I feel like I always have to back up a negative with a statement to make clear: I appreciate that I live in a country where there is recourse and financial support as a result of what was done to me at work. Doesn’t make it a more pleasant experience. The ‘system’, as I’m sure many have experienced, is disjointed, impersonal and bureaucratic. I imagine this to be less traumatic if you are describing a back injury or a sprained wrist but to describe a psychological injury for strangers over and over again is never easy. Kind of like stripping off and walking into an office of people.
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Dream sequence…Naked me walks into a call centre. Hi! Can I describe how I have lost myself? How when my boss touched my body I didn’t kick him in the face like you imagine you would if someone tried to hurt you? How I am ashamed to be seen and assume people on the street know what happened? That I am considered unfit to work in my chosen profession – because of people still in that profession? That I am medicated to leave the house? That I’m not ready to be released ‘into the wild’ again yet? Yep. Still a loser. Can we do this again in a month? You bet!
I don’t bother claiming most expenses or looking for what could benefit me. It’s too hard. Too much paperwork. Too weak. Needy.
I know on an intellectual level that these avenues are available to me without judgement and because it is the least I deserve. Unfortunately, as with most things, that knowledge doesn’t affect my internal dialogue. The voice (metaphorical one, I swear, Doc) that sneers, ‘You look pathetic. On WorkCover. People like you are just lazy. Get the f*uck over it and move on’. That voice is an asshole.
So yesterday I got a letter for an Impairment Assessment coming up. Sounds good. I like to do well in everything and am a bit of a test nerd so obviously I feel nervous about ‘passing’ like it’s high school graduation. Unfortunately, to pass this test, I need to remove any shred of ego or dignity and describe, in detail, how I am affected MENTALLY in a way that I feel is permanent. I won’t be lying but that is the tragedy. And I have to say it all to a strange man (I mean, do they even think about these things?) in a rushed appointment. He ticks some boxes, gives me a numerical score and if I score high enough I will receive further financial support. It would be recognition of a sort. More therapeutic for me would be a public declaration of fault directed at the perpetrator, the two other senior staff who bullied me, pressured me to say nothing and blamed me for it even happening. I would now like to add the guy at the ‘top’ who stated that ‘from what he’d heard about me’ in the office he worked at, he didn’t see the need to investigate my complaints with any real intent. Dereliction of duty? Gross misconduct? Bloody rude? That would make me feel better, cost nothing (except their careers) and I could carry on. Memo to the Prime Minister. Save some bucks and let me feel real closure. I’d face the public for that. I fantasise about it.
Then last night at ten to five (last job of the day, was I mate?) I got a call to say that it’s time to be assessed again for payments to continue. I have monthly assessments with my GP and weekly counselling. I’m getting assessed for MENTAL IMPAIRMENT and you would also like me to repeat this process for another stranger?
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Dream sequence…Step right up! See the Crying Lady! She can talk about her private parts in front of anyone! No shame! Watch her write it down for the lawyer…say it out loud for any number of psychiatrists…She jumps through hoops to say, get this, how BAD she feels!
Another test. I don’t have to study. But I won’t even get a certificate. Or a measly sticker.