HR put pressure on me to resign and made no effort to help me in any way, shape or form. The "H" can't possibly stand for "Human" as I was was not treated with any common decency or empathy, as a human should be treated.
I don't really want to disclose the name of the company as I am still deciding whether or not I should take this matter further. But for now, I am just here to beg you for help:
Please help me raise $850 - this is the exact amount of debt I am currently in, I will leave a breakdown of these expenses and I have also included screenshots of the bills as proof towards the end of this description.
Firstly, I want to say that asking people for help, especially on the internet is very uncomfortable. I am not even comfortable asking my friends to help me because I have been isolating a lot and I don't want to be that friend that crawls out of hiding just to ask for help; I am not in the best mental state to be a good friend so I don't feel that I deserve their help as to me that is an unequal exchange. When I told my boyfriend what I was doing, he actually asked me not to do it - that was yesterday afternoon at about 3 PM, it is now 4.39 AM. I can't sleep and I have typed this out so many times. I know that this is a minuscule issue compared to the suffering that is going on in the world.
I would like to donate 50% of any excess funds that might be raised to this charity: SIVE NATHI CHILDREN's HOME
I worked at this charity during my Honors year at Varisty and the children are very close and dear to my heart. I will, of course, update this if there is an excess of funds raised and a donation is made.
Why only 50%? Losing my job took with it my mental health support system: I can no longer afford to see my psychologist or psychiatrist. I have found a counseling center that works on a donation basis, but even then I will need to put petrol in my car to get there as it is quite far from where I will need to relocate to after my lease expires.
I want to make it clear: I am more than happy with the $850 alone, I am merely thinking ahead should that amount be exceeded. Now that my beg is out of the way, allow me to share some context:
On Wednesday, October 23, I was forced to make an "on the spot" decision to resign from my job.
I was diagnosed with Bipolar type 2 about 2 months before I was hired 16 months ago, I disclosed this to my manager from the get-go as I knew that it was important to let them know.
My psychiatrist put me on medication after medication after medication which, frankly had worse side-effects than the symptoms of Bipolar 2... I remember once accidentally taking my night meds (200MG Dopaquel) in the morning and being almost incapable of focusing my shift: the exhaustion I felt was overwhelming... but I did - I pushed through, I always pushed through.
Each time I returned to my psychiatrist (every 4 to 6 weeks) he'd adjust my meds because of a new symptom or side effect, none of the meds I was on ever made me feel quite okay - they either amplified my depression (which caused me to stay out of work because I was incapable of functioning) or caused anxiety that truly made me not want to leave my house for fear of something terrible happening to me (like a car accident), I didn't feel anything like myself during the "trying out medication phase".
It got to the point where I was taking 13 pills a day (anti-depressant, mood stabilizers that were such a high dosage I had to take 8 of them a day, and an antipsychotic). I just couldn't do it, I started dreading taking the pills and slowly but surely I'd skip days here and there, then I started skipping weeks. This is never a good idea with psychotic medications, but in all honesty, I preferred feeling the symptoms of my BP2, the medication was too unpredictable for me; some days I'd feel as if I was dissociating, watching myself live. The feeling would be so surreal that I'd feel an overwhelming urge to hurt myself in order to feel somewhat part of my body. This was a type of "mind chatter" that I was not used to and it scared me.
I knew that weaning off the medication was better than abruptly stopping them and I kept making appointments to see my psychiatrist but never got around to it (at this point the swinging back and forth between taking meds and not taking them triggered a hypomanic episode which made me genuinely feel like I had my shit together). These were the periods in which I was most productive at work, with a few days scattered in between where I had been awake for 2 days and I knew that going to work was not the best idea. Then, after I had stopped taking the meds entirely, I started withdrawing, which caused brain zaps and suicidal ideations. I started seeing my psychologist again and I told her that I was strongly against medication and that I would much rather focus on dealing with my traumas and finding ways to deal with my moods as they come. My psychologist and I established a great relationship and she actually helped me a lot more than any pill has).
During the above period, which lasted from June 2018 - July 2019, I had used up about 19 days out of the 30 sick leave days I was afforded by the company (this was supposed to last 3 years). I was open with my manager about what was happening, I mean it's not like I could hide it, he was able to see the rapid ups and downs in real-time but my disorder wasn't having a direct negative impact on my work whatsoever: in fact, I loved my job very much because I was excellent at it, it was a huge positive factor for me as I felt I was helping people and doing something meaningful. I had a great relationship with all my teammates and sometimes when I felt the depression creep in, I'd force myself to go to work because I knew that just being around my colleagues would lift my mood. My team really was like a family to me. I felt a little more stable here.
My manager, of course, voiced his concerns about my depleting sick leave, I had 11 days left, which was to last me until May of 2021. I really wanted to believe that I was going to be able to make that last, and I REALLY tried, I tried so hard. We had an intense spike in workload around the end of August-early September and I was at work every day, regardless of how I was feeling physically or mentally. I felt really proud of myself because there were times when I only left work 2 hours after my shift (which means I only left the office at 1 AM), I'd go home to unwind but I simply couldn't sleep because I was hypomanic BUT I WAS THERE AGAIN THE NEXT DAY regardless of not sleeping and I'd work the extra hour or two the following night too because even though it was exhausting, I felt that at least work was something I could keep a handle on: I was again, slowly starting to lose grip on my bipolar 2, but I wasn't as aware of it as I usually was. This time I felt a lot like I was far removed from my feelings and I just focused on moving forward: being at work, spending time with my boyfriend, seeing my grandmother. My symptoms were presenting more physically: losing weight because I had no appetite, exhaustion during working hours and the inability to unwind and relax when I was actually able to relax. And then, of course, I got violently sick with gastro which knocked 5 more days off my sick leave balance, I was down to 6 days, which was to last me until May 2021. I asked my manager if he would ask HR if they would consider using my Annual Leave when I run out of sick leave (which is actually a suggestion that a fellow colleague provided me with as they were currently making use of her annual leave as hers had expired - this made me feel better, as Annual leave accumulates)
I was far from happy, but it didn't really bother me much, it was a sense of being content about my dissatisfaction with life. Like a "you know what? things could be worse. I started thinking about things with a lense of gratitude: I am thankful for experiencing this pain because that means that I must know what true pleasure is. I am grateful for feeling so uncertain and unsure because that means that I have known clarity, and if I knew what it was like to feel the opposite of the negative emotions, I could bring myself back to a positive place because I had been there before. I decided that I was going to take a few days of annual leave beginning of October, just to catch a breather, go back to my psychologist and try and get myself back to a healthier place mentally.
A few days before my leave, I went to work even though I received a phone call from my uncle saying that my grandmother had collapsed and that she was in the hospital. My grandmother is the light in my life. I was petrified that she was going to die (She's 84 and I know that I should accept that her time will probably come soon... but I lost my mother when I was 18 and since then I have been fearful of losing my grandmother, too.) I didn't want to deal with asking for time off unexpectedly because when I had brought up my upcoming leave, my manager had reminded me that he was reluctant to give it to me because HR was asking questions (they never actually spoke to me directly or approached me, so I always just heard about their "concerns" through my manager. So I did what any adult would do: I sat at my desk doing my job, but also unable to stop crying, because what could I do? In my head, my grandmother was dying and I was typing out "how to clear your cache" steps in an email, and it was somehow acceptable because I was irresponsible with my sick leave. My manager eventually saw that I was not okay and he took me aside. I told him what was happening and he was appalled that I had come to work at all - he said that this was what family responsibility leave was for (apparently not, according to HR). Anyway, my gran ended up being fine but I wanted to stay with her after her release because she didn't look like she was going to make it (her face was pale, and I was panicking). So I stayed on "family responsibility" leave which ran into my annual leave.
Before I returned to work again, I asked my manager to call a meeting with HR as I wanted to ask them my options and whether the suggestion I made was a possibility, initially he said no, HR would call a meeting with me when they feel it necessary - and then about an hour later he told me there would be a meeting the day I returned.
Upon returning to work I was escorted to a meeting with HR (who I recognized as the bubbly MC/Host at our company event. I didn't even know that was HR! HR also frequently visited my manager's desk (next to mine) but had never approached me before - I didn't initiate any meetings because I was being upfront with my direct manager about what was happening at all times. I provided him with my sick notes, so at no time did I feel that I needed to contact HR directly to inform them about what was happening in my life but the tone the meeting took from the get-go gave me the impression that I should have called this meeting a lot sooner "Finally I get to meet you"
The implication was also immediately thrown out that I was given special treatment/that my manager was lenient with me - but said like it was a joke - "ah your manager has been way too lenient with you hey [playfully wags finger at manager], giving you family responsibility leave for something that isn't considered family responsibility" [laughter]. I felt a bit stung by this because my grandmother was ill and I was literally at work crying at my desk and only left because I was told I could leave - I don't care what kind of leave it is supposed to fall under, this person is important to me.
Then she brings out a colour coordinated calendar which I appreciated because I enjoy colour coordinated things, it shows the days I was late, the days I went home early, in which I learned that even when you leave an hour before your shift ends, it still equals 0.5 days of sick leave. Points out that there was a day here and there (out of the 24 days) I had been off sick where no sick note was provided (they didn't fall on a Monday or Friday and were not consecutive.
I suppose I was expecting them to meet me half-way, I even intended to bring up my suggestion and was hoping that there was some program they could suggest to help me in some way? I suppose that I was naive about the urgency of the meeting, mostly because my manager had made me feel secure that the company had my back. HR gave me an opportunity to explain my side of things.
After my explanation HR basically told me that I had two choices: I could resign now and have my final day on Friday (2 days from then) or I could stay until I was sick again next week (said very sarcastically) and then they'd take things further with a hearing to initiate a dismissal on the grounds of incapacity.
HR motivated that I choose the resignation option by advising me that:
1. It was irresponsible of me to not TREAT my BP2 (So, medication is not working and it is making things worse, this means that I am not treating my mental illness). This upset me because I was TRYING.
2. I was no longer considered an asset to the company as they are essentially paying me for nothing (the way this was said made me feel, at that moment, that I was terrible at my job, even when I was there)
3. I was just putting unnecessary strain on the team as they had to do my work (I obviously agree with this and every single time I contacted my manager about being sick, I would ask him if I could work remotely - which was an option for a while but was revoked because someone had taken medication and fell asleep when they were sick and working remotely - so my request to work on my sick days, for which I would have happily done while resting at home, was not allowed because somebody else fell asleep? And now you are telling me that I am putting strain on the team when I was willing to NOT put strain on them?
I know for a fact that I was brilliant at my job and customers frequently sung my praises (I've attached some feedback, I received an award for "expert" in the competency of White glove service (literally last month). Within my team I was constantly praised for my personalized level of customer service and at one point I was helping the Q. A team with creating templates for our customer-facing communications. SO BULLSHIT ABOUT ME NOT BEING VALUABLE OR AN ASSET.
HR kept saying that resigning was my decision to make, that they could not force me to do it; but they 100% strongly pushed me into a corner until I buckled. I felt like this itself was the incapacity hearing because she was telling me that I had no options. I also felt very strongly that HR was under the impression that I was using my mental illness as an excuse to do other things with my time instead of being at work. I don't think HR actually knows what BP2 is.
I kept trying to get HR to explain to me about my staying options because I was not prepared in any way to suddenly leave my job? I literally have expenses that need to be paid, but HR insisted that they could tell I would not be able to handle an incapacity hearing, but they never actually told me what the hearing would consist of, would they have me examined by an independent doctor? Would they contact my doctors to gather some more information?
HR's responses remained: "I don't think you want to go there." "I wouldn't want you to be on a black-list for rehiring when you are better to return" [bubbly, excitement for HR, ugly crying from me, which only made me feel worse because there I was, showing HR that I really was not fit to handle things].
HR lingered with an eyebrow raised and then I resigned because FUCK corporations who pretend to care about their employees, only to discard them. I forgot to ask about using annual leave instead of sick leave when it is depleted, but I wonder now, what's so different between my situation and my colleagues? Maybe she has a "seen" medical condition that's more serious?
I do, from a rational, cold business perspective get that HR was just doing her job and that this happens to people all the time and I shouldn't be so butt-hurt about it. But I don't really know what to do from this point. I am going to try and get some sort of business of my own up and running soon... but I wasn't expecting this at all so I am unprepared for the debt that I had been slowly paying off. I've uploaded my bills and there are two recurring bills for my phone and internet so I calculated that by times the amount of months left to pay.
I just want to be free from any financial burdens so I can never get myself into a situation like that again. I'm not made for corporates so I'm going to start my own business (unique earrings for now then going on to sell other jewelry).
EDIT: Added medical aid document showing approved medication for November 2018 and states my diagnosis