Dark Hours

I have had some dark hours in recent weeks. Before I continue, I am not sharing this in the vein of ‘woe is me’; rather as honesty, being true to myself and open about a part of me that I do not usually reveal.

Certainly over my lifetime there have been difficult times which challenged my resilience. -Leaving home under non-approving circumstances, divorce, farewelling forever people who had impacted my life so immensely all tested my ability to endure.

I ponder often what has led to the recent demise into darkness. No single event or incident leaps forward to take responsibility. As I analyse all that has occurred over the last several months, I can go back a little further from each memory or occasion and find another. It takes me back almost a year. There lies the pivotal moment.

A temporary assignment had been offered and accepted; a two week gig to work in an area to further develop myself. It was a welcomed opportunity. First issue arose within a day or two. The project still wasn’t ready for me to undertake my part despite my commencement date being delayed for well over a week. Disorganization – something I find very challenging to tolerate as it doesn’t align with my skills and being.

Shortly after, on the back of this ‘working on the fly’ so to speak, I faced a moral and ethical dilemma. I was directed to complete a component of my duties in a manner that I believed unethical. I was not able to neither contact my Recruitment Agency nor speak with anyone of seniority at the organisation I was contracted to. Result; I compromised my values. This did not sit well with me then nor does it to this day. Why didn’t I find a way to voice my concerns and speak up against what I believed was not ethical practice?

Towards the end of the assignment I was approached with an offer of a further six weeks working on a different project utilising more of my skills. The excitement of the prospect of a good income for a further period and work I could sink my ‘teeth into’ was alluring. A discussion with my closest loved ones resulted in a decision to accept the offer.

What I also did at this point was ignore my intuition; my gut feeling and what my inner voice was telling me. I was risking compromising my wellness. A two-week full-time gig was the maximum I should undertake in order to maintain my well-being at the level I had attained. Here I was accepting a further six weeks full-time. My health support team was astounded yet could understand my motivation. After some discussions with them, I left with a plan.

I negotiated with the project manager to work a four day week in order to give myself a bit of time for rest and recovery. I was also undertaking this role during the months of the year that provide greater challenges for my wellness. No wonder my health support team buckled at the knees. They could forecast the outcome.

And the outcome presented itself about mid-way point through or thereabouts. My body wasn’t coping and what started as a morning feeling pumped, energised and invincible ended with me in a hospital bed at the emergency department with leads attached all over me. My body had over-ruled my mind and found a way to pull me up in my tracks.

I was discharged from hospital with strict orders of rest for the next couple of days then a follow up with my GP. The words after a lengthy consult with the very caring GP still reverberate through my mind to this day. She said, ‘As much as I do not like to say it, you set yourself up to fail, you really did.’ I knew fully what she meant and the place she was saying it from. No ill intent on her part. A couple more days of rest was ordered much to the dislike of the manager.

Therein that is exactly what I did before I attempted a return to duty. I attended my workplace, commenced reviewing tasks, incoming emails, responses to requests for information and so forth. A break was needed so I walked outside for some fresh air and sunshine on my face; a practice I had been doing daily. Some deep breathes before listening intently to all within. Back at my desk I drafted an email outlining the current status of my tasks then sought out the manager who was nowhere to be found. The email was sent, a voicemail was left on the managers line and the recruitment agency contacted; I was not able to complete the remaining weeks of the assignment as I had not recovered to the level that I could accommodate the hours I was required to work.

Amidst all this, I recall that there was another curve ball. My partner had been undergoing an assessment process for autism and we received the confirmed diagnosis that he is on the spectrum amongst a couple of other conditions. The journey for the assessment began as a means to find what his abilities, capabilities and strengths were so we could work within those so he had the best opportunity for quality life. Although there was some certainty before the process began, receiving confirmation was still a hard hit and something I had to come to terms with.

The next few weeks were spent resting and recovering. Then by chance I was asked if I would like to deliver floral arrangements for one of my local florists. I had a laugh. When I had made the decision to resign from my full-time well-paying public service position a few years ago, I was asked what I was going to do. I said I was going to have some time off first and foremost then I might go and deliver flowers; most people are happy to see you and flowers are nice and cheery. Here the opportunity had come to me, so I commenced the casual role and enjoyed it immensely. That was until – here it comes; my knee injury. That initially began as a twinge a few times and I took it easy for a some days but obviously not long enough because it then went full hog and literally stopped me in my tracks halfway up a set of stairs! Oh wowser, do I remember that pain! Another trip to the emergency department followed, then home again to completely rest the knee/leg; no bearing any weight on it whatsoever.

Lots of time was available to ponder, think and plan and this is the time I decided to commence writing a blog and start my associated Facebook page. I delved into it with feverish ambition and unsurmountable excitement. I had time on my hands and I had opportunity to be creative. I could barely sleep with the ideas and thoughts and plans swirling around in my mind. I found gratitude for the injury.

At this time also, some matters of my partners arose and required a lot of attention and paperwork, something I am good at and something he finds overwhelming. I attended to these matters which took up a lot of time as well as consumed a lot of mental energy which in turn left me also emotionally depleting. I was drowning in the depths of matters that I did not wish to be handling and were ones that had been a part of his world long before he and I began our relationship. I was challenged and didn’t survive it well.

The festive season rolled on and I was feeling less than festive. It was difficult to summons cheer and good tidings when I was ready to curl up in a depleted ball in a corner. My resilience found itself at times I really needed it and saw me through. The New Year I saw in with some beautiful souls that uplifted me and gave me glimmers of hope and joy and lots of love. It helped renew some of my depleted supplies within.

Then a couple of weeks later, my partner sustained a minor injury at work. At this point I had only driven a couple of times very short distances as my knee was still recovering. Now I had to drive all the time as he was not permitted to drive, lift anything, twist or turn suddenly and so on. There was copious appointments and paperwork. Once again, I felt smothered by it all. I was not in the best state of wellness physically, mentally or emotionally and here I was digging deep to assist yet again although I had received very little assistance with my injury or recovery. I felt cheated and annoyed.

As the time passed and he was home during as he recovered to the point he could resume partial duties, I really felt challenged. I was not coping and no-one seem to be seeing that. I reached out to my trusted best friends who helped keep me afloat.

Many a time I felt I was heading towards insanity; the emotions and thoughts were that intense. I was struggling with a sense of failure; it had happened with my temporary assignment, it had happened with my casual job and it was now happening with my mental wellness too, not to mention my relationship.

I struggled with the feeling of faltering resilience. I have endured hard times before like everyone else on this earth and survived. This time around it was even harder to find the resilience and I faltered severely a few times. I am grateful for the souls that didn’t give up on me and have walked this part of my journey with me. I know it has been very tough on them as well and my goodness, do they have some super strong resilience I tell you! I felt caught off-guard with mine; expecting it to be at a higher level than it was showing itself at. Then the next layer I felt I have been failing at is my tolerance. I do not seem to have it also at a level I once did. I feel guilty for not being able to tolerate certain actions and behaviours by some to a better degree than I do. I feel bad for not being as patient as I once was. My tolerances were one of my traits that I have held in high regard and valued myself upon.

There have been dark moments, dark hours, dark thoughts and a tonne of tears, more than any other time in my life. Then another curve ball was thrown my way three weeks ago. My beloved senior dog passed away, leaving a void in my world. It was a tough day and the immediate days that followed were gut wrenching. As time passes, the pain is subsiding, for that at least.

I have had a rollercoaster of emotions and thoughts and feelings. I have at times fought ever so hard to not become broken. I remember, with a little smile right now, the words on a loved one telling me to not let go, don’t give up – it was at one of my lowest points ever and without those words, I may just have had a complete breakdown. It is daunting writing so candidly and sharing it. It is worse though being so alone and lonely and struggling hard to stay ‘upright and breathing’ when you feel like you have nothing left in the tank. Little sayings and words have helped me through – like a cousin reminding me that we are made of ‘true grit’ or the ‘I love you Nanny’ from my grandchildren and those words of my loved one telling me not to give up.

Some days are easier than others. Some days the worst place I can be is in my own head and thoughts. I seek all the inspiration I can and yearn for knowledge and ways of bettering myself constantly. I strive to be the best version of myself possible and this too is in part what is keeping me moving forward, no matter how small the steps. And some days are good or better than good. These are the days I want more of and will have again; I am certain of it, after all, I am made of true grit! I can, I will, I must……and I shall x

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