How to Complain: Pride of Person


There are two directions to go in filing an effective complaint.  One is to follow the money and the other is to follow the licensure path.  In short, threaten the abusive person’s livelihood.  That gets their attention real fast.

In regard to the money, ask yourself who signs the offending person’s paycheck and then head in that direction to file your complaint.  In the case of lower level employees, such as receptionists, ask to speak to their supervisor or the office manager.  Go over the offender’s head.  The offensive person never sees it coming.  They think that they are the law and can order you around as they see fit.  They never expect you to go over their head; they do not realize that you—the end-point recipient of services—have the wit to complain to their supervisor.

In a well-run organization, the supervisor will see your point, give you an apology, and reprimand the recalcitrant underling.  However, if you are not satisfied with the supervisor’s response, then go to the agency’s director.  In one instance I went through two levels of supervisors, who both defended the frontline worker, then I got to the director, who fired the girl.  If, when it’s just between you and God, you know that the offender was out of line, then keep filing your complaint up the line.

What I have learned is that the higher you go up the hierarchy, the smarter the management people are.  Keep going until you reach the person who’s smart enough to see the big picture and know that the employee was wrong.  This is how you handle minor problems with low-level bullies, of which there are a great many in the psychiatric system.  Everybody thinks they are the boss of people with psychiatric diagnoses.  They are not.  Do not let obnoxious little people be mean to you.  Push back.  It will make you feel very good about yourself.  You will feel powerful.

This is how you deal with people who earn an hourly wage, such as receptionists, clerks, case managers and technicians.  When it comes to salaried people, it’s different.  Then we would be talking about social workers, psychologists and physicians who have to have licenses in order to practice.  With them, you start by filing complaints with their supervisors but you need to be more formal about it.

You should make a distinction between complaining about an annoying person who is bothering you and an abusive person who has hurt you.  The degree of injury you have suffered—the depth and the length of the pain—are important.  Everybody does things that bother other people and we all learn to just forget it.  If, half an hour after you are away from the offender, you can forget about the incident then do so.  If it keeps coming back to haunt you then you have to address it.

I know this is hard.  Once you get a psychiatric diagnosis then people start to invalidate you.  Your utterances are attributed to a “psychiatric patient” and everybody knows that psych patients are liars, distort things, and don’t understand how things work.  “Psychiatric patients” are now down at the bottom of the barrel where niggers and faggots used to be.  African-Americans and homosexuals fought back and gained pride of person; psych patients must do the same thing.  You are a child of God, born to walk in the sunlight.  Stand up and take your place.

But first you’ve got to get the assholes and crapheads out of the way.  It’s okay to take it in baby steps.  File your first complaint with an office manager.  As you see your effectiveness and your ability to create change, you will become stronger and more assertive.  And then (tee-hee, when you’re fully grown like me) you can take on entire hospitals, multimillion dollar agencies, and guys who boss hundreds of employees.  It takes practice.  You learn as you go along.  Start anywhere you want to, but do start.

The most important thing is not the change you cause in somebody else’s behavior or in the policy and practices of an agency.  What is of greater importance is the change you create in yourself.  You start to hold your head higher and lengthen your stride.  You understand that you matter and that you are a power to be reckoned with.  You are not a loser; you are not the person whom everybody looks down on.

Every time you push back, you regain the self-respect that was your birthright.  You acquire pride of person.  Go for it.

About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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