Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Power of Writing and Other Things

Pretty sure my post on my depression last Wednesday had a beneficial effect on my mental health.  I know something did.  Whether it was that or something else I feel better (better being a relative term here) than I did a week ago.

However, I'm fighting another battle, related to the depression sort of, that I have also helped by writing a two page single-spaced missive.  Whether it actually gets used for its intended purpose or not remains to be seen.

This battle is one at work.  It will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that my employer, similar to most U.S. employers, provide little in the way of paid time off to their employees.  Because of that, when there was a shitstorm of family member medical and educational issues that all came up at the same time a few months ago, I took as little time off to deal with them as was possible.  I took care of a whole lot of things for both W and N as they recuperated.  I basically gave up my life to work and family care.  Period.  Nothing for me.  I thought I could do it.  I did it.  Then when W and N were both better, I took a deep breath, relaxed, and basically turned into a basketcase.

Fast forward a couple of months, as I continued to drag myself out of bed, get myself to work to do what I had to in order to get by, provide chauffeur services to W and N since I'm the only driver in the family (and thank goodness that will change in a few months as N gets his license), and to stress out about all the things that aren't getting done because I'm too tired/lazy/overwhelmed. 

Thinking it over, and reviewing The Company's policies on vacation and leave for various reasons, I decided to look into taking a six week personal leave of  absence.  Wanting to work with Boss to make things as smooth as possible I told him about my plan and that I was going to make an appointment with HR to ask some questions that I had about what I had read in the policy and also to assess whether it would be financially feasible for me to bear the burden of about 2/3 of the time off being unpaid.  Reflecting back later, I believe Boss thought that following my research I would decide not to request the time off.

The next week, I met with Boss again, having gotten favorable answers to my questions to HR and also working with W to figure out how we could liquidate some investments to cover my unpaid time, to tell him that I planned to turn in a request for personal leave.  I was a little surprised when he said, "Give me some time to think about this."  However, I agreed, and we left it at that at that time.

I heard nothing for over a week when all of a sudden a meeting request comes through my Outlook to discuss the leave with Boss.  I figured there might be some negotiation on whether six weeks was feasible and was ready to compromise down to five, possibly four if I had to.  Timing, I thought, might also be an issue, and I was ready to be somewhat flexible on that.

That was not what the meeting was about.  The meeting was simply to tell me that just because The Company has a policy on unpaid personal leave doesn't mean they actually grant unpaid personal leave.  Wait... what?  Yes.  My boss encouraged me to try to get the leave covered under FMLA.  Then The Company would have no choice but to grant it if I could present a valid reason for an FMLA leave.  In essence, I was told to go to my psychiatrist, get her to declare me mentally ill to the extent that I need a medical leave, and I can have my time off.  Otherwise, no go.  Also, Boss said I could go ahead and turn in a request for unpaid personal leave, and state my case, but that he wouldn't count on it being successful since it would have to be approved both by him and by HR which won't happen.

Well, I've written a two page thesis on the subject of why I should be granted an unpaid personal leave.  Writing it felt WONDERFUL, very cathartic, very helpful in letting go of the thoughts so they no longer have to occupy my brain but can occupy the written document and be referred back to at any time.  I have not yet submitted it or my request for leave.  I am debating whether to do so before my appointment with my psychiatrist next week or not.  I'm leaning towards waiting and see what comes of my discussion with her.  I've already discussed it with Freud, and he is very supportive of me asserting my need for some serious time off.

1 comment:

Val said...

OMFG - unbeLIEVable!!!

Why even mention such a policy if it's unattainable?!? bcz HR thought it sounded good??!!??

At least I'm able to take off as much as I can "afford" (both financially & managerially) - which typically doesn't translate into more than 1 wk at a time. Several years ago, when I was at my lowest following custody battle, marital disappointment, professional burnout, I talked to P about taking a sabbatical. I've never forgiven him for hesitating to shoulder full financial burden (I was only talking about a FEW WEEKS too!) - that was a big slap in the face... Thanks honey! Of course I didn't mention it when he was subsequently out of work for 3 mos (granted, he had sufficient savings that he continued his usual financial contributions to the household)