It’s Hard to Dance With the Devil on Your Back

This week has been huge for me mentally. I know I’ve spoken about these lightbulb/switch flicking moments before, but here I am quite literally awakened from the proverbial slumber. It’s like the first time I tried my prescription glasses on at age sixteen and said to the optometrist “Is red really this bright? What a beautiful colour”.

The sunshine seems more vivid and the air seems more oxygenated. I feel like The Beast has finally left me. I still have a hint of fear that he’s there, but now it’s different.

Maybe it’s the CBT, maybe it’s me just naturally progressing out of the PTSD fog, but here I am feeling so much better. I’m still not ready to head down that path again yet. I still see a newborn baby and feel panicked and wonder if the mother is doing ok, but I’m not feeling that terrible deep seeded sadness anymore. I’m working on not projecting my feelings onto her, but that’s quite possibly my Myers-Briggs personality ESFJ score shining through making it an issue.

Christmas is in six days and I’m madly preparing for it. Both families are coming to my house this year, so I have to have the spare bedroom ready for my mother and father in law to stay and also have enough food for everyone and also enough presents. I’ve actually enjoyed shopping for Christmas presents this year. Other years have been fraught with stress over what to buy and how much to spend (because I’m usually always broke and then someone has a birthday party or some other function in December that requires a minimum of $100 of cash I don’t have) but this year has been different. I saved some money from my tax return and that seemed to just remove the stress. Also I think with everything else this year I just decided that I was just not going to get anxious over it. We asked our relatives what they would like and got them accordingly. So simple. Also, a very wise friend of mine said to me about something unrelated “just be selfish about this” so yeah. I’m doing that.

I’ve adopted this attitude to a few things actually, including my work. Last week I did something incredibly cheeky and applied for a job that even a few months ago I would not have considered. Cheeky because it’s quite a senior position at the hospital and here I am slogging away in my current job (which I do enjoy) but am not being paid appropriately and also my conditions are not what they should be. I’ve been at the management of the hospital to sort it out because I actually do have bills to pay and mouths to feed, but some fourteen months later I’m still where I was at with this job. Applying for this new position meant that my application went to the same management who have not fixed what’s happening with my current role, so they now have concrete evidence that I’m not mucking around and I am actively seeking a new role with proper remuneration.

Where did I grow this new attitude? I’ve always been a bit of a doormat. See that Myers-Briggs result. There you have it, making sure I care for others over myself. Keeping others happy, always seeking approval from other people. It’s all a bit shit. Can you believe that part of me not fighting the hospital over my trauma was because I didn’t want to earn myself a bad name in the health system! Health is such a small world, everyone knows someone who knows someone and a bad name means you’re not employable.

Try to understand the rationale here. I was treated negligently, assaulted even. I was totally disempowered and as a result have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, normally reserved for war veterans and victims, victims of sexual assault or other forms of violence, people who witness car accidents or serious injuries of other people. Not women who have elective Caesarean section deliveries of their babies. Yet I worried about what affect it would have on my career. What would people think of me?

Now that I’m finally shaking the devil off my back, I still probably won’t make any formal complaints, but not because of the fear over what someone might think of me. It’s more I do not want to relive this again. Telling my story to the Healthcare Complaints Commission or solicitors. No thank you. I’m ready to say goodbye for good.

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