The Big 3

A perfect example of using what I like to call The Big three – Forgiveness, Radical Acceptance and Changing Your Perspective – came at my place of work in 2019!

Work for many of us can be the most stressful place on earth and also the most meaningful as well. It is always a mix. My experience with workplace stress, anxiety and depression is most likely just like everyone else’s experience out there. But what I learned over the last 6 years lead me to letting go and finding that doing so actually freed me from the stress, anxiety and depression I was feeling when it came to my workplace.

My workplace grew into a stressful place - it wasn’t always that way. I worked for a family-run music store for 14 years before it was purchased by a large musical instrument retailer. I wouldn’t say that my problems started then but they did take a huge turn for the worse when we were bought.

My place of work was home in the early days. I worked, learned and hung out with friends for the most part. I could handle the workplace ribbing, making fun, and I played along and tried to fit in the best I could even though I was acting most of the time. I got most of my musician friends jobs at the store and the store grew and grew, doing more business and expanding, adding a whole new section to the store. It was great. My part time under the table job progressed to full time and I was fixing guitars, amps, selling things and having fun.

For the most part I was able to keep my depression and mental health problems under wraps, I was coping in the best way I could, the best way I knew how, to act and hide in plain sight. This all changed when we heard that we were going to be purchased. I was terrified and tried to get out before it happened, but I was not able to. I failed police tests and RCMP tests, and was even unable to join the military as a musician.

So when the store was bought I had to step up my game and take on all the jobs that were being laid out. I took on everything and soon I was the assistant manager of the store. This was a huge undertaking as I was doing 3 or 5 people’s jobs at one time. I allowed work to slowly become my life and it consumed me and all of my thoughts and time.

I was consumed by my workplace, consumed by control, and it led to my total breakdown. To me making the call for help and leading me on the journey I am on now. When I was at work and consumed by control, I was a mess. I was always in a bad mood because of the workload I had, I was always solving problems and always dealing with negative experiences. After I made the call for help and I started to let go of control and started to use the tools that I was being given I started to grow and make changes in my life and how I worked. I started to feel better! I started to advocate for myself because now I was able to see just what was going on in my life and at work.

A good example of letting go of control came when I dropped down to part time at my place of work, in doing so I lost my title as an assistant manager. I lost my 4 weeks vacation, I lost benefits. Lost everything that people value and hold dear in the work place!

I had to take this step because the job was just eating me alive. I was always pissed off, stressed out and suffered with anxiety to the point to where I was vomiting every day. I would have never noticed how bad I was struggling and the negative effects this place was having on me until I started therapy and learned the things I was learning… I learned that without happiness and without personal health none of these things had meaning at all. Because if I was dead or unhappy did any of it matter at all? This was hard to do for a man like me who had to be in control and felt that I had gained so much because of the control I had. But it was all wrong.

My place of work was managed by 2 people, a regional manager and the store manager. The store manager was my manager from before the store was purchased. He ran a great family run business. He cared about his employees, stood behind them first and foremost in all situations, always knowing that whatever the circumstance was that his employees were always first. Working for him when the store was family owned and run was a great experience, my time working for him was a gift.

He stayed on as part of the deal that was made by his father when the store was purchased. The regional manager got his position when the original regional manager retired. Both managers really should never have been managing anything like this place... because this place was the furthest thing from a family run music store, which is what both of their backgrounds were in. Unfortunately, this created a work environment that was toxic and hard to work in.

Before I dropped down to part time I was just starting to wake up and seeing the world differently. I was mentally and physical finished. I had by then been in therapy for 3 years, and because of this I could now see what was happening and had to advocate for myself, set a boundary for myself because no one else was going to! So I sent an email to advocate for myself, in hopes of bringing about change and showing just how much of a stress my job was having on me. Below is the email that I sent out.

I am emailing you because I am burning out and work is taking a mental and physical toll on me now. I am overwhelmed with bouncing from job to job all day long. I sometimes start work at 9:00 (work started at 9:30) because there is just too much for me to do in one day. On Mondays I'll show up at 7:00 because I have so much to do before the truck even shows up at 7:30. I am starting to hate coming in and I used to love my job..

I love managing and working with the guys here training them and teaching them new things, Making the store look good and new all the time. I look forward to having a long future here, but something needs to change because I am run off me feet everyday and I am finally done. Coming up to 3 years in April, my work load has taken its toll on me, I need help, I need some of my many jobs delegated to someone else..

After sending this email, nothing changed at all. In fact, management waited 6 months before hiring a guy to take 2 of my jobs off my plate. They spent 6 months knowing what I was doing on a daily basis and they did nothing! In fact, they would deflect it back on me saying that I needed to delegate and pass my jobs off to other people! This was unacceptable. I approached them looking for help and it was put back on me! I was the assistant manager. Not the manager. I was reaching out for help and there was nothing given in return.

After they eventually did hire a new employee, he left the job after 4 months stating that he could not handle the stress of the position any longer.

I once again reached out for help, because I knew what this was going to mean for me. My workload was about to double again and I knew that there would be no help offered unless I advocated for myself. Once again, my health and well-being were minimized in a horrible way. I came across this email that was left open on a computer.

For Darcy, I hate to see him so intense, it must be an awful way to live, I have been trying to give him a different perspective, but between you and me I suspect he needs medication, and _____ has suggested this as well. I am no doctor,...

What was written in that email is what work place stigma looks like and stigma in general when it comes to mental health! At this point in my life I had already written “Why I Run” so my struggles with depression were well documented and well known. So, the regional manager minimized my concerns and my health and well-being in this email. It was a way to show that because of my depression I most likely should be on medication! That the reason why I was stressed out and not happy was because I needed to be on medication!

Not the fact that it took 6 months to hire a guy and have him leave after he couldn’t handle the workload, but it was because of my mental state! This email and this situation put me on a major down turn, it led to upping the amount of times I was going to therapy, from once a month to once or twice a week. My self esteem was shattered. I started to think that I should be on medication, I became desperate and I was in fear that I would lose my job. I questioned every part of my recovery from my depression. I even went to my manager and had a heart to heart talk, humiliating myself and asking him to keep an eye on me so that if my mood would change, he could take me aside and let me know so I could cool out.

This was a safety net for me, showing him I was being proactive with my mental health..This was a lie… I was doing fine but I was terrified of being fired. At my therapy sessions Mastora worked closely with me and assured me that I was doing perfectly fine, I just worked in one of the most horrible workplaces she had ever heard of or seen. All this extra therapy time was a gift! It allowed me to grow and learn even more. I saw things in even greater detail then ever before.

I healed old traumas; I did four different EMDR therapies that I never had the courage to do before. Closing out workplace events and other traumas in my life that were still controlling me. Because of this email, I was put into this down turn, this time in my life was a great gift. I made the best out of it!

I now had a very good outlook and response to this email.

For Darcy, I hate to see him so intense, it must be an awful way to live, I have been trying to give him a different perspective, but between you and me I suspect he needs medication, and _____ has suggested this as well. I am no doctor,...

- I hate to see him so intense (I am not intense, I am centered and seeing things for what they are.)

- It must be an awful way to live (I am living a wonderful life of purpose, I am advocating for myself and growing into the person I am meant to be, I have never been this happy in my life.)

- I have been trying to give him a different perspective (Thank you for changing my perspective on my workplace! My perspective is now clear and focused, I am finally seeing things for what they are.)

I then came up with my plan to drop down to part time, so I could teach more, write more. My goal was to make it so part time was going to be easy to handle both mentally and physically. I was going to let go! and it was going to be amazing!

I used radical acceptance

This workplace grew hate in me which made things even worse as time went on. But the more I grew as a person, the more I woke up, the more I saw that this work place was killing me. It was never going to change and it didn’t matter how many times I brought up pr