Bullied Blogger: Work is dominating my life

February 24, 2009

16 February: After meeting with Colin Horrocks from the union I am presented with a terrible dilemma. What should I do? He seems to think that I have a case for a grievance or that I should opt for mediation. I feel work is dominating my life – everything. I don’t sleep well, my mood is low and I seem to have no energy. I know it is depression, but I cannot let Marcus beat me like this.

I’m going to ask around for different views on what I should do. I don’t feel I can be rational about making the decision myself. I’ll talk to Dominic, Alan and Gail. I will also contact Petra Bassford, an old friend whom I trust implicitly. She’s a high-flyer now, heading up a unit on advocacy. It will be nice to talk with her again after so many years. I will take their advice, reflect and decide.

I decide to remove “transparency” from the divisional meeting agenda and notice that there is no space for it this Wednesday anyway. Marcus and Helen dominate the session with “Expanding Markets in a Globalised World” – it’s not Gotham City Marcus is interested in saving, but the whole world!

I dispatch an email to Marcus about my decision:

Dear Marcus, given that we seem to have a very full agenda for the divisional meeting I would like to withdraw my agenda item “transparency” and would like to reflect on whether I wish to pursue my concerns…

Marcus bites back immediately:

I accept your decision but must stress that your item must be viewed as provocative and demonstrates how you sometimes seem willing to disrupt the developments of the division. Your response “come to the meeting and find out...” similarly shows a cavalier attitude to your commitments within our service.

You bastard, you absolute shit. I respond:

How dare you say such things about me. First you suggest I am “always moaning”, then that I am not a “team player” and now I am “cavalier”. I have done excellent high-profile work for this division over the years and I do not expect such a sociopathic management style as I have experienced from you. I am going to take out a grievance and you will suffer!

I delete. I don’t send it. I burst into tears. I cannot cope with this constant challenge. What have I done to deserve this? I wish someone would tell me what is going on.

After teaching, I am walking down the corridor and coming the opposite way is Marcus. I suddenly feel a sense of panic. The women’s toilet is next left. I divert and then feel physically sick. I rush into a cubicle and throw up. I’m trembling and need a few minutes to regain my composure. I look in the mirror. Pale, dark under my eyes, worn out.

19 February: I arrive into work with some level of excitement. I am meeting with Brenda from psychology. I go straight to her room, which is in separate buildings a little way from mine. She’s there and makes us a drink. After we talk about the grant that may be available from Marcia Smith, we discuss options.

Brenda seems so nice; she is new to the university but very bright and cutting edge. I decide to disclose what is happening to me with Marcus. She is very supportive and talks about numerous colleagues she has known over the years who have fallen victim to similar problems. She suggests that we put in a joint application and, if successful, we can then create a barrier between Marcus and myself with the option to build a relationship based on good work. Brilliant! I leave Brenda in a good mood. I get back to an email from Helen Murr:

I was disappointed you were not able to make the divisional meeting yesterday. Could you explain to Marcus your reasons for this? In your absence work from the new departmental business plan was allocated to you. Please contact Marcus who will discuss your new workload. Under no circumstances should you take on any new work.

Where do I go from here?

Names and other details have been changed.

Are you experiencing problems at work?

Whether it’s money worries, issues with colleagues or emotional difficulties, the College and University Support Network (CUSN) can help. CUSN provides free, confidential support services, 24/7, specifically for all staff working in adult, further and higher education. Established by Teacher Support Network and supported by the University and College Union, CUSN offers information and advice, telephone counselling, online and telephone coaching and financial assistance. All CUSN services are delivered by professional advisers, counsellors and coaches.

You can contact CUSN for free on 08000 32 99 52 or visit www.cusn.info, where you can also sign up for the free monthly newsletter.

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