I haven't written very much this year so far. I'm kinda bummed about that. Writing is something that helps my brain. It quietens my thoughts and organises them into something cohesive. It also gives me a voice. I'm happy to write even if none reads this (but am secretly thrilled and actually quite amazed when people do!). So, what has been stopping me from getting in front of my keyboard? Life.
It's been a bit of a shit start to the year. Peter's workplace situation has gotten worse. Here's a summary for anyone playing catchup. They decided that the best way to deal with anxiety in a workplace is with heavy handed bureaucracy. This approach involved a document for his doctors including such supportive and caring questions such as 'Is Peter capable of doing his job' and 'Is he a threat to his colleagues or our clients'. Nice one. This shows how well some organisations understand anxiety and depression. Most people would be horrified if these questions were asked about them. But if you want to push someone suffering anxiety over the edge this is a great place to start.
A quick internet search offered up some amazing alternative approaches. Sane.org had a lot of info on returning to work and how workplaces and employers can help employees with mental illnesses. It used lots of words like 'understanding' and 'support'. OK, so workplaces have processes but you need bosses and people in HR with skills to deal with the HUMAN in human relations. Read this fantastic alternative approach from Sane. I also found the Jobs in Jeopardy page from the Australian Government looking at ways of keeping people employed.
The hardest part of all this is seeing how it affected Peter. My lovely, funny, creative and loving husband was reduced to an anxiety riddled shaking mess. Terrified most days of stepping out the front door, let alone going to work. He has spent most of this year at home, swimming in doctors appointments, contacting Union reps and sorting through paperwork for his workplace. He quickly ran out of sick leave so stopped getting paid. There's nothing quite like financial stress to help any situation in life, I've always found. We've had weeks when just getting to friday night seemed like huge achievement. Some breathing space for me from my own work, and time for rest.
I read this article recently about how you can't love someone into wellness. I had a lump in my throat as the read the Facebook comments of people who felt isolated and alone while their partners went through something we are powerless to help them with. Someone told Peter a number of years ago how depression is selfish. It takes over your behaviour and thoughts and makes you retreat. The reality is that this is hard on both people in the relationship. I have run the gamut of every emotion from anger and frustration to profound sadness. I've read articles and websites where offering to help people with anxiety with stuff like paperwork, admin and phone calls really helps. My problem is that my own work is so busy it hasn't really left room for this as an option. It doesn't stop my brain from trying to find 'solutions' though.
Peter and I have maintained a routine for a few years now. When I get home from work we hug for about fine minutes (or longer depending on how tiring and shit our days may have been). I realise this is important to our closeness and perhaps there are regular couple's who don't even do this. Maybe as we started out in a long distance relationship having him there when I get home still feels like a novelty.
Life retreated for us both in the last two months. We cancelled holiday plans for later in the year (a trip to Tassie to go to MONA) which broke both our hearts. We budgeted to pay bills but also tried to find small joys in going out for coffee. It's hard to not feel like you're drowning. Drowning in debts, policy and paperwork, worry and of course...anxiety. But Peter is due to go back to work on Monday. I wish we were in a different financial situation so he could just leave his toxic workplace. But life is never that simple. I've realised that in dealing with this I have also retreated a lot. I'm doing an exceptionally crap job of keeping in contact with friends and family. Sorry if I haven't texted, emailed or phoned you in a while. All my energy is currently being spent elsewhere. Fingers crossed I'll resurface soon. I've made it to my keyboard to write this, which is a start.