I recently got lashed on for bashing a mental health campaign lead by a telecommunications company.
I was a full-time contractor position for a corporation. No benefits, or resources. Harsh communications (oh, dear e-mails).
Truth is, I knew what I was getting into. I wrote a list of pros and cons. The job looked fun. My contract was terminated after 7 months, of the last I would qualify as excruciating. I always had trouble getting paid, as I sat in a satellite office, for a job that could be done anywhere than in a less than ideal work environment.
I had read my contract, before and during its unravelling? and after it ended on okay terms. They were at fault. They knew it. They did not care.
Let’s talk, then.
My boss, a real person I dealt with daily, had told me more than once: there is one problem with this company. Payments.
A flag can be painted red without taking action. And, I hate complaining. No whimpering! I am proud and happy to do the job that I do. I worked hard to reach the point that I am at.
I have back-up plans for no money. I always have a back-up plan. When there is money, I compulsively buy books so I have something to feed myself with when there the wallet runs dry. I have a membership to museums. I have a Netflix account that I barely ever use. I have the greatest, understanding friends and partner. I do well even when I can’t afford not to pay attention.
I didn’t cry once, over these long weeks. I didn’t want to get public about it, even if my gut was telling me to. I simply wanted to, you know… get paid.
As money disappeared, I didn’t cry once. Instead, my instinct kicked in. (Post-modern) survival before feelings. I hadn’t been raised on low money for nothing. Turns out it’s almost a comfort zone, except that comfort zones are not always pleasant.
I stopped taking my medications that cost me what I feel is a lump sum (yes, of course, it could be worse). You must not compromise health, I know that and I knew that. I got tired — among other things, of relentlessly asking my circle to temporarily cover me. Such reality became too much, lasted too long. You can get creative for food. You can give up coffee. You find a way for cat food. You learn to walk, even in the coldest winter day, and even learn to fucking enjoy it. It leaves you with 3.25$ in your pocket so you can do laundry and look put-together in order to get through.
I grew a weird appreciation for the mailman.
The bearer of good news! Braving elements in the archaic process of delivering. Open that door! Send in regards! Carry on, brave person!
My box remained empty. Even bills were on strike, as if they knew. Nothing came. In a writer’s world, no news is good news — constructive feedback, even if appreciated, does not come around too often. News is mostly bad news — complaints, demands, delays, announcements, changes. One does get used to it.
One does get used to no news.
If only the mailman knew. I always had a special affection for the such duty person.
Beating the weather, climbing stairs, carrying heavy bags, none of which I could do even for a day. Also, since I was a child, I always appreciated mail — call me old fashioned, or a woman of words, opening envelopes always cheered me up, even when they contain mundanity like bills (for you expect bills to happen).
The mailman became my reliance
In between daily e-mails (always of the most polite, of the most unpleasant tone of content) that went unanswered (until I had the brilliant idea of cc-ing everyone I could, from subordinate to regional CEO and COO).
After weeks that turned into months, I turned into a self-imposed hermit. I refused to leave my house during the day. There were reasons: the fact that I was more broke than I possibly had ever been — that temporary poverty being an abstract concept, since I was being owed several thousands of dollars. Thriftiness works better between four walls, it seemed like a concept that emerged right from a frugal childhood. Going out is more complicated — constantly seeing what you cannot afford, even the simplest things, feeling restrained, fraught, having to explain (or lie about) your situation to accompany friends. It is quite tiring.
These are exhausting feelings that can quickly turn into despair.
Inside four walls, as rent and simple edibles are (barely) covered, you are more safe. Until other demons kick it. First, doubt. Am I a fool for doing this for a living? Am I really getting paid, or am I delusional for thinking this would work out? Am I worthy? Can I afford to be ill? Is my illness a social construct fueled by my lifestyle and beliefs? Will I ever fall back on my feet? Will it ever be spring? Are you lying to me, or am I lying to myself? What is right? Is it worth being nice to anybody? I will spare you the rest.
I stopped taking my medication. Consciously, slowly following the steps. I knew I would run out, I had made my research and drawn my own conclusion.
I didn’t want to borrow money one more time, especially not for something as important, important meaning dependant. It’s my fault if I am hooked, if I need it to function and it’s my fault if I can’t go to the pharmacy at the moment.
I thought I deserved to suffer from this situation that I caused, and for believing in this — in myself, in the path that I had taken.
The worst part of the story is not how
The worst part of the story was acknowledged by my employer.
For a job that I had done and completed. Long ago.
I gave them an out, a door, complied.
I would not lash out (until the very end, when blind rage kicked in) by fear of losing. Of losing was what legitimately owed to me.
Don’t mistake a company’s sponsored goodwill for your own interest. I will not ask you to read (or watch) The Corporation. Transparency has a high price that they are not willing to pay and that you probably cannot afford.
So, let’s talk.
Illustration: Mackenzie Teek