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.