Primal Screaming ⌘ Or, "My Friends Aren't Therapists & I Need to Vent"
Want some cocktail tips? Try some drinks recipes over here
This Week And This Day Have Been WAY Too Long
I feel like a damn broken record when I talk about this job, but something has to give.
Fair warning, this one is going to be long. My brain feels like jelly on fire and I don't know which way is up so I'm sorry if I repeat myself or if something doesn't make sense. And there's a lot of stuff leading up to something that happened today that might have a big impact on everything, so...
Deep breath... Here I go.
I nearly quit my job on Sunday with $14 total in my bank account. My boss insinuated that I was the problem in the office because the schedule hasn't been filling up like it used to. It felt like she was implying it the time she told me she didn't think I liked this job anymore, but this time she said, "Nyx, something has to change. It can't keep going this way."
Couldn't be because people are fed up with her crap and are choosing to look for help elsewhere. Couldn't be because people have altogether stopped responding to me when I reach out to them. Couldn't be that maybe she's right that something has to change, but she's the thing that has to change.
I had one bad week where I couldn't function and was hardly able to get out of bed, because I was so worn out from having to deal with her negligence and lack of communication —one week out of many, many months of dealing with this crap — and she suddenly thinks that maybe it's me that needs to shape up. Sure. That's why I had a nearly hour-long conversation with one of her clients who told me about how she knows none of this is my fault and how she feels bad for me because she knows that this is all probably coming down on my shoulders. I said nothing to prompt this. This woman said all of this despite me trying to downplay stuff so I didn't say anything I wasn't supposed to, because I'd never tell one of the clients how bad things actually are... Although I don't exactly lie, either. Like I said, I soften things up or I tell them whatever scraps I've been told, or I tell them that I don't know because, well... I don't know. But I don't tell them the details when I do know them and I usually frame it in a way that makes it seem like there must be a reason I don't know about why she's not around...
And this woman, without knowing what's been going on behind the scenes, hit the nail on the head with everything she was saying about why she suspects it's been so hard to get my boss to do anything. She ended that call by telling me that if I ever needed someone to talk to that I can call her haha. It was very sweet and one of the few high points of this week. Obviously I'd never take her up on that because that would be very unethical, as well as unprofessional, but that's the thing, most of these people are like that...
I've had clients that have told me that I'm the reason they haven't given up yet, because they see how hard I'm working for them. Or the ones that constantly thank me for everything I'm trying to do for them... Because they're not dense. Just like that one woman was able to guess what the major issues were, they can all see it even though I don't tell them anything.
There are two pieces to this equation. One piece of the equation is absent most of the time and doesn't get most anything done for them, or done on time. The other, they can connect with fairly easily and they know that things will be looked into and done to the fullest extent that they can be done without input from the other piece. Which of the two would you blame for things breaking down if you were a client here?
That comment about something needing to change was just the first part of the final stroke. The second came in the form of my boss telling me that she can't be held responsible if I can't feed myself. Because I asked her for my pay three days in a row, and on the last day, I told her I hadn't eaten all day and I needed her to pay me before I was able to get groceries.
I get paid my state minimum wage. The job is part time because that is all I am able to handle. She doesn't pay me for any overtime, and I routinely work outside of my hours. This week, I've worked every single day, for long hours, and I'm going to be working on Sunday, too. All of my bills are due at the end of the month and it drains my account fairly low to begin with. Mix that with a bill that was higher than usual last month and I don't understand how, and some extra unforeseen expenses, and I was in danger of being overdrawn. This wasn't because of frivolous spending or being irresponsible. This was because I paid my bills and my boss didn't pay me when she said she would. And she almost always pays me late. One time, she paid me FIVE DAYS late.
Whose fault is it that I can't eat if not the person who gives me my money when they don't give me my money?
So, all of that to say that my sympathy for her and her messed up stuff is gone. Completely. The people that see her depend on her and she's never around. Her absence has directly impacted people's lives in highly negative ways. Her inability to do her job has put people at risk or even in danger. That's not an exaggeration. And, on a personal note, her disappearing acts have crushed my mental state to such an extent that I'm on autopilot most of the time and I can't function. Or I use up so much energy that I'm constantly in the negatives and then it leads to weeks like that one week where I was barely able to get out of bed, after a couple of weeks of struggling to get things done.
I get that things are difficult for her right now. I do feel bad that it's been so tough, but things are very difficult for the people that see her, too, and they need her there for them so they can get through their lives. Things are also tremendously hard for me, too, and I still manage to be there, even though I'm not getting the support I need from her.
I lost the man who was like my father on the same week as the anniversary of my mother's passing, and I was back at work the day after the funeral, and I was at work again on the anniversary. Because I was needed. I was an emotional wreck both those make up days, but people rely on us and I said that I would be working those days to make up for being out for the wake and funeral and I showed up like I said I would.
I'm just the secretary. I can't do most of what these people need from my boss. But I still showed up.
I've never, EVER, been the type to tell anyone to suck it up, because I know how hard things can be and that everyone has their own thresholds. I also feel gross even comparing what she's going through to myself and everyone else because suffering isn't a competition and I can't stand people like that, BUT... If there is one person I've met who needs to suck it up, it's her. When you do the work she does, you can't just decide you don't feel like coming in today. And especially when you don't bother to tell anyone that you plan to just not be there. And you definitely can't do that for days, weeks, MONTHS in a row.
OK, OK... I've been really vague in all my entries about what I do and what this "business" is, but in order to tell you what happened today, and the gravity of it, and to give you a full picture of just how dangerous her flippant behavior has been, I have to tell you the reality of it. Even though I've loosely explained things where I'm sure a lot can be figured out. And if you haven't inferred why this is such a problem from the bits and pieces I have said, I hope me just coming out and saying it makes it abundantly clear...
My boss is a psychiatric care provider. The "clients" I mention are actually her patients. The "things that don't get done on time?" Refilling medications is a big one, and some patients don't have their medications for MONTHS. The worst case I ever saw in my half-a-year at this job [good grief, it feels like years] was a patient that went without her medication for 4 months and couldn't ever get an appointment down with her. That was only settled because I kept hounding my boss down until she did it and even then, the patient was really wary of ever coming back. Because of course she'd be scared of that happening again.
She has also in the last couple of months let several deadlines lapse for numerous documents and authorizations that patients have needed. One patient had to go back to work prematurely because my boss never responded to anyone about sending in the documentation she needed to so that the patient's leave would be extended, even though I kept telling her every single day that it needed to be done. I never heard from her. The patient never heard from her, even after multiple attempts to schedule an appointment so they could talk to her. The patient's employer most definitely never heard from her, and they threatened to fire the patient if she didn't return to work immediately.
Another patient is in danger of losing her disability for missing appointments. Even though it's my boss that's not calling her.
There are so many stories like this. And I'm the one that hears them all and can do nothing about it except reach out to her and hope I irritate her enough that she'll do it just to shut me up. And that's why I keep coming in. Like I said in that one entry ["The Apathy Switch: Is This Improvement?"] none of this is my responsibility. I know it isn't and I know that I can't really do much for them. But I also know what it's like to be a psychiatric patient with a really bad doctor and to have nobody there who is willing to help you. And I can't say whatever and ignore it like my boss seems to think is the appropriate response. And I don't mean that just because of her actions, I mean that because she's directly said to me that I need to ignore them and that they're "crazy" [I'm not joking, she said exactly that] and they're just trying to bully me. Which is why I said she doesn't get it in that same entry.
I find myself on the verge of telling people to find another doctor, or that they should keep looking if they're trying to come in as a new patient. And signing up new people haunts me and makes me feel like the scum of the earth. But I also know how hard it is to find help, and when you finally find a doctor who takes your insurance [because this country's health care system is nothing short of predatory] and is as open minded and personable as my boss is when she actually keeps her appointments, it's hard for people to leave. And being told to leave, even when you know you should, can be devastating and make you feel hopeless.
And that's why I keep showing up. Because if I can do nothing else, I am trying to be the person in their corner that I know I've needed so many times before. Even if it's not my responsibility, I can't let stuff like that go, even if it's clearly unhealthy for me. Because I've been in their shoes and I know how it feels...
Which, finally, brings me to what happened today...
This week, one of the patients I've been trying to help was someone who has been trying to get this one refill taken care of for a week and a half. All his other medication went through fine except this one. So the usual crap happened. I tried contacting her every day. No response, no text from the pharmacy telling him it was ready. The patient and I kept updating each other whenever one of us would try to get a hold of her. We'd ask each other if they heard anything back. Attempted to make several appointments, all of them were missed. And it just kept going.
Finally, he asks me my opinion on what he should do if we couldn't reach her by the weekend. I told him that sometimes primary doctors will write a prescription in the event of an emergency, so he might want to ask his physician if he could do that this one time, but I wouldn't know what else we could do beyond that. Then he asked me if she was OK and if I knew why this was happening. I didn't tell him any personal details, but I told him the truth. I told him that I wasn't sure what was going on with her, and how it was getting harder and harder to get a hold of her. That I knew she had been recovering from a health issue back in late March, but that she had been telling me to keep things up as usual on the rare occasion we did have contact, so I was under the impression that she was getting back into things, so I've been doing as I've been told and trying to figure everything out as I go. But that I didn't know what was going on or why this was happening.
He took my advice and went to his primary doctor to request that they fill the medication. He sent me a message to let me know that their office had to call to confirm that he was telling the truth because it's a controlled substance. When the nurse called today, she was asking questions about what the patient had told the doctor to see if everything checked out.
I told her almost everything, only really leaving out personal details about my boss's life. I told her that it's been going on like this for months, and that I'm usually just as in the dark as the patients are, so it's not like I can even give them an answer. I told her about how this has been a nightmare scenario because I'm not authorized to do what these people need and there is no other doctor at this practice to defer to in the event that something goes wrong. I told her about how there are patients who have had worse issues than this one, and how difficult it is to get this stuff done.
I need this job right now. I'm looking for another one, but I'll be screwed if I lose this job. But I can't just keep letting this happen to these people. Personally, I refuse to continue to be used up and then blamed for the situation she created, but I'm looking to leave and I won't have to deal with that anymore once I find another job. The patients, though? I don't know how else to get through to her and to show her how horrible this is and that she can't keep treating her patients like this other than someone reporting it. Which is what the nurse told me she was probably going to do.
She assured me she didn't have to involve me in the report because the patient said everything I did about his own, personal experience with my boss. She thanked me for how honest I was, and told me how she could hear how stressed I was. She told me that this is illegal because my boss is abandoning her patients and especially considering the fact that we're dealing with psychiatric patients, the consequences of that could be fatal in some cases, which I thought was a legal issue for that same reason, but wasn't completely sure. She also wished me luck getting out of this mess and finding something else.
I have mixed feelings about this. If that report gets filed, that could mean that my boss either has to face the music and do better, or even lose her ability to practice. So, on one hand, she won't be able to do this to anyone anymore. And even though I don't want her to lose her livelihood, I also don't want someone who thinks of her patients the way she does and that neglects them like she does to be able to keep doing that. And make no mistake, I will feel bad if it comes to that, but what did she expect would happen when she disappears on everyone all the time, even in their times of most dire need?
On the other hand, like I said earlier, it's devastating to have to find a new psych doctor, even if the one you had wasn't great. It's so difficult to find someone to begin with, so having to find someone else is an awful feeling. So if it came to the extreme happening and my boss had to stop practicing, I would feel worse for the patients. Some of them I even know personally from before I ever met my boss. So I'm worried about them. I just want them to be OK... But maybe this will also be the push they need to seek help elsewhere? Because so many of the people who are still with her are only with her because they're just kind of used to it and "that's just how she is," and they'll still stay even when they've been trying to speak with her for a month and they've been without their medication for two.
I don't know. I just don't know. And I didn't know what else to do. I've tried everything I could think of to make the situation better, and it's only gotten worse. When the nurse was talking to me, it felt like someone was throwing me a lifeline and that I'd be drowning everyone if I didn't take it. It was like I was hearing myself say what I was saying, but I didn't even feel present in my body. Which... I haven't in a couple of days, anyway, but it's been especially hard today. Ultimately, I do believe that this was necessary and the right thing to do, and I don't regret it, but... That doesn't mean I'm not really worried about what happens now. For everyone involved.
Either way, I'm out of here as soon as I find something even a little bit functional for myself work wise. I had resigned myself to seriously looking to leave since that message she sent me on Sunday. I've already started the process of finding a different psychiatrist, myself [because that's how I met her, so I also know from a patient's perspective how frustrating this is] and I have friends helping me look for work elsewhere. I just don't know how long that could take, so if anything happens while I'm still here, like I said, I'm screwed. But still, I think it was the right thing... That doesn't make it any easier or make me feel any less awful about what the consequences could be, though.
A couple of hours after that phone call, she finally reached out to me for the first time since Sunday. She only reached out because I had been sending her texts all day about more things she was behind on or appointments she missed that the patient needed to speak with her asap. She finally told me what had been going on in her personal life and why she's been gone. Like I said earlier, I feel bad on a human level that she's going through it, but my sympathy is completely gone. If it's not one thing, it's another. If it's not that thing, it's this thing. And she never tells me when she needs a day or two to herself. I'm not saying she has to tell me the details of her personal life, but I also shouldn't just find out that something is going on that's making it difficult for her to do her job after weeks and months of begging her to step up and be there.
And also like I said before, her patients are going through a lot, too. They don't have the luxury of just not showing up to work because they're having a hard time, that's only made harder when they don't have the medication they need to function in their day to day lives. Or when they shouldn't be going to work, but she's nowhere to be found to send in the documents for an extension and the patient is forced to go back well before they should or they'll lose their own livelihood.
I'm going through a lot, too. This is the worst time of year for me on a regular basis, but the fact that I just lost someone close to me and now have that to add to why this time is so painful? And the fact that on that same week, I still had to beg to be paid, only to be told that it wasn't her responsibility if I eat or not? But I was still hard at work all week, even on my days off. And this isn't my practice. I shouldn't have to act as a line of defense between patients and their doctor.
I'm exhausted and I don't even know I'm alive right now. This day has been a lot in this week that's been a lot in this month that is always a lot. So I'm going to go to bed and at least try to relax a little bit tomorrow before I have to work again on Sunday, still outside of my hours. I've wanted to play video games all week, but I'm too burnt out by the time I get the chance to do it. I'm going to try really hard to actually get around to that tomorrow...
Whatever time of day it is for you, I hope you're having a good one, friend.