Friday 15 December, 2017
The last seven days or so have been a bit crazy busy, with some major disappointments and personal tests. However, I have been able to get through with support from friends, who reminded me of a basic concept of recovery; avoid the HALTS.
These five feelings are frequently killers of recovery and living a balanced life, and I had allowed myself to become very tired and stressed. Thankfully, friends intervened and gently guided me back to the right path.
The last seven days started out so optimistically, but first a bit of context. After being out of the workforce for over 3 years, and receiving numerous rejections for jobs that I applied for, I decided to start my own company and be self-employed. Running and exercise has always been important to me and has been a major part of my ongoing recovery from addiction and also helps me live with depression and anxiety. Between completing Cert IVs in Mental Health and Alcohol & Other Drugs and commencing a Diploma in AOD, I had completed a Cert IV in Fitness, which would permit me to work as a personal trainer. My long-term goal is to use exercise as part of a structured therapy programme to help people recover from addiction and/or manage their lives with a mental health issue – this is why I am now studying a double degree in Psychology and Sports & Exercise Science. However, in order to be able to launch my business, e.g. buy equipment, marketing, etc., I needed additional income. This led me to my current paid job, which is delivering newspapers to embassies and Australian Defence Force establishments around Canberra. A significant drawback of this job is that I have to get up at 2am; a significant benefit is that I’ve usually finished no later than 9am, which frees up the rest of the day to pursue my real passions. Of course, I’m usually in bed by 7pm, so I have no social life during the week! Sleep can be at a premium keeping these hours.
So, back to the main narrative. The past week started out so optimistically. Having finished my paper round last Friday, I was part of a very energetic meeting that was one of the Working Groups trying to plan the launch of the proposed Canberra Recovery College. A Recovery College is a concept where persons with lived experience of mental health issues can come together to learn in a safe and nurturing environment. Courses are designed not simply by the educators, but together with the students. This ensures that the courses provide content that will be of practical use for all persons, ‘consumers’, carers and support workers, involved in the recovery process. Courses can be very basic, e.g. helping a person learn how to take care of themselves, through to providing pathways to higher education. A very useful addition to the current education ‘infrastructure’ in Canberra.
Things started to go pear shaped on Monday. First, I had to miss work as my car was booked in for service, so I lost a days pay. The car had a flat battery, which had to be replaced, costing me over $300. I got the car into service, then headed off to a Recovery College Steering Committee meeting. At this meeting a bomb was dropped; the initial funding application had been rejected by Treasury, meaning that the funding application would not proceed to the second stage. This was a major kick in the teeth to the project team, who had invested so much into the project. Unfortunately, they were not the people who drafted the application, so they had no control over the quality of the submission. The group are determined to continue the fight, but it was a major disappointment and my stress levels were rising.
After the meeting, I kicked my heels until I could collect my car. Having bought the car on finance, I am required to use the garage associated with the dealer. Usually a basic service costs me about $150. This one was over $500, stress increasing exponentially!
Things got worse when I tried to get some sleep and my ‘neighbour’, was on the phone for hours organising medical tourism then talking to her family in Hong Kong. That disturbance lasted until nearly 1am, by which time I had no chance of any sleep. I then proceeded to do my paper round, which includes 3 hours of driving, with no sleep for over 24 hours. On completion of my paper round, I then attended a board meeting of the ACT Mental Health Consumer Network. I was then supposed to attend an end of year BBQ, but as a friend reminded me with a timely text: Beware the HALTS! I was letting stress and tiredness override self care. Not a good plan. I went home and tried to relax, not easy when my depression and anxiety eagerly await the times when I stop ‘moving’ and come flooding in to remind me of all sorts of negative things about me. Fun – NOT.
Fortunately, I got some sleep and equilibrium has been restored for now. I have now finished the paper round duties for the year and later today I am driving up to Sydney for a short break. I am celebrating 4 years sobriety, 5 years off the cigarettes, and my 56 birthday by going to see Sydney FC play Melbourne City tonight and then Muse in concert on Saturday night.
Self care is essential and is not being selfish. If I am not well, I cannot help others.