I need to write about my broken heart. When I went through the treacherous road of quitting my job due to my mental illness, I sent a very nervous text to my teammates. Not only that, but I was trying to find the source of gossip- talk about losing friends! No one would admit it. However, people I had never met somehow knew I had a mental illness. I was paranoid, to say the least.
Then, I found myself going “crazy” looking for the source of the gossip about me, which, in turn, made me look more “crazy.” I was texting and calling everyone to find the source of it. I did not understand why so many people knew, but apparently no one was talking about it.
Let’s get to the meeting with my boss…. FMLA was violated in four ways:
- I had to work during my medical leave- it was expected because I was out due to “mental illness” so it wasn’t on the same caliber as other illness. I had to make sub plans and copies during my medical leave. Also, many teachers out on maternity or sick leave have to do the same thing, which is crazy.
- My personal medical information was told to people I did not disclose it to: I had to attend a meeting where a man I never met (the new Vice Principal) sat in and talked to me about my personal medical records.
- I was told I must come back to work as soon as possible- due to my medical leave, it was not reason enough to be gone even with a doctor’s note. I was told I wasn’t communicating enough, though I sent countless emails and had phone calls with the Principal. I was told many parents were calling with concern and wanting to transfer out of my class.
- I was told by my boss that my contract would not be renewed because of my medical leave (I would not have a job after May).
When I went to see a lawyer about all these violations, he said I would not have a case because I was suing an “already broke system.”
He said, “No one will support you suing a school district.”
I told him the reasons for the lawsuit were so that it would never happen to anyone else. I didn’t want money. I wanted to change the conversation.
I have to say it was even lower than I felt when I was in the hospital recovering. It has left a nasty scar I’m not sure I’ll ever recover from.
I’m unsure about what I could’ve done besides resign from my position. I felt cornered, alone, frightened, and frustrated. How could I possibly enter back into that work environment? Where everyone was gossiping about my leave, I wouldn’t be allowed to work there the following year, I lost the respect of my boss, and people I never met were making assumptions about me.
I ended up resigning.
My teammates never responded to me when I told them I had to resign for mental health reasons.
The point is…..
The system is not working. When it comes to mental health, it is not taken seriously like physical health might be. Had I been out for physical health like cancer or a car accident, I feel my reality would be very different.
So, my heart broke. I couldn’t believe that the people I worked with and loved and cared about had nothing to say about it. No one would validate that there were rumors. No one understood why I had to leave. No one said, “I understand, Kayla. You need to get better.”
It just shows the stigma with mental health.
Something must change….TODAY.