years. I was up-to-date on the current familial happenings, but (as I learned on my trip) knowing and seeing are VERY different.
My niece is an opioid addict.
My sister is struggling attempting to raise her granddaughter with little-to-no help from my niece, her mother. Child Protective Services is involved - my sister has filed for custody.
My niece, a compulsive liar, is simply...not there. Her affect is indescribable.
It's really disturbing that now, when asked a direct question, she just stares. Part of this is a sensory and auditory processing disorder - but most of it is the drugs.
My poor sister, who's trying so hard, is almost too over-protective of her granddaughter as her daughter, the mother, has no protective instincts whatsoever. During the limited time my niece was home, the two of them fought. Constantly. It was horrid.
I rarely have the Mama-Bear mentality; but I wanted to grab my sister and great-niece and drag them off to protect them both.
While Stateside, I managed to see my father for three meals. He loves to marry the intense-type. His current wife believes I'm the spawn of the Devil all because of a birthday card - a martini glass filled with ribbons - I sent four years ago.
That, according to my father's wife, implied that I thought she was an alcoholic. Clearly, that wasn't my intent. As a result of that particular snafu, I'm unwelcome at my father's house.
My own mother was the opposite - she didn't want me to leave her house. She's thankfully on an antidepressant which seems to be helping her to control things like screaming and crying if something doesn't go right.
Due to the stress I've been under, I've lost some weight over the last year. I look pretty damn good.
My mother, upon seeing me, went on and on about my weight loss like it was a miracle I actually looked good. She'd say, "isn't it great your pants are too big?" and "here, eat some cake" on the same breath, causing the same confused feelings I've felt since I was young.
My poor, poor mother.
She's shown me pictures of herself as a teenager - she was anorexic; you could see her skull through the skin. She stared at the picture, and asked, "Didn't I look great?' I had to reply, "No. You looked way too skinny."
The idea that anyone could look "too skinny" shocked the hell out of her.
My mother is heaping praise on my stepsister who is now on a healthy diet - I'm happy for both of them, but I hate the horrifying truth. My mother doesn't like overweight people, so she didn't like my stepsister BECAUSE she was overweight. That makes me so sad.
But, I dealt with all the crazy. I handled the drama. I was only overwhelmed a few times, so I called my friend for support.
My friend, my person, my best friend in the whole world lied to me. He got blacked-out drunk and had sex with someone at a party. He told me that he'd only flirted with her.
Keep in mind, he and I have an open relationship - we live very, very far apart.
Per our open relationship, we have only two damn rules - be honest and always call or text the other person BEFORE anything happens (to be allowed to veto the situation if needed.) If the other does not reply in a reasonable amount of time, permission is given by default.
Not that hard, right?
After a minor freakout about familial drama, he and I were joking about the woman he'd been flirting with.
I giggled, teasing and said, "Ha ha, you almost slept her." Laughing, he replied, "I know! I felt so dirty that I had to shower afterward. At least I wore a condom."
SCREECHING HALT OF BRAIN: "What, WHAT, WHAT?!"
My mind could barely wrap around it.
You said you only flirted with her - lie.
Then, you changed it to "made out with" - lie.
You changed it again and again and again until eventually, you called her to ask if the two of you had had sex. If you were really blacked out, why did you remember to put on a condom? Then, you had the audacity to tell me how horrible that call to her was, how sad she was, and how stressed you were. The worst part: I WANTED TO COMFORT YOU.
We've since talked and talked and talked. I'm grateful that he's now in treatment for alcohol abuse. He uses alcohol as a social crutch - he doesn't drink every day, but when he does drink, he drinks far past excess.
Do I love him? Yes, of course I do. My first response was to call him to talk about the jackass who broke my heart. That's pretty hard to do when HE'S THE JACKASS.
I'm incredibly scared. This person, someone I love, hurt me so badly that I couldn't breathe for ten minutes. Can wen reconcile? I'm trying - it's not easy.
Randomly, I'm filled with rage at his betrayal. I used to delight in hearing him say, "I love us." Now, when he says that, I hear nothing but lies. He didn't love us enough to be honest with me.
I have a wise friend who reminded me that some good came from the situation: he realized he had a problem with alcohol. Fair enough.
If he lies to me again, I'll wash my hands of him: no calls, no texts, no friendship, NADA.
I was married to an addict for 10 years. I cannot put myself through that again.
I just can't.
Slowly, carefully, softly, I'm moving forward. No worries, I'm carrying a big damn stick.
Many of us have struggled with our romantic relationships.
This is her story:
I've been obsessing for almost a year. I'm at war with myself - and society - for my feelings.
I've been told that I'm insecure; jealous in romantic relationships - a self-fulfilling prophecy. I'm seen as extreme, obsessed with myself, as "the problem," and so my thoughts, feelings and behaviors are dismissed. Immediately. This terrifies me - makes me ashamed to utter these words.
I know nobody is going to see my side, nobody will agree, nobody will allow me the dignity of my own thoughts and feelings. I'm used to being wrong.
I have reasons, rational ones, for the way I feel, I think, I act. I am fueled by analysis, by relentless searching for the root. Everything has a reason.
Emotions have reasons. Feelings are nothing more than a response to certain thoughts. The heart, feelings, and the mind are all very different.
How can I be so wrong?
How can it be wrong to want the love of my life not to see other women without their clothes? Nudity is a display of utmost trust - seeing someone naked is a display of acceptance. How is it wrong to want to be the only person he accepts in this way? How is it wrong to believe that bodies are sacred; to be shared with someone you love?
Why is it wrong to want to be only woman he's attracted to; the only woman he desires, the only woman he wants to see without her clothes on?
It isn't as if this is a new relationship - we've been together for a year and a half, two in December. It's short in the scope of life, but not a bad start.
At an event a few nights ago, the opening act before the film was a strip show. My boyfriend was nervous and fidgety, twiddling his fingers. I didn't have to ask him not to look at the bodies on the stage. His mom, who we were with, noticed his anxiety, and asked if he was tired or if he wasn't allowed to see other women.
He responded that he was simply tired.
I'm not sure if that was the truth - I've never asked him to avoid seeing other women naked, but I don't think he thinks he has an option.
That he felt the need to respond with a lie is telling.
No, I don't like it when he looks at anyone but me naked, topless, or doing anything vaguely sexual. Wanting anyone else in any sexual, sensual, romantic, or physical way is unacceptable to me - it hurts me.
I do not share. Neither does he. I don't feel anything for anyone but him. How can it be wrong for me to want the same?
How is it wrong to believe that bodies are sacred, not to be on display. Sex sells because it is labelled taboo, racy, naughty, dirty. There's nothing taboo, racy, naughty, or dirty about our bodies. They're ours - there's no reason whatsoever to treat them as anything less than sacred.
He's told me that no man looks at a woman if he isn't attracted to her. I've seen him check other women out before. Breaking his nose felt appropriate, and if I've had less self-control, I'd have done so without hesitation.
I want to be his everything - how is that wrong? He's mine. My love, my confidant, my best friend. Nobody else holds any weight for me.
I don't own him, he isn't my property. I know this. I don't want a robo-boyfriend, perfectly tailored to my every desire. I do want us to feel the same way about the big things. Is this really so wrong?
This has nothing to do with being female. It's an insulting argument - discrediting me based upon my gender isn't right. Neither is giving men a free pass because society believes that men don't want to be monogamous. The accepted belief that men will (or want to) fuck anything that moves is just as insulting to men.
I fought my ass off not to start sobbing in the theater. I told myself that I'm wrong for feeling this way, and I broke down. Silent tears fell. I spent the rest of the night beating myself bloody for my reaction.
I've been obsessing about this for almost a year - nearly non-stop since the "show" the other night.
I beat myself up because I do not want this relationship to fall apart, even though I know that beating myself up will make us crumble.
I've always fought to break the rules, to shatter expectations, to give baseless beliefs a swift kick in the face.
Why do I value your opinions over my own? I'm not wrong. Why do I feel like I can't possibly be right?
It started off innocently enough: a response to a Craigslist ad, a lonely man looking for a friend. We fell head over heels almost from the get-go – he had his problems, as did I, but we were a match. Within weeks I met his son, he met the memories of mine. Hand in hand, we marched forward.
Then I learned about her, his abusive ex. To be fair, I have my own him I'm still recovering from. I just didn't know how much her reach extended into his life. The mother of his son, yes, but still a controller, a user, an emotional thief.
My him had moved across the country; no fear of his shadow creeping back in. She controls so much in his life. How and when he is allowed to see his son. How I can interact with the kid. Who can view HIS medical records. It’s another hoop I must jump through to be with him.
He has a past, a record. It’s from his younger, dumber days, but felonies hang around a while and change how the world sees you. He's having difficulties getting a job, even with his college degree, Dean’s list, a willingness to do anything. We won't be able to get a place of our own for years to come. There may not be children of our own because I REFUSE to raise children in the same house as my mother.
Ah, yes. She accepted him, but only because they shared the same drug habit. He's been clean now for almost six months while she's recently taken to manufacturing and distributing the same drug in our house. He’s doing well in his fight against addiction; she’s rubbing it in his face.
And again, there’s her. Her controlling ways know no limit. He cannot have visitation with his son unless it is supervised by his mother - who is not without her own chemical dependencies. I cannot watch his (our) son. On the nights he works and has our son, I sleep in a different bed, in a different house, and miss one of my four days a month to see the little guy. That sound you're hearing? That's the sound of my heart breaking.
What am I to do? I cannot - will not - walk away. I'm spinning my wheels; so is he. His ex now wants to trade access to his medical records for unsupervised visits. This sounds good, but we have nowhere to host these visits. My house - with the pot growing downstairs? I think not. Do we get a hotel room two nights every other week? That’s silly and childish. Someone has now moved into the room we use when little guy is around, adding yet another complication.
We are at the end of our ropes: what do we do? He’s done everything he can to get his life back together.
Here we are, though, both almost 26, with no way out.
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