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Mental Health - At Work

Welcome back to the blog!

Last week, I discussed how my mental health has been challenged when dealing with my family. I hope you received some help or insight on how to deal with conflicts with your family if they occur. If there's one thing I want you to take away from that blog, it's that although you want to make peace with your family, your family may not want to make peace with you. And with that, you have to accept it and move on. Sure things can change later on down the road, but you must continue to move on with your life until that day comes.

This week, I'm going to share with you some of the challenges I've had at work. I know many of you have dealt with this and it's VERY scary. But challenges doesn't mean it's the end of the world, right?😒

For over 20 years I’ve worked in Corporate America. This statement alone is a mouthful if you're a black woman. I can picture some of your now rolling your eyes, sucking your teeth and/or you probably just cursed, lol. I'm not going to make this about race, but several reports have shown that black women are treated VERY DIFFERENT in Corporate America. It’s so common that even their responses are almost identical. It’s true so don't shoot the messenger. Check out the report titled The State of Black Women in Corporate America written in 2020. This will give you insight into one of many challenges I’ve had to face.

How my mental health was challenged at work?

My Story:

In September 2019, my co-workers and I were aligned to a new manager. Although I’ve never partnered with him, my interactions with him over the previous 3 years were cordial. The problems with this manager were made immediately during our first conversation. He had an issue with an arrangement I had prior to him coming onto the team. He wouldn't admit it but the events that followed our first conversation made it a no-brainer. I can't tell you exactly what it was because I had to file a complaint on him, but I'll share with you some of what he had done. A few weeks after our initial conversation, he took 90% of my work and assigned it to a “couple” of teammates without cause. He did this in the middle of a meeting. He didn't give me a heads up or anything. Just stated he was changing some things around. For those of you that don’t know, this tactic is used to get rid of you by making you feel like you’re not part of the team and there’s no work for you.

Black woman mistreated in Corporate America

A month later he questioned HR of my arrangement and it went down hill from there. Issues came about during this time because he had teammates doing my previous workload and they were messing up badly. I felt bad for them because they were already boggled down with their own work and here I was just as free as a bird doing the bare minimum. Every time something would happen he would send out an email asking what happened and would include me? The heck if I know🤷🏽‍♀️. I don't handle that work anymore, remember? Lol, he didn't like that but then told me to recheck my work because they were messing up🤦🏾‍♀️.

Then there came a point that he started nitpicking at everything I did. It got so bad that I began stressing hard everyday. Every time an email came through, my heart would race. He had me on edge so bad because I could nothing right in his eyes. Even our conversations were heated at first but then I decided to regroup and try to make the best of this situation. But no matter how nice I would be, he became angrier. I realized whenever I was happy, it made him angry. He wanted me to be miserable and quit.

Manager grasping at straws on black woman in Corporate America

His grasping at straws got worse to the point that I got sick. So sick that I thought I was dying. I was in my car with my youngest daughter and granddaughter when my my entire body had went almost numb. I had to pull over in the median and have my daughter call the police. It was pouring down with rain at this time. I was so stiff, all I could do was move my eyes. Next thing I know my heart started racing to the point I thought I was having a heart attack. My ears started ringing and my vision went red. I really thought I was about to die and told my daughter that I loved her. The ambulance came and took me away. My granddaughter was crying for me and there was nothing I could do. I thought that was the last time I would see them. My neighbor came and picked them up and they had to leave my car in the median. Whew, this was hard to recall and write. At this time it was the beginning of March. A week before the pandemic began.

My doctor was trying to find out what was going on with me

My doctors were trying to find out what was wrong with me but the pandemic began and no specialists would see me. This manager didn't care about my health at all. Just wanted me to go away. I've dealt with some crazy managers before but this man was THE WORSE. Just ugly and evil if you ask me. Since he couldn't get rid of me, he chose to attack me during my performance reviews. When I tell ya'll, my review looked like a father upset with his child, so trivial. No raise and cut my bonus. He was doing everything in his power for me to quit or find another job.

The back and forth went on through the middle of September (2020) when God showed up and showed out. My manager was left speechless. There was nothing else he could do (well at least at this time). Everything he tried to do to me backfired. Heck even I was speechless but I was thanking God. In December, my manager gave me all of my old work back😂 He stated that the team said it was better when I did it😏. Nah bruh, you got tired of your manager yelling at you because the team kept messing up, lol.

Fast forward to March 2021, my manager was aligned to a new manager and tried to make me look bad to her. But I had already spoken to her about the issue I had with him. She asked me to schedule some time with her but I decided to push it out a couple of weeks being she was knew.

Three days before we were to meet, he started in on me again. I knew in my heart that if I allowed him to get to me like he did before, I would be dead. There was no doubt in my mind about this. The next day I woke up with anxiety on my heart and knew I needed to speak with her that day, it couldn't wait. God showed up and showed out. When I logged into work, I saw she had moved our meeting to that morning.🙌🏾 So you know what I did, I allowed the fat lady to sing, had diarrhea of the mouth and all. At this point I really didn't care what would happen to me, I just knew that I didn't have to stand for this mistreatment anymore.

Met with senior executive to file a complaint on my manager for mistreatment

So I met with the executive on Tuesday and by the following Monday, I was placed on another team🙌🏽. You may be asking what happened to him. Well, four months later he was demoted and no longer a manager. Come to find out I was not the only one that complained about him. A few months after that, he was layered again. Many people would laugh at this for him but its not funny. It didn't have to come to this. His disdain for me was stronger than just letting it go so we can work together peacefully.

There was a lot more that happened over the year and a half of working under him but it would be a novel.📖 I know you have a lot of questions so I will do my best to answer what I believe you are thinking.

Questions on how I was mistreated in Corporate America, what I did and what I learned

Was it really that bad? Did he really dislike you?

YES! It was horrible. No matter what I did or said, he was just ugly. I couldn't figure out for the life of me why he chose to stay to bitter.

Why did you stay? Why didn't you just find another job?

I tried but there wasn't many job openings at my company. The positions I saw look like I would be dogged (beginning of pandemic). Definitely not the work I would do. But as time went on, I found more suitable roles, but with the lack of work I was given while he was my manager amounted to nothing. I was so embarrassed to interview anymore that I stopped.

Why didn't you tell your executive sooner?

I really thought it would get better. I was thinking this happens sometimes when you receive a new manager so we just needed to work out some kinks before our working relationship levels out. Man was I wrong.😬 Also, once I got sick it wasn't the right time to leave until I found out what was going on with me. Doctors kept saying it was anxiety but I knew that wasn't it. Glad I didn’t listen to them.

Did you ever find out what was wrong with you?

YES! I'm thankful for my wonderful doctors for looking for doctors/facilities to have tests done. No one in Charlotte would help me. Seriously, I thought I was in a twilight zone. My doctors sent me to Duke University (Duke Health) to get testing done. I have a condition called Small Fiber Neuropathy. Because I was under a lot of stress, this caused the neuropathy to get worse to the point that I would have heart palpitations. This is what happened in the car. I still have them to this day.

How did you deal with it all? I know you got sick but you stayed. How did you manage?

With a lot of prayer. There were days I just cried at my desk. Walked away and just didn't come back until the next day. I just didn't care anymore. I had to take care of me. I also had great friends and family I was able to talk to about the situation.  Believe it or not, I had a lot of good days during this time because I chose to. There were days I said "I got time today" and was straight petty.😂 Sometimes you have to gain control of the situation in order to feel better. I got to a point that I wasn't scared anymore. If the worse was to happen, I will deal with it at that time. For the most part I was cordial and professional, but catch me on a petty day if you want to.😂

What did you learn from this whole ordeal?

I learned that I will never bite my tongue when being mistreated. I may be blacklisted (yes they do this), fired, etc. but I can't allow that to happen just for a paycheck. Losing my job is not ideal, however neither is my life.

Also to always be positive. My happiness is like kryptonite to people who want to hurt me. So I need to keep smiling like a cheshire cat until they melt away like the witch in The Wizard of Oz (you know I have grand-babies right, lol).

I also need to affirm who I am. I'm still learning this as there have been several challenges I've had to endure these past few years. Continue to treat myself good in the midst and continue to trust that God will see me through as he has over and over again.

How would you handle the situation differently now?

Any issue I have, I will pull the person to the side and have a heart to heart. If the situation doesn't resolve itself, then I will contact my executive immediately to handle. My only job is to report the issue. It's in their hands after that to investigate and resolve it.

In conclusion, this was a hard lesson to learn. Unfortunately the way black women are treated in the workforce was a big reason my misery went on for so long. This will never happen again. They can lie, call me names, or have a temper tantrum all they want to, but they can never say I don't do my job or call me a liar.

What are your thoughts on my work situation? How would you have handled it? Are there any questions I've missed? Let me know in the comments section below.

Next week is the last blog in our mental health series where I will discuss your mental health within. How your mental health is affected when dealing with internal fears, life goals, etc.

See you next week.

Beauty Mixtress™

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