The scene is set. A pleasant dinner out or maybe a drink with friends. Around you everyone is laughing and joking, everyone is making merry! But in your mind there is a silent, low hum. The type of noise that slowly irritates you over hours or even days. You don’t know its there, you don’t acknowledge the sound, all you have is a feeling.
The sound gradually worms its way into your brain. The symptoms present as the odd feeling of irritability here and there. “Why can’t everyone walk on the same side as they drive”, slips out of your lips. “Why are papers like the Daily Mail allowed to bend the truth and promote hate”, finds a way out of my brain a little too loud while walking through the supermarket.
Eventually, the silent noise fully takes hold. Control of the underlying anger spews out at random times. To you, you are your normal self just stating some facts or an opinion. But to onlookers you are angry and aggressive. The bubble surrounding you makes you feel you are a speaking marvel with your knowledge and as no-one is disagreeing, you assume what you are saying is accepted by all.
But outside the bubble is a different image. People watch as a rant begins with words spoken sharply, to the point and with gusto. All can see you are angry and not your normal self but no-one says a word out of fear of upsetting you even more. An uncomfortable feeling sets in as you finish your comments.
You don’t realise until later that the comments may have been viewed differently to what you perceived. But by then, the damage is done. It may only be a minor thing but the point is you realise you are not in control. Your hidden feelings are starting to show in your voice and on your face. The wall you have so proudly built to protect you has crumbled. The protective emotional wall is now as invisible as the wall promised by US President Trump and is about as useful as the wall would have been if it had become a reality.
Vulnerability is normally hidden away but now it is your new best friend. As if Golum is in your head “everyone knows master, they see through you they do”. When ignored Golum will just act up even more “catches the fishy on the hook, Golum think you the fishy now”. Your eyes avoid the contact of others going for the look down and up and sideways approach instead as if your feelings and thoughts could be read from your cornea.
So what started the anger? Was there a trigger? In my case a clear trigger seems to be my work. I can sum myself up by saying I am a creative person trapped in a conservative world. I love painting and have been told I am good. I trained as a cabinet maker for two years and love making items out of wood. I like manual labour tasks, tiling, decorating etc. So the job I do does not make sense to most. I work in Healthcare with IT. But this use to be a good fit, as I could work with teams to understand their processes and then help them find ways to use technology to improve their working lives and patients lives. So where did it go wrong?
My knowledge grew and with that the organisation saw I could do a lot of work that would cost them more money if they gained more staff. This meant my knowledge grew further. Eventually I ended up leading on IT and Information Governance (Data Protection, Information Security etc). This is a massive remit for an organisation that processes thousands of records and has 800 community healthcare professionals. My team is small but has a massive output. Despite years of trying to improve the organisation, they won’t listen to me or my staff. Recently they decided to restructure and my team is to be split up and IT is being reduced to one person. One person that would be setup to fail. One person can carry a lot but everyone eventually falls. The other part of the job goes into a new team but again is set to fail and it is on one person.
The anger build up is not due one trigger I’ve realised. One, I’m never listened to even though I have frequently proved my knowledge. Two, I can’t protect my staff as this has been taken out of my hands. Three, I feel I have failed at improving the organisation despite years of trying. Four, I have been taken advantage of. Five, the expectation is I will be thankful for what I am given.
It would be easier if we could pin point one issue that causes us problems, but from my experience, its normally lots of issues that lead to your brain finally saying “enough little hobbit, Golum can’t go onto the flames”. Like the twisted, bony body of Golum, your thoughts are twisted to negativity and you find it difficult to find anything substantially satisfying about the remaining flesh left in your job.
I imagine this is a common problem. For many years it was our bodies that took the punishment, working in factories and production lines. Even before this, hunting, building, leading a nomadic life. Today is a different story. It is our minds taking the damage. The part of the body you can’t see. Falling off a ladder is considered an industrial accident with future lasting repercussions for the victim. But your brain, your essence, the one thing that makes you who you are is neglected.
We are made to fit in a box like a magicians assistant. Sometimes even with the sawing in half and when our brains finally give in, the main priority is “how can we help get you back to work?” and “if you can’t cope with the work I’m afraid we will have to let you go”. Organisations are taking no social responsibility for the damage being done to individuals and it would not surprise me if a link was found between stress and later mental conditions. A balance must be found and power given back to anyone suffering from a mental health problem due to work or made worse due to work.
In my case, some time off from work would do me some good. But ultimately, finding a new job with an understanding employer has to be my main goal.