I hate filling out applications. It becomes so disheartening. They always ask: What was your reason for leaving? I got fired, OK? It’s more than that, my therapist even said so, but that’s the short answer. I was let go. That sounds so much better than I was fired. At least when you are let go you get unemployment. And believe me, unemployment helps.
Let me recap my experiences for you:
I lost one because of my bipolar. I was dumb enough to tell them about my Multiple Sclerosis and bipolar diagnoses. The company was in the process of downsizing anyway and they couldn’t count on me to be in the office with my medical issues. I sued them unsuccessfully. This is why I will never tell another employer about my bipolar.
I lost my academic position because of sexual discrimination. I had always suspected it was an administrative decision, but one of my former students came across a memo from the dean to the chair stating that they were impressed with my progress as a teacher. This was less than six months (including summer) before I was berated by my department chair for poor student evaluations. I also learned from another student that my evaluations were not as bad as stated because he had seen them. He also found out that the chair had the good ones removed and shredded. Can you believe this? I considered suing the university for sexual discrimination but decided against it. After all I was going on to a $100+k job – it wasn’t worth my time and effort. Everyone knew that I deserved to have my contract renewed – except the people who had the power to make such decisions. Part of me berates myself for losing that job even though I didn’t do anything wrong. I stood up for myself, my students, and what I thought was right. I rubbed the wrong feathers the wrong way. I don’t regret what I did there. But as a friend of mine put it, if you rise above the rest, someone is likely to chop your head off.
I really blame myself for this last job. I couldn’t handle the people, the pressure, the work. I was out of my element and I hated what I was doing. All my mental illnesses began to implode as I worked with the narcissist and his henchman. I lost grip on reality and I lost my grip on myself. The harder I tried to hold on, the more my illnesses bled through, mixing into the pot of bad blood between my coworkers and myself. My PTSD skyrocketed. I started having nightmares several times a week. I was afraid to go to work. When I was there, I couldn’t concentrate. Something would happen and I would be out working off my temper or crying in a friend’s office. I wasn’t effective. I couldn’t be effective. Add to all that my injuries and several work-related relapses, they determined I was no longer fit for duty. I hadn’t been fit for duty for a while. I should have been out on mental health leave a year earlier. Maybe none of this would have happened then. My wrist wouldn’t have been injured and maybe my right arm would have been fixed sooner. I don’t know if either will ever be 100%. I gave too much of my soul to this job for the sake of a lucrative paycheck and a little prestige.
Now I’m filling out applications again. And faced with the question: What was your reason for leaving? You can’t write: sexual discrimination. You can’t write: forced out for medical reasons. So sugar-coat it and call it contract not renewed, received other offer, company downsizing. What else can I write? I wasn’t needed, I wasn’t wanted anymore. End of story. But that’s difficult to handle, even when your therapist says, “it wasn’t your fault.” Because yes, some of it is my fault. It’s my fault for not trying harder. It’s my fault for letting people get under my skin. It’s my fault for being dumb enough to share personal information. Information is a weapon. This is why I write anonymously.
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