That's all it can be. Since the meltdown at work on Tuesday, things have gone from bad to worse. My manager has promised that I won't have to work around the two attack-dog colleagues for as long as necessary, and has arranged for me to see someone from the behavioural team once a fortnight. But I've lost over 3 lbs in weight, can't eat and can't sleep. My blood pressure has always been 'normal'. Now it's on the borderline between hypertension Stage 1 and Stage 2. My heart is pounding so hard that it's keeping me awake. My head is killing me. At work today, I was on edge the whole time. Just catching a glimpse of one of the culprits sent me running to hide. The last time I was like this was 20 years ago, when I was bullied badly at work and ended up being so sick that I wouldn't go out for weeks - and every time I saw a red car (the colour of the bully's car) I'd duck into shop doorways until it had passed.
It's like PTSD. I can't live like this.
glad you're back, but wish it was under better circumstances. I've been there myself, but being the inveterate burner of bridges that I am, I just quit. I understand that's not what you want....
As for it being like PTSD, it might actually be PTSD. Before I was diagnosed, my dials were off the scale for everything sensory and I was told that this led to hypervigilance, which is a common PTSD symptom. Basically your fight or flight urge goes so nuts that you are hyper-alert the whole time. This sounds startling similar to what you describe.
I have found since diagnosis that the one thing that NTs, however sympathetic, consistently fail to get, is that if it's got this bad, simply removing yourself from the situation for a day doesn't reset the dials to zero. You probably need to get away from the cause (attack dog colleagues) for long enough to recover and they need to understand that even if you look like you're getting there, re-exposure will trigger it all off again.
I really hope for your sake that they have some understanding of this - you'd think they should do in their line of work.
Give Daisy a cuddle .... cat cuddles are one of the few things that drop the dials back a couple of notches in my case!
Thanks for your thoughtful reply, Moggsy. I was planning to leave the forums for a while to get some balance back in my life - but there's nowhere else I can go, and the balance has been tipped out of whack in all respects this week. I knew, a while back, that this person I'd come to trust had turned a bit hostile. But I didn't realise how much she would go for the jugular once she'd got someone in her sights. One of those unpredictable and confusing people who lead you to believe one thing - and then exploit your 'gullibility' to their own ends. I'm popular at work with the other staff and the service users - including a service user who's one of her favourites - and I don't think she likes competition. Not that that's what it is, of course - it's just me doing my job. But she doesn't see it that way. She was waiting for her moment with me, and this week she found it. She could have done all sorts of things to help me out, but instead she let things escalate and, in my view, actively provoked them. And then, when it all went wrong on me, she was coming out of the corner barking, teeth bared, claws out. Another victory for her. Another feather in the cap of her ego. Another competitor bested. Rest assured now, too - in spite of my manager's promise that we'd be kept apart in work - that she'll muster up another opportunity. She'll look for every bit of evidence of a mistake. This is what she did with the other guy who was eventually sacked. She made some outrageous claims about him, and managed to get other staff to support her. They most likely did this out of fear, because she's the kind of person who'll make you suffer if you go against her. She has her network of confederates, and it's sometimes difficult - especially if you don't read people very well - to know who they are. I know that certain people always 'like' her social media stuff, and she always 'likes' theirs. There's one person in particular - many other staff struggle with her - who's going to be a problem. She was part of the problem that occurred the other day. They work a kind of 'good cop/bad cop' routine together. Except they're both bad cops underneath it.
Quitting may be the only thing I can do to maintain my sanity and protect my health. It doesn't matter if I don't have to work with these people. Even being in the same building as they are, using the same resources, actually having to see them at the start and end of each day - it fills me with dread. It's a very similar scenario to 20 years ago, and I can't let myself get into that state again. I was younger then, and more flexible with being able to move on. But it all goes back to that incident in the school room at the age of 6. The trauma is seared into my memory. It will never go away. And whenever I'm around people like that, I make mistake after mistake. I can't help it. And it's all fuel to their fire.
I will have to quit on my own terms, though. I can get full sick pay for a month, then half-pay for five weeks. It will mean going onto benefits again, but I don't think I have any choice. Hopefully in that time, still being technically employed, I'll be able to find something else. I'm also going to contact my union, though I think they'll agree that the company is doing everything they can in the circumstances to accommodate my needs.
Oh Tom, this sounds horribly familiar to me. I am sure lots of other people here have experienced this sort of hell at work too. You are right to prioritise your health and take time off to plan your next steps. Moggsy's observations about PTSD recovery and re-exposure are very insightful and important.
In my experience some situations are just too dangerous to remain in. I've sometimes tried to hang on in toxic work places but it's almost impossible to resolve issues once attack dogs have us in their sights. They are nasty and devious - the complete opposite of us. We threaten them because they know we can see through them.
When I resigned from my first ever 'proper' job and informed senior managers that I had serious concerns about institutional abuse my Dad called me spineless. I still think it was one of the bravest things I've ever done. Years later an inquiry was held and I was proved right.
I've carried on burning bridges whenever I have found myself working for, or with, dishonest or destructive people. I won't stand by and watch junior colleagues get bullied either, which has cost me my job on more than one occasion.
I'd be much better off financially if I had hung on in toxic jobs, and I'd have a decent pension in a few years too. But betraying my principles would have destroyed me, which brings to mind this Tracy Chapman song:
So don't be tempted by the shiny apple Don't you eat of a bitter fruit Hunger only for a taste of justice Hunger only for a world of truth
Cause all that you have is your soul
Take care Tom ()
Who cares about the money when it's your sanity, or maybe your life on the line? I'd be able to retire next year on a good pension if I'd stayed in one job that was killing me. As it stands now, I'll need to work for another 8 years before I can qualify for the state pension. I somehow don't think I'll make it that far. Either in work, or alive.
I'm going to try to choose life.
We're here for you and we understand ()
Thanks, Sunflower x
Someone else has brought up the subject of PTSD to explain how I'm feeling. I'll go to the doctor tomorrow. Tuesday is looming up like a horrible monster. I'm managing to sleep, but much of it is alcohol-induced, so it isn't real sleep. And my dreams are haunted. Feeling paranoid today.
I found this article, which explains quite a lot to me...
An Autistic Burnout
'We generally don't want to die. We want to escape. We want to step out. The world is an overwhelming place for us - it doesn't have to be, but the way it's set up with colours, noise and lights and people and expectations makes it so. We lose ourselves in repetitive behaviour, we Hyperfocus, we Stim, we become different characters or act as animals, we script conversations, we withdraw, we hide in worlds inside our heads, we close ourselves off, or equally sometimes explode outwards, we Mask - all in an effort to endure this world we live in, to survive, to find balance with ourselves internally and externally and also, to hide who we we are - to make Non-Autistic people accept us, because we don't find acceptance as ourselves. This is why we burn out.'
I often think we are a little unfortunate living in this age. A hundred years and more ago things were somewhat less noisy (though not necessarily better).
I'm not sure about the PTSD but let us know what the GP says.
I don't know, but I'd guess that people like us 100 years or more ago would probably have been locked up in asylums.