Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fortune cookie wisdom on lyfe......

  A couple of weeks ago, I ended up being involuntarily committed to the VA Hospital for a period of 72 hours.  The circumstances surrounding the commitment were unostensible, all I wanted to do was to talk to my doctor.  I had an appointment literally the next day, and in my head, I was unsure as to whether or not I would be able to make it another 24 hours.

  I found out that my doctor was unavailable, and was in the middle of turning toward the door, when one of the nurses on the floor asked me a simple question: "How are you feeling today?"

  It was apparently, just the question that made me melt and turn into puddles of blubbering, slobbering, incomprehensible mess.  One thing led to another, and I found myself sequestered away from the rest of the hospital on the psychiatric floor, and the situation snow-balled from there to me being admitted to the emergency room overnight because I was deemed to be a danger to "others."  This was the first time that I was ever told I was a danger to someone other than myself.

  The next morning, I was released and told everything was ok, I could go home, but I needed to return to see my doctor later on in the week for further analysis.

  Initially after I was released, I was furious.  Because due to the answers I gave to the questions asked of me, before I was spirited away to the psych ward, my supervisor at my place of employment was notified that I was a danger to the general public, and the customers I deal with on a daily basis.  If the doctor who committed me thought I was anxious the previous night, they had no freaking CLUE as to what anxiety really was.  I was agitated to say the least, and overly fearful and upset about losing my job.  Still am.

  Now, in my last post, I mentioned that I had a conversation with my dad (which I did not enjoy at all and didn't end well (like they ever do)), and I walked away with a feeling akin to being reduced to a 12-year-old.  Again.  But I also walked away with the renewed sense of responsibility.  Initially, my anger began to drive me as I spoke to those closest to me about "I'm gonna do this," or "I'm going to call that attorney," and I was sure without a doubt that I had a case in the event that I lost my job.  I was going to sue the VA Hospital, I was going to sue my place of employment and then my supervisor civilly......

  Then, I ended up sneaking a day in at work before the boss put the kybosh on me returning without a note.  During my lunch that day, I went to the Chinese place across the parking lot, and as luck, fate, Allah, the Gods & Goddesses or even Chtulu would have it, this was my fortune.

  One look at this fortune and my gut sank.  It effectively took the wind out of my sails, and almost led me back into depression.  But that conversation with my dad, followed with my mom's own .02 cents thrown in (Are you gonna let this take you over, or are you going to take IT over?), came flooding back into my head, and it got me to thinking.  (A dangerous occupation for me, I understand this.)

  I had too many questions to answer and no idea where to go, so, I just began with looking online.

  Here are a few tips & hints for those who might not necessarily be aware:

  1.) An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older or about one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.  http://www.thekimfoundation.org/html/about_mental_ill/statistics.html  And quite obviously, eight years later, the numbers indicate that the figure has increased more than that.

  2.) Having a mental illness/disability is protected under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).  Some of these include but are not limited to: bi-polar disorders I & II, anxiety, depression, anorexia, bulimia, autism, acute stress disorder, impulse control disorder, hypomanic disorder, insomnia, OCD, PTSD, and many many others.  The Americans With Disabilities Act protects those Americans who work with these conditions on a daily basis.

  3.) The ADA prohibits employers from discriminating against people with mental illnesses during the hiring process. http://www.ehow.com/about_6708123_mental-health-employment-law.html#ixzz1uK3cwEPN

  4.) Furthermore, those who are mentally ill ARE NOT REQUIRED to disclosure that they have a mental illness to a potential or current employer.  Which means, basically, for those of us who are looking for work, we need to adopt the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule when it comes to looking for a job.  All of us ex-military should know that phrase by now, I think.

   But, what about going to meetings, support group, doctor's visits, A.J.?  I can't just NOT tell my boss I've gotta go see my shrink.....

  5.) Unfortunately, if you think your therapy will hinder your attendance or if it actually does hinder ability to show up to work, you need to sit down with your human resources department and your supervisor and tell them about your illness.  Explain to them the nature of your condition, and let them know you are missing work for your treatment...to help you get well.  By law, they cannot terminate your employment based upon this knowledge alone. (See previous link.)

  6.) If you feel you've been wronged, as many of us will feel in situations like these, here's what you should do:

    a. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!!!  I can't stress that enough.  It's a cool little game we ex-military call CYA, my friends, and if done with the due diligence it demands, it will save you EVERY time.  BUT, you need to check with the laws in your particular state about documentation. I.e., voice or video recording is legal in some states but you need the permission of the other party prior to recording.  Otherwise, the documentation isn't helpful or legal, thus defeating the whole damned purpose.

    b. Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  http://www.eeoc.gov/  Each state has their own office, so using their website should be able to get you to your nearest location and a phone to call with any questions.

    c. Know before you go = shop around for an attorney by using their free phone consultation services.  Many attorneys across the U.S. do this, and a lot of times, you will get a sense of how strong your case really is with just a short 30 minute conversation with an attorney.  Here's the caveat: You will want to look for attorneys who specialize in any or all of the following: Employment Law, Wrongful Termination Law, and/or Disability Discrimination attorneys.  Hell, there are even many attorneys specializing specifically in Anxiety & Depression employment cases.  You just need to check out the web on places like Google, or even your local listings in the Yellow or White Pages.

  Now, there is a whole host of other items that could be included in this post about Federal laws pertaining to workers with mental illnesses and what employers can or cannot do.  I highly encourage those of you to look up the websites at the end of this post, for more detailed information as it may pertain to you and your situation.  IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM, am I well versed in the laws on this subject.  I *AM* a research hound, and I like to help others.  So if in any small way I have enlightened any of you, then I accomplished my task for the day.

And as for my own personal struggle with my employer?  Well, I've submitted my doctor's note to them, which clears me to return to work.  I've called, emailed and texted my supervisor at various times throughout the day today, with no response.  I will continue on into the early evening to see if they will at least answer the damned phone.  And if they don't, then I've got other numbers I need to call and other individuals to which I need speak.  And I will then, take it further if need be.  But, let's hope I won't have to delve too far down that open road.

So, safe journeys, everyone.  Please take your meds, go to group, be honest with your doctors as well as yourselves.  And for those of you caregivers out there, thank you.  You may not always feel as though you're appreciated, but you are.  You can seem like the enemy on many occasions, but we do know deep down that you're there to help.

Keep living lyfe to the fullest.  It's the only one we get.

Oh, and here are those websites!






No comments:

Post a Comment