The year begins proper

https://youtu.be/SZNsvUT0DQQ

January is just a warm up for the rest of the year. People and the services they provide are still off on leave at the start, the come back in over time about a week in, taking days off to share child care for the long summer holidays, and more and more working from home due to covid precautions and generally increasing flexibility for the office worker after two years of realising a lot of things and the busywork of offices really isn’t essential.

I remember working over the summer holidays as a school-age speech pathologist. Planning and photocopying for the year ahead, booking up term one with appointments and workshops and meetings and training days. Seeing the older kids, the high schoolers, the ones that don’t do well being pulled out of school or class for appointments, finalising formal language assessments and reports for the next round of funding.

This month, January 2022, has had some planning for me. Goal setting, remembering where everything was working up to before Xmas and this new Covid rush.

So what are my plans for early 2022, now that I’ve taken most of January to re-establish a routine (yes, down to plotting it out on my calendar) and catch up with my therapists and co-conspirators?

Well, I’ve booked in for Japanese night classes for May and June thanks to a semi-anonymous benefactor named Eric who, after me posting about it on Twitter, sent the $310 needed to my PayPal bright and early one Monday morning, making my day, making my week and month! I was seriously buzzing after that, and it really helped me to focus on getting my other plans in place for this six months in order to get the most out of Eric’s gift. I’d already signed up for a trial of Duolingo as suggested by my psych, which is going along well, my hiragana and katakana is still functional but you should see me make the stupidest mistakes on there. The little broken hearts for mistakes do me in! I need to decide now whether to continue with a paid account so I can “clear” and practice my mistakes (and of course use any other feature on there) or just suck it up or you know, just get it right the first time!

I’ll need to start practicing speaking a writing too, speaking I can apparently do on there since I have a mic, but I’ll have to push myself to do writing, particularly so I can actually recognise and use the more complex kanji. I might get a workbook, or printable worksheets. Not sure yet.

Next up, I’m going to be taking part in a series of focus groups for Ausgrid over the next few months. I get paid $1000 at the end which is pretty sweet, so I’ve popped them into my diary and hope we do get to do some of the sessions down in Sydney as planned, cos I quite like a day out down there on the train and a catered lunch :p

Third thing for the coming months is the Federal Election and being involved in the local Greens campaigns how I can. I might be getting involved in the social media role and the advertising stuff. There’s training tomorrow which will give me more skills and information and also includes anti-bulling and “don’t get sued for defo by Dutton” training, so I’ll figure out if I’m up for the role after that! The election could be up to May 24th, and that time will fly once it’s called.

Fourth, but of course the most important, is continuing with my therapy and other appointments and homework. I might need to see if we can change my individual therapy session so I’m available for more or of the lunchtime campaign meetings, but my psych has already said that would be quite alright given it’s a part of working towards my goals. The group sessions are still 2.5 hours on Thursday afternoons. I really hope they go back to face to face in a month or so when we’re maybe past the worst of Omicron, but no one has any timelines, and we were just about to go back to f2f after Xmas, but then the surge hit and threw all that into disarray. The telehealth format isn’t ideal and I feel like brings up more communication problems. I really hope we’re in f2f by the time we’re doing the interpersonal effectiveness module at least!

We’re doing the Emotion Regulation module of the DBT program at the moment, and I’m struggling a little with whether my pushing through is actually opposite action and thus good, or I’m just sucking it up and masking even more and that’s working against me. I’ve more or less concluded that I’m probably autistic, and people I know and respect agree with my reasoning, so I’m trying to respect that part of me, and incorporate the strategies from DBT for borderline personality disorder into my life while learning more about how I inherently function and building on my sensory toolkit and being compassionate to myself and the little girl that struggled for so long.

I’m also still taking Antabuse tablets daily to assist me in staying sober so I can do all the things. At the moment that involves fortnightly visits to the Mater to get the medications and touch base individually, and fortnightly group sessions online using Teams. The group was only two patients, a nurse and the psychiatrist today, and I’m starting to dread the smaller groups to an extent and hope it’s much bigger next fortnight! Group for DBT last week at one point was me, two psychologists and a psych student, so it was a bit intense. At least they run it like we’re all participants when it’s like that otherwise I’d surely run away!

As far as working goes, I have my mutual obligations exemption til the end of June, so I’ll be working on my goals towards being more articulate and able to participate through my therapy, election work and Japanese classes, and look to pick up with a disability employment service in July. I don’t really know what I want to be doing work wise, I have ideas, but we’ll see. My partner is still running his business, and I’m helping out with that by being available, putting out the washing and feeding him. I still claim to be in Facebook social media manager, though there’s not much going on over there at the moment!

I think that’s plenty for me to be committing to for now!

Bring on the election!

Pre-existing conditions, let us count the ways our deaths would be ‘splained away

How good are distractions like the child forklift drivers or the tennis, or Sam Kerr? How good is it not to have to think about the ways the government is happy to put us in danger to maintain their relationships with their donors (how IS Gerry Harvey anyway?) or their so-called principles. I say so-called, because they WILL change on a donors whim (oh who’s laughing now about Djokovic? Certainly not Rio Tinto!)

We sit here looking on in wonder, while Daddy Domicron tells us he’ll have a plan for back to school in the coming days, Labor refuses to call for a suspension on Mutual Obligations (except a lone voice from the ACT, don’t tell me having the Greens sharing the power doesn’t help Labor fulfil their progressive promise!), and I wonder if it’s worth asking my chemist to send me the RATs I get under a concession card out with my Webster Pak’ed mads, even though technically I’m supposed to go in in person to collect them, wouldn’t want us welfare recipients getting something without jumping through unnecessarily dangerous hoops!

Back to those pre-existing conditions, though. The ones that get listed alongside the ages of the dead and whether they’ve had first, second, third or more vaccinations, in order to make the voters feel safe to go about their day, to keep the economy ticking along, because she’s the most important creature in the room and we must be willing to pay tribute to her.

Personally, if I die of Covid, they’ll take one look at my weight and that’ll be the first things listed, more important than my young age (39) or the fact that I’m 2x AZ vaccinated, and can’t get a booster til the 10th Feb, though that will also play a role in their one-sentence obituary. Surely, my mental health will get a line. “Severe mental illness” is not a well-defined term, but data from the last two years is repeatedly showing that people with mental illnesses that have led to hospitalisation are much more susceptible to Covid, even when other factors like a higher smoking rate and socio economics are taken into account. Just be thankful you don’t have schizophrenia and thus be at higher risk of infection at home or in the hospital, but also readily triaged as a lower priority for high level care if I do many to access it.

Doctors and ethicists consider the role of triage and the roll of the Do Not Resuscitate order in a health system in crisis here and abroad (Fury at ‘do not resuscitate’ notices given to Covid patients with learning disabilities), while I see friends on Twitter getting their affairs in order as Omicron circles around them, worried that their disability will not be the thing that led them to getting covid, but the detail that means they are second in line for the ICU bed.

Myself? I’m doing all I can to stay Covid-free. I do my groceries at the quiet times, I see my therapists on Telehealth, I count down the days til my booster is available. I live in my small little world, coddling my mental health, knowing that an admission due to suicidal behaviours would be more dangerous than just letting my attempts to push myself to having a more interesting and varied life sit back for another few months while the world sorts itself out and we hopefully don’t create yet another variant just as I’m wanting to step out to play.

So, for those of you reassured that only those with pre-existing conditions are dying, take a moment to think about why they have been allowed to catch Covid in the first place, and why, in a highly stressed system, their ambulance might be ramped longer or they’ve been prioritised lower for a call from healthcare in the home.

Smol World

Psychologists like to describe my world as becoming very small over the years, to the smallness it is now, where I go out for grocery shopping at the Friday I go to the hospital to pickup my Antabuse, pausing to only see family occasionally, and less and less with Covid conditions kicking in.

I feel small, sitting in my telehealth appointment bringing up how I’m overwhelmed by small things, seemingly small things, like planning and cooking dinner, doing the dishes and clothes washing. I reminded again that “should” isn’t really helping me here. I should be able to manage these things with ease, not feel overwhelmed with the tiniest thing in my routine. Should I be able to expand my world to include going out and about, socialising, working, studying, being the outgoing girl I have been? I’d like to do more, grow my small little world. But it’s scary and I feel small, shrinking away, and useless, so much useless.

I remembered why I felt sad over the weekend, remembering not living up to people’s expectations as a person, as a speech pathologist, as a disability support worker. Not living up to the me on paper, not being able to live up to what I’d set up for myself.

Managers “suggesting” things like eating lunch in the lunch room and being more of the team when I really and truly would not be able to function for the second half of the work day if I forced myself to do lunch rather than going out for a walk on my own. I didn’t do that in the workplace I felt most comfortable in, why would I be able to do that in the one where me and my world were falling apart around me?

Back in uni, in my first speech pathology placement in second year at the local Community Health Centre, I’d scurry up the hallway in the mornings without stopping for the customary good mornings and how are yous. My anxiety just squashing any part that thought that would be of benefit to me or others. That this routine was expected that I needed to take part in it.

I just want to feel on top of my little life, and then I want to branch out. I’m going to branch out – I plan to go to the Greens meeting next week, I have enrolled in a Japanese class thanks to the generosity of Twitter fam. I’ll see my sister and the kids on Friday while I’m out for my Friday stuff, getting an OzHarvest bag I hope, if they even have any given how sparse the supermarkets have been, will there be hand-me-downs available for us?

I have a lot of bad dreams, about school and uni and work. Always never fitting in, always out of place and struggling to fit in. I have so many memories about trying to do the right thing and just not getting it right. Who knew the rules were so simple and yet I could manage to get them wrong?

I’m pleased to have my Twitter family. My smol world is much bigger with you. x

Tempting Madness

I only really needed to do one adulting thing today – take the car for a rego check – but it seems I let the weight and distraction of the world build up on me, over the day, and let it all hit me shortly before I needed to go.

Spoiler alert- I did get the rego check done, it was passed with no issue! Yay!

I don’t know how it started. last night I went to bed with an overdrawn bank account because the bills came out and I’m a silly little girl who, when she got her JobSeeker payment 5 days early with the public holidays over Christmas KNEW she was likely to mis-assess her spending in this time and would come up short a little early this extended fortnight. And I tried, I really did, but one day off on the bills. Silly little girl. So that started it I guess.

Bad dreams overnight? I think so, keep having highschool and university people and places and events. Keep having difficulties at them. No, I DON’T want to relive any of that tyvm.

Got up, had coffee, and breakfast and meds and made small plans for the day – washing and washing up and getting the rego done. Also take the dog to do the recycling so he gets a run and I get the diet coke cans out of my car before the rego check. And Have $10 extra to put back into my bank account. (I hate hate overdraw fees! I’m already broke when you charging me $15 more RIGHT NOW??)

So, took the dog out, he had his run and his poop. It rained a little. Did the recycling. Didn’t really have to interact with anyone. Nice.

Came home, did dishes and stuff. I don’t know what happened here. Oh yeah, Bruce got home to have lunch and was talking to me about an injured bird and going out on a boat with his boss and the waves and he brought in a parcel for me (omg A chewy necklace from my wishlist

which I honestly hope someone else purchased for me because it’s not on record of my amazon purchases and I can’t remember ordering it but I think I have a memory of thinking about ordering uit, and this is why I don’t have a credit card anymore because I honestly impulse buy and don’t remember and it’s totally a BPD related thing) and I was focussed on that and figuring it out and not listening and got all a flustered when I realised I hadn’t been taking it in but making all the right noises and I’d lost 10 minutes.

Then Bruce checked the lights in the car and had to change 2 bulbs and went to get them from Repco 5 minutes before I was meant to be up at UltraTune for the inspection, but that was okay too and it worked out.

But then WHY did I go into Coles while I was waiting? THAT was a silly choice, I didn’t even want to buy anything, and yeah

So It’s taken the rest of the afternoon to wind down, with chewing things and frozen poppers and sensory tools and Animal Crossing and I made dinner and I think I’m almost human again but I’ve lost time. And sanity and I know this is the first real day I’ve had like this, and some of it was Covid stressors, like the two deaths in Lake Macquarie overnight. Two more since the two from the aged care. And that got to me. And sent me slightly spiralling, and then it got worse from there.

I know it’s unlikely that if and when I get covid it

ll be bad for me personally, but what if it’s not? So glad the family had Omicron over Xmas, not glad they were sick but hooping that means they won’t get worse ones down the track. My sister is exhausted from it still. But she never gets to rest. The Pope says I’m selfish for not having kids. I don’t think I could do what my sister does. I’d have gone off the deep end further and sooner and repeatedly.

I’m scared to tempt fate though. Relieved I never had kids but sad about it nonetheless.

Add me on AC? Friend code SW-0541-2956-7407

2022?

been musing a little depressively over on twitter about how 2022 was supposed to the be year I got to go out and do things and expand my life and all that and now with Omicron it all seems a bit too hard and crap and like opportunities are already slipping out of my fingers.

There’s threads asking about how your health care has been impacted by covid if you have a chronic illness or are disabled. My thoughts on that were around how it feels like pushing myself outside of my little mental health safe zone while the supports to catch me if I stumble or hit crisis mode seems like the wrong thing to do. Selfish and dangerous. One of the things I was going to do this year was see if moderate “social” drinking and I could have a thing again, now that I’ve been building up skills to apply from therapy to use instead of alcohol as a coping / unravelling mechanism. I’d really love to spend my 40th birthday doing wine tasting with my partner and have that day be a happy memory and not a regret or the start of something horrible. I also know that I may not be able to just socially drink, but I want to try it again armed with skills and self-awareness and strategies and supports. yes, it’s a little selfish, but pretty much any goals of mine involve me trying things that are outside my comfort zone, and I don’t wanna rule anything out. You may see me posting about how that all went horribly wrong later this year, but you might not. I wanna try new things, or old things with new ways.

I was lamenting that my therapy might not be as effective as its so far all been via telehealth. Microsoft teams meetings with my therapist, my DBT group, my Antabuse group. I joked in a group late last year that I was really looking forward to going back to face to face groups because my social skills had deteriorated over Covid. Not a joke. I’m out of practice and the anxiety around things I used to do is immense. I can still go about and do things, I’m just incredible fatigued afterwards. Spoon budgeting is critical, but I also wanna work on it. And if I’m going to do a whole module on “interpersonal effectiveness” it’d be good to have people other than my partner and dog to practice on.

My plan to expand my little world by participating in things that interest me. Picking back up a Japanese class may now be reduced back to doing kanji in a workbook from Amazon. The federal election should be a chance to keep involved in Greens events and the like, but I again want things to be back IRL. It’s harder but gooder for me on a personal level.

At the start of December, before the Argyle nightclub became a superspreader event, there was talk from my doctors and therapists that therapy and groups would go back to in-person. This held a lot of promise for me – The DBT sessions would be right in Newcastle, and I could top up my Opal card and catch the train, and buy a coffee, and look at the beach and all the lovely things that come from being forced to leave the house. The mater sessions going back to weekly groups would also increase my social interactions, and I miss the routine of getting the OzHarvest bags from the local charity and loaves of bread to split with my sister, a reason to visit her more often. I was going to go back to “Cupcake Thursday” but perhaps on a Monday, where I’d go to my parents after school and catch up with the niblings. One is starting HS this year, the second youngest into Kinder. It was in my plans and goals, but it’s hard to time and to do when school is on and off, or you’re wary of getting your loved ones sick, or it’s actually against the rules. But the family all had Xmas covid, so it’s not up to me to infect them any more at least.

So, yeah, 2022 is up in the air. Yay :/ I wanted to have more hope that this.