Thursday, June 16, 2016

Recovery From Workplace Abuse: Totally Down for the Count



I left you last time in the back parking lot of my church.  Crying.  Devastated.  Ready to give up and give in to self destructive thoughts.

I started on what is turning out to be a blog series last year when I started to try to move out of my "safe" room and into life.

My thoughts at the time were that I wanted to reclaim what I had left.  Meaning left after all the losses following workplace abuse especially those physical/cognitive losses.

Moving out of my self imposed exile at that time in early 2015 turned out to be impossible because some of the affects like the debilitating fatique and anxiety came crashing back into my life like waves on the seashore after a huge storm.

I find myself again, now in mid 2016, at a point where I'm once again trying to take steps to reclaim my life.

However, in order for you, my reader, to fully appreciate where I am now and why what I'm doing now to reclaim my life is such a victory, you need to understand where I was.  Where I'm coming from in this journey of recovery post workplace abuse.


*****


After that incident, I talked with my counsellor at my next appointment about all the physical junk and how I was exhausted most of the time, spending most of my days in bed sometimes unable to do anything even sleep.  Just lying there, unmoving.  If I tried to get up, my body would feel shaky and weak.  Walking even within the house was hard as I tended to go off balance.  Talking.  Many times the thoughts, the words wouldn't come or if they did, they were all jumbled up.  I was still driving but I was starting to realize that my cognitive processes were so damaged that I was probably not safe on the road.  I figured that out AFTER I stepped on the gas instead of the brake at a corner and AFTER I pulled in front of a car at a roundabout.

It was time to rethink things.

The problem was that everything I had read about depression et al was that the best recovery strategy was to keep as normal a routine as possible.  Which is what I had been doing.  Which is why I went to that women's meeting even though I really wasn't feeling up to snuff.

Which was a huge mistake.

With the physical, the recommended tactic is to rest.  If you have to do nothing, do nothing.  If you need to sleep, sleep.  Etc.  Listen to your body.  Do what your body is telling you to do - or not do.

Therefore, my question to my therapist was: "What does a person do when they are experiencing both physical and emotional consequences? Continue with their normal routine or rest?"

Her answer.

The physical always takes precedence.

The conclusion.

No recovery was going to happen unless I started listening to my body.

So I did.

This one session changed the entire focus on my journey to recovery.

It soon became obvious that I had gone too long, too far on fumes alone.  There was no reserve energy left in the reservoir.  I wasn't going to suddenly snap back and become active again in a few weeks.  The "tank" was too empty and was going to take a very long time, if ever, to fill back up.

Days become weeks. Weeks became months.  Months ... continued to pile up and a new year, 2012, emerged.

There's a big problem with dropping out of life as you know it, staying home, and taking care of yourself.

Out of sight; out of mind.

People I was used to socializing with at church or at the women's weekly meetings didn't call, drop by, send a note, card or an email.  It's not that they didn't care.  It was simply that they didn't know what to do.  When it's a physical sickness, we all know what to do.  But what does one do when it's trauma? PTSD?  How do you reach out?

At the time, I was OK with this because frankly, all I know about trauma, PTSD and workplace abuse is what I've learned going through it.

I created my own safe place.  When I could get out of bed, I would sit in front of my computer watching DVDs or TV shows on the net.  I knitted.  I crocheted.  I rarely interacted with anyone unless it was my husband who had been laid off work himself and became my caregiver, driver, grocery shopper, you name it, during that bleak time.

I didn't even have the energy and cognitive skills to cook - something I had once loved to do.

I was well and truly down for the count.

*****

This was where I was during the Fall months of 2011.  Basically unable to get out of bed and even sit up for more than an hour.  Not even able to to talk.  Or drive.  Or cook.  Or shop.  Or do any of the things that I had enjoyed doing before workplace abuse/trauma/PTSD entered my life and created havoc.

This is the part that's important for me to remember when I feel like I'm stuck and not going anywhere.

Recovery from trauma/PTSD/workplace abuse resembles this picture of a barge going through the Welland Canal: slowly slowly slowly. So slowly, it doesn't appear to be moving ... until it's there, right abreast of you, continuing on it's journey from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. 

And so it is with recovery from workplace abuse.  It is a very slow, almost imperceptible process taking a very long time to make any noticeable progress.  Progress which can only be measured by landmarks along the way.



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