Well, well. What a fool am I.
Once a brilliant multi-tasker (if I do say so myself), able to deconstruct complex ideas and research jargon, I am now unable to follow a simple flowchart explaining this process of obtaining a Serious Injury Certificate regarding a workplace injury.
How many assessments have I had? If I could be bothered, I would look back at these posts to see when I was last assessed by the female psychiatrist, not two weeks after being assessed by the last male psychiatrist. I’m sure I had the letter stating that I had the assessment (which I attended today) prior to the female psychiatrist interviewing me (is this making sense??). My understanding was that SHE assessed whether my claim was valid and today HE would assess my ‘level of impairment’. This is relevant to any further Court proceedings against my former employer.
I was dreading today and had worked myself up into quite a state of anxiety. I had to get my sister to take me into the city because I couldn’t face the exposure. Needed a hand to hold mine.
I went through the assessment/interview/session with (another) stranger. Talked about the most private of my thoughts. My lowest lows. Who I was BEFORE and how I saw my future. I answered questions about my body parts and my personality. My family. I started off in sunglasses (Big Daddy movie; you can’t see me if they’re on..?) and did the rest with my hands over my eyes. And this on the ‘anniversary’ of the assaults. He raised his eyebrows at that. I mean, read the papers, Mr Insurance Man.
He said at the end, “Hopefully you won’t have to go through this again”.
That was kind. I thought, am I nearly there? Have you heard it enough times? You got the part where HE pled guilty 4 years ago, right? What’s to decide? It happened. It was a nightmare. Why do I have to sit in the middle of the nightmare while another stranger argues if I am affected enough to have my damage recognised?
On the way home I sat next to my sister and then I panicked. Did I get it wrong again? This was just another generic assessment, wasn’t it? It wasn’t the BIG one, was it?
This is the second time I have worked myself up for a huge assessment of my ‘damage level’…and realised after handing a strange Doctor my guts on the desk that it wasn’t worth that much. I could have repeated my symptoms in bullet points with less…pain. Less pressure. Less trust in them. Less explicitly.
I’d like to be wrong but I guess tomorrow I will make a phone call and confirm that today’s exploitation was just to confirm my psychological injury. Which was confirmed twice, independently, last month. And has been confirmed repeatedly over the last five years.
It’s a process that brings out the most toxic of your secrets. They bubble up to the surface. Seep out of your pores. Sit around your being like a noxious gas, tainting you. I have a headache. I feel sick. I’m pretty sure if you could see me now I’d have squiggly lines emanating from me like a cartoon character that stinks. Rotten eggs. I’m not saying I’m rotten. But this is a rotten, heavy, toxic thing I carry. And days like today; to appease the faceless men who play me like a puppet on a string (mirroring the manipulation by my boss and senior colleagues in the first place) to dance for my supper; I push the dirty secrets out and hang my head, hoping nobody is looking my way today.
Information from the legal team states that I “may be filmed” by the assessors (the OTHER SIDE) while they make me dance to prove my pain. Like a cheap current affairs segment with grainy footage of someone claiming to have hurt their back caught lifting a bag of cement.
How humiliating. Are you going to watch me to see if I smile? Feel joy? Does that mean I wasn’t raped? That it doesn’t claw at me? Would you like to watch through my window as I cry at night? When I do my food shopping at a petrol station in the hope that less people see me? Turn away from my child so he can’t see as I take the pills each morning that stop me from lying down in the hope I never get up? How very just. That seems reasonable. Not humiliating, violating. Because I wasn’t feeling paranoid enough after being stalked for months. The possibility of a private investigator following a rape victim for footage makes my stomach turn. The possibility that someone might do it to me…
None of the bad feelings and thoughts (of hurting THEM, not me today) go away. But the sheer brutality of this process; the shredding, the exposure, the scare-mongering…makes me want to keep going even more. So I can shout about it at the end. What a pack of bastards.