Monday, 16 July 2018

“When people are two-faced, the only thing you’ll know for sure is that you can’t trust either of them.”

I had an interesting conversation with someone recently about me.

Well, not about 'me' per se (yes, I spend my days looking for people who will talk to me about myself), but about the other guy.

That's what I call my personality pre-mental health realisations - the other guy.

Now, the other guy was still, I like to think, a generally okay bloke. After all, he is the version most people knew, the one Kelly married and the one who has been fortunate enough to maintain the same friends - the ones who didn't give up on me.

So, he can't have been all that bad, but he did have the potential to be a dick. 

He was dick-ish. Had dick-like moments. Could be a knob. 

You get the gist.

Now, I only just started to understand this other guy and try to make sense of his behaviours. It is still a work in progress because, as anyone reading this (all three of you) who has a history of mental health difficulties or a rudimentary understanding, you never know it all and, most likely, never will. 

But you continue to try because that is all part and parcel of moving forward. 

Now, I was told during this conversation that people I used to know, and thought were friends (which is still humiliating to this day; that I was so fooled by their claims of friendship) will often say, "remember when David did this" and "remember when David made so-and-so upset".

Now, before I get to owning my own mistakes (and the first thing I learnt on this long journey, is that you must own that shit. You don't make excuses - you own it), it is interesting to note that these individuals say such things as though they are whiter than white and would fall in shit and come up smelling of roses. 

They conveniently forget all the times they upset people, made other people cry, made other people not want to see them again, kicked drawers, tutted and made someone cry, swore and claimed they weren't going to go on a night out with those 'fuckin' two-faced bitches'. They forget that I fought for people to be accepted when no one else wanted them because they weren't a nurse or because no one else would stick up for them or because they didn't want a confrontation. 

I have always believed in these things, wherever I am and whatever I do.

But people have short memories and they revise their own history to suit their version of the facts; to support their decisions so that in the dark of the night, they try not to feel guilty for what they’ve done. 

They claim to have tried to help you and your struggles with your mental health by saying "Well, I did tell him he should calm down" and "I did say he should sort himself out"... the worst thing you can say to someone who is suffering, by the way!

But, to them, they will convince themselves that they did understand and did try to help and therefore, anything you did subsequently was all on you because they did their 'friend' bit.

Now, I mentioned earlier about owning my mistakes. I firmly believe you have to. No excusing your behaviour because you suffer from anxiety or depression - you still have control over your behaviour. I believe, certainly, in my case, you chose to behave in a particular way because it makes your life easier.

For me, and I can only speak for myself, it was all about control. Selfish control. Not out of malice, but because you know your anxiety is triggered by elements out of your control so, therefore, you have to try and control everything in order to not feel anxious.

Contradictory, eh?

Unfamiliarity and change triggered my anxiety (I only recently learnt to identify this - one of the first things in understanding yourself and trying to be a better person) so I had to try and control as much as I could to make my life easier.

My life.

Because mental health problems can be extremely selfish. It is all about you.

Now, this form of control wasn't anything terrible or horrific, but it would still make people occasionally feel uncomfortable because you might get agitated when things begin to spiral away or become glib as a method of coping.

In essence, I would be a dick. Only occasionally, but a dick.

At home and at work. 

Not all the time, but it was omnipresent and something that made, as Kelly told me once, people walk on eggshells.

What a horrible realisation to have. That you made people feel that way, worried that the slightest thing might make you upset and irritable.

You behaved a certain way because you were poorly, though you wouldn’t accept it because that would mean you were weak and pathetic.

How wrong I was. How much time I wasted.

But there is always time to make amends.

I look back at so many things and feel so bad. No one died or suffered permanent harm; indeed, the opposite. The way I was treated by others caused me permanent harm.

But I feel guilty and accept that was how I made people occasionally feel - colleagues, Kelly, my children... It is terrible and sobering to realise this, but important that you do.

Important that I did.

Every day, all with the temporary crutch of medication, mindfulness, therapy and self-awareness, I live my life, trying to make amends for how I would have made people feel.

Make it up to my wife, my kids, my family.

I haven't mentioned friends for the simple reason that aside from a few individuals who were always part of my life, only one person from my former life really ever tried to understand and stayed by my side.

And this is where the embarrassment comes in. 

I spend a decade thinking I had friends when actually they didn't like me whatsoever. I know this because I read it somewhere on occasion (can't remember where) and these individuals spent a great deal of time telling me what a horrible person I was.

None of it was true, of course. That was the problem.

No one mentioned my dick-ish moments in life - instead, they made stuff up.
I wouldn't have minded the truth but when people feel they have to resort to making stuff up but realise that you have been a complete fool.

You spent so much time caring about and respecting these people, and yet they had you fooled the entire time.

All credit to them. They deserve a round of applause for their acting skills as I like to think I'm not easily fooled but fool me they did.

All the laughs, all the good times I have in my memory... none of them were genuine, all of them were fake.

I suppose that says more about them than it does about me.

Kelly experienced a similar situation recently. People tell lies to further their own, personal agenda but they think it will ingratiate them into some's books - someone who has the power to make their work life better. 

She had individuals who laughed with her, cared about her and cried to her, only for them to turn around and stab her in the back because it gave them a political, work-related advantage.

I guess how they sleep at night is their concern. I just despise them for what they did to her.

Karma is a bitch.

So, back to the other guy.

I hate him. Absolutely despise him.

He is locked somewhere far away in the deepest recess of my mind.

He rattles his sabre for his own ends occasionally, asking to be out so that he can deal with a situation.

"Let me deal with it," he'll say. "You'll pussy out and do the 'right' thing. Let me have a crack... they'll remember it if I deal with it."

But let him out I have no intention of. Ever again if I can help it.

I owe him a lot - he kept me safe, protected me and taught me to deal with bullies (only the physical kind and my Dad; the others I encountered later in life... well, he was fucking useless at dealing with them. What a bell end!). He spoke to me quietly and convinced me to keep people at arm's length because they would only hurt me. Deflect their attention with sarcasm and they'll get bored trying to get to know you.

He didn't tell me I would always feel alone, even in a room full of people and that I would nearly lose my family and my life because of him (did I say he was a bell end?).

He told me all of this, and I believed him. Until the day came that I didn't.

And him being locked away is the best thing I could have ever done.

Rule of attraction - everything happens for a reason and if you feel positive, good things will happen.

Not magic - just the power of belief.

The previous episode of my life that led here is, with the benefit of hindsight, the best thing that could have ever happened to me. 

Despite new job opportunities, writing, publishing and being able to work alongside my beautiful wife, I learnt who my true friends were.

I learnt that a few, a special few, will stick with you through it all and never expect anything in return. They will try to understand you and not speak ill of you. They will be honest with you and never lie. They will show you that there is still a reason for trying to become the person you wish to be.

The better version of yourself. The version you want your wife to know, your kids to see and the world to recognise.

They may not wish to socialise with you or even speak to you often, but the one thing they will do is show you that everything happens for a reason.

They will show you that you can always make amends.

After all, that's what friends are for.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Moving Forward - the Law of Attraction

"If you build it, he will come."

Famous, and oft misquoted, line from the classic 'Field of Dreams'.

And that is what I going to mention today. Not that actual line, but the meaning behind it.

How does any of this relate to bullying I hear you cry... all three of you who follow my blog!

Well, I'll tell ya. 

Law of Attraction.

Never heard of it? 

Heard of it and think it's a load of bobbins?

I fell into the latter. All part of my negative view of all of life until I accepted I was suffering from a mental health problem. And again, I will say compared to many, many, so many people, my problems are minor. I absolutely acknowledge that.

But, it is relative and it being remiss of me to discuss others individual’s issues, I can only relate to my own.

So, once again, you say "What does this have to do with bullying, what you blogged about and what you are doing about it?"

Well, it has to do with you get what you give and deserve.

More technically, the law of attraction is a simple principle that works on the belief that the universe creates and provides for you that which your thoughts are focused on. 

Jump off the sofa, you'll fall. Water your plants, they'll grow.

You don't have to believe in gravity; whether you believe in it or not, you will still fall off your sofa if you jump. Your belief will only allow you to predict what will happen. 

Look at this another way. Your relationship breaks up; wife, girlfriend, boyfriend - and you are sad, devastated, melancholy. Suddenly, everywhere you seem to go, you hear sad songs on the radio, notice sad films on television and think it is a global conspiracy.

But those songs were always playing, and those films were always on. They haven't just done it to mess with you. Your mind just wasn't attuned to noticing them because, mentally and spiritually, you weren't in a place where they would affect you emotionally. 

Like attracts like. Like migrates towards like.

This is true in life - in my humble opinion - and is true with bullying and those who bully.

Someone I once worked with had a long period of time off due to mental health problems. I visited them on a few occasions and would regular message or call them to make certain they were okay, see if they needed anything, but it was heart-breaking to see someone who had been your mentor and who you had worked with for so long in so much pain. 

I didn't know enough then on how to deal with it, as I was trying to understand my own car crash of a brain, but I did my best and just wanted them to know that people did care for them and just wanted them to know they were loved and missed.

My manager at the time would go to see them, making everyone think they were doing it because they cared. 

I like to believe they did.

However, when that person returned to work, my manager was not happy at all.

My colleague had come back on the standard reduced hours as instructed by Occupation Health, various mechanisms in place, technical and emotional, to try and make their reintegration as painless as possible.

All this time, my manager had a plan to line-manage this person out of my place of work.

The conscientious was that they were useless, wouldn't be able to pull through and provide a useful contribution to the workplace, mean and unsupportive thoughts from someone who purported to be supportive of mental health. Other individuals had their say too, believing I was devoting too much time helping them, but it was the right thing to do. Humanity is humanity. You do things because they are the right thing to do, not because you should or have too.

I argue that it was wrong and, given time and support, they would prove not only were they as great as they had been at their job, they would be better. Having a plan to line manage someone out of their job was underhand and deceitful.

They agreed and, as far as I know, this person has gone on to be not only the person they were but better.

I found out later and throughout the course of my suspension that pretty much no one likes this former manager. I mean, really don't like. The amount of staff, current and former who contacted me to say "Why weren't you surprised so-and-so did this to you? They are renowned for it."

Moving forward in time, the main antagonist and instigator of my whole situation were known as 'the miserable xxxxx' on many of the wards (I only found this out much later).

But do you know how that made me feel? Sad.

Sad because you reap what you sow. You behave a certain way and a reputation is created for you, one that sticks. And that goes full circle back to the problem of bullying in the NHS.

I always try to be honest about my failings. Christ, I have made so many mistakes in my 43 years (baby/toddler ones notwithstanding!) that I wouldn't know where to start.

I used to be accused of being manipulative in certain situations. But manipulative is a word used by those who are ignorant of mental health situations. 

Now, don't misunderstand me. there exists in the world, many people who have this trait on purpose for nefarious means. 

Mariana Fotaki (2018) said that narcissism is increasingly being observed among management and political elites and that productive narcissists are often dangerous as they are divorced from the consequences of their judgements and actions, striving at any cost to avoid their own painful realisations of failure that could tarnish their own image (Narcissistic elites are undermining the institutions created to promote public interest. British Politics and Policy)

But, as I discussed in a previous piece, people who suffer from anxiety sometimes can come across as manipulative, not because they want power, but because, in order to alleviate their own anxieties, they need to try and control the world around them to limit as many vectors as possible that could trigger their fears.


Absolutely. It is selfish. Mental health issues often are, because you are only concerned about you. The sad side effect is, whilst you are busy trying to control everything to make you less anxious, your behaviours that do so are making other people anxious.

Ironic, eh?

The trick and the thing I found so difficult at first is to appreciate this is what you are doing. Not intentionally, but tacitly you are having a negative impact on those around you as you try to make your little world safe and free of fears.

Admitting you are selfish is so hard to do, but it is a first step in facing your problems. 

And this comes back to the law of attraction.

When I decided I wanted to become a writer, I make a promise to myself that I would not fail. No matter how long it took, I would be a published author.

65 literary agent rejections later, I succeeded.

If you believe something and get in tune with it, it starts to happen for you.

You don't have to understand how it works, any more than you have to understand how gravity works, you just have to appreciate that it does.

In psychology, it is called your locus of control. Calling it the law of attraction doesn't make it magically, just less technical.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a perfect example. From Austria, thick accent and skinny, he said he wanted to become a bodybuilder, win Mr Universe and become an actor.

Everyone scoffed and said, "With a name like that that you can't pronounce, no one is going to see your films.' 'You're too skinny, you'll never win Mr Universe.'

We all know the rest. Why did he do it? Because he was determined to do so.

Believe you can do a thing and opportunities will open up for you because you are striving for them and wish them to.

It isn't magic if I say to myself I want to get ripped then I will make certain I do. So, I go to the gym, eat healthily, train hard with the correct exercises and, hey presto, I'm ripped! (I'm not. Fatter, bulkier - not ripped but you get my drift!).

Kelly and I inherited an amazing publishing house from the amazing Murielle Maupoint, alongside all the talented authors who came with it. We will make it a success, for them and for us, because we believe it. It is already getting there and has a ways to go, but we are determined to make it work for everyone. 

I know it will happen... one day.

Sitting at home, dreaming won't do it, you have to decide to attain it. And once you have made that decision, you can if you stay the course.

Magic not included.

It's the same with bullies. Bullying attracts bullying because they see likeminded individuals with the same sensibility.

When we’re dealing with adult bullying situations, and this has always been my thoughts on the circumstances of my situation, the bully almost always suffers from some sort of feeling of inadequacy and they’re afraid that their shortcomings are going to be “found out”. 

The person being bullied is usually someone very competent and capable, but who inwardly may question their abilities or who is desperately afraid of losing their job for whatever reason.
These energies then align to form a situation where the bully feels threatened by this very capable person who could make her look bad, so the bully flips into attack mode to try and make herself feel better by making the other person feel worse. The focal point of their angst, who is already giving out the energy of worry or fear, finds themselves in yet another situation where they are forced to feel those feelings even more.

Before I even acknowledged my issues, I have previously mentioned I had quite a nihilistic outlook on life. No reflection on my ability to do my job - I adored my job, ward-based, otherwise and beyond and particularly adored my previous post. No, this outlook on life, in my humble opinion, made my ultimate antagonist feel secure because it kind of reflected her own attitude to things.
If a situation is to change, the individual has to shift the vibration they’re in before the outside circumstances can shift. And since the bully generally has less incentive and less insight into this problem, it’s almost always others that are left to do the energy work and make the changes. But that’s OK – because the one who understands how this stuff works and puts it to use will be able to use it to their benefit in every other aspect of their life, too.

And that is what I am trying, every day, to do. Understand my own mental health, be a better person, a better friend, husband and father, use my experience of my failings and my experiences to help others, to show that everything can and will be okay if you only believe it will be and strive for it. 

Is it easy? Hell, no. and no doubt this piece will have its fair share of detractors. But that is okay too. 

I have been honest about the things I did wrong at work. I deserved to be told off, remonstrated with, sanctioned, whatever word you wish to use. 

But being dismissed because I challenged a bully and raised concerns about bullying in my place of employment - that wasn't the right way to handle it.

Anyone who decides that the best way to deal with the truth is to try and stop it being told, speaks volumes about those trying to cover it up.

Anyone who thinks that karma isn't a bitch is deluding themselves.

The bill always comes due. Always.

Three things cannot remain hidden forever - the sun, the moon and the truth.

So, make your decision on what you want. I wanted to ensure my voice was heard so others could be encouraged to come forward and share their experiences.

They have.

Make certain you strive for it without hurting others. I hurt my wife and children before I accepted I had a problem with my mental health. I was a pain to work with (often I imagine!) because I refused to accept I had a problem with my mental health (remember that anxiety controlling thing I mentioned earlier?). But like a radio station, I had two competing signals coming in and chose to tune the other one out.

It's difficult to free yourself from doubt and fear and you will try an combat it, but be resolute on what you want, for yourself and others.

And this is where opening up to the possibilities comes in, as you can only do that if you accept your fears and doubts. Remember back to negative things that happened in your life and try and see patterns that led to those things. On the flip side, think of the great things in your life and hope you dreamed, hoped and aspired for them and they came into your life.

It's not being boastful. It's acknowledging that positive thinking makes you do positive things that lead to more positive things and so on and so forth.

Then, finally, experience the reality of your desires and by that, I mean, let go of inhibitions and live what you want as much as possible. Get in your car and say out loud, "I will find that perfect parking spot today, just right for me!"

You will somewhere great to park.

If you wish to lose weight, buy clothes that are the size you wish to be, and you can find a focal point for your desires to lose weight.

Align life with your desires. Be nice and people will be nice in return.

Smile and people smile back, right? Same principle on a small scale.

It won't happen overnight (it took me five years to finish Hellbound!). We all have our own hurdles to overcome, and fear and doubt will start to creep back in but go back to the beginning and look at why and start again. Make it your mantra until it becomes a reality.

It's difficult to get into that mindset, and I wouldn't wish my experiences on anyone for them to get to this place. 

All I can offer is my gratitude, forever, to everyone who has stood by me all this time. I can never truly express what you mean to mean... you know who you are.

Thank you to everyone who has reached out so far and shared their painful stories, whether trust board members, nurses, domestics, porters, healthcare assistants, physiotherapists, radiologists and so many more - I will make you proud and your honesty worthwhile.

I will spend every day making your belief and support for me worth your effort.

I promise.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Prevalent, ignored and therefore, condoned - Bullying and the NHS Afterword

I was reflecting on a few things over this past week.

I have received so much support, kind words and belief in what I am trying to do, it is quite overwhelming. But, more importantly, I have had shared with me so many stories and experiences of bullying in the NHS; others institutions to be sure, but mostly the NHS.

To those who have already come forward and those who are yet to do so, thank you. Truly, thank you.

However, the reason for this piece is related to something I heard numerous times yesterday and relates more to my advocacy of mental health.

I heard, once again, the only example that has ever been mentioned about my behaviour throughout the entirety of my suspension and beyond. No evidence has ever been presented, no notes were ever made, no one else was ever aware and its retelling was infused with creative storytelling.

However, it reinforced something I have long believed and now feel even more strongly for.

So few, if anyone, in the NHS, particularly in my experience, understands mental health.

As an adult and child of the world, you are brought up to be responsible for your own behaviour. That is without question. If you speak a certain way, behave a certain way, do certain things... you have to be accountable and responsible.

That is something I have always tried to live by and try to instil in my children. Making mistakes is one thing; owning up to them is another and something that we must all be prepared and comfortable to do.

However, and this is where the 'not understanding' mental health aspect comes into play, the fact is that many people who suffer from anxiety, depression or a variation and combination thereof, display certain behaviours because of their mental health.

Using myself as an example as I cannot speak for others, for more than twenty years, I had built up a suit of armour for want of a better word, to protect myself. Though my experiences growing up with my father, bullying at school etc, are in no way comparable or even anywhere some of the horrors some children suffer on a daily basis, it is all relative.

This 'suit' was designed by me and honed over years to stop me from ever feeling hurt again - both physically and mentally. Moreso the latter.

This is all well and good, choosing not to feel as opposed to not feeling, seemed an easier path for me to take. I could still, in those dark moments at night when there is only you and your thoughts, tap into those feelings of love, loss, guilt, longing, but they were compartmentalised enough that they wouldn't interfere with the day-to-day running of my brain.

However, such insulation from emotions comes with a price. My mind steadily began to feel like a lump of clay; solid and immovable. I always felt tense and wound up to the point of unravelling. My therapist used to say "imagine a jug of water. You should wake up with it empty and experiences throughout your day fill it slowly. It would take a great event to cause it to overflow and spill over the top. You wake up with a jug already full, so it only takes someone to slightly to it up before it spills over the side and all Hell breaks loose in your head."

Now when I wake up, my jug is pretty much empty. A few dregs in the bottom perhaps, but mostly, nada, zilch, zero liquid in my mental jug.

But back to that price when you create a suit of armour. Mental health and, in particular, anxiety, is all based on control. You need to control as much as you can in your little world so you don't become anxious. And therein lies the rub as Shakespeare would have said.

These controlling behaviours - manipulative if you wish - do not come from anywhere evil, or hateful, or negative - they come from somewhere where you are trying to keep yourself alive and mentally stable in a world that affords little in that department. You need things to remain as within your circle of influence as possible, otherwise, you will become anxious, and all emotions associated with it.

If it sounds selfish, it 100% is! You want things to be your way, as they make you feel less anxious and thereby, better. However, and this is the terrible part, you are not consciously aware of the effects that has on other people.

To be honest, in that place, you are not bothered. Again, not because you don't care, but because you have chosen not to care. This is certainly where my place of employment struggle to understand mental health, something made evident yesterday.

Of course, when you are seeking help, have realised you need help (as we know, the hardest part of all), are medicated... whatever path you have chosen (and there is no wrong one; whatever works for you), you have a huge readjustment period where everything old is new again.

I had all these emotions I had locked away for years, slowly manifesting themselves. And I had no idea what to do with them!

I was accused of behaving erratically. Well, I probably was! But is that something you should be punished for when others are aware you are struggling? Should we not offer those individuals support?

I wasn't offered anything of the sort. After the initial intervention which I mentioned in a previous piece, I was simply thrown under the bus as no one understood, wanted to understand, could be bothered to understand and so on and so forth.

Should I still have been considered not suitable for my current position? Perhaps. Not my banding, but my role. I made no secret that I struggled with it and perhaps it wasn't for me. Leading people? I bearly understood myself, so how could I be expected to understand others. But when everyone one around you is telling you what a good job you are doing, you have made such a difference, you are the best person for the job, you begin to take their word for it. It provides you with a false reassurance that you are doing okay. I would have had more respect if someone had pulled me aside and said I wasn't, perhaps, the right choice for the job. That would have been professional.

You have worked with most of these people for ten years; they all know you inside and out in some cases, but no one, when it is claimed you behaved 'erratically' offered you help or support. they just concocted false accusations and lied about you in order to make themselves feel better.

In addition, people cut side deals to make statements with the assurance I would never get to see them.

That's right.

I was dismissed based on statements that I have never seen because individuals said they would only give them if I never saw them.

Makes you wonder what they said that they didn't want me to see.

Makes you wonder what they were thinking or what kind of a representative of humanity they wish to present themselves as?

That is known to them and them alone.

In the end, they did what they did to control their own anxieties, guilt and potential failures as a manager, as a friend, as colleagues... as a human being.

And everything comes full circle.

I heard yesterday only ignorance from two individuals. And the sad thing is, they don't even know they are ignorant.

I was ignorant once about mental health. I fought for twenty years against the acceptance. Someone who I respected and cared about so much as a friend and who threw me under the bus in 2016, saved my life by showing me the way.

I am learning to be a better person. I want to be because I want to help others. I can do better and apply what I have learnt and experienced in other circumstances and arenas and, maybe, be some help to someone else.

Those who stood by me saw me. The others needed to look with better eyes. Because if what they think they saw is all they saw, then they didn't see me.

They couldn't see me.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Prevalent, ignored and therefore, condoned - Bullying and the NHS Part 7

"And now, the end is near. And so we face the final curtain."

Never were a truer word spoken, Frank.

I have, over the course of this blog series, summarised elements of my experience. The whole thing took more than a year to come to a resolution and you would have been bored to tears (if you're not already!) with every, small detail.

But I have been honest about my mistakes, though that is not what it has been about. Yes, I told a joke that a senior member of staff shouldn't have told/displayed and I breached a policy I was told to adhere to, though in my defence I didn't actually know I was breaching it at the time but accepted my punishment - it was only right.

I do not wish anyone who has read this to go away thinking I hate or have resentment towards my former colleagues and friends who orchestrated this situation. I will never know why my friend and colleague and second at work decided to destroy my career, though I suspect it was because I called her on her bullying behaviour. I do not, for one second, believe this is what she intended nor had in mind. I don't think anyone could have foreseen what would happen.

I do not know why someone would accuse you of bullying them for ten years, yet have not a single piece of evidence to back it up; not an email, letter, journal or record of times and dates of incidents, records of telephone conversations of any record of having made a complaint, informal or otherwise.

I do not know why my presentation of evidence that said the opposite was ignored.  I illustrated that we spoke frequently via text, were two of a team of people who, at one time, regularly went out together, that she had held my infant son when he was two hours old, who used to take him off me when I visited work and would take off his shoes and socks so she could see and touch his feet, that she volunteered to go on study days with me, that she participated in a university course with me,  that she gave me a Christmas card the day before she accused me of bullying, that she thanked me only four days before on her SDR for all the support I had given her... the list goes on, but it was all ignored.

I do not know why two colleagues who again I was so close to and thought were my friends would go from being on my side to turning against me with nothing to precipitate their decision. Whatever motivated them to do so is known to them and them alone.

I do not know why my manager and her senior would say that I was always a terrible employee and Lead Nurse yet have not a single piece of evidence to support their claims. I can show via emails, texts and calendar appointments that they trusted me, liked me, believed in me and even helped me when I was so very lost. They claim the opposite, yet have nothing to back it up. Yes, they have retrospectively found things that I didn't do well, didn't do right, but only after digging.

Yes, I will have made mistakes in a job I was given zero support in and always told I was doing a good job. If that is what you are always told, why would you ever think otherwise?

All of this leaves you with two simple conclusions, neither of which are palatable.

1) I was a terrible employee and they were terrible managers in that they did absolutely nothing to stop this despotic lead nurse from destroying his team and individuals and, on the contrary, gave him praise and support whilst he did so.

2) They are lying.

It cannot be both and can only be one. There is no third option.

Again, I have only opinions, the decisions I shall leave to you, the readers of this.

I have no idea why they would say colleagues left because of me when I could so easily have those colleagues, many of whom have remained in touch with me the entire time and whom I have been on a night out with, confirm otherwise.

I have no idea why my manager would state that a specific staff member had witnessed my behaviour on a particular day and was shocked, when I have provided emails from the same person on said day and the following one, telling me what a pleasure it was working with me and that she appreciated my kind words about her.

I have no idea why they would accuse me and a colleague of having an affair that could have potentially destroyed my marriage if Kelly wasn't the person she is. My colleague who was also accused knows of these accusations. What she decides to do with them, I am yet to know.

The final part of the story was that I was given a redeployment timetable where they would try and find me a suitable position as a Band 8. I applied for many and was shortlist for none.

I secured one interview and was advised it was a suitability interview. I attended expecting as such but instead faced a full, hour-long interview with a hidden question to answer. Needless to say, I didn't get it (though whether I would have got it had I been more prepared is also unknown!).

Many posts required clinical skills and this is where I was snookered. You see, I had been specialised in a role that I loved and had had requests to expand my learning turned down due to the trust pulling funding for training. I was unable to increase my skills and encouraged to focus on my speciality. That was absolutely fine, as I adored my job, truly loved it with a passion.

However, now I was looking for an alternate position, I had little to no transferrable skills. No ones fault, I know. Just the way it was. But a bummer? Definitely!

Would they offer to train me for said posts? Nope. Senior so-and-so and my manager said that they would not employ me in any similar position in the organisation as the same thing would happen again.

What same thing? I would confront a bully and address her behaviour? Damn right I would.

Eight weeks went by and no post was I suitable for except a Band 5 and I couldn't even secure one of those!

However, the final twist occurred a week before my contract termination date was reached. I was summoned to a meeting with senior so-and-so and a representative from H.R. They felt my skills were too valuable to lose (really? I had already been told in a statement that despite believing everything that had been said about me, that they 'felt my experience made me valuable to the organisation.' You're kidding me, right?

I was offered a Band 5 position with certain caveats (I had previously floated the idea of going back to being a Band 5 out of desperation to maintain my registration), one of which was that I had to drop my claims against the trust.

I said I would discuss it with Kelly and would let them know. I told her that evening what had been offered and she said to me one thing... could I live with it? Could I live with knowing what I knew and just letting it go simply to keep my registration and my career?

Now, just to clarify, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Band 5 staff nurse. I loved, absolutely loved, working on a ward. I would still, when I could help out on wards, even if it was only to answer a buzzer whilst others where busy. I never once thought my banding made me superior to others nor did I think anything was beneath me I was and remained a nurse - only my responsibilities had shifted slightly.

But with this offer, it was a matter of principle. I could happily go back to working on a ward, no issue. Part of me was desperate to go back to the beginning and view it as a fresh start.

But how could I, in good conscience, forget what they had done, not to me, but to the idea of a fair trial and to the idea of justice? How could I, in good conscience, allow them to believe that if they could do this to a senior nurse, a more junior staff nurse would be easy pickings? How could I, in good conscience, allow them to get away with condoning bullying in their organisation by the very fact that they choose to ignore it?

So, the next day, I politely turned down their offer and said I would continue my fight to expose the truth of my case and to never give up revealing the extent and tolerance of bullying in that organisation.

And so, we come full circle, and back to the beginning where I said on 1st April 2018, I was made unemployed.

Even if it takes me the next day, the next week, the next year, the next 500 years, I will not stop until I reveal the truth and expose the culture that now exists in the NHS - one of bullying and harassment.
Not   I said the NHS is an inspired organisation and the noblest occupations. I am proud to have contributed even a tiny part to a patient's well being and recivery, whether directly or by tertiary means.

But there is no argument, supported by the hundreds of articles an documents on the subject, whether by Lord Darzi or Sir Robert Francis or Jeremy Hut or countless others, that a culture of bullying represents a clear and present danger to the mental health and career wellbeing of some nursing staff, current and in the future, across parts of the NHS.

It must be stopped. And if my words can encourage one more nurse to stand up and say "NO", then I have done something to facilitate a change. And that is all it takes, just one person. Because then you get another, and another, and another, and before long you reach a tipping point, where it carries on under its own inertia.

I do not hate my former colleagues. I am just sad and think I always will be.

But I also learnt who out of my colleagues, truly cared for me and would stand by me, throughout everything. I learnt they are the best example of what humanity has to offer and I am forever in their debt. They know who they are. The list is longer than I think the trust would like (some were a little naughty!), but it exists and I am humbled that they cared and believed in me so much that they never faltered in their belief. Thank you to you all.

Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on this series of blog pieces - I am truly moved and didn't realise how many friends I really had. Your words have meant so much and shall forever have a place in my heart.

Thank you to my 18-year nursing career. I loved every minute of you. You taught me so much. I made plenty of mistakes, but always tried to own up to them. Most importantly, you gave me the opportunity to meet some amazing people - patients and colleagues - who always reminded you that there is so much suffering that can be eased with a smile and so much that can be done when you work together as a team and believe in what it is you do.

Thank you to my two amazing union representatives who always stood by me and did so much more than I could have ever deserved to expect. They are a testament to the health service in regards to the passion they have for supporting anyone in the health profession.

Thank you to one lady in H. R who has shown kindness and professionalism throughout my time liaising with her. She may have believed me, she may not, but I could never tell as her profession attitude never wavered. That is how it should be and she is a shining beacon in a less than honourable department.

And finally, thank you to my beautiful Turtle. Kelly never once left my side and literally kept me alive. I put her through so much, inadvertently, but she never gave up on me. She is my sun, moon and stars and never was there a stronger person.

To paraphrase a great man, I shall never forget this. Not one line. Not one day.

I shall always remember when David McCaffrey, the nurse, was me.