Alzheimer’s & The Fear Of Being Judged

Alzheimer’s & The Fear Of Being Judged

  • Basma El BazAuthor: Basma El Baz Publish date: Tuesday، 28 September 2021 Last update: Thursday، 21 September 2023
Alzheimer's & The Fear Of Being Judged

My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s for 5 long years, and this meant our whole life as a family was severely impacted in every aspect possible, emotionally, mentally, financially; you name it. But the career part of things remained intact for a very wrong reason.

Every day after work, I would return home to find my mom insisting on going out to visit her mother, who passed away many years ago, and so me and my sister, or me and my brother would roam the streets till 2 am pretending to be searching for grandma’s presumed house till mom gets too tired and sleepy. Sometimes things would escalate to violence and screams, other times it was a matter of repeating things over and over, and lying every day to the question of “why do I have a scar on my chest?” by saying “Don’t worry mom, it will be fine tomorrow” because we couldn’t tell her she had a mastectomy.

The idea of a nursing home for her was not an option because I couldn’t bear the idea that someone could hurt her and she would not be able to tell me. So, after every rough night, and though my mother’s illness was not a secret, I had to show up at work composed, focused, productive, and able to handle all sorts of usual work pressures, be it challenging goals or office politics. I was leading a team and managing important projects, so I wanted to make sure that I was not showing any shred of fatigue or weakness that could undermine my position, for fear of being judged. Many times, I felt emotionally and physically drained, unable to deal with any office politics, but then I handled things as if nothing was going on. Looking back at things now, 2 years after my mom passed away, I think this had a hard hit on my emotional well-being.

I wish more companies would be able to find ways of supporting employees who are going through challenging times because let’s face it, most companies do stigmatize you for letting your personal life impact your job; if you started showing any signs of distress, or the need to take some time off for your mental and emotional health. Companies see employees as assets – since everything is measured in terms of the ROI – but these assets happen to be human beings who yes could work under pressure, but at what price?

Companies could succeed in providing options or privileges that would help in achieving the balance between employees’ productivity and their well-being while having regulatory rules to prevent misuse.

Looking back at those 5 years, I feel proud of our small family, how we came together to make sure our mom had the best possible care, and though I feel proud of myself for juggling all the balls at the same time, I believe I should have not been forced to, I should have been able to find options to help me do my job but at the same time take care of my emotional health during difficult times. This doesn’t mean I didn’t find gestures from some in higher management to support, I did, but at the end of the day, they were individual initiatives based on the goodwill of those managers, not based on a proper system of the company to support the staff, which meant I could ask for those “favors” only scarcely.

Till more companies adopt more humane policies, I salute every person who is going through a challenging time but acing it at work. GO, HEROES.

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