So then...

About Me

Welcome to my blog. My pen name is Eva James. I'm an aspiring writer paying the bills working as a legal secretary. Bullied by my boss in 2008, I looked for another job but the recession hit. Feeling trapped, I started this blog. Trevor Griffiths, legendary theatre, TV and film writer said at the outset, "I like the writing a lot: smart, cool, placed. If you were prepared/able to take your prick of a boss on, you'd marmelise him." I was unaware back then that it would catalogue one of the most extreme cases of workplace bullying in the UK. I've found another job, but am subject to a gagging order. I'm still blogging, of course. Just don't tell the lawyers!

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Cry for Help

A big thank you to @Evil_Scot on Twitter who forwarded me the unusually titled Worchester News article:

“Man blames work stress after stealing condoms and octopus”.

As well as the condoms and a tin of octopus, Mark Brookes’ also stole a magazine, an ordinance survey map, a compass, light sticks, black bags and a shoe brush.

He admitted the thefts, of course, and agreed that he had been drinking after struggling to cope under the pressures of his job. It was, the defence asserted, out of character for a normally law abiding and hard working man.

I don’t know about you, but my first instinct was to grin. Not at Mr Brookes, of course, and I’m the first to admit that stealing isn’t a laughing matter. It’s the surreal nature of the crime. Why the tin of octopus? Why the ordinance survey map?

It was the same with my Betty Crocker pancake addiction. My family and I still laugh about it now – especially on Shrove Tuesday. They still laugh at the memory of all those pancake mixes monopolising the space in my sister’s car boot after a trip to the supermarket. You can’t get a more disconnected reaction to workplace bullying.

So the article got me thinking. There’s a fine line between laughing and crying. At the less extreme of the spectrum, when we’re stressed to the point of acting wildly out of character and our actions are a little surreal, does a cry for help often turn into a laugh for help?

I’m sure Mr Brookes is now getting the help he needs, but you can imagine his friends and family will never forget it. At some point, it would be nice to think Mr Brookes will, with hindsight, view his moment of madness with a touch of humour as I do.

We don’t talk about this enough. So I want to hear about your 'cry for help/laugh for help' experiences. Have your family or friends wiped away tears of laughter whilst performing an intervention? Have you ever reacted to work stress in an unconventional and inexplicable way?

Do let me know either here or on Twitter.

This should be interesting!

Very best


RJBuxton said...

It always takes guts to walk back into work the day after you make an almighty fool of yourself. The annoying thing is that then begins to define you in the workplace. The little you desperately squeaks 'That's not me. This is me. Over here. You only have to look." And another cycle commences. Maybe time to look for yet another job.

Bullied By The Boss said...

Ah, that's true!

There is absolutely a danger that if behavioural changes due to stress aren't dealt with or recognised by others, your colleagues and even your friends and family can simply accept you're 'out there' - when it's actually a situational response and nothing to do with who you are or how you'd behave under normal circumstances.

Many thanks for taking the discussion a step further!

Anonymous said...

people say that i can't handle stress/pressure. you could argue that BUT i know there's a world of difference between making a fool of yourself by yourself and making a fool of yourself as a reaction to influences that are MEANT to provoke stress reactions & associated negative effects/behaviour. Stress of the role/inherent to the work environment is fine & i cope because its integral. When the stress is 'artificial' in the form of bullying/manipulation/subtle provocation & intimidation [see for examples/effects] that hides the damaging intentions under the euphamism of 'banter'... thats when i've been uncharacteristically unconventional. Details will NOT follow but just ask around! (and let me know cus its probably not all true)

The negative effects on my life have been profound & significant, mainly because the effects on me seem to be so much more interesting, believable & useful to bullies & onlookers alike. Whereas the psychological bullying/manipulation can be so subtle, intentionally obscure & 'veiled' that its unrecognised by onlookers (who've probably never been subject to anything like it) & unrecognised/denied by those that use it or benefit from it via the control it gives them over their environment (& entertainment value??)... to the detriment the target's wellbeing.

But yeah, my bugbear is how the causes are never seen/acknowledged but the effects ARE seen & used for the next round of psychological bullying/manipulation. Just before my last job... i intended for the cycle to be finished. but it took on new levels of effecctiveness. There are NO coping mechanisms for such overwhelming negative influence & its effects (especially when no one wants to know)... except maybe falling onto something pointy & shiny *cue maniacal laughter*

Bullied By The Boss said...

Thanks for sharing! On a side note, I love the way you write! Your sense of humour is evident and that will be integral in helping you bounce back to your old self(speaking from experience).

Getting back to the main subject, you raise a valid point - onlookers don't necessarily the stress and anxiety, just our reaction to it.

The bully, of course, knows where the uncharacteristic behaviour stems from and is able to exploit it further.

I agree with you that there is a world of difference between coping with situational stresses of life and coping with stress deliberately loaded onto you for other's enjoyment.

You've given me much food for thought - so thanks again!

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