“Two years later, feeling pressures from my boss again, I experienced yet another episode of Major Depressive Disorder.”
Stephanie Paige’s story
It’s Sunday evening and I am sitting on the floor of my downstairs bathroom crying. Monday is work again and I just can’t. I am mentally beaten and drained. But I have to go into work tomorrow. We need the income…
It wasn’t always like this. I was excited to start this particular job. After working in the commercial field of architecture in the last 2 years, I couldn’t wait to actually draw and design houses. I had always loved houses, ever since I was a young 6-year-old playing with Legos. All I wanted to do was become an Architect. The idea of seeing a design I created built was slightly euphoric to me. I did everything I could to make this dream come true. I studied Architecture and received my B.S. in Architecture in 2002. Then I worked in western Maryland creating construction documents for commercial buildings. An opportunity arose to move back to New England and start my career in residential work.
The first few years were good. I learned a new CAD (Computer Aided Design) program. I became proficient in Photoshop and Microsoft Office. I had coworkers I got along with. We were a small firm. I think things started to go downhill a bit when I had my daughter. At this time, I was working on a residence for a prominent client. I informed my boss of my due date. But naturally, my daughter did not arrive on said due date, she came over 2 weeks early. When I informed my boss that I would not be coming in to work for 3 months, he was not happy. Feeling guilty (my first mistake), I informed him I would try to work from home. This task was a contributing factor to my severe Postpartum Depression.
Two years later, feeling pressures from my boss again, I experienced yet another episode of Major Depressive Disorder. This was during the crash and our finances were tight. So I ‘sucked it up’ and went to work. At this time, it was only my boss, myself and an intern in the office.
Then the intern left and it was just the two of us. I was performing way more than my job description ever presented. I was not only the CAD Operator but now in charge of multiple websites for him and did the monthly budgets for him. I never got to design and it was clear I wasn’t trusted with how many times he stood over my back watching me. I hadn’t gotten a raise in who knows how long. But I was stuck. There were no positions for an Architectural Intern available.
Soon after, his hearing started to fail. This is the moment that turned this bad situation into a living hell. He became nasty and started to constantly belittle me. Nothing I did was right. Why wasn’t I done with said project yet? You weren’t supposed to do this, jeez, etc., etc. There were no more positive comments. Everything spoken to me was negative and just reinforced what my Depression always told me.
It was the summer of 2012 and I was sitting on the bathroom floor crying one Sunday. I knew this wasn’t good. The following Sunday I was sitting on the floor of a small closet crying. Another bad sign. I was headed toward another episode of Major Depressive Disorder. I couldn’t do this again. Clearly, this job was not good for my Mental Health but what to do? We needed the income. Even with my parents volunteering to help us out financially (because they were worried about my health) I couldn’t put that strain on my family. There was more discussion with my parents. They told me I had to talk to my boss and tell him what I needed in a congenial matter. I took the next 2 days off as sick days.
When I went into work, I had a whole sheet lined out with things that needed to change. He listened, digested, and agreed to some of it but argued against a few things. He said he would try to treat me more respectfully and did give me a slight raise. This niceness lasted a month, maybe two and we were back to where we were before.
At this point, I had had enough. I said fuck it. If he fired me, he fired me, and I would collect unemployment until I found another job. I still respected him, but I had to make him more aware that I wasn’t going to take this shit anymore. After more negative comments were flown at me one day I finally spoke up and said, “Why do you keep me if I do nothing right?!” There was silence.
The good news in all this was I grew a backbone. There was no more crying on Sunday evenings because I didn’t care if I was fired and I was determined more than ever to find another job. It would be another 2 years before I found something. Now, at my current employment, I am trusted, respected and highly appreciated.