Yes, work. I wanna talk about work.
I’ve restarted work!
Can you believe it? I can’t, not really.
That moment when I first had that gut wrenching, crippling “oh my goodness, I really might never ever work or fill a useful role again” feeling is still too vivid in my Feelings and Memories department! It was so vivid! So very, very vivid. And that feeling continued to haunt me for a few sedated months of uselessness. A terrible, awful feeling to be useless!! The only thing worse, is not being able to visualize a scenario where you will become more useful! There is no hope to be found in that situation, and without hope it is hard to see the why in continuing to struggle, battle, grind away in life. A dangerous place, a slippery slope.
Before mental illness descended and took me down with it, I was used to thinking of myself as a reasonably highly functioning human being balancing my roles as a housewife, a pharmacist, a family member, a friend, a female. Yes, being a female is a role to itself! Maybe being a male is too.
But then suddenly I wasn’t acting in almost any capacity as a housewife to my husband’s grief! I wasn’t actively being a pharmacist apart from dosing myself with prescribed pills, I wasn’t really performing as a friend or family member. What was I? Nothing much, just sitting there useless watching hubby cook tea every night as well as doing the dishes, getting the washing caught up, and the ironing, remembering the bills, the mail, the bins. And I got puffed walking 10 steps! And just sat there watching him work away, unable to get myself up to do the slightest thing to help, feeling guilt, shame, grief at the terrible state I was in, and was inflicting on my husband. What kind of wife, what kind of person…and etc!!
So this is an enormous step that I’ve taken! The symbolism of it, of talking a step forward towards a better place, and the confidence it gives, and the assurance of a place of usefulness in this world, and the feeling of skills retained and still able to be used, and the comraderie of the workplace and shop talk are all delightful to me!
I’m not blowing my own horn here. It’s an enormous step that I’ve taken, but without the building blocks beneath it wouldn’t stand. Of course I haven’t yet proven that it will stand, that I’ll be up to the job, so we won’t get ahead of ourselves. But I have to acknowledge at such a momentous occasion in my life the bricks holding up my castle. That ED nurse that suggested bipolar who I treated badly, Tran the first psychiatrist, Dr Katz my lifesaver psychiatrist, Richard my lifesaving GP, my incredible and amazing husband, excellent friends who never left me through it all, new friends who’ve been a great support, every person great and small in my life who has been there for me. I appreciated each and every one. Truly. I might not say it much but you touch my heart!
And of course it isn’t a step that just happened! In fact when the ad came up, I wasn’t feeling ready to get started back at work. Still tired, not getting much done at home, resting and napping a lot. I saw the ad and thought too soon. Then a friend contacted me and said I’ve seen the perfect job for you! All excited. So I thought about it again. Hospital, half time, 5 minutes walk from home, clinical. All in the pros column. And what was in the cons column? I think I can’t. That was it. So seriously, Danika!! And I applied. Got an interview in 2 weeks time. Heard about my success in a weeks time. Meant to start in 2 weeks time. That got pushed back 2 weeks, then back 2 weeks, then another week. By the time I started I was well ready to go!
Just goes to show once more, you never know until you go!
I thought I wasn’t ready, but over 10 weeks I had ample time to get my head around how I would manage. So much so that I was over-ready to start by the time it came around. If that’s even a thing!
I’d thought about how I would dress to cope with overheating and leg chafing, and bought some better fitting clothes (read: bigger, but I like the first one!) to make sure I had enough changes to alternate. I’d bought new shoes and worn them in. I’d thought about my strategy if I got too tired, too stressed, too hectic, too flat. I’d planned what I would do on the nights between shifts to reserve enough energy to back up one day of work with another, and then another. I’d stocked the fridge with meals for the week so I didn’t have to think about meal planning or shopping. Over thinker much? But whatever it takes to feel ready, and to be free in my mind to apply it to the real job stuff, not house stuff.
And here I am!
I’ve started/restarted work.
The last time I worked an 8 hour shift was 28th February, 2014. Yeah. Wow!
So my biggest issue and concern is stamina. That’s the last time I maintained concentration for the full working day. Back then it was second nature. I worked 80 hour fortnights without blinking! I didn’t even think about it, mostly, until the depression started creeping in. Then the end of the day was a bit too far away for my comfort. The day’s got longer and longer! I needed more energy than I had on board and the sugary supplementation started.
That was 18 months ago. So I’m naturally unsure of how I’m going to go getting through each 8 hour day, but as people have so rightly advised me, it’s a day at a day and that’s all you can really work with.
I worked half day shifts a couple of days a week for the last six weeks of the last job I had in October of last year, and getting through those was a bit of an endurance effort at the time. But my meds have been changed since then, I’m nowhere near as sedated, and generally I’m functioning at a higher level. I even made dinner twice this week! And vacuumed, changed the bed linen, did a couple of loads of laundry and drying, groceries and put out the bins! If you’d given that list as a prediction to my hubby not so far back he, despite his polite ways, would have laughed out loud in your face! And I would have died inside merely at the thought of it!
So you see it’s general progress and not just the obtaining of a job that’s being celebrated, and you’re welcome to join the party!! Come on in, there’s plenty of room, bring your excitement and happiness and we’re going to have a great time!!