Sunday, February 02, 2014

Disabled In The Water

Yesterday saw (after a couple of weeks of grumbling about key selection criteria) the opening salvo of job applications sent to Sydney. Exciting! I have to confess, the past month of navigating the absence of my lover has been, is, continues to be harder than I let on. The job hunt may be a hateful process, but I will go at it tooth and nail to close the distance between us.

The positions were with the public service, and at the end of the bemusingly complex online form, I was asked quite simply if I had a disability. The drop down list gave me two options: lie or dare.

I often fall into the thought trap of assuming myself to be normal. "Okay." I mean, I have a job I can do just fine, I can go out with friends, I can-

-not.

I'm part time because I cannot, can not, survive a full working week without pain and deep fatigue. My salary is so much lower than my friends and peers because of this, because I must balance my health before any sort of job advancement and stress, the fucking demon shitheap it is, can decay my wellbeing in mere minutes. That extra day off on Wednesdays I have is not really a 'day off'. Much as I like to plan to do things on that day, mostly it is used to rest. Sleep. To do nothing and use that inertia to keep the fatigue and pain in balance so I'm capable of another two days of sitting at a desk.

Whether or not to be open about this in my job hunt is a little imp of indecision and anxiety I can never quite crush. The fear that admitting I'm a lame horse will mean I'm passed over for jobs isn't unreasonable. The fear that this will see me waiting months before I can move up to Sydney is nauseating. However, if an office isn't prepare to accept my limitations, then it is not an office in which I want to work. I know this. It's the buoy I cling to.

So I chose 'dare'. 

It's the first time I've referred to myself as disabled. 

Some threshold has been crossed in my mind.

Then there was Chinese New Year (KUNG HEI FAT CHOOOOI!), and a house warming party, and a birthday BBQ, and I was all set to bounce into all three. The logistics were planned out, I had my outfit picked, I was fucking looking forward to the silliness and cackling.

Bones wrought of fatigue, a substance heavier than lead. After firing off my applications I crawled back to bed, hoping a nap would bolster me. It didn't. I didn't leave my bed until today. 

FOMO is close, but not quite the right trajectory. My own not-particularly-well-thought-out take on FOMO is that it stems more from the lack of invitation than not being present. We're adults now, I'm not being invited to events out of pity. My friends ask for my presence because they genuinely want it. That's a fine gift, and I do treasure these requests. I just can't.

Every time this happens, I think of all those passing remarks in which someone is referred to, with exasperation and a touch of disgust, as 'flakey'. That I am that person is anathema. I don't want to be unreliable. I don't want to be a bad friend. All your celebrations and achievements I want to add the happy too. In that joyous memory-making dance I want to play my part and add another thread of glee. I love your presence.

The apologies I send are weeping with penance and self-flagellation and regret, and I doubt anyone is blind to the fact that I'm not asking for their forgiveness, but my own. 

There is no way out of here. 

4 comments:

Bullet Bill said...

While I haven't had to deal with Fibromyalgia myself, I do have quite a few friends and acquaintances who suffer from this debilitating disease. Now, I'm not sure what the laws are down there, half a world away, but those few people that I do know have told me that Marijuana helps to ease some of their symptoms enough for some semblance of normalcy. With that being said, each person is different, and each one gets a different level of help from their "treatments," but at the very least it's worth a shot.
Whether or not you give it a try, don't be discouraged by the days when just getting out of bed to use the loo is the most you can do. Those days may not be any fun, but your perseverance through them speaks volumes about you.
However you cope, and lets be honest here, everything about Fibromyalgia is coping, please do so with the knowledge that those around you understand.

Erica said...

I feel similarly of depression, that it's seen as flakiness, when in reality i would love to attend everything but I need the mental rest as badly as a disabled person needs physical rest.

(Hey. I miss you. We miss you.)

Steph said...

For what it's worth, I've never thought of you as flakey. You give so much when you are present, it is such pleasure to have your company, I focus on those times and consider them a wonderful gift <3

Tessa said...

Hey Bill, I've had doctors say the same thing to me. Medical marijuana just isn't a thing here though.

Erica, I honestly can't always tell the difference between depression and fatigue now. Apart from the actual physical aspect they're near identical, and are probably so entwined there is no distinction. I've always tried to be pretty honest about why I pike out of things, just so people...get used to the idea. Accept it.

Steph, thank you, love. It does me good to be told such things.