I Was Fired

I was very proud of myself a few weeks ago. After being on my medication for about a month (in total, including dosage changes) I decided that I should start sending out resumes and try to get a part time job. And, lo and behold, the very first interview at *high priced boutique* landed me a job.

Everyone else — Paul, my Mom, my therapist, Carrie, my friends — were super proud of me for getting this job at *high priced boutique*, too: As, in the interview process I had been very direct about why I had a gap in my resume and why (at this time) I could only work part time, not full time and it seemed like *Owner* of *high priced boutique* was very understanding and supportive and the job would be a great fit for me and a supportive environment for me to get back on my feet and receive positive reinforcement in.

Boy, was I wrong. After seven shifts, spread out over two weeks, during many of which *Owner* wasn’t even present in the store, she decided that I was not a “good fit” for *high priced boutique* and fired me over coffee on Tuesday morning.

Have I mentioned yet that *high priced boutique* is a 45 minute drive from my home in the center of Chicago? So, basically *Owner* had me drive 45 minutes like nothing was wrong and I was going to go about a normal work day, only to have me there for like 30 minutes and send me packing. Talk about dick moves and wastes of gas and time… seriously.

My general anger aside, let me talk briefly about WHY I believe I got fired:

I talked openly about mental illness.

Here is what happened — I had a co-worker who I really gelled with and we were working together up front. *Owner* and another employee were in the back. Co-worker had heard through the grape vine that my daughter had passed away, so as she is a mother, she felt a lot of compassion towards me in that respect. I made some (healthy, not morose or “oh my dead daughter”) comment about Maddie and she said “If you don’t mind, can I ask what happened to her?”

I answered. I gave her a short, matter of fact rundown of what happened to Maddie: She had Down syndrome, was born prematurely, she had a liver disorder that her body was too underdeveloped to successfully fight off and she died.

Co-worker then asked me how I was doing and I said, “Better. I won’t lie — the last 24 months have been very hard and I suffer from PTSD, major depression, generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder — but, I’m doing the work and am much better than I was even a few months ago.”

At that time, *Owner* came out from the back room and asked to speak to me. She pulled me aside, still on the sales floor where Co-worker and the other employee were sure to hear what she said and ripped me a new one for talking about Maddie and my health to Co-worker.

While the store was empty and we were just cleaning. After she asked me what happened.

It was a diatribe that defied my brain, trying to organize her scattered anger and why she thought that co-workers getting to know each other was a bad idea made my body shake.

If there had been customers in the store, sure — inappropriate conversation. I’m mentally ill, not stupid. But there were not, and Co-worker ASKED ME about myself…

Anyhow — after yelling at me for a few minutes, she told me to go take a break. I was like “Um, I’d prefer not to take a break, if I take a break I’m going to have a major anxiety attack and it would be much healthier for me to get back to work and soldier on.”

But, no — break made to be taken. Stupidly severe anxiety attack follows. Two Clonipin and six texts to my Mom later, I was able to go back on the sales floor. Co-worker mouthed silently at me “Are you OK?” I shook my head “no.” I kept on moving though and got through the day. Called my Mom on the way home, talked to British husband about it and decided to just put my head down and work.

Flash forward to Tuesday. Fired, no real reason given… except “I don’t fit in.” Oh, also that I was too friendly with clients — like I shouldn’t say “Hello!” or “Wonderful to meet you, I’ve heard such great things about you!”

The net result is that *Owner* is pretty unbalanced — and, that has been confirmed by her employees, too. I have been fired three times (now, four) all from positions with employers who were unbalanced, overly demanding and a little bit cray cray/mean. I will move on, and hopefully find a better job, very soon, um… $13K hospital bill! YUCKY!

But, let this serve as a warning of a truism: People can and do get fired for mentioning their mental illness in the workplace. And, often the firings are done in such a way that no action can be taken against the employer or company for discrimination. This does happen, it happened to me. It sucked.