Monday, July 14, 2014

Post Workplace Abuse: Another Side Trip on the Road to Recovery - Regaining a Semblance of Life





On the road to recovery, there are no signposts pointing out directions, destinations or mileage.  No road maps to follow from one defined point to another.  Heck!  There aren't any defined points.  It's sort of a "make it up and figure it out as you go" thing.  However, there are choices on which direction to take - or not take.  There are always choices.

There are always side trips on the journey or even rabbit trails.

Some are more productive than others.

There has been no logical order on my path to recovery.  I work on this a bit and then get side-tracked to that, and then back again.

Writing this blog, helps me put the places visited into both perspective and a semblance of logical order as I stitch together - and continue to experience - the daily process of recovery from workplace abuse.

So today, I am making a choice to veer off from the projected path - that of debunking the key lie - to following a few paths, a few points of healing in my emotional journey, points where deciding to follow the path of physiotherapy inadvertently led.

A side trip - or rather a continuation in a straight line - on the journey of recovery post workplace abuse.


*******

As you read this blog, please realize that I am at my basis a story teller.  I tell things woven into the context in which they were experienced.  To get the feeling of being there with me.  To give you a basis to understand the part in terms of the whole.  I tell stories.

So here is the story of how my experience in physiotherapy to restore use to a broken wrist combined with my journey on the road to emotional healing post the brokenness caused by workplace abuse.

Specifically, the crucial piece of the journey into re-entering the outside world.  

By the time I entered physiotherapy in February 2012, my world had shrunk considerably from the time I was actively engaged in the work force.  My life was bound by fear of what my former co-workers might find out, think and do; physical pain which did not go away after the cast came off; extreme fatigue which kept me inside and confined to my house most of the time; physical imbalance causing me to be unable to walk a straight line, to stumble and fall without warning; depleted cognitive skills; depleted communication skills seen in my inability to form words or convey thoughts; extreme itchiness so bad that there were times I couldn't bear to have anything touch me.  I'm sure that as I relate this grocery list of symptoms, I've forgotten to add a few - just as in the grocery list on my fridge.  There's always at least one crucial item I've forgotten to add to the list.  Which means that in all probability it will not end up in the shopping cart.

But I digress.

This - and more - was what I was dealing with in my every day up close and personal life as I walked into that building for physiotherapy that first time.

Getting there was a chore - or an adventure - you choose which word you like to describe it - in and of itself.

Since hubby is a tradesman, he always had a company vehicle when he worked.  No longer.  We were down to one car.  Mine.  His needs for work took precedence over my needs to get somewhere.

However ....

There is a bus stop right across the street from my house.

Convenient, eh?

Also, this bus right went not only right into the downtown area of my city, but also right past the clinic where I had physiotherapy.

Really convenient, eh?

In other days, in other times, getting on that bus and going places was very simple.  Not eagerly anticipated as it's so much easier to get into your own car and drive places.  But doable.

No longer.

With cognitive skills barely functioning, I had to force myself to figure it all out.  Learning the bus schedules and when approximately to leave my house, were probably the easiest parts of the whole process.  Not exactly easy, as nothing was easy.  Getting up, getting dressed, figuring out what to wear that would be appropriate for the activity i.e. physiotherapy on my arm/wrist, figuring out which bus I needed to take to get to my appointment.  All of these had to be broken down into their component parts one at a time.  Like players lined up in a relay race.  Or legos.  Or toys.  Or ... whatever.

Even getting on the bus wasn't always that easy.  Especially in the dead of a Canadian winter.  As there were "enemies" in the forms of ice and snow.  Also enemies in the form of stiff knees (arthritis) and a very painful wrist.

Bonus though.  The buses in our area now "kneel".  No, they don't pray - unfortunately.  However, if the driver perceives that the person entering or leaving has mobility problems, they can press a button and cause the front part of the bus to lower.

After getting on the bus, though, I had to learn when to pull the string to get off. 

Another bonus.  I soon learned that the new buses come equipped with both visual and sound displays telling the rider what the next stop is which helped quite a bit with the cognitive part of it.  The part about where to pull the string to alert the driver I wanted to get off.

Another bonus was that the stop I needed to get off at was also a transfer point from the bus I was on to the mainline route of our transit system which meant that I was usually not the only one needing to get off there.  A little built in "safety" feature for me.

Once getting off, I had to cross two streets - one of them the main street in town which meant I had to be alert and know when it was safe to cross i.e. in my case watch for the green light, to be alert and not just wander off into a mental fog.

Then I faced the challenge of going into the building.  Into the small reception area.  Of letting them know I was there.  Of facing all the other clients lined up in the chairs.  Facing the door.  Looking at whoever entered.  I had to force myself to go up that small walking, each out my left hand to open the door and enter.

Facing people, especially facing them alone, was very scary.  After my experience in the workplace, I no longer felt safe because I'd learned that I have no concept of what other people are capable of doing.  In a much earlier blog called A Tale of Two Encounters, I wrote of a bad experience I'd had when I encountered a former co-worker in a setting such as I was now entering almost a year after I'd left the workplace which reinforced my fears of my former co-workers and my fears of people in general.

*******

Cognitive skills had to be rebuilt.  Piece by painful piece.

One step at a time.  One bus trip at a time.  One physio session at a time.  One outing at a time.

I was at rock bottom.  The only way to go was up.

I had to learn new skills - or actually re-learn old ones such as riding the bus, crossing the street, learning how to deal with people in a "social" situation.  I had to face my fear of people, of being out in the open and in public.  The bus driver, my fellow passengers, these things and more were all fearful to me.  I could not understand why my former co-workers had done the things they had done including writing a petition guised as a complaint when I was off work due to two back to back stress backgrounds which caused the employer to coerce me to "resign".  A petition based on the assumption that they were entitled to a stress free workplace.  A petition signed by every co-worker but one on all three shifts which accused me of being the cause of all the stress in the workplace.

My home in those last three months of 2012, had become my "safe" place.  One room in particular.

Now, in order to heal, I had to force myself out of my cocoon.  Out of my safe place.  Into a world I no longer trusted. 

One things I soon figured out about buses, is that all sorts of people ride them.  Usually people who for one reason who another cannot drive a car - or have no car.  These people include those in poverty, those who have diagnosed mental or physical problems, those with Down's Syndrome who are going to their sheltered workplaces.

I soon realized that I fit right in with my fellow bus travellers.

In fact, as long as I kept quiet and to myself, I appeared to be pretty normal.

Cool, eh?

Thus, slowly one step at a time, one bus trip at a time, a whole new world began to open up to me.  Or should I say an old world re-open up to me?

The world of being able to go outside my house.

The downtown bus station.

I think this posting has tended to ramble a bit.  But then what can you expect from a blog entitled "The Ramblings of a Deranged Mind"?

As I wrote today's posting, I realized what a wealth of material there was in this one experience as it somehow encompassed so many different aspects on my road to recovery post workplace abuse.

Therefore, I have decided to stay on this more or less straight line of how physiotherapy worked together on my road to recovery.

We've already learned how it formed a part of the whole on my journey to debunking the twin lies of perception and assumption.

Today, we've learned how it opened up the world to me by forcing me to use the transit system which became integral - and still is integral - on my road to recovery.

All of us have different experiences, different challenges on our respective roads to recovery.

Until tomorrow, may you experience joy in your journey....

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