I am 48 year old woman, married with two children at university. I have worked for the same company for 29 years and have enjoyed my job, until there was a change of management two years ago. To start with we were friendly and got on well. After that my manager started to criticize my work, be sarcastic towards me and belittle my opinions. I began to feel intimidated during meetings with colleagues and they started to notice my managers’ behaviour and attitude toward me.
She regularly made me change things over and over again, told me that I was “Not indispensable” and that she “would ensure that tasks were done properly in future”, inferring that they had been done poorly by me in the past. I began to withdraw and not give my opinions at meetings, doubt myself and I was suffering with very poor memory and concentration.
The bullying continued for 5 months with me setting myself small targets to help me cope, a week’s holiday, birthdays, then Christmas. Until I was in such a state that my doctor signed me off work and prescribed anti-depressant medication.
I felt like a failure, I could not bear to go out; I stayed at home, kept the curtains closed, I didn’t want to see anyone or talk about what I was going through.
The depression was quite crippling and at times I felt that life was not worth living and that I could not and did not want to carry on and that my family would be better off without me.
I made myself keep in touch with my workplace and was persuaded to return after 12 weeks absence. I pleaded not to work with my previous manager, but was told that there was nowhere else for me. I knew I needed to return and felt under pressure from work.
I managed another 7 and half months. Initially no one talked to me and then the bullying started again. I tried to be more assertive but it just made the bullying worse and the criticism of my work continued and I felt that I could do nothing right. My confidence was at rock bottom again. The HR department suggested that I seek counselling to help me cope with my manager so I returned to my doctor.
He told me about Alison Fox Counselling Services and I called them initially to get some advice. I received a call back straight away from the counsellor and she listened to my story. She gave me immediate, practical advice over the phone, empathising with my situation and understanding that I was suffering with poor concentration and memory, followed it up with an e-mail so that I could tick off each task as I completed it.
The next week I met the counsellor for the first time for an assessment session and was initially offered 6 weeks of counselling and support. I felt that I had found someone who really understood, she set me small goals to achieve each week that helped to give me confidence and feel that I was getting back control of my life and let me talk openly about how I felt about what had happened to me, without judging me or my feelings. Writing things down has been the most beneficial task, keeping a journal of events and my feelings.
Without the help that I was given by the counselling service I would not be as positive as I am now, looking forward and unafraid of what the future may bring.