My Odyssey through the Mental Health System

 

My odyssey through the mental health system started with my brother’s death.

He died in December 2014 but we didn’t know that he was dead AND cremated until January 2015, 5 weeks after his death!

Apart from the trauma and shock, I moved like a hypnotized zombie stumbling around on autopilot. I started to investigate and continued to work in-between all the errands and family matters I had to run, traveling back and forth between London and Germany until my money savings out.

With some common sense still in tact, I immediately sought help via my doctor. After the funeral and all the main errands where done, I went to my doctor around February 2015 as I realized very quickly that I can’t handle this on my own, still working and also trying to help my family. I remember a friend saying to me how surprised she was that I got a counseling spot so fast as she once waited over a year for a spot when she was in deep depression and suicidal.

 

COUNSELOR #1 – Spring 2015

I was lucky to have gotten a place very fast in May 2015 with a counselor. But when I did the initial telephone assessment with the NHS, I asked for bereavement counseling and assumed this is what I was then referred to.

The NHS funded 6 session and rejected further sessions that the counselor applied for. He then gave me a rebate and I continued for a further 7 sessions (13 altogether) paying out of my pocket. The sessions didn’t help, for several reasons, one I was gobsmacked when the counselor suggested in the 4th session for me to do an additional counseling session with a bereavement counselor.

But I thought HE was the bereavement counselor! I also learned later towards my last sessions that he was a trainee therapist. Nothing against trainees, we all have to start from the beginning, but I needed an experienced therapist who understands trauma.

I also think it didn’t help because of the timing. I was is such a state of shock and a whirlwind that was going on in my head. But I needed help and my friends were overwhelmed from the get go, because of the circumstances of my brother’s death, the way I found out and all the lack of support from the Police etc. I didn’t want to, and couldn’t put this on my friends. And yet, months later I hurt all my friends and strangers in a complete traumatized state!

I quit after the 13th session.

 

COUNSELOR #2 – Mid 2015

Then a friend introduced me to a private counseling organization which is Christian based. By then I ran out of money as my savings dried up with the errands and flights to Germany. The assessment alone cost £50 which my friend lent to me.

But this counseling procedure didn’t sit with me, and I didn’t have the funds to pay for the sessions thereafter. I didn’t go back.

 

COUNSELOR #3 – Mid to Fall 2015

This wasn’t a counselor, but a free volunteer organization a friend passed on to me because I started to lament that I can’t find help. It was Cruse, the largest bereavement service in the UK. I was offered 8 fortnightly evening sessions with a young volunteer, who seemed very knowledgeable and well trained. But I quit after 4 sessions because she lied about something, which for me was devastating, because the foundation of especially counseling has to be an honest foundation.

We did an initial phone assessment after which she offered the 8 sessions. After a few weeks after the assessment call, I received a text message from an unknown number about my first appointment. I logged the number in my phone as plainly “Cruse” assuming that it was an automated Cruse number texting out appointments. My GP does that and other official organizations, where you cannot reply, or if you reply, it is not picked up. So, I assumed this was an automated Cruse number for the sole purpose of sending text reminders.

After my second appointment with the Cruse volunteer I noticed that the “Cruse” number that is automatically also stored with Whatsapp has her photo on the avatar with a cat on her shoulders. I never checked this before as I didn’t use Whatsapp much. I was perplexed that a volunteer would use their personal number for Cruse, but didn’t make much of it.

In our 3rd session I talked about the videos I was making for my brother on YouTube and that this is the only thing at that time which helped me somewhat. She then offered for the 4th session to bring her iPad and that we could look at the videos there. As I had 2 weeks to think about it, I decided to not want to do this in the session as this would mean nothing to me because she didn’t know my brother. It would have been much more meaningful if a friend or family would watch this with me, as we knew my brother and could have remembered situations of some of the photos.

Once I was sure I didn’t want to watch the videos in the 4th session with the volunteer I texted the “Cruse” number to pass on a message to this volunteer not to bring her iPad. The sessions we had was at 7pm every two weeks. I assumed that she might have worked all day and came straight to the sessions from work. I wanted to avoid her carrying an iPad around, which isn’t very light, while I decided I didn’t want to watch my videos. That was the only time I texted that number to pass on to the volunteer assuming it was a general Cruse number.

In the 4th session she thanked me for the message that had been passed on to her and that this isn’t her number. I was confused that and WHY she even mentioned that it wasn’t her number. I assumed it was Cruse number. But now I think she tried to protect herself and accidentally gave away that it IS indeed her number, but lied as she feared I’d contact her again. But I never did and always assumed this was Cruse’s number.

After the session it dawned on me that this IS her number and in anger I confronted her about lying and I never went back. I thought if she lies about this, what else would she lie about in regards to Cruse etc. This was around the time of the first grievance that was raised by the HR advisor on my behalf.

By now it is the end of 2015 and the bullying in Pret is in full gear! (For any new reader to my blog, my story with Pret is in an interview audio player at the bottom of this page). After around 9 months of approaching Pret, their HR department and managers / area managers, an HR advisor heard my story for the first time from me. Up until then she only knew the area manager’s side who was the catalyst of the bullying, involving several managers and shops against me.

When this HR advisor heard my side for the first time, she became dead quiet on the phone as I shared what I was going through in my shop. I had to check my phone at one point thinking it just switched off the phone call like it sometimes did, because she was completely quiet. I asked, “Are you still there?” to which she answered in a very quiet, slow and solemn way, “I’m listening. She then let me continue what I went through.

I understood later that she must have been shocked to hear a completely different story than what she was fed back up until then. To my initial shock, she then raised a grievance on my behalf against my line manager and his boss, the catalyst of the bullying. She raised the grievance on the grounds of “bullying” and was supposed to be at the hearing, but was “sick” I was told. I never heard from her again and immediately went into paranoia, because for the first time there was someone who believed me, but she was taken out of the process. And the first hearing they rushed through and seemed very annoyed that I was even there. The hearing process itself was very dodgy in many ways. I will write about the Pret HR hearings (10 altogether) I went through and how systemic it was. But I want to concentrate on the mental health system here.

But all the bullying allegations were rejected fully, which led me to appeal etc.

The appeal was only substantiated in a tiny little thing and I felt from the get go in my gut, that there’s something wrong here. The bullying was never admitted and the hearings were a mess! The bullying continued, even intensified, as my line-manager was angry with me for the partially substantiated grievance against him. He bullied me now openly and aggressively. And after almost a year of approaching HR, managers etc. I contacted Clive Schlee the CEO of Pret, who will be “retiring” officially in September 2019.

New grievance hearings were arranged which then had the initial HR advisor PRESENT who raised the first grievance and was “sick” when the hearing took place. ONLY THEN did Pret start to offer help, AFTER I contacted the CEO. But from how I experienced their “help”, it felt mainly to cover themselves in case of a court claim, so they could say how supportive they were!

 

COUNSELOR #4 – January 2016

I was first referred to a counselor who even lived close by my address in walking distance. Pret’s insurers that arranged the counseling meant well, they probably looked at my address and sought for the closest, most convenient counselor in my area. But I only did 2 sessions with a lady who did counseling from her living room.

Everyone is different, but I don’t like to be in a counseling situation at someone’s private home. The lady was very professional and her living room was arranged like a counseling room, where she had dividers, to separate her private things with her counseling area in the living room. She did nothing bad, but I did not feel comfortable, especially with telling my story of a brother who died in his apartment, was not found until approximately 6 days later when his body was already disintegrating. He left 3 cats behind, that God knows HOW they survived! But the cats ransacked the whole place, probably in distress! I was told his apartment was a complete chaos where the cats pooed everywhere, ripped things apart etc.

My brother was very well kept, handsome, well dressed and his apartments were always super clean and organized. You had to take your shoes off when entering his house, like in my flat as well. But the cats completely destroyed the place! Animals understand death! I remember him sending me photos of his one cat, the mother cat, that slipped out one day and came back pregnant. He kept two kittens and gave the others away.

The mother cat

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DSC00188

 

My brother loved animals, we grew up with a dog that reached 18 years!! Even as a kid, he was not afraid of anything! When he was around 10 years old he climbed over a fence of a property where they had a kitchen show-room. Our parents went inside to look at kitchens, while we remained in the car right by the window where our parents could still see us. My brother of course always active, couldn’t sit still, saw this huge German Shepherd on the property and climbing the fence, went inside. He cuddled the dog while I was white as a sheet for fear he’d get devoured by this monster! But he didn’t. Actually, this business should have then gotten a new guide dog, because this dog was only useful as a teddy bear and any robber would have easy access!

But how am I going to talk about his death, and all the weird things surrounding it, to a lady who counseled from her private den! I pictured myself counseling someone with a traumatic story in my living room, and being left with the imagery and words alone later in the evening, watching a movie! I would need a professional surrounding, where I can leave the stories in that room and go home to my sanctuary. But some people obviously can do it. And also, this lady, when I told her about Pret, the first counseling was just the day after another grievance hearing. So, I spoke about it and this is what she wanted to concentrate on in the next sessions.

But I needed help with my brother’s death and making sense as best as I could.

The 4 sessions after (6 altogether) then were cancelled on my request, and Pret via their insurer looked for an alternative.

 

COUNSELOR #5 – Early 2016

I was then referred to a Psychoanalyst that the Head of HR introduced me to, saying that he referred other staff to him. These employees were HQ office staff or Operations Managers, people who are in upper leadership roles or jobs, because they were harder and expensive to replace. Regular front-line and low paid staff, from the shops would never be taken care of with paid therapy, except shop managers. Again, anyone who is expensive, in higher position and harder to replace. The rest is fired fast. So, my therapy support paid by Pret ONLY came when I contacted the CEO in WRITING about the bullying and the HR advisor who tried to help, but was “eliminated” from the process. Only then did support start. In fact, reading their email communication between them after I applied for my file, they were running around like headless chickens changing direction now!

I wrote it several times before that I can’t make up my mind if this is stuff for a thriller or a comedy! I’m sure both! But it gave me a lot of insight into the heart of Pret and how deceptive they are.

And again, in the counseling sessions we talked about everything BUT my brother’s death. He wanted to dig into my childhood and wanted to get me to do a cheap 2 year Psycho Analyses with a trainee counselor, where the trainee would learn and I get it half price. I started to think now that there is no help, I don’t need to be guinea pig, I need HELP!!

I learned only then the difference between Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Psychoanalysts! I asked him what I am going through as the emailing started around that time (I explain in my interview at the bottom). This is when he then explained that he can’t diagnose me as he is a Psychoanalyst, not a Psychiatrist.

I quit after 4 sessions of the 6 sessions that were arranged.

Back to square one.

By now the Pret issues continued. I felt blamed that nothing in the counselings seemed to help and I increasingly asked for a trauma specialist via the NHS, Pret, any avenue I could find. This is when I felt increasingly suicidal, still working, started to drink, and the spiral of anxiety and neurotic behaviour added to the nightmare.

In hindsight I can pinpoint very easily WHY the counselings also didn’t help, apart from that I still feel they were the wrong types of counseling. For one, by the time I started into the death of my brother, the 6 sessions were over and I had to start again somewhere else!

And two, I was basically going to counseling once a week or fortnight, went back to work where the bullying continued, this time in a more subtle way. And Pret didn’t understand why the counseling didn’t help me, as I always communicated openly and also quit the counselings, not wanting to waste Pret’s money! I was so stupid and like in a Stockholm Syndrome situation to care about Pret’s money! Figure that!!

But it was like a woman who gets beaten by her husband daily (Pret’s bullying environment), and the husband then gives his wife money to go to hospital and the pharmacy to get “fixed” up (counseling Pret paid for). And when she returns home, he beats her up again…and sends her to the doctor again… and the vicious circle continues. In hindsight, I should have run away FAST from Pret early on! But 1. I never imagined that I would get bullied, and 2. I was in a fogged up daze and a traumatized mind to fully understand what was happening. During the day I was highly professional, worked even very efficiently, and at night I started drinking. I still don’t know how I even worked, and maybe the adrenaline of trauma kept me going on autopilot.

 

COUNSELOR #6 – 2016

I found another charity that offered bereavement counseling. And even though it is a charity, they charge according to your income. I paid a minimal amount for weekly sessions after I was offered 12 sessions. But I did 8 sessions and stopped because the lady seemingly in menopause would freeze and then sweat profusely, and by the clock, around 20 minutes into the sessions would nod off slightly EVERY week!! I kept talking as if nothing happened as it is understandable when someone may be in menopause or even ill. But after 8 sessions I felt like she could at least make an effort and have a glass of ice water and a fan next to her! In hindsight, if this would happen again, I would try to find a way to say something! But I was still in this “nice” mode, continuing something that did not benefit ME!

 

COUNSELOR #7 – 2016 and beyond on and off

I found a charity that works with people who have traumatic loss. All loss is traumatic, but they concentrated on the kind of deaths that don’t seem “normal” or that are premature deaths. But there I also didn’t stay long as I was getting increasingly suicidal. I then found a charity that deals with suicidal people. I became aware of Maytree, a charity that has a house in North London that offers 5 nights for free for suicidal people. I found them via a documentary I saw on YouTube about grief after suicide as I was trying to still find out why my brother died, even though the Police ruled out suicide and fowl play. I was researching all kinds of online support, bereavement forums, YouTube stories, anything!! They showed Maytree in the program where a woman whose husband died by suicide without any previous warnings or signs to her. I link here directly to the part where she visits Maytree to interview the staff.

After a few phone assessments I was advised that I could stay with Maytree after I haven’t drunk anything for 8 weeks. I managed at times to not drink for 2 or 3 weeks, but when I drank something, the clock started at zero again. But Maytree referred me to an ambulant charity in London, called The Listening Place (TLP). They are also run by volunteers in Central London and see people by appointment. I was one of the first “clients” and they were still in the trial period where I was often asked if they can change anything in the service. It was a good way as I was able to help them as well to draft their service, and how they can shape a foundation from which they then offer help.

The Listening Place, even to this day, has been the most professional and helpful, even though they are not paid professionals! I visited TLP on and off between 2016 and 2019.

In 2016 and 2017 I went to hospital suicidal, but was sent away, back into the community and services there. Having applied for my file in 2018 they even clearly mentioned that I was suicidal, and yet I was sent away. In early 2019 I spent a night in the Police station being watched as I went there in fear I’d kill myself that night. I didn’t want to go to the hospital again, getting send away. So I went to the police that I visited already for the third time, but this time they held me over night while waiting for a bed to free up. But all beds were full I was told, so I was sent back home the next morning and I started to go back to TLP again.

The Listening Place

 

COUNSELOR #8

This was a three times 3 hour sessions in group CBT therapy via the NHS, so basically 9 hours of group sessions. This was actually really helpful, but once the group got comfortable in the setting, the program was finished.

 

COUNSELOR #9 – Mid 2016

This was again via the NHS 6 sessions CBT therapy, but even the therapist after the 3rd session realized that this is not what I needed and I was put on a waiting list for another therapy.

 

COUNSELOR #10 – End of 2016

This was again a regular counselor arranged via the NHS. I was now offered 12 session compared to the usual 6 sessions the NHS funds. But this counselor, although more experienced, again didn’t seem to be interested to get into my brother’s death. It was like pulling teeth where I had to initiate the conversation and it felt frustrating. It lasted 4 sessions.

Nothing clicked. I kept asking for trauma based therapy. But nothing came my way.

In-between the months I went back to The Listening Place on and off.

 

COUNSELOR #11 – End of 2018

The third and last Therapist that Pret financed came when the Head of HR started to warn me about potential dismissal. This was in the middle of the gaslight situation with the Development Manager Pret used to manipulate me. I explain fully in below interview. But I was in such a mental state where I was so blinded, manipulated and neurotic that I firmly begged Pret to give me a chance, while I was actually the one who should have gone to court much sooner. They twisted things so well that I felt I was in the wrong. So, the Head of HR pretending to be once again so terribly helpful, arranged for this last Therapist.

This Therapist was the first Counselor to mention that the Development Manager acted abusively and that she isn’t a proper Therapist when she acts like she did. He said to me that as a Counselor he isn’t supposed to give his opinion, but in this regards he saw a lot of wrongdoing by Pret and the danger of an abusive Therapist’s behaviour. I even agreed, but by then I was so eaten up with guilt, shame and felt like a complete failure in all aspects, fully emerged in confusion. I was and am still coming to terms about my brother and the added hell in Pret. This time I finished the sessions, as I felt he was competent and understood a lot of what I was going through. He was also the Therapist who after hearing my story with all the emailing, said that “people in bereavement do the strangest things”. He had a lot of emotional intelligence and understanding.

 

COUNSELOR #12 – 2017 / 2018

I kept going back to my doctor and now they started realizing that I need something serious and long term, By now I am mentally broken down, still coming to terms about my brother and now with the added trauma of the systemic bullying I was going through like in a mental war-zone. I was put on a waiting list for long-term therapy and had two assessments with a Psychologist, one in December 2017 before I lost my job, and the second in January 2018 after I lost my job and my dad in hospital in Germany, after his three week coma as a result of a stroke. He died in March 2018 and the whole thing of nightmares started again like a never ending Twilight Zone.

At the second assessment in January 2018 I was offered a twelve week group therapy introductory course with a relatively new therapy form called Mentalization Based Treatment (MBT). A little taken aback at the esoteric sounding name, I was explained what it is and was relieved to be offered 12 sessions straight away. As I had a good experience with the 3 session CBT group the year before, I finally felt hope!

But it didn’t stop there, it was getting even better! The Psychologist explained that after the 12 group sessions which was an introductory course to MBT and a way for the group to get to know each other, that after the 12 sessions there would be a few months break. And then after the break this same group of about 8 – 10 people would start 18 MONTHS sessions of the main therapy!

 

I felt like I won the lottery!!!!!

 

But it didn’t stop there!!

This would be TWICE a week for 18 months, once a week in a group setting, and the second session one on one with the Therapist. The group sessions are held by two therapists, one which is a Psychiatrist and the other a Psychologist!

I thought this must be an intense therapy that it is that long and held by two therapists. It took THAT long for the NHS to finally put me on a long-term program like this.

In September 2018 the first introductory group sessions started. We were instructed to NOT talk about our personal issues, which was weird and even my friends asked why I was there then, if I couldn’t talk about my trauma. But since this was an introductory and we were told that the main sessions are then for us to share, I thought nothing further of it.

In the 6th of the 12 sessions the Psychologist dropped a bomb! She asked us how we felt with the therapy program and wanted to do stock count half way through the introductory phase and inquired how we felt so far. But then she mentioned almost casually, and yet in hindsight it was completely calculated, after we each shared how we felt with the therapy and group she said, “I want to stress that the main 18 months sessions will be video recorded” ….

Sorry what??!!

In shock and disbelief we looked around and started to ask what for! I noticed that whole time even before they dropped the bomb, the Psychiatrist who was mainly quiet didn’t look me in the eyes a lot when she spoke to us. I remember even thinking that and assumed maybe I have one of my angry looks, as people sometimes tell me I look so serious. Well after all the forced smiles in Pret and what happened in the last 4 years, sorry, in my private time I choose a face that suits ME, not anyone else! Look elsewhere if you don’t like the looks of my face!

We were explained that they use video to look and analyze “frame by frame” at what is and what is NOT being said. Yet, MBT in a nutshell is all about AVOIDING assumptions and learning to ask and explain emotions. It slowly dawned on me that the Psychologist who mainly talked was in TRAINING, with the Psychiatrist being the supervisor, saying a few things in-between, and we were like guinea pigs here. They would look at the video material afterwards to learn the therapy. We were assured that the videos of the group and individual one on one sessions would be deleted “after a few weeks”, but nothing was tangible and clear! It was all very vague!

Me and another guy got up and left.

I researched this at home later and found that it is becoming increasingly common practice to video therapy sessions, especially MBT. What I did NOT realize, is that I could have just declined consent and continued the therapy. But without them saying it, they left us in the assumption that we either consent to video filming and are part of the therapy, or we cannot participate! They never gave us clear information that we can decline consent and they cannot force us either way.

After a phone call with the Psychologist, whom I believe was in training, I stopped the therapy AGAIN and filed a formal complaint with the NHS. I also would have discontinued even without the video as I lost trust and confidence in the Therapists. What else are they not telling us, I thought.

My main points were that we were never told this in out INITIAL assessment ONE YEAR before. I wasted 1 year on the waiting list which I could have used for alternative therapy OR if I had the full and transparent information, I could have declined and they would have had to continue without videoing the sessions.

I also said that I felt this was calculated to give us this VITAL info, which involves data protection, half way through the 12 week intro sessions so that it would be much harder for us to decide against it as we would have gotten used to the group and therapy. All of us were not private patients, we had no choice and grabbed every opportunity of help, and I felt strongly that they took advantage of this. I even still feel like people who cannot afford a private therapist are used as guinea pigs for therapy training while they would never do that with paying private clients!

I felt used as a “poor” NHS patient for the education of therapists who then use this for paying “rich” patients.

Except my “conspiracy” theories that wasn’t responded to, all my 4 page points were fully upheld by the NHS complaints department, which led to the therapy NOT being filmed.

But here I was again, raising hell and others benefit from it while I am now back to square one on yet another waiting list! You’re welcome y’all!

The leading Psychologist who looks over the program and the Therapists held an appointment with me after I refused to have an appointment with the Psychologist who dropped the bomb of videoing. But this “chief” Psychologist seemed to have been ticked off with me as I ruined his program to film sessions, because he started the appointment by saying he has only 30 minutes and seemed to rush. He offered me a choice of two programs, one would be a long waiting list again for a long-term therapy, but to cut the waiting time, I could volunteer in the nearby hospital! I thought he was joking! I emailed him later that I felt he was cross with me and now wants to push me to the side to do volunteer work in hospital where there would also be some doctors if I had a crisis and needed help!! I couldn’t believe it!

He was very patronizing and I really felt he was pissed off and even gaslighting me to some extend. When I emailed him, he quickly diverted and said that he would not speak about my concerns via email and that I raised serious allegations. He further wrote that he would be happy to see me in person and speak about it. I replied that since he thinks that I raise serious issues, I’d like to keep our correspondence in writing (and in my thoughts not be lured away into a “he said / she said” scenario).

I refused to see him in a new appointment, because for one, there are many mistakes, even missing information in my medical file which I had to send evidence in of corrections to be added. For example one hospital assessment where I went suicidal, the doctor assessing me wrote that I was “unwilling to received help from Maytree”!!! And two, I didn’t trust him after the whole video thing and his patronizing way.

Maytree advised me to come back to them once I didn’t drink for 8 weeks. Sure, friends said to me to just lie and say that I didn’t drink for 8 weeks so they would take me in. But I can’t do that. If something is based on a lie, it won’t be effective. If I seek help, I want to do it in a proper way, otherwise I would always feel I missed something because I lied about something. So I applied for my files from Maytree and The Listening Place with all the dates I was in contact with them, which are always dates where I initiated contact as these services never initiate contact.

Also, BOTH Maytree and TLP have written 150% correct information to the T! They written down brief thoughts on each session or phone conversations and what I spoke about. I even got paranoid thinking if they recorded the sessions without my knowledge, because the information they entered was absolutely correct!! But I trust that they wouldn’t secretly record. But it is strange that two VOLUNTEER charities make correct and professional data entry, while almost every NHS staff either entered wrong info or left vital information out!

If anyone from the NHS is reading this, please help me understand here, and please don’t come with the NHS cuts! Volunteer based services are stretched as well, and they are not even paid! Maybe it is just their passion that makes them work efficiently, with care and transparency. And I fed that back to Maytree and TLP with great appreciation for their attention to detail!

I felt that the doctors from the NHS want to cover themselves, so in case I take my life, they would say that they tried to suggest help, but I was “unwilling” to receive help, while in reality I went from service to service, to hospital, even tried to get locked up with the Police because I feared my self and wasn’t sure at times if I survived to the next day.

And this is what I can advise anyone who seeks help from medical services, be it from a charity or their respective country’s medical services, I can advise everyone to always apply for your file after a period of time when your life has quieten down a bit. in Europe under the new GDPR laws we have great advantage to access what is held about us. Apply for your file and read carefully if ALL information is correct! If not, gather evidence and ADD it to the file. In my case, they refused to delete the incorrect info, but offered to add next to every incorrect info the correct info I updated them with.

There were other instances where for example an NHS Psychiatric Nurse, who assessed me after I had a mental crisis, just closed my file and said to my doctor he can’t get a hold of me, therefore he will close my case! And yet THE DAY when he emailed this to my doctor that he can’t get a hold of me was THE DAY my father died and I went to the Mental Health Club where I bumped into him. We briefly spoke, I said that my father died and that I am in the middle of raising a Tribunal claim against Pret. He offered me to look up some free advice help and emailed me later THAT DAY with some links to advocate sites! A few minutes later he emailed my doctor saying he can’t get a hold of me, so he has to close my case! My doctor printed out the email because I kept saying that I saw him several times for assessment as I was suicidal and bumped into him on the day my dad died.

And another Psychiatric Nurse who assessed me after my night at the Police station, she left some vital information out. So, I am in disbelief and in a neurotic conspiracy type thinking WHY on earth NHS staff not only lie, but keep writing incorrect notes about me, while TWO charities wrote everything correctly! What’s going on?!

And as I write this, I have already submitted the correct information with all the evidence from various services. I did this also with the help of POhWER that helps patients with NHS complaints as a kind of back-up, so the clients are not alone, and the NHS people cannot mess with a lone and vulnerable person raising issues. I may be well worded, but I’m a mess inside!

And all this coupled with what the Development Manager from Pret A Manger did who is also a Hypnotherapy with the National Hypnotherapy Society, that refused to see through the formal complaint I raised with them. I more and more believe that therapies are a load of horse dung and tools to manipulate vulnerable people! I more and more believe this all is not real and just another money making machine!

Now I am again on a waiting list and don’t even know for what! But I have this strong sense, and some may call it “conspiracy theory”, that when you are relying solely on the NHS, because you have no money to choose your own therapist, you are really used as a guinea pig, as you have no choice but to take anything and everything they offer you. I haven’t even been diagnosed after 4 years of my Therapy odyssey! How can this even be?!

Deep down inside I have lost faith and all hope that I will receive help. In Germany I would have by now probably finished trauma based therapy as the health system is very good. I continue in this mental health desert. At least I don’t drink as much anymore, but when I do, I continue to have these “flip outs” where I lash out at wonderful people who have done nothing wrong, but in my drunken traumatized mind they turn to monsters who are out to get me! And I am desperate for help, but I have lost hope and have no confidence in the NHS when it comes to mental health services.

A friend in Germany who is a family counselor once said to me that I should maybe just stop all this therapy search and find a new hobby!! I used to have hobbies and was very active, but nothing interests me anymore.

And if any “hobby” psychologist or even real Therapist is reading this, forget contacting me, I am not interested in anyone playing saviour or trying to help. I was searching early on especially in 2015 and 2016 on bereavement groups. I met a Psychotherapist once in a Meetup.com group, where people who experienced trauma met weekly to just chat, have a drink or a meal. The Psychotherapist started the group and I even asked him why he is doing this? Of course the answer was to help! And weeks later he offered me a one-off session for half prize and my alarm bells went on. I never went back to the social meeting and later found he was gone from the Meetup page. I never noted down his name, but he surely was dodgy.

So, any Therapist reading this, I am happy for your input on the NHS, but I am not interested in any “therapy”. I do this the proper way via the NHS or Charities that are registered and accountable to their respective Counseling Bodies.

I can also add any organization regarding suicide, or other mental health support. These can be left in the comments section or via my contact page. But those have to be registered and accountable.

Thank you for reading my mess with the mental health system.

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived systemic workplace bullying during bereavement that involved HR, the top leadership, HQ and even the CEO Clive Schlee. I declined 4 settlement offers if I am silent about my ordeal. But I rather starve and speak out to help others. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post.
I also tell my story for the first time verbally in this >>>
podcast interview based in California, and wrote an article in the Scottish Left Review.
Thank you for reading/listening.

Interview:

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.

ACAS Guide to Bereavement at Work

 

A guide I have passed on to Pret A Manger since May 2015 when I first approached HR to make suggestions after my then line manager had me on prolonged 5 months late shifts and refused to rotate my shifts like it was before I became bereaved.

I approached HR, not to raise grievances or complain but to just bring ideas and suggestions. I never imagined that approaching HR would put a target on my back.

I speak extensively about my ordeal with Pret on my blog and podcast interview.

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I passed the ACAS Guide to Bereavement at the Workplace to HR and several different managers, area managers and anyone in a responsible position between 2015 and 2017. But of course apart from sweet-talk and the horrendous treatment that followed, lead from the very top, this guide was not taken into consideration. If this is now in Pret’s sight, than certainly after I left Pret.

I will keep it short as people who are really interested in this can read the guide and download the PDF file that ACAS has posted in partnership with Cruse Bereavement Care, the largest bereavement short-term support charity in the UK that I visited early on in my bereavement as well.

I just want to point out some things concerning bullying during bereavement and how my situation became 10 times worse than I could have ever anticipated even could happen to people who go through grief and trauma.

This will always be on Pret’s resume as well as how they dealt, or rather how they did NOT deal with TWO customer deaths, and why in this profit driven Western society there is such a strong resistance and refusal to supporting people in grief and tragedy. Once tragedy hits an employee they frankly become an inconvenience as companies want “robots” that function non-stop for the millions the top is gaining.

That’s why I have come to start disliking the term “workforce” as this sounds like an army, a factory of robots having to function in a modern-day slavery setting, under the pretense of “productivity” and “buzz” and “fun”.

 

Excerpts from the ACAS Guide on Bullying during Bereavement
on pages 11 & 12

~~~~~~~~~~

ACAS:

»Avoiding discrimination and addressing bullying

Employers should ensure their employees who are likely to be affected by the disability are able to recognise it, especially when performance or absence of a bereaved employee becomes unacceptable over the longer term for no other apparent reason.«

~~~~~~~~~~

This versus my experience of being targeted and penalized for not smiling during customer service even when I asked, almost begged to work in the kitchen for a while when I started to tear up on the shop floor. More on the Emotional Labour in this blog entry and the “brutality” of what Pret expects, no matter what.

 

09 Brutal Nightmare

Only one of >>> several comments on YouTube

 

~~~~~~~~~~

ACAS:

»Addressing Bullying

Bullying is defined as unwanted behaviour or conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. If the bullying is related to a protected characteristic then it is harassment.

Managing bereavement in the workplace

Employers should be alert to inappropriate behaviour following bereavement. Absence through bereavement can place burdens on co-workers and line managers alike who may pressurise (inadvertently or otherwise) or bully a bereaved employee into returning to work or performing their duties to the same level as they did before the death. The intentions of the bully do not matter – what is important is the impact that the behaviour has on the employee who is being bullied.

For example:
Rouji works on a telephone helpline and recently lost her mother. On her return from bereavement leave she is finding it hard to cope at work: she is struggling to reach her targets for calls answered and sometimes leaves the room visibly upset. Brandon, the manager, notices that the staff are unhappy at what they see as “carrying Rouji”, an attitude reinforced by the vocal views of her supervisor who has been overheard saying “she should get a grip, when my mother died, I found work a relief, look at the problems she is causing us.”Rouji has noticed the shaking heads of colleagues and their “tuts” when she leaves the room and this is adding to her distress. Although Brandon recognises the burden on the team, the company has a policy of not tolerating bullying and harassment. Brandon tells the supervisor to stop this behaviour and let it be known that staff may face disciplinary action if this unwanted behaviour continues. At the same time he sees if a temporary worker can be deployed until Rouji is able to reach her performance targets.«

~~~~~~~~~~

The guide goes on to cover a variety of issues regarding paid leave, long-term or reoccurring effects of grief etc. I just concentrate mainly on the subject of bullying here as this involved even Pret’s HR, Head Quarters, Clive Schlee CEO as this is systemic and no surprise anymore, why I went from management to management that had no policy in place to protect me or bereaved employees in general.

A People Business Partner (PBP) from HR in a grievance appeal’s hearing that I raised even admitted that there was another employee, an assistant manager who was bereaved and also mistreated at work, but that she was “bitter”. He foolishly compared me with her as if we were bitter because we raised grievances of wrongdoing. I emailed this PBP later that day in anger saying that this AM is not bitter, but in a lot of pain, as I related to her nightmare.

A few months after this hearing and what the PBP told me in that hearing, I learned that an AM died by suicide. I cannot proof that this is the same person, but I do not believe in coincidences anymore with Pret, especially after they involved a Development Manager from HQ who supposedly also had a brother who died in his flat, like my brother died in his flat… But I don’t believe this anymore. Weeks later after our contact I learned that she is also a Hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner, and the more hidnsight I have and keep talking about this, the more I don’t believe that she had a brother, even while I see some posts on her facebook page regarding her brother in 2016 before I knew her.

I tell my story verbally for the first time on a podcast here below in the audio player. I also collected many staff reviews from outside pages like Glassdoor, Indeed, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook etc. and combined them unto one page as Pret Staff Complaints.

I am so loud because I almost lost my life and if I alsmost ended my life, an assistant manager did, how many more are there. If Pret can hide two customer deaths under the carpet, how many work-related staff suicides or attempted suicides are there?

 

“Penalized for calling out for a funeral”

2018-11-01 Funeral

Former Barista, New York

 

Avoid AM

Former Assistant Manager, London

 

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I can only urge any company, large or small to please have a look at this guide from ACAS. It is only a guide to which companies can draft their own policy from this blueprint that ACAS provides in partnership with Cruse. I survived systemic workplace bullying in a company that is very efficient in marketing and PR portraying themselves to be an ethical and caring company.

I have a different story…

 


 

I worked at Pret A Manger for almost 10 years and survived workplace bullying that involved the top leadership and HQ. For an overview of important blog entries of my experience with Pret, please visit “My Ordeal with Pret A Manger”. The little arrow to the right next to each heading will lead directly to the post. Thank you for reading.

 

©2019 expret.org

Unless otherwise stated or linked to, this website and all writings within this site are the property of expret.org, poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org and are protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Reproduction and distribution of my writings without written permission is prohibited.

©2017 – Present: poetrasblok.com, LateNightGirl.org, LateNightGirl.page.tl unless otherwise stated. All Rights reserved. Disclaimer.