We asked Marc Ewen, founder of EXE Trainers and former social work practitioner, about his employment journey and the impact of being a Survivor on his workplace experience.
Life gave us lemons
This series demonstrates the value to your organisation of supporting Survivors of childhood trauma. It’s intended to be uplifting, while being mindful of the fact that many are not receiving the support they need. As ever, every Survivor travels a unique path.
We’d love to hear from you if you know a Survivor who’d like to contribute their story.
WHAT’S MY ROLE?
For the past few years I have been developing myself as a mental health and social care trainer, in addition to a course writer and developer. My role in life is to get things right the first time. I spend my life dedicating and using my hyper-vigilance to produce high-quality training delivery and associated services. I am committed to sharing my life, personal & professional skills, knowledge and narrative to help others, and equally to aid my continuing development.
I continue to develop my business and networks, I am majoritively a sole trader, but I have used associates in the past and looking to develop my existing collaborations soon, as this is where I see my growth and skills best happening.
WHAT HAVE I FOUND USEFUL FROM EMPLOYERS?
This is tricky for me, largely since my cumulative experience of employers has been overall somewhere between ok and dangerous to my health. If I was to be “objective in hindsight” I would say the following would have been helpful:
a) To ask me how to support me, being specific
b) To listen and hear when I give responses to the above question – as opposed to just paying lip service
c) If any “rock road” is apparent then speak to me, get to understand why I may (or not) react in each way – don’t label me as disruptive, just because you don’t understand me.
d) Don’t just step into my shoes but walk around for a decent length of time.
e) Look at your own emotional and MH needs as an employer and be honest about your limits to your management. It is better to be honest about not being able to manage so well, rather than trying to push honey up a hill in the future!
f) To provide a safe place if things get tough – but this needs to be agreed upon before an “incident” occurs.
g) Employers must upskill themselves in how to manage MH in the workplace, sometimes existing skills are out of date and often not enough.
h) Employers need to be confident they can support the wider team and iron out any issues before they become a greater risk.
WHAT HAS NOT BEEN HELPFUL IN THE WORKPLACE?
1. Employers wrongfully labelling behaviour, responses or attitudes as disruptive. A developed understanding of mental health will go a long way to dispelling what are essentially harmful behaviours & responses.
2. For managers to cry they have no time, or not enough time to listen.
3. Managers must be very mindful of what over-disclosing and sharing too much personal information and narrative can do and be aware of the impact it can have not only on individual employees but the wider team/organisation.
4. For the team to have a fragmented and differing view of a person’s needs, there needs to be a consensus of approach and thought.
5. To ignore a problem or procrastinate over it. Time really is in the essence when you are managing mental health in your employees.
6. Don’t underestimate what a person can do! Often people have pronounced skills that are highly valuable to an employer, such as in my case my attention to detail directly related to my diagnosis of complex PTSD is a skill to be valued and appreciated and used in the best ways possible.
7. Make sustained efforts to involve (if they consent) to people in out of work social activities. As often people with MH issues feel very isolated which can sometimes be easily addressed with simple invitations!
LOOKING BACK, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE IMPACT OF YOUR CHILDHOOD TRAUMA HAS BEEN ON YOUR CAREER?
This is not always the easiest question to reply to, since “it has always been that way”.
I will outline the most impacting 5 features:
1. To struggle with trusting people – that they are not going to bring harm to me – either directly or indirectly.
2. Has enabled me to become highly focused and measured in my thoughts & behaviours.
3. Made me a very sentient being, mostly this is a good thing. But the temptation to become “caring for the world and not the self” is ever-present.
4. Has enabled me tremendous insight and reflective thinking to be able to show extended empathy towards others in a wide range of life situations.
5. Perhaps most of all my childhood trauma has enabled me to develop my sense of justice, what is right and wrong to a high degree and can use this to fight for myself and others.
· I have been through many harrowing situations & events. What I have managed to do overall is “engineer my own resilience” what works for me and how it works. Ranging from using mindfulness to travelling to writing. Most of all my saviour has been my ability to work and feel part of something bigger than myself.
· I cling to my belief that I am extremely grateful for what I have and not to lead a life of greed but of need.
· I have become dedicated to producing high quality training and course creation. I strive to give the best and I am definitely on that road!
· “I really have been there” and feel comfortable sharing this and my narrative. This is a powerful tool I have taken great time to develop, not without pain!
· I maintain my high integrity, honesty and loyalty. Because being a survivor you can easily see the world as a “snake pit” and people in it. For me, I have developed my self-confidence to enable me to see the world as a fascinating, forgiving and ultimately beautiful place to be!
Trainer & Founder EXE Expert service user trainers & independent consultancy
Disclaimer: Goddard Consultants Coaching Practice CIC is not responsible for the view expressed in this article – the views expressed are those of the blog article author. Blog articles are not an endorsement of an individual or a service.