I've had another tough week and I need support to end it well tomorrow. I was diagnosed with bronchitis yesterday, and took a rare sick day. Today I kept an appointment with a surgeon to see about having surgery in May. While driving to my appointment I had a life and death phone call from a student in crisis to top it all off.
I've had 2 calls this week from this good student who took my community college death and dying class last Fall. In the first he told me his sister died of a heroin overdose, and to tell his teachers about it so they'd know why he was absent from a day of classes for her funeral, which I did. Today he called to say he was depressed, couldn't get out of bed until 2pm, and felt at risk.
Concerned he might self-medicate with heroin like his sister who overdosed on it, I got going. I know our college's counselor, so I got him to make an appointment with him for tomorrow for talk therapy. Concerned about the street drug vs. legitimate antidepressant issue, though, I did more. I called my own psychiatrist and asked if he could see my student asap.
My psychiatrist obliged and did his intake right over the phone. That done, then I had to report to my boss at the college to document it all for legal liability. That's how the plot thickens to put me in crisis not only concerning my acute bronchitis, but my boss and PTSD stigma.
I came out of the closet about my PTSD when I went up for tenure at my college in 2016 and got blowback in the form of twice as many interviews before the tenure committee than required of anyone else. In them, insulting questions were asked that showed a clear PTSD stigma. My teaching evaluations and credentials were impossible to dispute, so the tenure committee voted me anyway, although they wrote for the record that they did so with, in their words, "grave concern" about my PTSD disclosure.
At that time in 2016 I accepted tenure, saying some day I would probably need a disability accommodation to stop teaching overloads because of PTSD at my age. I sat the college vice president and the head of human resources down and had it put on the record. However, in 2017 when I did invoke what was written, the response was as if it caught them by surprise, and my boss required that I put it all on the record again in the presence of a dean in October 2017.
I give all of that background here to say that documenting to my boss now that I helped a student by referring him to my psychiatrist is likely to be met with hostility tomorrow. My boss covers her own back and throws others under the bus rather than risk her career whether anyone is in crisis or not.
Two students this week who made lots of noise requesting simple help with other Spanish courses I teach got all kinds of attention from my boss, but she will not be happy to hear about this more important help for a student who is really in crisis.
I'm asking for support in the blowback from her I can expect tomorrow, even though I'm glad I heard back from the student at the end of the day that he's safe and seeing both a talk therapist and a meds doc. I know I did the right thing, but in a workplace in which no good deed involving my PTSD goes unpunished, I'd like some support.
Please don't just tell me to get a lawyer; I've decided to take the approach instead of getting through 2 more years of teaching until I retire. As an alternative, I also have had 2 interviews in the last 2 weeks with other colleges for jobs where I might be promoted to Chair if selected. So I'm asking for support for a non-lawyer approach.
I am feeling well enough with my bronchitis after two days of antibiotics to handle teaching tomorrow. However, there are no antibiotics for PTSD stigma I can take to prepare me if my boss responds to my PTSD's mention in helping this student the way she has to mention of my PTSD in the past. For that the antibiotic is your support.
Specifically: I hope she doesn't haul me in before the dean again like she did last October when I requested my PTSD disability accommodation. Please hope so with me. Fingers crossed.