So as I sit here and write this there is a sore on my arm that has bled and now scabbed over. This particular sore is from work where I was so depressed during my job that I took to scratching off layers of my skin, causing an open and bleeding wound and a friction burn down a large part of my forearm.
If there’s one thing I have learned throughout my life it really is that companies do not care about the individual. When I first joined my company I had to leave after three months because of suicidal thoughts/problems. Rather than transfer me to a different department – to a department I actually wanted to work on – I was told that the only option was to leave. This caused all sorts of problems and was not helped by the unwillingness of certain members of the company to do what was best for my own health, forcing me to leave.
So I left and then jumped through a hundred different hoops (three months later) just to get a job in the department I wanted to work on. I was helped by a wonderful woman who went over and above her duties to help me get the job, knowing how much it meant to me. Basically she was my anchor and my support while working there because I knew, if I had any problems, then I could go and talk to her and she would try and help me as best as she could. She recently left the company because a better job came along (and she has to do what is best for her and her family) and so it’s left me afloat in a company that doesn’t seem to respect mental illness.
I was recently called into the office of the Store Manager who told us that he was looking to move more people on my department into the evening shifts and that it shouldn’t really affect me because all my shifts are evenings anyway. He asked if I would be happy moving my shifts and I explained not really, my routine has taken a long time to get used to and I like that I do four days working and then get three days off. He said he would take this on board when working out the new rotas. He didn’t. He moved one of my shifts to a Tuesday which completely messes up my routine and means I don’t have the smoothness of working I am used to. It’s start and stop and very juddery which doesn’t ease my mind.
The only problem is, what do you say? This is the Store Manager, you can’t say no to him. One person tried to explain that the shift she was moved into wasn’t ideal for her and he basically said “I can change your shift with 28 days notice. This is your 28 days notice.” Which is basically his way of saying “I do what I want.” Now he openly said in my interview that he “doesn’t mind making people do something they are uncomfortable doing.” Which, of course, speaks volumes for a manager.
I’ve had these conversations before, where I try to explain that for my own mental health it would be best if I didn’t change shifts, and the reply is always “this is a business, we have to look at this like a business. I’m running a business, we have to do what is best for the business.” Because the bottom line, ultimately, is that your health is less important than the business.
Despite having worked three months on the shop floor and having to leave due to suicidal thoughts, they still see no problem in making me go back onto the shop floor to stack shelves. Now this isn’t a millennial “I don’t wanna do it” kind of thing, this is a “when I’m doing it, I actually want to drink bleach or slit my wrists” kind of thing, because I feel so insignificant. But that doesn’t stop them from making me do it. And why do they make me do it? Because it’s a business and it’s what’s best for business.
Also, other people can’t work on the shop floor for medical reasons – bad backs, heart conditions etc – which I respect but at the same time the company needs to respect that mine is a medical condition and not a preference. But in a list of things that a company respects, mental health is right down the bottom.
A company will slap up pictures and slogans saying they like to help with mental illness and your mental health means a lot to them but in reality, when it comes down to it, if your mental health interferes with their job and gets in the way of running a business then it’s the business that takes priority, not your mental health.
I have explained that I find it hard working on the shop floor and the response is “You’re a young lad, there are things we expect you to do.” Which sounds an awful lot like judging a book by it’s cover.
And this is because my company is also rather sexist.
Be a woman and they’ll accept any medical condition you have. Seriously, one woman has a rash on her leg and they don’t put her on the shop floor because of it. I suffered from vertigo and the second my doctor’s note ran out they had me on the shop floor without even so much time to get a second.
Just some examples in my company;
“We hired you because we couldn’t have a girl working on the shop floor lifting the heavy bottles of pop.” – Said when I was first given the job of working on the shop floor.
“Didn’t they have any men’s costumes?” – When I turned up to a Halloween fancy dress day as an Evil Queen (for which I won best costume, thank you very much).
“Nice to see you dressed as a man today.” Said by the same person when he next saw me at work.
(If you need any explanation as to why these things are sexist then I would be very happy to explain it).
Now two of these things were said by my Store Manager who is very condescending and so they come across as offensive rather than jovial. Let’s not mention I don’t often joke with the Store Manager, he makes me uncomfortable, and so these comments do just come across as sly digs more than anything else.
Also, while we’re talking about the company I work for (who for legal reasons, because I am still an employee, I cannot mention the name of it) we’ll end this with a comment from my boss that I’m not sure whether to be offended by or not.
I had explained to him that I wear a design on my badge in support of the LGBT community and it represents being Out At Work. Well, he proceeds to talk to me about Australia and the recent marriage equality vote, but what really got to me was that he then said “don’t worry, I’m not just going to talk to you about gay shit.” This was hardly the professional manner I had expected from somebody who was in charge of running an entire store.