I feel as though the rat race has left me behind, I often feel as though it’s my fault and that I should try harder. This blog post has been a long time coming, it’s in response to two events, firstly yesterday I felt as though I was undergoing the Spanish Inquisition from a fellow ticcer with regards to my mental health, and secondly an article that was mentioned in the last TA newsletter about declaring mental health problems on job applications. biomedcentral.com/content/p... She’s (my fellow ticcer) is having an awful time at work at the moment, due to her declaration to her employers of her TS and Asperger’s syndrome her job description has changed dramatically, she’s actually lucky to have a job and if I was her I would feel somewhat un-wanted and start hunting for alternative employment. Applying for jobs for me is a somewhat different experience. From the moment I turn up at the local Jobcentre Plus they know that I’ve arrived, thanks to my coprolalia. If the majority of job applications merely involved a CV and covering letter life would be a lot fairer, but it isn’t. The vast majority of jobs want an application form and somewhere on the first page of the form you come to that question “Do you have any disabilities?” . I have, since developing the dreaded cop declared my TS, it’s been a bit of a quandary, but the reason being is that if I don’t declare my TS and I get an interview, the interviewer would be in for a nasty shock when they meet with me and my potty mouth. In this instance it would be highly unlikely I would get the job as I would have lied on my application form. Strangely enough also when your ever-so-helpful JCP (Jobcentre Plus) advisor calls a prospective employer “I have an lovely lady here with me, her name is Catherine and is very eager to apply for the job, she does however have Tourette’s syndrome, I have her CV here which I can fax over to you” you hear a little voice on the other end of the phone saying that the vacancy has been filled. This is only the tip of the iceberg really, although the JCP know that I suffer from mental health problems this remains unspoken about when applying for jobs. I admit I have NEVER declared that I suffer from depression on application forms, if a fellow ticcer just isn’t getting “it” with regards to my depression, what hope is there for a prospective employer. I’ve suffered from depression since my teens; I have in the past been signed off work by my GP for depression but only for 3 weeks at a time, on two of these occasions when I returned that cliché “What have you got to be depressed about ?” came out, the first time from the manager of a burger chain that I worked for, working for this company would induce a deep depression in most sane people, a company that prescribed almost every movement off it’s staff whilst in the workplace, don’t mention the way the public like to treat those poor people behind the till, and all of this for minimum wage with added rules against union membership. The second time this cliché popped out it was shouted across a busy kitchen, I was working in a busy industrial kitchen – that’s providing the catering for a car factory ,for everybody to hear, nothing I can do, the blabbermouth was the catering manager’s pet, unlike me, the "sulky" one banished to the far ends of the factory to fill vending machines when not clearing up after the chef. The factory closed down, I left, she was the most annoying colleague I ever had, I admit I nearly pushed her down a flight of stairs once, if I had she would have landed on the big car company’s chairman’s chauffeur. On the whole I’m pretty good at holding my temper but telling me how to clean the chef’s knives whilst I’m actually cleaning them is just stupidity.
I must admit that I have once been sacked, it’s still something that I find upsetting and was a major knock to my confidence, I was working for a company that deal with government contracts, the contract we were working on was EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) I was good at my job, my stats were nearly always the top in my team and newer colleagues asked my advice and I often mentored new staff. I had pride in my work and tried my best to help the customers; I got on well with my colleagues all seemed well. The only problem I has was undiagnosed endometriosis, I tried to push my way through it but unfortunately it sometimes got the better of me, on one such day it did, without grossing you out one of my colleagues looked at me and said “you look as pale as a ghost, you look as though all the blood has drained from you” it had almost, my supervisor “H” came over to me and drew attention to the fact that I had spent 8.36 mins on a toilet break. She then said to me “If you’re not well and can’t keep up you should go home”. The next day I felt like death warmed up, I called in sick, another supervisor, “M” answered the phone, the supervisor was more approachable and helpful than my own but also a squeamish man, I told him I had sickness and diarrhea, I checked my shift for the following day, and that was that. I returned the next day I was greeted by “H” “I need to see you later in private” that had me worried all day, by the end of the day I had figured out that I was due to be sacked for pulling a sickie, I was right, I contract was terminated as I hadn’t fulfilled my contract. That was that, escorted out of the building by security, not able to say good by to friends, it was horrific. I was just the first, H went on a spree, within a fortnight she fired 10 people including M. My GP told me that she’d seen quite a lot of people fired from this company in the past, as had the advisor at the CAB that I saw; I didn’t have a leg to stand on. However my friend P who I always sat next to wasn’t fired, it did however have a big effect on him, being an epileptic he often had to do general admin duties so he wouldn’t be looking at a monitor as long as the rest of us, but still would sitting in the same spot stuffing envelopes make a difference? Another colleague’s theory was that P was deemed untouchable, firstly he was of the same faith as H, all the people who were sacked were of a different colour or faith like M and of course H wouldn’t want to be seen sacking a person with a disability, P also had mobility problems. This did however kick start my GP into taking my symptoms (very heavy painful periods) seriously and start investigating it.
There’s a lot more I could say about the whole mental health, Tourette’s syndrome and employment thing but this particular post is long enough already. My favorite Specials song.