Mary Holtrop Mental Health Occupational Health


by Mary Holtrop

At my employment we returned to work in mid-May. I remained on site due to the nature of my job and the fact that we had building projects happening while we were closed and I oversaw these projects. The Director and the rest of the Department heads and some staff returned to work at least part time in mid-May. While we were preparing to re-open our building to the public in a Phase in process it was clear there was tension, differences of opinions, and strong feedback on what we should and should not do. Emotions were high. Employees were tense, uptight and stressed out. To be honest, part of me was a little confused by these feelings since these employees have been working from home, part time, since March. And where as I didn’t mind coming in I have to admit I was slightly confused by their comments of needing a break, wanting a vacation, need to take time off and other comments similar to this. Part of me was thinking “Didn’t you just have that?” But I tried to put these negative thoughts behind me.

Since mid-May we have opened our building and so far things are going pretty well. Outside of a few reminders and clarifications about our safety guidelines, most people are happy we are open and happy to be out and about. And I am genially glad about this. But I wonder about the 2 months of disagreements, people snapping at each other, and what I perceived as me often being the lone logical manager in the building. I believed while working through the details as a group we often overthought issues. We didn’t plan well. Too much was left for the last minute. And our leader was not leading us. I didn’t feel supported. In fact, I felt just the opposite. In heated discussions often the votes would be 6-1 with me being the 1. I felt some of our conversations almost verged on paranoid. I kept asking “if we are this concerned, why are we opening.” This has left me, the one who I felt at least had their priorities straight, now feeling very emotional and stressed out. The rest of the managers are all very happy. But they truly put me through the winger. There was no real right or wrong on what we were discussing. Mostly it was about safety measures. I kept saying “we can do everything we possibly can, but if we open our doors, the COVID is going to get in some way somehow.

I read a blog our director posted last week and I was surprised because my perception of how she lead us is completely different from hers. She talked about how she guided us with self-care activities; how she was anxious to open our building; how we are all doing much better now that we are open; how she gave her best of everything to her
staff and to her job, and how she helped us during the times of differences of opinions, disagreements and confusion.
I guess I just didn’t see what she saw and I didn’t experience what she said she did to help us. And again there is no real right or wrong here but I can say that I didn’t feel supported or guided. I didn’t feel she lead us with care and concern. I felt the situation was toxic with managers often being rude and disrespectful and sometimes snapping at each other. I am sure if we come together a few months down the road to discuss this our different perception of the last few months will be apparent. But this I do know, their behavior, her lack of response to what was happening impacted me.


I sought out support through EAP which I can’t say is really helping me. I am using my own tools to try and stay mentally strong and healthy. But I am not sure I can ever feel contentment, happiness or joy at work again. I feel I cannot trust them to handle a crises and to come together as a team to address the needs of our staff and our building. Part
of me wants to discuss this with our leader and part of me tells me to let it go. Will my feedback open her eyes? Will she learn from this? Or is this me needing to accept the things I cannot change.