'Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilise the target and delegitimise the target's belief.'
As Aspies, I'm sure we're particularly prone to this. I know I am. My experience, too - with a sister-in-law who's a consummate narcissist - has caused me much grief and upset over the last 30 years. These were years when I not only didn't know that I was autistic, but I also didn't really know what her motivations were. I've found out so much more about it all since my diagnosis, and through having someone else who knows her tell me that she isn't just like it with me. For most of those years, I simply thought there was something wrong with me - and she was the one who, more than most, was at pains to keep reminding me. The damage this woman has done - not just to me, but to other members of my close family - is profound. Much of it is irreparable. But at least now I no longer have any reason to have any contact with her - notwithstanding the fact that she's married to my brother. I'm well rid of her. She's controlled and manipulated our family for far too long. My brother is her puppet. And so competent a puppeteer is she that he doesn't even realise he has strings! He's well and truly Stockholmed!
For years, I've been told I'm gullible, susceptible, credulous, naive, etc. I've had my leg pulled time after time, and been the butt-end of jokes. I've been taken for a ride, scammed, made to look ridiculous. But I take people at face value. If they tell me something, I tend to believe them. Why wouldn't I? Why would they lie to me? But people have, and do. It's why I detest gossip and won't have any part of it, because all it really is is manipulation and destabilisation, perpetuated by a group. Victimising the vulnerable. And it gives people a sense of 'belonging' to be onside in the gossip. If you're not happy with the way someone's behaving or performing - tell them! But no. Gossip is easier... and it's more fun. Huh!
Anyone else got any 'gaslight' tales to share?
Does anyone think it might be a good idea for me to put a general message in the Staff Communication Book at work just to warn everyone about parking in that car park, because I'd received some damage to my car in there? That way, I'm not pointing the finger or implying anything. Just telling everyone to be careful. I could say I've reported the matter to police. I think that could be perceived as being thoughtful to others. When she reads it, too, she'll probably be reassured that I don't know anything about who might have done it - but it might warn her off.
(I'm just leaving for work now - 7.30 am. Something is going to happen today. I can feel it. Not looking forward to going in.)
Personally I wouldn't do this. The best way of disengaging from her game is to avoid any unnecessary communication at all. Putting the note in the book still has the intention of communicating with her, albeit indirectly. Narcissists are incredibly clever, this will just confirm to her she's still got you on the hook.
If you want it to be 'game over' you have to pretend everything is "water off a duck's back" (someone else said that on this thread but I can't find it). I find this incredibly difficult to do myself because it goes against the principles of justice. Starving her of what fuels her behaviour is the only way to put the fire out though.
If you are sure something is going to happen today do you have to go in to work? Is it time to invoke that fit note you arranged? I am still off work and time away has helped me to recover my equilibrium. It was only when I stopped trying to cope that I realised how exhausted I was.
If you are off with work related stress usually a risk assessment is done before you return. The HSE provide a helpful template. This then leads to a proper action plan designed to avoid any further harm. This is the process I am going through with Union support.
For a long while I would not stop working because I thought I might not be able to go back again. Ultimately the decision was made for me when my ankle injury immobilised me. The impossibly high levels of stress I had been under then became apparent. I am glad I was forced to stop working - I think something catastrophic would have happened had I continued.
I should not give advice because this is a decision you can only make for yourself. These are my thoughts though. Take care whatever you decide to do. Those of us who have been in similar situations really feel for you.
Thanks, Sunflower. I'm trying to carry on 'as normal'. My relations with all other staff are good, and with all the service users. I also get on very well with the bully's closest friend there. I'm cautious with her, but she's definitely more genuine, and seems to make her own judgments about who she likes and who she doesn't. She knows nothing of my 'issue' and I don't give her any intimating info that could be passed back. With her, I'm normal, 'happy-go-lucky' me.
It wasn't too bad a day yesterday. I was working in a different part of the building and didn't see her once. I spoke to my manager at the end of the day and told her about last week (she was off last week). She said she'd had her own car scratched in that car park. She thought that, even though the owner of it had given us permission to use some spaces, some of the other users were still against our using it (it is a staff car park for an adjacent store), so were trying to force us off. Even so, she admitted that the circumstances were highly suspicious. I told her I'm going to go on as if nothing had happened. Today will be a more challenging day, because we have several other staff members off on training. I have, though, been offered an opportunity for a couple of shifts a week working off-site, in supported living, so I may take that up. It's with a chap with Asperger's, so that'll be good.
I also found out yesterday that I've been shortlisted for the position at the college again. I don't really want the longer hours and weeks, nor the longer traveling time and difficulties with parking near the site, (I estimate the traveling alone will make my day at least 2 hours longer, and will involve much stress-inducing traffic), but I can at least go to the interview and see how it goes. To be perfectly honest, I think what I really need right now is a long period of rest. I think, if I did take time off, that like you I would realise just how much it has taken out of me.
But the prospect of negotiating the UC system scares the hell out of me. I could cash in a small pension I have (from when I opted out of SERPS) and live off that. But it would only last a few months, and that would be every scrap of savings I have gone, with nothing at all to fall back on.
Sorry to hear that, Sunflower - but I know what you mean about unconsciously sabotaging your chances. I've done that, too. I think about this job at the college, and the main reason I'm going for it is to get away from this situation. In other ways, though it's a client group I like working with, and I like the idea of the long holidays, I can see it's going to be more stressful with the longer hours and more days, and the traveling. Times aren't negotiable. In fact, someone I know who works there says they're pretty inflexible with any time off outside the holiday periods. So he says he has to go sick if he needs any other time - like for appointments, etc.
I slept okay last night. Today wasn't a bad day, though the morning was stressful with a difficult service user. But it struck me, too, just how exhausted I actually am. The weeks this has been going on - right from August - have really brought me low. I just don't know if I have the energy left to change jobs now and into something that will, in other ways, be more demanding. I constantly feel like I'm going down with a cold. I have odd pains in my body. I feel like I've been awake for weeks. No energy at all. I don't even think that all the support I get at work from the others makes up for the fact that this one person's presence is so stressful.
When I have taken a job in order to leave a job it has often not gone well. Earlier this year I resigned to escape an attack dog manager. A few weeks later she left to go to another branch. Such a shame but I really couldn't hang on in there any longer. It was quite literally making me ill. I get physical health issues like dental abscesses, gastritis, ear infections if I stay in a stressful situation too long.
The exhaustion is very real - yesterday it took me 3 hours to summon up the energy to get dressed after I had a shower. If I had to be at work this week I would be forcing myself to do things, which is what I have done for the last 58 years. I feel like I am actually recovering properly for the first time ever now.
It is so difficult to screen out the effect of one malevolent person. Some of my colleagues enjoy playing psychological games with the mean manager. For me this relationship induces overwhelming feelings of fear and confusion. It's impossible to deal with someone who Is supportive one moment and turns on me the next.
When people tell us to ignore the difficult person they don't understand how deeply we are affected. I have always found it hard to rebuild a relationship once I have experienced a breach of trust. All my instincts want me to remove myself from the danger.
Once I am out of the dangerous situation I often find it hard to let go of my resentment. Perhaps the flip side of caring so deeply about injustices to other people is difficulty forgiving people who mistreat me.
You are absolutely right about the energy levels required to start a new role. The one thing you can be certain of is things will not stay exactly the same if you stay in your current role. Other people will come and go, new dynamics will develop.
Sometimes just exploring other possibilities and then making the decision to stay where your are can feel like a positive career move. It is good to be reminded that you are employable elsewhere, but important to weigh everything up and avoid a career move that will do more harm than good.
My thoughts exactly.
Bad day today . Because of staffing levels , I have no choice but to work around this woman. Anxiety is through the roof.
Don't forget you can take time off if you need to.
I have. Had a panic attack at work. Subsided now, but 111 was insistent, so at hospital awaiting tests.
The body has a remarkable way of removing us from impossible situations - it's a bit like a trip switch. Hope you are getting good compassionate care at hospital. ()
Thanks. As expected - no sign of cardiac problems. Acute anxiety attack. The GP I saw agreed with me that the only way I was going to 'cure' the situation would be to leave the job.
It's awful that you are being put in a position at work where you feel you have to leave a job you are good at and enjoy many aspects of.
That's pretty much the story of my life, Sunflower. I wish I'd stayed in the civil service, because then I could retire next year with a good pension. As it is, I think I'm going to need to rely on the generosity of the state. Which will make me another persona non grata in the current system.
I often have the same thought, having walked out of several jobs with gold-plated pension schemes. At the time I was focused on the there and then not on the distant future. Here and now it's about bridging the gap until pension age and doing myself as little harm as possible through work.
This is crunch time, I guess. I told them I'd come in today. But I didn't sleep last night and I feel lousy. If I don't go in, I shall get signed off - at least until after Xmas, possibly longer. After next week, I'll be on half-pay only for five weeks, then nothing.
I don't want to give in. But I just know how I felt yesterday, and how relieved I was when I left the building. Is it worth the extra stress, I ask myself?
The other thing is, if I go in today, I'll ask them to book yesterday as annual leave. Otherwise, it'll be sick leave - which it technically was, anyway. Thing is, it'll be my third period of sick leave in as many months, which triggers things at HR. I'll be interviewed to find out what the issue is (as if they don't know) and what my prospects are for not going sick again. Very low, I'd say. Better, then, to lump it all together and take yesterday, today and the foreseeable future as sick leave.
I really can't ever see myself being comfortable in that building again. I think I'd sooner just spend these weeks looking for something else.
Decision made. I'm going sick.
Feeling for you as these decisions are so tough to take. The Union rep I am working with is encouraging me not to go back to work too soon and risk being off again. I am now in a process of Absence Management which involves referral to Occupational Health, doing risk assessments and having meetings with managers to produce action plans.
There is a risk that this could end with me having to leave work but I had got to the point where I felt my health was in serious jeopardy. You are the best judge of how near to the line you are. The best advice I had was not to do anything rash like resigning whilst under extreme stress, but to take my time and allow my mind and body to recover properly first.
Sorry things are this tough for you, too. I really feel that this is the end. I doubt I'll go back, somehow. I can feel fine... until I get there, and then it all goes out of the window. I'm on high anxiety all day, and I've had all I can take. Yesterday was probably the warning I needed.
Another thought, your absence yesterday was disability related and should be treated differently to absence for other reasons.
I'll have to check that, because basically all of my sick leave so far has been for the same reason.
https://www.ecu.ac.uk/guidance-resources/employment-and-careers/terms-conditions/managing-disability-leave-disability-related-sickness/ Definitely worth getting advice from your Trade Union
Thanks. This is useful info. Maybe the Union could actually be helpful this time, instead of basically telling me to leave my job.
If your local contact is not helpful talk to the national office - with autism it is important to have someone with appropriate expertise and insight into autistic communication issues when under extreme stress.
I managed to p**** off my Unison rep when I objected to an admin sssistant falsely claiming I had told her she was being unhelpful. I actually said "I am getting upset now so I am going to pass you over to my husband". My husband spoke to the Union rep and confirmed this was exactly what I had said, but since then my emails have gone unanswered.
At my last Absence Management Interview the Union rep was 35 minutes late. I had to phone the office to ask where she was. We had met earlier that week to prepare for the meeting. I tried to confirm the time and day with her then but she just said "I never look ahead in my diary I just go wherever it tells me to on the day". I found this quite extraordinary!
To be fair I know they are under extreme pressure and my case is probably considered to be on hold while we wait for the full ASD report to arrive. I still find it hard when someone's emails say "I will keep you updated" and then they don't!