“Keep Loading me up with work until you find me collapsed!”
In April of 2015, I listened to a panel discussion with a group of upper level managers at work. When the topic of work load came up, one of them made the comment that his philosophy was along the lines of “Keep loading me up with work until you find me collapsed and convulsing in my office!”I don’t like it when managers state things like that.The same manager also mentioned that he has an open door policy. We should feel free to approach him at any time and ask him for further clarification if he ever says something that confuses us. I e-mailed him requesting a meeting. I wanted further clarification on his “work philosophy.”
A Legitimate Fear
When it came time for the meeting, I got straight to the point.“You mentioned that your work philosophy was to keep giving you work until they find you convulsing on the floor of your office…”“Yeah, it’s a joke. And I don’t expect everyone to have that same drive.”“Ok. But have you ever started convulsing due to overwork?”“Nope. Of course not.”“See, I struggle so much when upper level managers say things like that. Even in jest. Because it is a legitimate fear of mine.”I continued to open up about living with Adrenal Insufficiency. About how I’m scared of getting burnt out. About how hard it is for me to sometimes keep up with schedules, especially if I am having an off day. About how since starting my career I was in the ER or hospital November 2012, April 2013, May 2013, August 2014 and ALMOST November 2014. About how I almost died. About how my own manager knows, but I used to try to keep it hidden from everyone.I initially rendered him speechless as he processed through everything I disclosed.“I had no idea. Wow. That sounds like a b**** to manage.”“Yeah. It kinda is.”
NOTHING is more important than taking care of your own health.
“Amber, NOTHING is more important than taking care of your own health. As a manager, we trust our employees to state their limits and we will work around those. One, we have to make accommodations for things like this because it’s the federal law. Two, I’d like to think we’d make accommodations BECAUSE WE’RE HUMAN! I’d hate to think we’d loaded you up so much that we send you to the ER. This job isn’t worth it. No job is worth that. Plus, we are part of a team. Speak up. We won’t look down on you. Everyone has their limitations. You just have a bit more dire consequences if you cross yours.”I am continuing to work on developing my voice and setting proper limits so that I do not work myself to the point of collapse. Every now and then, I misjudge and still require assistance. I had to complete several hours of testing at temperature a while ago and by the end of the day I could not form coherent sentences. I went into my manager‘s office stating “Data, pretty… Pretty pictures… Good data… Data done… Read e-mail… Explain more… Monday.” He took one look at my face and offered to drive me home, to which I gladly accepted.
Create a Support System
We’re going through another less fun time at work complete with tight schedules, long hours, and a ridiculous work load. I’m not particularly enjoying it. But I have purposefully set up a good network of support. Management knows my health situation. Close coworkers will keep an eye on me and alert me if they see me starting to fade or grow increasingly irrational. Friends and family regularly check in on me and ask the correct questions to make sure I am ok.It’s crunch time, y’all.And this gal will continue to do everything in her power to remain Clearly Alive.
When people look at me, I want them to see me as different. But I do not want them to see me as different because I am diseased. I want them to see me as different because I am Clearly Alive.