In this PC world of ours where everything is supposed to be lovely, discrimination continues to have a place, whether it be race, gender, sexuality, mental health, it still has the power to isolate those who come under the various banners.
Even though through many organisations who have made great strides in improving human resources, to train and understand better the various issues people face, there is still stigma attached by co-workers, managers, even customers, we need more awareness to assist those who face this kind of challenge on a daily basis.
I’ve seen many cases in my time, and will recount a few things that have happened to me:
Back in 2005/6 I was going through a particularly bad time at work, being bullied by my new boss, he was younger than me, and ambitious, however in many ways completely inept at dealing with his staff’s needs on a personal level, which was actually part of his job(we did have a couple on our areas that were having health and problems at home which needed to be managed with support from him and HR)
My main issue was that I was still grieving the death of my mother, I had moved to a new location and it was taking longer than expected to turn things around,so I was under a great deal of pressure, being constantly criticised about my performance didn’t help, even when I called the support services, they wanted me to proceed with a grievance, which wasn’t what I wanted, I just needed to talk and put a plan into action in which I could deal with my grief and get on track with my work commitments, my idea was that they help me facilitate this.
It didn’t work out that way and he took the exception in a public way of reprimanding me in front of my staff, which in turn further pushed me towards the edge, it gets better at the next area meeting he brought this up in front of my colleagues, which was not only humiliating to me personally, but sent a message loud and clear that he didn’t care, again my only possible recourse was to report him, I didn’t, and so it continued.
Continued to the point, where I used to feel physically sick when I went to work, I started having panic attacks due to the constant nit-picking and veiled threats about keeping my job.
It got to the point that I had a massive panic attack and my assistant found be curled up on the office floor incoherent and hardly able to breathe, through our private medical care I found a councilor, who basically said I was in crises and needed help.
The came with me to the meeting to discuss a plan of action about the kind of support I needed, with all agreed upon it was to be actioned immediately, and all worked well at first, and being the kind of grade A bastard he was he again told my colleagues I was to be taking time of because I had mental health issues(so much for confidentiality) and that I required special treatment and sarcastically said they would all have to tip toe around me in case I totally lost the plot, you can imagine how I felt!!!
What made me really angry later was how the others from head office then treated me, they talked to me slowly, with fake smiles pitying looks and sing-song voices, always careful not to directly reference my problems but at the same making it obvious that somehow they were giving me special treatment, also while side stepping the bullying issue.
It didn’t help, and to this day the feelings of isolation remain.
My second tale is rather more about ignorance, though the feelings of being discriminated against are the same.
I’m diabetic, and had an episode, my own fault I didn’t check my sugar levels that morning, anyway once in town I began to feel dizzy and collapsed, there I was sprawled out on the pavement, whilst the lunchtime shoppers stepped over and walked around me, one woman did stop to enquire and her friend pulled her away loudly declaring I was probably drunk!!!
So I just lay, and the man from the sandwich shop came over and asked if I was Ok, indicating I wasn’t, amazingly he asked if I was diabetic, nodding yes, off he went and returned with a chocolate bar and can of coke, within 15 minutes I was able to stand, he walked me to the bus stop and made sure I got on Ok.
A few days later i went back to thank him, and asked what made him think of diabetes, he explained his dad was a diabetic, thanks to him I was Ok.
Two different scenarios but both coming from the same root of discrimination, I understand we fear what we don’t know, however having mental health problems, physical disabilities doesn’t makes us different people, but people who need a different kind of support so we can function alongside you not separately, we don’t need to be isolated, or poked at with sticks, we just need to know that we are part of the community regardless of race,gender,sexuality mental health.
What whys have you been discriminated against and how did you resolve it.