This is the third instalment in the Unwanted Life story series, with this story coming from James M. Lane. James is a dad of two, husband, project manager, and the writer of Perfect Manifesto, a blog writing about living a healthier, fulfilling life. Today, James will be sharing his workplace experience of being hassled by a manager and how that led to a broken mind.
Without further ado, here’s James’s story in his own words.
My Broken Mind
Throughout my life, I’ve had lots of injuries, but I’ve never felt anything like this before.
It was a Thursday morning, a day I would normally be at work, but instead, I was lying in bed feeling like my brain had been split in half.
My relationship with Rachel had never been easy, a bit of a people pleaser I worked hard to try and make my manager happy, but there was always something wrong with it, and this was killing me.
I’d spent the last nine months of my new job constantly going in circles trying to address the mistakes of all the things I was allegedly doing wrong. But the pressure of trying to make Rachel happy got to me, the constant criticism began to impact my performance and I got sloppy.
This reached a point of explosion, being challenged in the corner of a room, taking abuse about my performance. The whole spectacle lasted about 15 minutes, but it felt like 15 hours.
Because I’ve never been good with confrontation, my throat went dry and when asked to comment, I was mute, the words unable to escape my mouth. Rachel translated my silence as apathy, which made her angrier.
Unwanted? The whole experience made me want to die, or at least run away, anywhere would do, as long as I didn’t have to work for her anymore.
That night, I took my broken mind, wrote out my resignation which explained why I would be leaving instantly without notice. The following day I walked into the office being careful not to draw attention to myself and calmly began placing my personal possessions from my desk, into a backpack.
Normally, I’d never make such an irrational decision, I had no idea what my future would hold for me, but for once I didn’t feel scared, figuring anything was better than this.
Hovering over my empty desk, I rubbed the envelope containing my resignation letter with my thumb and forefinger, looking towards her office for my chance. I could see Rachel’s silhouette through the frosted glass as she talked to someone on the phone.
“Right” I said to myself to gee up confidence.
“When she’s finished on that call, get in there and hand it over”
I visualised several situations how best to play it out, my favourite being the one where I March in, throw the letter in her face and walk out in silence, but I deep down I knew I’d never do that.
My thoughts are interrupted by a colleague, obviously, I wasn’t looking inconspicuous enough, what with the packed bag, empty desk and me just stood about looking weird staring across the office.
They know I’m not right – the usual happy friendly personality in the office, with time for everyone, just walking into the office and not even saying morning.
Another colleague, who had also noticed something was wrong came over to check on me. I didn’t even have to say it, they knew what I was thinking. So they took me out of the office for a bit.
“Don’t let her break you” I remember one of them saying, in a time when my mind wasn’t focused on much.
We returned to the office 10 minutes later. I unpacked my bag, sat down, put the resignation letter away, and switched on my desktop computer for the day.
I can’t quite remember if I did much work, but I do remember thinking “Not like this…”
The next day was Thursday, which is where this story started. I contacted the doctor to arrange a sicknote. I don’t take sick days but getting time to think was essential. I was acting on impulse, classic fight or flight response, and I was choosing to run.
Those two weeks off allowed me to be more rational in my approach. I recognised the relationship with my manager had diminished, that I could never trust or work with this person anymore.
But I didn’t just want to resign, I’d been long-term unemployed in the past with no money, and had only just started building myself back up again. I wasn’t going to go back to nothing, so I returned to the job, focused on other interests, looked for my next job opportunity, and kept well out of Rachel’s way.
I was worried about retribution, but rumours had ignited around the office of the reasons why I went off sick, with fingers firmly pointed at her. This made me untouchable, she knew a line had been crossed, which if reached again would mean her departure – this thankfully let me do my job without criticism.
Eventually, I would leave, on my terms. Reflecting on it, the whole situation hit me hard, it destroyed my mental health, the “broken mind” seemed to get better after a few weeks, but it took me years to regain my confidence, and I still get a bit neurotic about getting things wrong at work.
I’ve always been grateful for the outpouring of support I received from colleagues who took my side, it was them who helped get me through, and for them, I’ll always be thankful.
This was the lowest point of my life, but despite this, there was always a touch of dark humoured optimism in me, as I’ve always said about the situation:
“When you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way left to go…”
I’d like to thank James from the Perfect Manifesto for sharing his broken mind story with my followers and me: it takes a lot of courage to open up about such experiences. But at the same time, sharing such personal stories can make people aware that they too might not be in a situation that’s good for their mental wellbeing, and show them they’re also not alone in this. I know I had a run-in with a manager that was terrible at their job while working on a placement for my postgraduate degree. That manger almost cost me my postgraduate degree.
So if you’d like to show your appreciation to James for sharing his story, and to show him that he is wanted, then why not visit his blog – Perfect Manifesto – or his Twitter account and let him know.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of feeling unwanted or share how James’s story of feeling unwanted made you feel in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new posts by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom left corner.
Also, if you’d like to submit your own stories of feeling unwanted, then let me know by contacting me through my social media accounts or by going to the contact page.
Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then you can make a donation of any size below as well. Until next time,
Unwanted Life readers.
49 thoughts on “My Broken Mind: An Unwanted Life Story”
Thank you so much for featuring me. Sorry to read about your post grad experiences- some managers seem to let that power go to their head and can take advantage of their position to sully reputation of others.
I hope that your readers get something from my words. This was a tough situation and it was difficult having to just put up with it.
I’m grateful I was patient and didn’t just resign. If anyone is going through similar things, just note it does get better, look at the good things you have, keep your head down and work on your escape plan!
Thank you for sharing your story with my readers ?
Wow! What a story, I can totally relate. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for reading his story
Thanks Christy, I’m glad you got something from the experience.
Thank you for sharing James’ story, it’s very inspirational.
I’m going to head over to his blog & give him a follow ^_^
Pixee ♡ | Thats What Pea Said
I’m sure he’ll appreciate that ?
Thanks Pixee, glad you found it inspirational!
Thanks for sharing this, It is very inspirational and brave
Thanks for reading his story
Thanks BR, I’m glad you enjoyed it.
I’ve been in similar situations in my working life. I’m impressed with how you could find the strength to go back and take control. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for commenting
Hi thanks for reading, I think a lot of people will go through this situation unfortunately- always a manager in the workplace who let’s that power go to their head. My drive has always been to never let their nastiness defeat me!
Some people just get promoted to roles they’re not suited to, because they might have been good in their former none management role, resulting in the being a bad manager and taking it out on others
I read the story thoroughly. I haven’t been in this situation so I’m so impressed how James handle the situation, I think his colleagues also play the roles here. Thank you for sharing x
If it wasn’t for his colleagues, he might have quit there and then and found himself in a difficult situation financially
Wow. What an inspirational story. James you are truly brave and I thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your story with us. This story will uplift so many. Thanks again.
Thank you for reading his story
Thanks Merry my colleagues were a real rock during this time catching me when I was about to resign, then rallying behind me when I returned from sick leave, making it impossible for my manager to repeat her antics. I’ll always be grateful they had my back.
We could all do with coworkers like that
The amount of courage one has to have to share this story is incredible. Thank you for sharing James’s story. This is so inspiring and I know I can always come here and I’ll be reading a wonderful post. You never fail to share inspiring content (whether it is your story or someone else’s). Thank you for this!
I’m glad you found his story inspiring
Thank you! It was a story I’ve always debated sharing, though when I got an opportunity to appear on Unwanted Life it seemed ideal to share my experience. I hope people who maybe experiencing (or have experienced) similar situations can get something from it.
Such a great story! I love the outcome…the realization to TAKE TIME to THINK, and that James left on his own terms! Sadly Rachel was the nasty catalyst, but necessary for underlying reasons (there are nasty Rachel catalyst lurking everywhere). Thanks for sharing, James. Be well, all!
Indeed, unfortunately there are people like Rachel everywhere
Thank you Aspen, I’m glad I took my time and didn’t react to pressure as that way I was still getting paid and could pick my right opportunity – my next role was a promotion. People like my old manager will always exist, its knowing how to deal with them so that damage they do to you doesn’t last!
I imagine a lot of people have had an experience with a manager like that and can relate to your story
Thanks for sharinga your story and I’m really sorry for what happened to you. Work can be stressful enough without managers like that. I don’t know how people like her get jobs like that!
A good manager makes the world of difference
Thanks Rachel! Your right a manager sometimes can make or break the job! I think in some situations people are effective at their job and often people (wrongly) assume they are Management material. In my situation I think my manager had personal issues she was taking into work and out on particular members of staff!
Even if that was the case, they’re still not suited for such a role. While I was helping someone overcome addiction and suffering their abuse in the process, I was able to work without taking my baggage out on those around me at work
I think that’s exactly it – we all have problems, but we should all be professional enough to leave it out of the workspace.
Sounds like it. So unprofessional.
Thank you for sharing James’s story. A manager can make or break a workplace. I think it’s important that workers are aware of their rights and know when to seek outside help or mediation. Getting a doctor’s note, then taking the time to plan an exit strategy rather than quitting on the spot, was very smart. I hope things are going better for James now.
Manager’s have a big impact on an organisation, with good managers bring out the best in us while bad ones can hemorrhage talent
Hi Irene, you’re right a manager does make or break a place. I’m glad I took the strategy I did, I think if I did ‘flight’ I wouldn’t have ended up as well as I did. And thank you – it’s nearly seven years since that happened and I’ve managed to move on and found success in my career that I’m more senior than my ex-manager!
I’m glad you’ve found success after leaving that place
I can totally relate to you James! I had a similar situation and I decided to cut it before it was too late!Thank you for sharing x
I imagine lots of people have stories about bad managers and the ill effects it had on their wellbeing
Hi Fred – the number people who share similar experiences is astounding, though none regret taking that option to leave, I guess because of the positive impact it has on wellbeing and happiness.
I’ve had some appalling managers too, so I really felt this. Some people use their position to bully and belittle others, while some just have no idea how to care for their staff or communicate well. I was really glad to hear that you had a kind colleague who helped you to calm down and make a decision that worked out better for your wellbeing – and I’m extra glad to hear that you’re now working somewhere else! Thank you for sharing your story.
I often wonder if managers act like that because they don’t have the skill to work in the role they’re in. Although they’re likely just not very nice people in general
I think you’re right on both counts, in a lot of cases!
Thanks for sharing your story. It helped me identify a gender bias in my own thinking. For some reason when I read the excerpt of this article before clicking on the link and reading the full story I just assumed the harassing manager was male. I didn’t know i would make such an assumption until I did, so you’ve helped me grow in this area.
It’s certainly understandable how you’d make that mistake
I have been in a job where I have experienced bullying and put me downs, that I got to the stage I would have anxiety attacks before I even was near the workplace. I wasso desperate to leave.
I reduced my hours by a few hours so that I was only working Mon to Thurs to give myself a long weekend from the abuse or whatever else cropped up the following week until I found a job elsewhere and put my notice in.
Until then, while I was there. Nust a couple of months later there was a meeting arranged by the very top to speak to people like me who had experienced the same or similar things. Some changes happened after that and all of a sudden I felt human than a number. But I left once I had another job to go in.
I’m not surprised you left. Even if some improvements have been made, that toxic work environment is hard to forget and often doesn’t fully change. I hope your new job treats you much better. Thanks for commenting