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Treatment Plan or Not – that be the question

Initially the Doctor described two options Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). A third option popped-up after speaking to a non-medical person whoes values I trust: Hypnotheropy.

The outcome I want from any one of them is the same: Help me understand why I am feeling like this and then to return me to ‘my normal’. This I acknowledge is difficult as I can’t turn back the clocks to un-live what happened, my memories are naturally contaminated with the elapse of time and consistent uncertianty about what is happening, and the real conundrum: I might not like what I was.

My thought process says to me that I had failed to help people in both accidents. It is that simple. I must not let go of the people who I had failed, otherwise I am letting them down again, letting their familes down. Forgetting them is a cheats way of finding mental wellbeing, and for last 25 odd years since the train crash I had lived with that and thought, it worked then, it will work now – I can cope, I am man. But I had not appreciated I would be up against the most complex piece of apparatus we know of in our current universe – our brain; from which memories are never extinguished but lurk to upset and interfer when a magical trigger is pressed. It builds links to existing memories that we do not know existed and recompliles new meanings at the drop of a hat but it does not always tell you it has done so. Its a crafty little thing!

On research and to the layman the methodology is different and each has a preferred type of client. I considered that any of them would be a good.

A week later …

During this week I was able to relax and think a great deal about what had happened, why it happened all without the pressure of work. More importantly I could think whenever I wanted, which was frequent and would  materialise without any warning and for no apparent reason. I kept myself busy which is not a hard for me.

My sleep was disturbed – often between 4:00am and 4:15am, not so much about the accident but about work and what I was being put through. I would constantly go through the same scenario I had lived through to make sure I would win arguments again. It was futile, but that’s the mind for you. Irrational people do irrational things and they design their irrationality so as to screw you over.

During this week I made a statement for the forthcomingn inquest for the lady suicide victim. Giving the statement was a harrowing experience as I had to take them through the time line of the accident. I was not interrupted and it flowed easily as it was and still is very vivid in my minds eye. It hurt me greatly and both people recognised that. My voice faltered, my pace of delivery often slowed and there were moments of silence where my mind was blank and I needed to search for the next thing to say.  I could relive it at anytime – even now. I was asked a number of questions to expand on my job and such. Later In the week I made a few very minor amendments and returned it the same day.

I returned to my doctor and but still felt very disturbed about work and felt that while the ‘thing time’ was good I did not feel I was making the progress I wanted. During the conversation I openly cried about what state I was in. I said I did not want medication and I was going to solve this problem my self. I say my self but what I meant was I did not want other people to fight my battles.

The problem that surrounded Time to Talk and my treatment was discussed and it was thought I might like to seek private help. A name was suggested and EMDR treatment.

I was signed off unfit to work for three weeks.

Doctor

Not by any overt planning I had managed to line up a counselling session, a doctors appointment and a dentist appointment all in one morning and was still going to be at work by 1:00pm

He was not impressed at all with the Time to Talk session or how they were dealing with my PTSD. We discussed the problems I was having and he gave me a his honest thoughts about what I should do with regards work.

All through the appointment I held back from crying but it was noticeable that I was holding back, so it was agreed that I would take a weeks sick leave and go back the following week.

I telephoned into work and surprised them. I was surprised also.

Time to Talk – session one

I’ll start at the end – I felt underwhelmed and let down.

I went through the questions that I had been told were going to be a part of the tracking process – but not all of them.

We talked about the events of the accident and what was causing me concern at work and how I responded. Partially locked memories were talked about, which I did find interesting, and the necessity to unlock them was discussed.

Very quickly the conversation was brought to an abrupt end and ‘… I’ll call you in three weeks …’

I had been told to expect a number of weekly sessions of counselling at a centre with a specialist

Time to Talk – Induction

I had a scheduled telephone call from TtT team who wanted to go through a set of standard questions I had already completed. There was a problem; I had completed the questions while on holiday and I felt good or rather the catalysis where my problems manifested themselves was not present. This conversation was happening just two days after returning to work and I was suffering as it was as though the Christmas had not happened.

It was decided to redo the questions and then follow up with supporting qualiative questions. During the session I broke down and cried deeply. With help it transpired my hurt and my crossness revolved around not being able to do good for the lady who had committed suicide.

Many years previous I had been involved in a train crash in London while travelling to work on a Saturday. I was not physically hurt but emotionally shaken. I could not help people in the carriage that had rolled down the embankment but I could hear them calling for help. It devastated me. I was healthy, had a small family, a good wife, running a small business and working 60 hours a week as the business was growing. Life for me was really good and in a flash I met, well didn’t, people whose life changed at the flick of a switch. Gone, buggered, stuffed. No matter how I thought of it I could not reconcile my actions with the severity of what had happened and my inability to help.

We were escorted from the carriage to the station and waited out side as we were told transport would be laid on to get us to our destination, I can’t remember who made a quip to the Network Rail chap but he flew at us all and with real aggression bellowed ‘ …. can’t you see we have had a bloody accident …’ We were all shocked and stunned into silence. The group broke up and I went into a cafe opposite and ordered a tea and sat down. I don’t remember paying but I was crying and crying and all I could think of why was it not me. Why had I not been hurt. Why had other people been hurt why were those chosen. Why not me. I even asked other customers why!

I left the cafe and boarded the coach still upset and sat near a window.  As we left the station forecourt our exit was blocked by a very generous driver had abandoned his car across the road so we could not leave.  There were a number of policemen outside around the car who took time to decide what to do and I am just hope it was the confusion of the event that caused their delay.

I know why: Blood. I fear it, but that is no excuse not to help – I felt. I did not stop my life to get help. I went home that day and went to work the on the Sunday. I vowed from that day I would go out of my way, without ‘interfering’, to help people regardless of circumstance. With the suicide lady I had failed completely. Please do tell me it was not fault. My life’s values took a big hit on this day.

The interview continued and at the end the ladies considered thought was I was suffering from PTSD. They would be in contact to arrange one to one counselling and possible group work after she had discussed my situation with her line manager.

Subsequently I received a treatment plan.

Doctors

I went to the doctors and explained the situation at work primarily, but did mention a few of the outside incidents. I mentioned it was a group of student I teach that had urged me to seek help as they had noticed a decline in my well being.

I had to confide in someone through tears while crying and feeling physically sick. This is something I had never done: I have never let this level of personal feelings out to anyone before.

I was helped with empathy and care. I was referred to the Time to Talk team as there is no in-house counselling service: This had been cut in April 2011.

Life’s trip-you-ups

We, as a family, have had nine deaths to contend with over a 14 month period. Our house has burst at the seems to include six adults and two dogs. Our finances have been stretched accordingly.

Family have died, close friends have died, work friends have died, neighbours have died and friends of our children have died.

Our children have been in car accidents, their partners have had problems and my bank account was hacked.

If our life was a soap opera you would not believed the plots that we have been through.

All of this plays its toll on your ability to deal with life in everyday situations. Enter stage centre irrational people and my daily toil started to flake at the edges.

While at Work and play

I enjoy my work greatly. This is the third major change in the tool set engineering had for me to use. I went from pencil, pen and ink to Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) and now 3D modelling. This last stage is far far bigger than just modelling. It involves the integration of external data into a homogenous, seem less data set.

While there are other organisations who are both further advanced with the technical aspects of the work and the ethos behind there working practice I have independently kept pace with development, so it is with a little trepidation I consider myself to be knowledgeable – not complete but knowledgeable.

I have had great support from my immediate line manager but in essence that is where it stopped.

It appears to me that I am not trusted, not valued and considered to have no skills suitable for the work. I have hit brick walls everywhere I turn and with the new regime in place who are even less receptive I have gone into a mental meltdown through trying to fight my corner for the company.

The meltdown is me getting very agitated, cross, verbally aggressive in arguments and dismissive of others. This was happening more regularly and while those who believed my path forward was valid to my betters considered I was an impediment to progress. I have already described the situations and  the ways I feel I have been treated but not the frustration and internal termile it caused me.

Adding to this incendiary device that was me were a good number of life’s rich trip-you-ups.

Is it wrong for a chap to cry?

NO!

On the night of car accident I cried on the side of the road while in the pitch blackness. I cried in front of the two ladies who comforted me after they told me I had hit the lady. I cried in front of the policemen who released my car so I could drive home. I told the policemen that I would cry tomorrow and the day after and the day after; and I did.

I cried in front of a chap at work, but I held back my tears when another chap at work sighed with incredulity and told me in front of a small group of coworkers, ‘… well it is not as if you killed her …’ as though this was an everyday event and I should just get over it. I walked away and cried.

Not all crying is visible. My heart aches and I cry inside. I see things and hear things and I cry inside. I have very little control over it, which I accept.

I really do not want to be amongst people who are not compassionate. I do not want sympathy, I have to recover on my own terms. I do not want to feel beholden to people so as to stop them from taken advantage of me – yes. I feel some have.

I enjoy solitude more than ever.

Strangers are good, they know me not.

Irrational people are a pain in the Arse

I don’t believe this is a medical condition and I am not sure whether it is a life choice but people who are irrational in the workplace are a danger to themselves, a danger to other people and a danger to organizations.

If you ever have the misfortune to encounter an irrational person, whether socially or in the workplace the best course of action is to have empathy and not get drawn into debate with them.

If you can’t avoid them don’t trust what they say as they will use any argument to win you over irrespective of the facts that are set before them. It gets worse, they often don’t remember exactly what they have said and if you need to have the conversation again, say to confirm something, they will dish out another set of incoherent, irrelevant information that you are to regard as facts and expect you, for a second time, to agree with them.

Not only are they a pain in the arse, they are very debilitating, and often have to be finally corrected by their superiors. Alerting superiors is a whole different ball game and strategic playoffs have to happen; which in turn destroys relationships and groups.

I now appreciate the above, but it was my belief that what I was trying to do for the organization was correct, but it was being intimated by negative work practices, it was not. No real rational professional explanation could be offered to me, and was why, with hindsight of being diagnosed with PTSD, the cause for me to become very vocal and a verbally aggressive at work.

Some people on the outside might simply dismiss this as a personality clash but it was not. I believe there was an ulterior motive from the start and I just happened to be in the wrong mindset at the time.

The situation is this

The profession and industry I work in is adverseral by nature.  It is formally managed by contracts that have to be met. No problem with that at all. Contracts are negotiated and meant to be equatable both ways. I.e.  ‘I will pay you to do exactly that’ – equal both ways. You do ‘that’ you get paid. When delivery is different, and this is often with agreement of both parties, then adjustments are made. Again equitable both ways. When parties are in disagreement then it has to be debated and the stronger argument will win else litigation will ensue.

This rational approach extends into engineering design as well, where past experience along with robust design and British Standard et all all mean rationalality prevails.

All of the above takes place with rational argument as being the tool of choice. So I have been exposed to many years of rational working experiences. I can cope with this.

I do not like irrationality, it is incomplete thought, it is lazy, it is misleading, it leads to conflict, it divides groups, it does not get a job done and is costly.

Crunch Time …

Crunch time came for me when the new contract chap was openly told in the office he would be doing the next big project that was coming in at the end of the next month.

Apparently no one else in the immediate management levels knew anything about this so was a big surprise to them as well. Coupled with the fact that the office is still upto it’s ears with the current job. But that’s life.

Within minutes of this open declaration I needed to hand over work to new chap as a matter of course and was interrupted by the manager and questioned about what the chap was working on and then questioned by the chap on whether I had the authority to distribute work at all.

Seeing red I carried out a controlled and dignified explosion saying I was quite upset that detrimental collusion could take place in this fashion, and left to return to my desk. It happened to be near the end of the day so clearing up and leaving did not stur anyone.

That happened to be my last day there. Not by design I should add.

The Role I play

From Statistics about the output of this country (UK) it is stated we are underperforming. That is the workforce are underperforming. When digging deeper into this fact it transpires it is down to skills shortages.

A part of the role I had was to help and support staff, not just with the modelling process and the new software but with engineering.

There are a number of new people with less than a years modelling and engineering skills in our group. So we have an identified skills shortage in the office so to be actively discouraged from helping these people caused me concern on two counts. Firstly these people need the help, and secondly without the help the project will suffer.

Different techniques were used: coming over and standing on the edge of the conversation with no intention of joining in. Interrupting conversations by asking vacuous questions, asking for information and sometimes for a full status updates.

Over a relatively short period of time my overall role was cut. But I was not told someone else was now doing ‘that’. Many times I would only know as a result of hearing ‘that’ being discussed at a level of detail I should have been involved with. New contract staff were employed even though a cull of contract staff had only happened two months previous.

So in summary my workload was being changed behind my back, other people were being redeployed without my knowledge. The skills I was supposed to be imparting to others was being discouraged and the deadline end dates not changing. The problems I had identified and dismissed are coming to pass as I described.

Working day

At first I just pushed through and ignored my feelings. Work was different not only because of the new sensations I was experiencing but due to the nature of the new work we were doing.

Often conversation would take place within earshot about things I was directly involved with and I would seethe while managers managed not resolve issues in an appropriate fashion: all they did was to push the problem onto someone else or even worse simply change the problem into something else.

It was easy to get answers but became very difficult to get a straight answer and after a time it became evident that answers I was given were not correct but no one had bothered to tell me. The impact of the changes were often not thought through so frustration coupled with distrust flavoured my attitude.

I accept much of what I was doing was new to me but the structures and processes I developed adequately allowed the project to be undertaken efficiently. However, having the goal posts moved behind my back meant they did not. Annoyingly I was often not party to the discussion, and really kept in the dark. This could only be by design. More frustration.

A good move was made by the organisation by getting the resource levels increased – late but good. This allowed more work to be undertaken. However and a big however the working process in a modern design office were not understood. This coupled with the acceptance that the base information we had been given and forced to work with was in fact not as good as those making the original plans had thought.

For the record: say an A1 paper based drawning can only be worked on by one person at a time. Information may have to be drawn and redrawn as the design process evolves. This process stop being viable 30 years ago and finally stopped at least 20 years ago. In the 3D model world the model is worked and worked and an A1 drawing is a product of many people working concurrently. So when I was told to organise people to work in the paper based drawing style, and not listened to when I tried to find the rationale behind the instruction caused me anguish beyond anything I had experienced before. It was idiocy!

Feelings and thoughts

I was distressed greatly, but life had to continue. I had to organise repairs on the car so I worked from home the following day. This meant an awkward questions I could answer in private.

The chap I spoke to at the insurance company was unable to comprehend the situation and could have only been working from a script as after I had described what had happened in as much as a lady had died as she had jumped off a motorway bridge and I had struck her, al be it not the first, asked was anyone hurt.

When I received the typed version it was different from the dictated version, anyway …

I returned to work on the following Monday as though nothing had happened to me.

I did feel I had betrayed the lady. All I knew of her was she had jumped and died. There was a note and it was being checked for authenticity before it could be confirmed she had committed sucide.

Me Just and …

I mentioned an accident, yes an accident with a difference!

A lady decided to end her life and I was driving one of the cars that struck her. It was at night and dark. Dark with the absence of light and a dark emotionally.

Having driven over ‘something’ without seeing it (been told it would have only been visible for less than a second at the speed and in the lighting conditions) I had to stop quickly.

I was told what I had driven over by two ladies in the car I parked behind me. The police confirmed I had struck a person when they inspected my car. Blood and tissue were found underneath the car and damage done to the under tray.

I was shaken up, not physically, but mentally and after telling the police I was safe to drive I left the scene.

Frustrated is an understatement

Some people became very frustrated with the working practices that were prevalent. Fellow people were also suffering at the hands of a few but time and time again efforts to rectify the situation was simply thwarted.

Typically, managers would not entertain the fact we did not have sufficient time.  We did not have the correct resources to do the amount of work we had been given as it was far greater than the originally estimated. It appeared to me the was a situation of collective denial where it was considered the experienced staff were wrong irrespective of the facts.

Unachievable demands were regularly made and as a subsequence some people started to only answer direct questions and close conversations down as soon as they could so as not to convey any ‘bad news’.

This is contrary to open communications that is necessary in a design office.

Unauthorised changes – or simply put, chaos

Change is good. Change I consider to be progress. I like change and in engineering it is our life blood. It has to be structured, it has to coordinated, people have to be accountable, and therefore audit trails are critical: Most of all, there has to be leadership that is clear, decisive and transparent.

Some consider it only to apply to those they report to above in the chain of command and are happy to let their teams work on in blind ignorance but still have the audacity to tell them they screwed up and it is actually their fault for not knowing what is happening.

So, when different groups are left to casually do what they want and deliver what they feel they can get away with, a recipe for disaster is the resultant brew; and everyone suffers, right from the lowly designers, through the engineering disciplines, the project managers, project directors and the heaviest player in the game – the client, who pays for us all.

Hard earned experience

From early on it became apparent that the customisation of this blended software had not been done. When I raised this issue I was ignored. No matter how explicit I was in arguing my case I was just knocked back and told use it.

I asked many times for the project handbook or company guidelines – that should exist and should describe the anticipated working practices, but nothing materialised until a casual conversation revealed it did not exist.

Jumping ahead a little, and this is the nub of my problem, when other senior people had to acknowledge my sentiment about this and a lot of other related issues, it became clear that, on the whole I was correct. BUT by then the damage had been caused as I had slowly became persona non grata and by some not worth the salary I was earning.

Daily life in a design office

The design process relies on good, open, honest and straightforward discussions so the object under consideration can be ‘designed’ with the input of all disciplines. I spoke with a chap who was instrumental in the bid process to check what we had to deliver: it was 2d drawings in PDF format. Nice and straightforward, just new software to contend with.

Suddenly it became a 3D project … No allowances in the budgets for this new style of working were included, and after many discussions it was stated by the Project Manager it was going to happen and the managers would simply have to take the financial hit.

No problem there then I thought, I am not involved with that side of the equation but expenditure was set to exceed income from day one.

The software we are currently using is a blend of two packages very nicely merged into the organisation of the data and then its creation and maintenance. It is good, very good, but not perfected. A major part of the process happens in the background. Provided a range of tasks and design relationships are understood by the team

We are now working in a shared networked based 3D model where geospatial accuracy is critical. The upside is it releases far more information earlier in the design process, but the downside is far greater amount of upfront work is needed at an earlier stage in the design process as well as more technically demanding drafting – modelling now.

We have our teams split into a number of regional offices who, including us, are new to this particular software blend. So I expected a bumpy time as coordinating the 2D work was something I have done many many times and would not cause me concern, but 3D is different, partly because new modelling techniques were required by me but primarily because the seven out of the eight regional offices were new to this blended software approach and there was no budget for it!

The situation is …

It is not unreasonable to expect a certain level of professionalism from an engineering department of a large company. Many of the staff have professional qualification and have codes of ethics they are deemed to automatically adhere to.  Even those people who are not members of professional organisation pride themselves of a professional attitude and most people share that professionalism in their own lives away from their companies.

While it is in vogue for a company not to give references to employee’s, the lost sentence on such a letter ‘… is honest, reliable and trustworthy’ is sorely missed.  Perhaps it is an indication that people are truly not honest, not reliable and are untrustworthy, (or any permutation) and claims to the contrary are simply un-defendable.

So, now having been through the last six or so months it should not have been a surprise to find characters that should not be given a reference for their own well-being.

Perhaps I trusted people too much. Its in my nature to trust until proven otherwise: so I got caught, and it had catasophic implications for me.  Not in the sence of truely life threatening but mentally. My core values – honesty, relaibility and trustworthness have been called into personal doubt. Why should I trouble with these when this is the outcome. Should I just abandon them? throw them to the wind and see how I fare.

My solution was, to withdraw, not partake, avoid the architects of my downfall: But only after I passed a brink or realisation that I was being royally stuffed by people who I trusted.

It changed when

When a new project arrives into a design office much work has already been done. It is a complex process of preparation. The brief has to be understood explicitly, the deliverables have to be identified, skills gaps identified and programmes created to hit the target dates. Without being churlish the cost to client is needed and often a commercial department will cast its eye and bend the cost according to the prevailing financial constraints of both the market and the company along with risk aversion considerations.

At the point of handover a gap analysis is done to identify any changes so the deliverables can be reassessed and where necessary new budgets or early warnings can by issued. All this becomes the embryo for the designers to work from.

Work can start as everyone knows what is expected of them, where they fit into the scheme of work, what they have to produce and the design relationship their work has with other designers to ensure coherent delivery.

If any of the above is not in place, or people are not informed at the start or, the real killer, not informed of changes along the way then the tower will crash.

In my experience only lip service is paid to spirit of teams and what they have to offer so the order of the day is to look after number one.

Time to reflect

For the over two years now I have been involved with researching and implementing a new method of work that is to become the norm in my industry. Having discussed what I was trying to implement with a number of well-informed people out side of the company I work for, it has been suggested that my plans are about two years ahead of what our competitors are doing.

As such I feel quite warm in the knowledge that I am at least on target if not more.  This is a good place to be!

I have received praise from a good number of people I have worked for over this period as I have had to fight tooth and nail to get my perspective on the future across. Where the light-bulb moment happened in various places it was felt a benificial approach was there and should be adopted. However, there is still reticence towards my view of the world.  I can live with that as I just remind myself that it took a lot of debate to convince people the earth was not flat.

This worked finished and I returned to doing ‘normal duties’ but still developing my thoughts etc.

Enough rambling, now …

I have set the scene that I am in and will now deal with the gritty details.

I want to do this as I believe I am not alone in what I think is invidious persecution of people who have served companies well only to be shafted by people specifically brought in to rape and pillage whatever they see with impunity.

Some people not only have to win …

‘It is not good enough to win, everybody else should lose’ is the unstated mantra of a new manager. He is quite happy to ride roughshod over anyone provided the mayhem and debris he creates does not impeded his vision of what success actually looks like.

Many people have been forced to deliver sub-standard work simply so his group can say we crossed the winning line first.  If we can do it you can.

It’s not all about me

I have recently been diagnosed with PTSD after I was involved in a car accident five months ago.  It has taken all that time to develop into a stage where I need counselling.  For two and a half months I carried on not really knowing there was a problem.  Yes, I was sad, yes, I thought about the event everyday and dependent on how busy and what I was concentrating on it waxed and waned.  It did not really get in the way until the natural pressure of work on a new project built up and new managers came on the scene.

Suffering at the hands of …

I am sure I am just an average person, married, 2.4 children and a dog, nothing special at all. I fit into life and on the whole was happy. Hmm! I hope you noticed ‘was’.  All changed recently and I have become a tinder box at work that does go off.  I am just the fuel, others ignite me, for what has been suggested by others in the company are hidden reason.

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