October is Bullying Prevention Month. There was also a recent workplace shooting two miles away from where I’m currently working. A coach in kickboxing told me that the guy was bullied at work. Due to these reasons, I must come out and talk about my experience with workplace bullying.
In August 2015, I finished a 20-week intensive developer training and started employment at a company. More than a month later, I was starting to have problems. One main problem was this one guy who joined my project team. He gravitated towards me because I have the same issues with programming that he does. He would show me things that helped him, but sometimes he would treat me as if I was cognitively disabled. At one point, he directly asked me if I have any learning disabilities because it seems like I did. It hit me hard because he has a few learning disabilities (turns out I have ADHD, but didn’t find that out until this past June. That explains why I have trouble thinking in ways programmers have to think). I was also told that I tried too hard to make friends with a group of people I started sitting with at lunch.
I tried to get my mom to get me evaluated for learning disabilities and autism, since many disabilities don’t get picked up as kids. Disabilities don’t always get picked up because people learn to adapt. She wouldn’t do it. I know she doesn’t want to think about having a child with specific issues. She had a younger brother with autism. I ended up having to see my third (and final) therapist after a mental breakdown at home where I said I wanted to shoot up my workplace. I was also having homicidal thoughts. I stress this part because if it wasn’t for the fact that we had metal detectors at both entrances of the building I worked at during that time, I would have been the one on the news. People would strengthen gun control (which is necessary, IMO, but don’t focus on that in your comments) to further stigmatize people with mental illness because of me.
So I saw a therapist on Thursdays once a week, then later once every two weeks. It wasn’t effective. I recently learned why therapy doesn’t work for me, and it’s due to an aspect of ADHD that describes me. That’s irrelevant, though. People started rumors about me and also actively tried to get me fired. I had to report the rumors to my mentor because if the higher-ups heard about it, I’d likely have been either terminated or put on a performance improvement plan (which almost always leads to being fired anyways). Many months in, every meeting with the exception of daily standup meetings mentioned how I need help with things. The team thought it would motivate me to become better, but I shut down. I stopped caring about work. I was only there to make money and leave.
Things got so bad that I started having physical manifestations of my mental health issues. I noticed a few bumps on my right hand. A few days later, they appeared on my left hand. Then they spread to part of my forearms. At this point, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something. Even at my childhood friend’s sleepover for her husband’s birthday, I woke up with my arms itching like crazy. They have a cat, so I was scared I was finally becoming allergic. Luckily, as I discover a week later, was not the case. These bumps even spread to my face for a day. The Monday after my friend’s husband’s birthday, I got let go from my job as a part of a wave of layoffs. That night, I was at my itchiest. Then on Wednesday, my bumps were clearing up. I chalked it up to one of two things: a reaction to a different body wash due to my sensitive skin, or a physical manifestation of my anxiety disorder.
On Wednesday, October 11th, I celebrated a year with my current company. Even now, I have still have lingering issues with what I went through at my old job. One person described it as post-traumatic issues (but they are not a licensed therapist so I’m ignoring that statement). I am making sure I don’t do anything that will make me a target for bullying. I have sadly found a potential bully on my current project. I hope I won’t have to return to therapy because I might as well quit my job if that happens.