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Down, not beaten


For Loz.

Her tarnished pride was fading
But she couldn’t let it go
She holds herself together
Not wanting pain to show
A fall from grace so sudden
The future seemed so bleak
She’d thought her life secure
At Centrelink no one speaks

Noone blames the husband
Of her he’d just outgrown
His job was just so stressful 
Yeah the fault was all her own

Their time was never easy
looking back she might have known
Her dreams now long forgotten
Career abandoned and disowned
How the fuck could he have done this?
If not to her then the kids?
She had no words to tell them
On the street soon they might live.

No we shouldn’t blame the husband
This never was her plan
His life was so successful
Hers wasted on this man

Shame still burned across her face
Betrayal, pain and anger
She’d find a way to feed her kids
Pleads her case now to a stanger
Your husband has to help you!
Don’t you think I fucking know?
All dirty tricks and falsehoods
Now her life’s the one on show

Noone blames the husband
Of her he’d just outgrown
His job was just so stressful
Yeah the fault was all her own

A mother can’t move on
Just leave her kids behind
She’s down now but not beaten
Through this a path she’ll find
The lady at the counter
Gives a reassuring smile
Don’t worry love, you’ll beat him
What he’s done to you is vile

No we shouldn’t blame the husband
This never was her plan
His life was so successful
Hers wasted on this man

Her life was turned around soon
Not by another man
She realised she had always been
The leader of her clan
It wasn’t easy, that’s for sure
As usual she muddled through
When your partner breaks your home apart
That’s all that you can do.

Yes we can blame the husband
He doesn’t know what she has done
To love him and support him
Because of her how far he’s come

She juggled sixteen different jobs
Two or three at the same time
For her kids she pushed on through
Did what she could to make a dime
Never let them see her struggle
Or the pain she held inside
And despite all this those children
Had the best mum you could find

She doesn’t blame her ex husband
For being such a cad
His life’s now shit but she’s on top
And her son is now a dad

Morsels


She awoke with a start, unsure whether she had heard something or jerked in her sleep. It was still daytime, and she was alone. He hadn’t returned from wherever he went most days, so for now she just waited for something to happen.

She had been dreaming of a place he had taken her once, where she had been allowed to explore a beautiful garden full of wonders. She remembered the pungent mix of aromas, amazingly complex and invigorating, earth and flowers, and something else on the wind she couldn’t identify. Insects had buzzed around her in the sunlight, so wonderful and warm.

But now she was here, laying upon the cold floor in her usual place. She didn’t know when he would return. Time had little meaning for her, and the days stretched on for an eternity as she waited alone.

She wondered idly about his bed. She would have preferred its soft warmth to the hard floor, so cold against her body, but she was only allowed there when he invited her, and he seemed to know when she had lain there without him. That had not gone well before. She remembered his rage and the sting of his hand on her face. No, she would remain on the floor until he invited her to his bed.

Perhaps he might do so tonight, she thought with a surge of excitement. She had come to know his rythms and rituals. Some days when he came, if he moved slowly and didn’t turn on the lights in the big room, he would go straight to his bed after dinner and she would sit on the ground in the hallway outside his room waiting for the slightest, barely perceptible gesture of invitation. When it came, she’d join him in an instant, joyful for his touch as he caressed her back and dug his fingers into the hair on her head. 

Those moments were her bliss. She waited through the long, cold days, longing for these morsels of attention and touch. 

She hasn’t always been alone. When he’d first brought her to this place, she was still very young and there was another older one here. The other had resented her presence, so long had she been the sole object of his affection, and for the most part all attempts to engage with her had been ignored. They had settled into a luke-warm acceptance of each-other, thankful for a nearby warm body to fend off the cold during the long days, but otherwise jealous of each-other’s share of his affection.

The other had been gone a long time now. There remained some signs of her around the place, and until recently she’d slept upon the old blanket they’d shared, on which the other’s scent had been still barely perceptible. But he’d taken that away for some reason, she didn’t know what. 

She noticed the angle of light through the side windows had changed, and the sky had cleared sufficiently for the sun’s feable warmth to penetrate. With excitement she rose and padded quietly across the wooden floor to his study, knowing there was now a chance she could arrange her body just so to receive that warmth which would now be bathing a small section of floor near the window.

She was in luck. She arranged herself under the shaft of sunlight and lay contentedly, drifting off to sleep again as she awaited his return.

A car. The sound reached into her dream and plucked her from a fantasy of running through a field. She dared not breathe as she listened intently – was it him? No, the sound wasn’t right. She relaxed as the sound receded into the distance, destined for some other place. She noticed the sunlight had faded and moved away from her spot on the floor. He would be here soon. When the sun no longer reached through the windows it was nearly time.

Her stomach growled at the thought of the impending meal. It wouldn’t be much, and it would be bland, but she would greedily devour what he placed in front of her, only once he indicated she was permitted to do so of course. She was required to sit, her bare backside on the cold kitchen tiles, until he nodded. As usual she would perform her role enthusiastically, as he seemed to like it when she threw herself into the ritual, and that increased the chances he would give her some affection. Maybe some of the exquisite delicacies, sometimes even from his plate, but he told her “I prefer you lean”, whatever that meant, so these treats were few and far between.

His arrival likely imminent, she rose again and headed back to the big room to arrange herself as he liked to see her when he came in, waiting dutifully on the floor near the fireplace. If he didn’t go straight to bed after dinner, he might set a fire and she would be in prime position to receive its gift. This wasn’t as wonderful as sharing his bed, but it was more likely. 

She’d only just arranged herself when bright light speared the windows and illuminated the room. His engine died, and she heard his door slam, her heart racing with excitement and fear. Which face would he wear? The gravel crunched as he approached the doorway and she fought to control her bladder in the excitement. The lock turned and he appeared through the door. She knew in an instant. This would be a good night.

“Hi gorgeous girl” he said, and she rose and wagged her tail with all the love and joy she felt in her heart.

Mental Health Stigma and Why Telling Your Boss Is So Hard


Telling your boss that you have a mental health problem is hard. Really hard.

Even though you’ve made major gains in taming your dragons; even though you have strategies and mechanisms in place to manage Mental Health Wellness Psychology Mindyour condition and keep you productive; even though you’d have no issues telling them you need time off or consideration for just about any other health problem… when your depression, anxiety or other mental health condition asserts its will over you, it layers on guilt, feelings of inadequacy, fear and desperation, and that conversation may be one of the hardest you’ve ever faced.

When we hear of workplace discrimination due to disabilities or illness, our default response is surprise and outrage. If your partner or mother or child or friend were demoted, sidelined or otherwise disadvantaged because their liver condition temporarily worsened requiring time off, we’d raise hell and go after their employer with pitch-forks at the ready. We’d start social media campaigns, alert the media and raise hell.

Why then, are mental health related considerations different?

Even your knowledge and acceptance that mental health conditions are just like any other health complication doesn’t diminish your fears about how you will be perceived. Will you be disadvantaged in future? Will your boss assume you can’t handle pressure ever? Will they think you’re a risk to the organisation? Will they tell other people things you desperately want to keep private? Are you effectively terminating your progress by telling them you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, a psychotic disorder or a myriad of other mental health problems?

Article – The Conversation: To disclose or not to disclose mental health issues in the workplace

If you’ve dealt with a mental health condition for some time, odds are you’ve encountered all manner of responses upon disclosure. Not knowing how your boss will react is one of the key reasons telling them is so hard.

Despite one in five Australians experiencing mental health problems each year, nearly half of all senior managers believe none of their workers will experience a mental health problem at work. (Source: Hilton, Whiteford, Sheridan, Cleary, Chant, Wang, Kessler (2008) The Prevalence of Psychological Distress in Employees and Associated Occupational Risk Factors, cited in Managing Someone with a Mental Health Condition humanrights.gov.au fact sheet)

I don’t pretend to know how to deal with your situation, but if you’re new to this then maybe my experience, combined with experiences others have shared with me throughout the years, might at least help you to reflect on how it might go down, and thus how best to approach it.

Disclaimer: The following is entirely anecdotal and should not be considered legal, health or professional advice. I strongly advise you to speak with your GP who can direct you to professional organisations offering research-backed assistance.

My categorisation of typical supervisor responses are as follows:

The Process Junkee

Some bosses are aware that these types of health issues exists, have been briefed on the company policies, and are ready to swing into action. They prefer not to ‘get personal’ with their charge about specifics, tending instead to simply direct the employee toward any help which may be available, quickly reshuffling their work tasks as necessary to ensure things keep moving along. In many cases this is actually very effective because the employee can feel that the existence of a process and their boss’ rapid action means this is all quite routine and there’s no particular stigma. It is, however, entirely dependent upon a well thought-out and supported organisational process, so it can result in the employee’s dazed ejection from the system which fails them during the next steps.

The Passive-Agressive

This boss is aware of mental health issues, at least by name, and carefully treads around outright discrimination by seeming outwardly concerned, but still manages to make their charge feel like crap with their faux supportive language. Examples such as “Oh you’re right, your memory really is effected by this mind thing isn’t it?” and “Do you think you can handle that by yourself?” This sort of boss leaves their employee feeling cautious and guarded at best, completely unsupported and alone at worst. They’re covered though – they always protect the organisation. The employee will likely eventually just leave of their own accord, and the cycle can repeat itself.

Read more…

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