I remember that morning all too clearly. The alarm went off, I got out of bed, I collapsed in a heap on the floor. My mind and now my body could tolerate no more. The incessant workplace bullying, the drinking to numb it out, the consequential destruction of my marriage, had finally overwhelmed me. I succumbed to my own inevitable demise, the onslaught of so many negative factors reduced me to a quivering wreck.
I had tried so hard to ignore my own 'warning signs'. I was stronger than the physical, financial and the psychological workplace torment. Well, I thought I was. I mean, I needed the money? So for over eight years, I endured the relentless, outrageous impositions on my wellbeing. I would block out the sinister threats. Yet, somehow I knew, my increasing paranoia had a tangible, evil source.
So on that cold, dark morning, I knew that I was plunging into a new 'ocean'. I was becoming immersed in an 'ocean of madness'. Mental illness was beckoning me on into a place I thought I would never visit. Mental illness was an alien concept. Mental illness only happened to other people. Oh how wrong I was, oh how scared I was.
Somehow, I managed to crawl back into my bed, just strong enought to pull the duvet over my head. In that darkness I began to shiver, I trembled with panic. This man was withdrawing from life. This man was turning into a frightened little boy. This man was on the verge of becoming baby-like. I needed comfort, love and reassurance. Trapped in my bed, I somehow knew, this was not forthcoming.
I peeked out from under the duvet. On my bedside table was a heater fan. In my tormented, confused, panicky state, I decided the fan would be my source of comfort. I switched it on and listened to its 'whirring' sounds. I began to familiarise myself with the fluctuations of noise it produced. My fan created 'music', a 'symphony' for the tortured soul. Hour upon hour, day upon day, I lay in bed listening to the soothing sounds. During the ensuing month, this would be my focal point. That heater fan represented my own bizarre contact with some form of reality.
Over a month later, I managed to muster up enough strength to crawl out of bed to see a doctor. So now on medication for the first time in my life, I went back to the 'hell hole' that was attempting to destroy me. The bullying continued unabated. If anything the threats and the ridicule had intesified. Living in a small town, word gets around, the 'nutter' had returned. So now I was stigmatised, labelled by small people with small minds.
I could endure no more. I went back on 'the sick'. Three months later I was summons into a meeting with management. I was questioned by people who were fully aware of what had happened to me. For it beggars belief, that management were aware of the bullying and the corruption. They didn't want to get involved, my 'face didn't fit', so I was made redundant. I left that meeting almost a shattered man. The date was 24 May 1996, it was ex-wife's birthday.
I know my situation and the ramifications that occurred are far from unique. Workplace bullying has had an adverse mental affect on many people. It causes emotional 'ripples' that extend beyond the individual. Employers must recognise and address workplace harassment. They should look at the costs incurred because of their workers becoming ill. I believe the media have a moral obligation to highlight the sensitive issue of workplace bullying and the mental anguish that can result. Enough is enough.
Yes I survived. Deep within me was an inner-resolve. Yet the scars of those painful times run deep. It has been over eleven years since I have been in paid work. So from another angle, I may be perceived as a financial drain on the economy. I have been too scared to apply for paid work. Negative speculation invades my mind, what if the past repeats itself? So instead I have done lots of volunteer work involving people who may have been subjected to a negative environment. At least this empowers me and I hope that what I do has been of some help.
These days I use bravado. My bravado can be interpreted as relief, relief that, despite it all, I have survived. I am strong, I am positive, my right to a happy and peaceful life will never be violated again.
A 'fan' of mine used to be my best friend. I look back to that time and understand that a fan is fine but a real friend is a precious commodity.