Levels of Toxicity
on the elevator of life, vibr8 steps out into several toxic levels, but wants to transcend toxicity and reach....nirvana?
Date: 4/27/2006 5:00:59 PM ( 16 y ) ... viewed 3093 times
Sometimes in life we are faced with limited choices, and have to choose what's commonly referred to as the "lesser of evils." Insomuch as I can even attempt to describe my career situation in words that you will understand, or even in words that I will understand as I'm writing them, I will do my very best to describe this real situation I'm living every minute every day every hour.
In simple terms I'm speaking of returning to my full time job after two months off. It was not a vacation. It was a leave I had to take in order to save my life. And I do mean that literally. I really think this recent leave saved my life. And I'm grateful to the HR people at my workplace for understanding how important it was and granting me the leave.
I could go into more complicated analyses of HR at this point, but would only bore you and possibly stress myself in doing so, thus I will not.
Levels of Toxicity: relating all of this to toxicity is simple--I've been back on the job less than 2 weeks and it's crystal clear to me that my job is toxic for me on many different levels. It wasn't as clear at the time I went on leave.
I had been working there for many years, with brief vacations every now and then, and basically had grown used to the toxicity. But being away for a decent length of time allowed me to get cleansed and feel toxin-free, thus emphasizing how very toxic my work environment is.
First of all there are the basic products sitting around in cupboards and on counters in the office and the staff bathroom. Lysol is the worst of them. Read Liora Leah's blog or do a CureZone search using the word Lysol if you'd like, there's great information here regarding such products. I'm especially sensitive to chemical toxins, thus a bit of Lysol aerosol sprayed in the air can cause me to stop breathing. Literally, I cannot breathe when it's been sprayed in a room, even if I enter the room several hours after the fact. My fellow staff members had been kind enough not to use the Lysol at all in the facility when I was there, which I so much appreciated. During my leave they started using it again, and products such as Lysol are used with some regularity in health care settings, I know. I had apparently just been lucky they were willing to use less toxic, non-aerosol products during most of my time there.
Then there are the clorox and other chlorine-based products. The clorox wipes in the bright plastic containers everywhere on the counters. The rashes I get when I unwittingly touch a counter.
I am into workplace cleanliness. I use rubbing alcohol + water in a spray bottle to clean surfaces. It works like a charm. Many of the glass cleaners are mild, do sanitize surfaces, and don't make the air unbreathable.
At home and at my private office I use Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Soap in various dilutions and it works marvelously.
Ok, so there are the toxic "cleaning" products. That's the most basic level of toxicity, really. We have clients who live at the facility. They're human beings who do things like use the bathroom and then don't wash their hands, then go in the kitchen and touch food...then go outside and smoke and come in and touch food that others will share...you can picture this infinitely ongoing situation.
Then there's the mental toxicity. That's what I call it anyway.
For me it's the experience of the work team's groupthink (that's how I refer to it) and the constant medicating of the clients. Often against their will. Mostly antipsychotics, "mood stabilizers", antidepressants, and the like.
At this point you're probably wondering, why do I continue to work there? Am I such a staunch idealist that I think I can wade through the waist-deep toxins and make such a positive difference in these clients' lives that it makes enduring the toxic environment worth the risk? You know what? I've been that kind of idealist in the past, but I'm not ... not anymore.
If anyone makes a difference in the lives of mental health clients, it would probably indeed be the front-line clinicians who spend the most time with them, listening to them, tending to their needs, and standing by their sides as they confront life's often-painful truths. But I don't know how much someone like me who is so sensitive to toxins on every level is helping when I often can barely breathe, let alone sit and listen empathetically to a tearful client or deal with a sudden crisis. I honestly don't know.
There are more levels of toxicity. Think again of Dilbert here. You've got it...the supervisor. And his/her supervisor, and his/her supervisor, all the way up the line to the administrator. And all the politics in between. This can manifest in any number of ways at the level of direct treatment providers..front line workers like me.
Mostly though it manifests as the front line workers getting blamed for lots of what goes wrong at the supervisor's level. Supervisors are caught in the middle. Some have the guts and integrity to take the blame themselves and not involve their front line employees in blame-casting.
I won't say here which sort of supervisor mine is, as this blog message is not intended as an arena for me to vent, just a space in time for me to sincerely check in and tell you what's happening with me, to make it more real and more true by putting it into actual words.
Then there's the reality of the shift work that I do, and the long shifts, up to 12 hours, that I work. The sensation of not ever feeling caught up on sleep, not even after several days off in a row.
My leave was such a gift, I actually got to feeling normal towards the end!
I never left town, didn't travel, didn't trek through rainforests or lay on tropical beaches, or anything of the sort. Just relaxed at home and tended to my alternative health office for a few hours each day. It was so deeply relaxing. It was so nice to have time to spend with my *grown* daughter, and son, and my mother, and my friends. It was so nice to have plenty of time to leisurely make my way each morning to the local Co-op for a fruit smoothie and a nice salad.
I can't seem to replicate that level of relaxation, clarity, and, indeed, sanity during my days off between workweeks. I thought I could, but so far it's not happening. Oh, I can go through the motions. I can go to the Co-op, drink a fruit smoothie, the whole nine yards, but the sense of relaxation is not there anymore. And I can't seem to imagine it into being.
I feel like crying now. And I will, if need be. Maybe I can finish writing this first.
Our society in America is set up so that the obligation to work for a living is mandatory for most folks. Bless those of you who for one reason or another don't "have to" work. Bless you, really.
Bless me, too.
There are other levels of toxicity. I haven't even delved into 50% of what I've experienced since being "back in the fold", so to speak.
I know there are people out there who work in environments far more toxic than where I am employed. Bless you too. Bless those who've worked with toxins such as plutonium, especially if you didn't want to, or weren't informed how dangerous it was. (We're talking many years in the past here).
Then there's the air we breathe. And the tap water. And the pharmaceutical industry. At work I dispense medications to clients in little plastic cups. I hate that part of my job. Hate it.
I'm open to something new. And I'm actively looking for other employment.
I would like to spend my work time doing something that is not toxic for me or anyone else. That's why I love being here at my alternative health office so much. It's a nurturing place, safe, calm, quiet (most of the time) and people seem to like to come here.
Ah, if only I made enough money here to even pay the rent. What a beautiful dream that would be!
The answer is somewhere. I have faith that living toxin free is possible.
For the people I love.
For all of us.
Thank you for listening.
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