I stopped writing this blog about six months ago. The reason why is, unfortunately, something all too common. My boss found out that I was getting treated for social anxiety – and he decided that that was sufficient evidence to conclude that I was a crazy, untrustworthy person, and that everything I did must, inevitably, be inexcusably wrong.
For me, this kind of thing is horribly frustrating. But I’m lucky. For a lot of other people, this would be tragic. I don’t need this job. Up until this shit started, I really liked it – but I don’t need it. I’ve got other options: I can (and in fact, I did) leave it, and find something else. I didn’t want to do that, but the fact is, we’re not going to starve.
What I learned from this, among other things, is that the stigma of mental illness remains incredibly strong. Even as someone who’s written about it, and dealt with its repercussions before, it still manages to surprise me. As a person with this illness, once people like my ex-manager find out, my skills, my knowledge, my history, and my experience no longer matter. The illness outweighs everything everything else.
One brief mention of it, in the context of scheduling, and my career at the company was over.
The whole thing was, at times, downright comic. My manager believes that mental illness means that I can’t be trusted, that I’m irrational, and that I’m incapable of intellectual reasoning. Essentially, because I have this illness, I’m an idiot, and I can’t possibly do anything right. And proving otherwise was impossible.
A typical example of my work-life once this came out: a few months back, I’d finished one part of our system, and was ready to move on to the next. My manager, coworkers, and I discussed possible strategies for that next step, and concluded that there were two possible approaches: A and B. I spent a day analyzing things, and concluded that A was the better approach. So I went and built A.
When it was done, my boss threw a fit. A was ridiculous! How could I possibly think that A was the right approach? How could someone as senior as me possibly be so ridiculously ignorant?
So I went back to the drawing board, and did B. Finished it, and you can probably guess what’s coming: B is ridiculous! Inexcusable! No competent engineer would ever dream that B is the right way of doing it! Any idiot could see that A was the right approach.
I pointed out: I’d already done A, and been berated for it, and instructed in very clear terms to do B.
His response was, basically, “I never said that, and I never told you to do that.” But I had it in email – he’d specifically sent me an email berating me after doing it in person. So I said: “Look, I’ve got this email where you specifically say A is wrong, and I should go do B”.
His response? “In addition to being incompetent, you’re insubordinate, and if you don’t straighten up, you’re going to get fired”.
In other words: you’re just a crazy freak, so don’t you dare question anything I say.
Things continued in this vein for months. No matter what I do, it’s wrong. Even if I do exactly what I’m instructed to do, it will be wrong. After months of this, it’s completely obvious that there’s absolutely no chance of succeeding here. No matter what I do, I will lose.
So I quit. And that means that I no longer need to worry about what would happen if he were to discover the stuff I write here.