How can you “almost” have a stroke?
Well, according to the doctor, I was very close to a stroke. And apparently my body did me a favour by inducing a panic attack as a defensive mechanism. (Thank you?)
It seems if you don’t give your mind and body time to heal – they choose the time they want. And it’s always at the most inconvenient time. 😂
I didn’t get to that point overnight. It was really accumulated over a few years; working with one heck of an ugly person.
Now, this story happened quite some time back and I only just found the peace in me to write about it. 😌 I’m not going to name anyone, so don’t come and ask me if this person was you, because I’m just going to ignore you. However, if you want to be all sensitive and feel the shoe fits – you’re welcome to it I guess. 🤷🏻♀️
Regardless, my intention of sharing my story is very simple: I want to remind fellow workaholics out there, that your career alone isn’t your greatest work – your life is.
And also, some saw a recent Instastory of mine and asked me about this story.
So, let me begin.
I’m going to rewind a few months prior to the day I had my fateful panic attack.
Now, this person was someone I respected a lot. On a professional level, she was someone I wanted to learn from and would follow. On a personal level, she and I got along great and had lots of happy moments together.
I was entrusted with a lot of important tasks at work and was constantly given the impression that I was going to be promoted to the position I wanted. I worked super hard and everything seemed to go great. Then one day she sends me a message –
She: Hey, I have great news!
Me: (Thinking that my promotion got through) Omg, omg! What??
She: I found someone to take that position!!!
You could imagine my shock, disappointment, frustration and humiliation all at the same time. I was shattered beyond belief. But me being the less-experienced nincompoop I was years ago, thought I should just put up a strong front and trust in her leadership decisions.
Alas, that person she chose was only using that position as a springboard to another role and left within a few short months. That person blatantly bullied me, then used my retaliations as an excuse to her having to leave the position. You could argue that she was smarter in me in planning all this that she collected evidence of my retaliations, and left no trace of her bullying me. Then she went around crying to many people claiming she got bullied by me.
I turned to the leader I once respected and loved for support and comfort, but she just tore me apart even further. 💔 I thought she would trust to know I wasn’t the sort of person to intentionally hurt someone else for no good reason. But no, she proceeded to become an absolute monster to me.
And every single day since, she was always finding a reason to blame me for something. She started screaming at me in front of others, started blaming me for things that weren’t even in my control, started picking on every single thing I chose to do (like putting lemons and cucumbers in my drinking water), started accusing me of flirting/seducing men to get to my position (despite my age and education)… And heck, she even started throwing things at my face because “I was so irritating”.
Others saw it; most decided to turn a blind eye & ear, I think it’s because she’s quite a formidable force and it’s just easier to stay out of the way of the wrecking typhoon. Some came to comfort me, a few keep on encouraging me to report her to HR.
However, (I was so incredibly stupid back then) I told them, “Maybe I really did something very wrong to deserve it. Anyway, I can tell she is having a hard time at home and that’s affecting her mental health.”
Would you believe I was still defending and trying to be empathetic toward such an undeserving person?? 😩😩 If I could turn the clock around right now, I would’ve gone back to bitch slap myself for not showing myself some the same amount of care that I showed her.
I started crying every single day when I woke up to go to work. It became downright frightening to go to work. It felt like I had to go and face a tyrant who was constantly just trying to look for someone to shoot at.
It wasn’t just me that she started bellowing at in the office. She would randomly come up to any one of our teammates just because she happens to be walking by, and decided she wanted to pick on that person. She would shout at the person for being stupid, useless, incompetent, a joke… well, you get the idea. And there were even times when I tried to comfort the person and somehow got scolded for that too.
Every single day, it was like walking in a landmine 💣💥 – on top of delivering a whole bunch of things with ridiculous deadlines and her endless requests/changes. Talking to her was like trying to defuse an actual bomb.
So, just imagine it was like that for a good few months. Every single day – that was my life.
Even when there was something urgent I needed to attend to at home and I told her I needed to leave work on time (not even early), I didn’t dare to. NONE OF US dared to even go to the washroom. How ridiculous this all sounds to me now.. haha.
Then that fateful panic attack day, I woke up as per normal. I did my usual pre-going-to-hell crying, but what was different was – I started hearing my heartbeat. It was really scary.
But I headed to work anyway. Because God forbid I dare to even ask for time off to be human! 🙈
While I was at my desk doing my work at the usual unsustainable speed I was going at for months, my fingertips started to tingle. Did I stop? No. Didn’t dare to. Anyway, Miss Tyrant was walking back from her meeting and chances are she will want to f**k one of us again. And she did. Of course. It’s like her drug or something.
Within the hour, my entire fingers started tingling and I was beginning to feel faint. I started bargaining with my body to last a little longer because she scheduled a meeting for the team in about 30 minutes.
I lost the bargain. My fingers started cramping up beyond my control and I could barely even stand straight. My vision was getting blurry and if I don’t focus, I just saw white. My breaths were getting shorter and shorter.
I told her I needed to go and see the doctor, but she went ballistic (you expected that) and said I needed to be at her meeting. I apologised and left the office anyway.
It was an extremely scary 3 minutes. I knew every single second mattered at that point. I didn’t want to call an ambulance, because I didn’t want to draw that kind of attention. I didn’t want to inform anyone in the office either. I just used whatever mental capacity I had left to map my way to the nearest clinic that didn’t require me to cross roads.
Thank God there was one at the shopping center next door! Not-so-great that it was on the highest level… I almost fainted on the escalator. (I wasn’t sure where the elevators were… 😅)
By the time I got to the clinic, I could barely speak. Good thing was my brain was still pretty sharp, so I started picking my words very selectively. Only short and necessary words.
I almost fell over while telling the receptionist what happened and she panicked. Partly because she had no idea who I was… I just came in and said, “I need doctor, cannot breathe.”
She held me up and I happened to see my colleague’s name. She visited the clinic a few days before under our company’s insurance group. Thank goodness. I quickly put my finger on her name and said, “My colleague.”
Then I was brought into a room (partly also because I was freaking the daylights out of everyone in the waiting area, it was when COVID just started to break out), I was given something generic to calm me down while they tried looking for my identification card. The doctor even played soothing music (haha so cute) and everyone was encouraging me to relax.
After a while, I started regaining sensation of my tongue. The nurse assured me that she called my colleague to inform her of my situation.
Aaaand you know what I said?? Omg, even you, dear reader, would feel like slapping me at this point. I said to the nurse, “Can you please tell her to apologise to my boss? She must be very angry at me again.”
The nurse looked at me sternly and said, “I don’t think you’re in any position to care for anyone else! And it sounds like it was your boss that did this to you!!”
And I didn’t bother rebutting, because it’s true.
Then within minutes, an ambulance came for me. But because I couldn’t even move my legs, they had to lug me like a large slab of meat and I was wheeled through the shopping center by a bunch of paramedics dressed in hazmat suits. My vision still wasn’t great, but I could hear a lot of people freaking out saying I was some COVID case.
When we got to the ambulance, I heard one of them saying, “Her boss said she wants to come.” And immediately my heart rate spiked up! 📈 The machine was beeping and they panicked.
Good thing was that as she wasn’t a family member, she wasn’t allowed to come with me. Whew!! 😮💨
I’m not too sure what was happening in the ambulance – I just know I was blacking out and coming back… and I could constantly hear the paramedic shouting at me (albeit it sounded muffled to me). He kept saying, “Geraldine, please don’t sleep. Geraldine, I need you awake with me. Geraldine! Can you hear me??”
He just kept saying my name a lot… haha.
Then we got to the hospital. I’ll just cut to the end – after all the scans and tests, the doctor told me I was lucky to have the panic attack, because I was close to getting a full-on stroke.
My body literally forced me to stop this bullsh*t and get the hell away from Miss Monstrous Tyrant, if you literally want to stay alive.
Within the next few minutes, Mark came rushing into the room and I could remember his pale and worried face. 😢 And in that moment, I just felt so incredibly sorry to him for making him go through so much pain – all because of someone who abused me, for a job that doesn’t even appreciate me.
I was encouraged to go home and rest that night, since they were trying to keep themselves available for (actual) COVID cases. Haha! But I was told by her to collect my laptop from the office on my way home, so I can resume work as soon as possible at home.
I’m half expecting this woman to be featured in a docuseries on tyrants or slave-drivers.
Anyway, you must be asking now – so, when did I finally resign?
The thing is, I learned that the meeting I missed was actually her telling the team that she was leaving the company. My colleague who hopped over to Mark’s car to pass me my laptop, was clearly so much happier than I remembered her in the morning. She said it was happy news and I couldn’t agree more. 🥳🥳
You see, guys – while she is arguably one of the people I regret the most in meeting and being close to… I cannot say I wish I never met her though. Because she taught me such an incredibly important life lesson that I wouldn’t have learned if not for her.
I’ve always been classified as a workaholic. I simply cannot not work. It actually tires me more to not work, than to work. I even cut my confinement period short, because I was going out of my mind. 🥴
Before her, my career was my life. It practically defined me. Doing well at what I do gave me a sense of fulfillment that nothing else could. I often sacrificed a lot in the past for work.
But then after her, I realised my job is never going to be with me for life. My own body and my loved ones are. There’s no sense in hurting my body and loved ones for something that will replace me in a heartbeat.
I’m actually glad I met her before I became a mother.
Because now, my job
was serves my life. It’s to empower me to give my family (especially my perfect little baby boy) a good and comfortable life; it’s to help me live a fuller and more well-rounded life; it’s a channel for me to make the world a better place to live in somehow.
But this is a decision you need to actively make for yourself, every single day you go to work. No one else can do it for you. Only you can do it for you.
Thank you for making it all the way till the end of my very long post! 😬😬 And I hope that you would’ve learned what I learned, without having to go through the painful lesson like I did. 💛
(But if you’re a slow learner or just the kind that needs to learn on the job, then too bad. Good luck! It’s going to hurt like a b*tch, but you got this!! 💪🏻💪🏻)