I had to stagger in to work today, feeling like hell and dosed up on Lemsip. If you’re self employed, as I am, you’ll be aware of the pressure to choose between staying in bed and paying some bills, and today I just had to get on with it.
That said, I was also able to come home two hours later and sleep, then continue to do a little bit of work from the comfort of my sofa. That’s a blessing. For the previous two days I’ve done nothing at all even though there’s a never ending ‘must do’ list. There always is. A few days away from it won’t kill anyone.
One of the questions I ask most of my clients is, “What’s the worst that will happen if you don’t go in to work?” Their response is usually to smile, look sheepish and say something along the lines of “Nothing much.” The pressure to keep attending work is astonishing. Just having your body in the office seems to be the single most important aspect of employment, rather than any work you might do. One of my clients* left his employer after a review where he was told his work was, ‘Exceptional, we can’t fault it,’ but he mustn’t listen to the radio on headphones. Why? Because his employers need for control was poisonous.
For this client, after finally realising that he was being bullied every day handing in his notice a couple of days later was the right thing to do. He had the backing of his family and enough savings to see him through 6 weeks of job seeking. For him, it was worth visiting his GP to get signed off, taking a week or so to rest and recover from an absurd work environment, and then get on with finding a new job.
The ideal way of dealing with a job you hate is to find a new one while letting your current employer pay your wage. What makes that difficult for many people is that they won’t admit that their employer is toxic. We tend to bitch and moan about work without doing anything about it, whether that’s looking for new employment or talking to a Union, and wait until something so preposterous happens that things begin to spiral out of control. I’ve had a number of clients who’ve denied anything was wrong until they’ve been assaulted at work. Denial is not just a river in Africa.
*Identifying details have been changed.