For those of you who didn’t know, I’m Bipolar II and have PTSD. That’s another post best saved for another day. Anyway, it’s no secret to anyone in my post office, or that I’m medicated to deal with it.
We’ve had a tough few months at the ol’ PO, and I’ve also been dealing with some mobility issues. So anyway, I don’t think it was one sudden thing, but a cumulative effect.
So there I was…in trouble again. My temporary Station Manager was doing an Investigative Interview on me as a precursor to some sort of hand-spanking. I’ve been through these before by much tougher people. Had the Postmaster call me a “fucking liar” once, to which I replied, in that oh-so-delicate demeanor of mine, that he should go fuck himself.
I should add here for you postal people, that I’m a supervisor so the Weingarden Act doesn’t apply to me, and not a member of NAPS (because the represent mostly jackasses), so I don’t have NAPS representation, but I can still request legal representation. I was denied that option by the Station Manager, and repeatedly menaced that failing to cooperate with a postal investigation could result in my being removed from the postal service. ELM 666 appropriately.
I’m not a novice at this thing. As a supe for 10 years, I’ve managed to rack up 4 Letters of Warning, and a 2 Week “paper” Suspension. So I don’t know why, but suddenly I couldn’t catch my breath, and my hands started shaking more than they already do. I mean really, really badly.
I tried to stay as calm as I could but as we were wrapping up, I knew there was no way I was going to make it. I had a huge meltdown about 5 years back, and this was exactly how it started, so I told the manager I was going to have to leave at that point.
“You’re going out on stress leave?” So-called stress leave is the guarantee that for the rest of your career, you’re going to have your chain jerked by management. It’s usually an angry reaction by an employee as “retaliation” against whoever is pissing them off. So it’s pretty screwed up when you actually are mentally ill.
I clarified, “This is not stress leave. I’m having an anxiety attack. Listen to my voice and look at my hands.”
“So it is stress leave!”
“No dumbass, it’s a severe anxiety attack. I have to go. Now. Straight to the doc’s.” I know a panic attack, and I sure as hell didn’t want it to go as bad as it did 5 years ago.
He initially refused to let me go. Several times. I asked nice. I asked not so nice. I finally told him I was going and he’d have to deal with it. I then actually got lost on my way home.
I couldn’t get an appointment with the doc until the next day.
I talked to the doc and he literally told me that I would have to take the rest of the week off. This is a shrink, by the way, not a general practitioner or family doctor. He said to take extra anxiety meds. He also told me to hold off on sugar and caffeine for the week. Yah, right. Right now I’m just unsafe to myself. No sugar and coffee, and I’ll be a danger to the general public. Besides, he has a candy dish in his lobby. Scored some unhealthy sugary stuff, and went home.
Anyway, he said that the disorientation was part of the flight-or-fight status of PTSD. Rapid breathing as your brain tells you to bring in more oxygen. Trembling of hands as one part of you needs your fist, while the rational side says that you don’t, resulting in a tremor.
So I got my FMLA packet today, and I’ll set up an appointment with the doc to fill out the paperwork. I swear to god, for a severe anxiety attack, the red tape is enough to make you go out on stress leave.
Anyway, not sure of the point of all this, except that there are things that you can tough out when you’re mentally ill, but you have to recognize the symptoms when you start to go in a tail-spin, and know when it’s going to be more than you can handle alone. For your own safety you have to know the difference between what you can handle and what you can’t.
That, and a reminder that calling something “stress leave” in the postal service means the rest of your life with that management team, you’re going to be on shaky ground. And that’s even if you’re a member of management. Like the line on Serenity, “We’re all just folks now.”
God only knows what will be waiting for me when I get back Tuesday. Firing squad (“Blindfold and a pipe, please.” Should stall for about 45 minutes to an hour), retaliation, whatever. I figure I’m covered by the ADA, FMLA, EEOC, and being denied representation, the ACLU. Fuckers.