I Fought Back…And Won

Actually, I canI was sacked from my job last October for having MS, preceded by a vicious campaign of bullying and harrassment which almost drove me over the edge. At the same time, I was struggling to cope with my diagnosis and had also just been through Alemtuzumab treatment in the summer.

The day I was sacked,  I went home in shock. I was at my lowest ebb. The drip-drip effect of the bullying had left me sapped of confidence, drained of energy and incapable of any positive thinking. The sacking was the culmination of a truly horrific year. How anyone can bully a person going through a diganosis of MS is beyond me and the cruelty of it still astounds me.

I decided to accept my fate and leave it at that. But then I got angry, then furious. Was I really just going to walk away? Luckily, I still had one tiny scrap of fight left in me and so began a long legal process.

I am over the moon to report that I have now won my case. The matter is settled and it is time to move on, with my dignity and pride restored.

Bullying at work can be insidious. It is not always immediately obvious. It can start insignificantly and like an abusive partner, can slowly erode your confidence, your judgement and your rational thinking. When the bullying then escalates, you feel too undermined and isolated to fight back.

Bullying someone with MS (or any other serious illness) is cowardly. The bullying may come from a position of strength, from their status in work, but it is only carried out by weak people who take delight in hurting others who are already in pain.

I have fought a long, exhausting battle and was close to giving up along the way, such was the hold these people still had over me in my mind. It’s only thanks to family, friends, fellow MSers and a fabulous lawyer that I got to this point.

If you are in the same position I was, don’t accept it. You are worth more than that. Keep notes of every incident no matter how small, every date. Surround yourself  with a strong network and most importantly, realise that it is not your fault.

It’s a beautiful feeling to wake up every morning knowing I am no longer bullied. I am a worthy person and I will go on to better things. As they say, success is the best revenge.

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20 thoughts on “I Fought Back…And Won

  1. Emma says:

    Good on YOU! I was bullied by my manager at one stage, she knew I had MS but it wasn’t MS related bullying. I wasn’t the first one who she bullied but I stuck to my guns. Then she ended up leaving the organization. I had to try not to smile when she announced she was leaving, ha! Ironically there were no follow-ups about my ‘performance issues’ by other managers after she had left, funny that. You are spot on when you say that bullying is done by weak people, this is SO true. So thrilled about your outcome, well done!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Emma,
      Thank you so much! When I was looking into the whole issue when I was still at work, it was astounding how widespread bullying in work actually is. It was the first time I had ever been bullied. Put MS into it, and it was pretty toxic. Sounds like you had a tough time and glad it’s all over for you too!
      I am soooooo glad to be surrounded by lovely people now, no negative people in my life any more and it feels great.

  2. Tony Cardis says:

    Good on yer, it’s also good not to react when they have a go at you.because when it’s read out many months later the words they use damage them more than you
    If its going to be made into a film which actress have you in mind for your part 🙂

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi there Tony,
      Oh, I’m thinking Julia Roberts (Erin Brokovich??). Bizarrely though, a lot of people say I look like Drew Barrymore but I can’t choose her as CrankyPants is Drew, lol.
      Knowing me, it would be Miranda Hart….

  3. Samantha Thompson says:

    Well done, fantastic news. It is beyond comprehension what happened to you. Hopefully you will never doubt yourself again. None of them put together have the strength, brains and integrity that you have shown xx

    It is insidious, I felt it before I was made redundant. It was subtle but it was there and they really thought I didn’t know!!

    Did you have to see them during the process? Sorry, have no idea how it all works.

    Sam xx

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much Sam!
      Unfortunately I had to attend a grievance meeting and took my sister along. She was brilliant. I followed all the guidelines, stated my case, but the boss lost his temper pretty spectacularly and we left as it was intimidating. Then I launched the tribunal.
      It was a horrible, horrible process and I never want to go through something like that again. It’s been tough and really it’s only the blogging and support that has kept me going. Trying to see the light side of things. I couldn’t say anything until everything was wrapped up.
      All bullies are weak. They have no redeeming features whatsoever and I have no respect for them.
      Onwards and upwards!

  4. I LOVE this post! Hooray!! So, so glad you stood up for yourself (a hugely important step in and of itself) and, even better, won! Wish I’d been blogging during those tough times, so I could have thrown in my 2 cents’ worth of support, but I’m here for your victory party, so raising a virtual glass to you, SIF! Cheers!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Cheers! (oops, that’s another glass broken, meh).
      See earlier comment about who I would like to play me in a film…..
      Although, thinking about your recent email, perhaps Serena Van der Woodsen is more apt???

      • Haha! I’ll let you borrow Drew OR Serena VDW, but I must insist on being thanked in the closing credits. Probably the opening credits, too. No one stays for the closing credits.

        • stumbling in flats says:

          Maybe you could sort out the American end of the production, then we can both be Drew! At least Drew is better than being mistaken for a man, just because I go to work with a builder, meh. It happened again today, but then, I was fixing a roof, it was freezing and I had my hoodie pulled up all round my face with only my eyes and red nose peeking out. I looked like Kenny from South Park (the one that always gets killed?).
          Well, that’s what the builder called me anyway…..The fun we have!

  5. Anita says:

    I’m so happy for you well done. I’ve seen first hand what bully’s can do. My other half also has a chronic illness which he has managed very well until 2011 when he deteriorated and had to take sick leave. He previously had never taken sick leave and he is in his 50’s . He did a phased return to work over 6 weeks which was impossible , they made no adjustments for his disability they wanted him gone and so they made his life hell. The reason he was what you would now call a whistle blower . He stood up for children who were failed by the care system. They wanted him out without his pension. They won in a way he retired with his pension but didn’t have the energy to fight the system. It didn’t help that I had ms but he still thinks of those children and they all came to his leaving do even those who are now adults. He barred the bosses lol! He can hold his head up and know he did his job well they on the other hand can’t. So good luck with the future stay strong and positive and know you are twice the person they will ever be. X

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Anita,
      That must have been a terrible time for both of you. What you said is right – it’s about holding your head up, not slinking away apologetically. At the time, it seemed the easiest thing to do but I’m so glad I had enough support behind me to take it forward. I could never have done it on my own.
      And also, I never stooped to their level. I followed procedure, never lied, never embellished what was happening and conducted myself with dignity throughout. They on the other hand showed themselves for exactly what they are – cowardly bullies.
      I do wonder how they can enjoy doing what they do. I wasn’t the first to be bullied in that workplace and I probably won’t be the last.

  6. That is the BEST news! I am so sorry you had to go through the bullying, but standing up to it and winning….that’s cause for celebration!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Kevin!
      Thank you so much for your message!
      I have read a lot more about wantology now and I think it’s a fabulous idea. There’s a lot more to it than I first thought…

  7. Catherine says:

    Fabulous news, so proud of you for taking them in and winning. Proof that MS doesn’t knock the fight out of us 🙂 xx

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi there,
      Thank you! Am hoping to show that if I can do it, anyone can.
      MS can (fingers crossed) make us stronger – the support I had was amazing, and it’s out there for anyone else going through the same thing…

  8. Honeysuckle says:

    Hi there,

    Congratulations! This fight must have been emotionally as well as physically draining. So glad that you’ve come out the other side stronger, wiser and victorious.

    As you said, at the first sign of a change in attitude at work, take contemporaneous notes- well at least do them at home, same day while all the incidents are fresh in your mind. I always picture Richard Branson sitting in a cramped toilet cubicle, writing down discussions about price fixing by BA on toilet paper. He produced these scribbles in court and BA couldn’t refute them. He won; still is, by the look of things. Also, never lose your temper, however tempting (is there a link between these words?).

    While revenge is a dish best eaten cold- apropos a previous post -have you thought of sending a box of chocolate eclairs to the firm? Luxury eclairs, would really make the point-no need for a note! Would love to be a fly on the wall then! Petty, but immensely satisfying- though I’m probably revealing here my own pettiness!

    All the best,

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Hi Honeysuckle,
      Thank you for your comment and reiterating a very good point about note-taking. I wish I had taken more, especially dated, but luckily it’s all over now. It’s been completely draining and stress isn’t the best thing when you’ve got MS anyways. My focus now is on re-building myself, my life, my career.
      I’m a lot better now than I was in October but it’s incredible how soul-destroying the whole time was. I often wonder how these people feel, when they were doing this. I’m a parent, they were all parents. How would they feel if it was their child?? We’re all someone’s child.
      Anyway, that’s by the by now I guess.
      I love your idea about the eclairs!! Fabulous. If only I were that brave!!
      Everyone has been so supportive and lovely and I couldn’t have got through it without you all.

  9. Allyson says:

    So pleased for you that the case is over for you and that you won! Well done… x

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thanks Allyson!
      Just shows, if I can do it, anyone can! We mustn’t take this kind of discrimination. Life’s hard enough with MS!

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