Monday, May 23, 2016

Workplace Bullying: Anxiety and Abuse

This is a topic that part of me thought I'd never write about on here. After all, it has to do with a company which, for the longest time, was my employer and source of income. As unhappy as I was with certain things, I also didn't want to shoot myself in the foot and blacklist myself from any possible career advancement. I am, of course, referring to my now-former job as a retail supervisor for a local telecommunications company in the town where I live. I've mentioned before how my regional manager was not my biggest fan, and how he bullied me for several years, but recently I've come face to face with just how much damage he did, and how much damage bullying can do to anyone who's subjected to it. Research into bullying shows that it results in permanent, negative changes to brain chemistry which causes things such as anxiety, depression and a propensity towards drug abuse. In essence, bullying changes the way your brain works, and the results can be felt every day. 

I recently started my new job in technical support at another local telecommunications company, and I've found it amazing just what an impact my former boss' abusive behaviour has had on me without my even realizing it. Take, for example, my new manager. She's a sweet lady who genuinely cares about all of us on the support staff, and I know that she only coaches with the intent of improving all of our performance at our jobs. Despite understanding this intellectually, however, I still find myself wincing and cringing in fear when I'm told I did something wrong. My former regional manager never provided me the proper training I needed to do my job properly, then would proceed to yell at and berate me when I didn't do what he expected me to do to begin with. It literally sent my brain for a loop when my new boss told me that there was no such thing as a stupid question. Again, I know this intellectually, but its a testament to the destructive power of bullying that even now, having escaped my former manager's clutches, I'm still struggling through the anxiety and wounded self esteem he gave me as a parting gift. 

I made the conscious choice not long ago to let go of the negativity I was carrying around from that old job, and the results have been very rewarding for me. I feel happier, more whole and more healthy emotionally than I have for a long time. Even still though, it often amazes me how much an effect abusive situations have on us. I still often have to remind myself that, when anxious feelings arise regarding my coworkers and managers, they are in fact in my head. Bullying negatively affects everyone, but we Aspies are prone to living in our own headspaces, and because of this it can often cause many difficulties. Ending bullying is each of our responsibilities, and we need to stop creating situations where bullying behaviour is excused and even encouraged. As an employee in a workplace, it is infinitely more difficult to stand up to an employer since they control whether you can put food on the table and pay bills. That is a dangerous amount of power for any bully to hold, but it happens every day.

Let's all work together to end bullying, both for our children, and for ourselves in the adult world.

As always yours in diversity,

Adam Michael

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