Present Day, April 2nd, 2020

FURLOUGH – day 5

Today I got an unexpected call. It came from my place of employment. Or is it former employment. Really not sure how I am supposed to look at it. Nevertheless, they were calling to let me know they were ready for me to come back. One week from tomorrow, they would like me to return to work. Full-time. Permanently.

I was really quite surprised for a few reasons. One, we are not life-sustaining or essential as a business per the governor of our state’s guidelines. So I have been surprised we are still open and operating, to begin with. Two, I figured when I was furloughed it would likely match up with the rest of the state’s shutdowns and would last for quite some time, not just two weeks. Three, they furloughed a number of us and I guessed I would be one of the last ones called back. However, it looks like I am one of the first, and that they are going to be furloughing more people even after I return. What sense does that make?

Of course, a huge question to wrestle with at this point is how do I feel about all this. First, there is my personal safety and the wellbeing of my family. When I was furloughed, the workplace was not doing a good job of social distancing, wearing masks, disinfecting and all the other measures that are supposed to be a part of keeping this thing from spreading. I am not comfortable exposing myself to that environment again, but I do not know if I have the option of just saying “No” and still retaining my job down the line.

Second…well, hell, I do not know if there is a second, third, fourth or whatever. There is just a huge question mark of uncertainty over this. It is not a job I enjoy. In fact, my time there has compounded my depression at times and made my journey with my mental illness even more challenging. I have been looking for work for more than a year, but just cannot land anything outside of this. And of course, now is not exactly the prime time to be interviewing for a job.

On the other hand, I have not adjusted well to the time allotted me being home all day. I do not think my presence is helpful to the family, nor am I finding mental health in the small semblance of a routine that I have tried to establish. So if I manage to stay healthy, maybe getting back in the flow of a regular work routine is all for the best.

It is the proverbial rock and a hard place. I know returning to work is a great concern for my wife and my children. They reasonably see us in a pandemic and figure the prudent course of action is the safe course of action that is staying home. On the other hand, coming out of this without permanent employment is a highly daunting proposition in and of itself.

I have some time on my hands between now and then, and really need to brainstorm any questions or concerns I might have related to returning to work. It does seem reasonable for them to have to provide me a basic assurance of safety…at least, as much assurance as can be provided during this time.

Then again, if there is anything that we are learning right now it is that nothing is assured.

Present Day – Christmas Day, 2016

I don’t want to live this day.

Not…I don’t want to LIVE this day.

I don’t want to live THIS day.

I have almost been out of the hospital for 120 days. Almost four months of medications, therapy, piecing together broken fragments, sleep logs, mood journals, and trying to live a “normal” life. Probably the greatest emphasis of my therapy time and coaching has been learning to live authentically.

My life pattern is not that different than most of the worlds in my opinion. Bury your problems. Cover them up. For many people who do so the embers slowly die out. For others, they eat away in the form of an ulcer, stress, or social dysfunction. For myself, with Bipolar, they simmer. Stir. Await an eruption. A volcano if lucky. A nuclear meltdown if not so much.

So I have been attempting to live authentically. What you see is what you get (within the confines of adult maturity). Keeping it real…as they say.

Christmas is not about that. At least, not in my life. Not where I come from. Not today.

If I were to “keep it real” today, I would stay in bed. Manage periodical trips to the bathroom free of the gaze of others. Pretend that I don’t exist so that I didn’t have to spend too much time dwelling on the reality of truly wishing I didn’t exist. That would be keeping it real.

I don’t want to fake smile my way through greetings and “how are you”s? (Well…not bad for a guy who was hospitalized a few months ago with a full mental breakdown in a land far away)

I don’t want to eat larger quantities of higher quality food than I will feed myself for another 365 days. (sans Thanksgiving and possibly my birthday)

I don’t want to act over the top enthusiastic about the gifts I open as others look on so as to be sure not to hurt the feelings of the ones who gave them. (nevermind the fact that I probably love them but simply don’t succeed at expressing it in the manner they are looking for)

I don’t want to listen to another carol that talks about how much it looks like Christmas (I grew up in the midwest where 60 and sunny as forecast tomorrow does not look like Christmas) or how 2017 will be free of troubles. (which they sang a year ago regarding 2016 and look what a fucked up mess this turned out to be)

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m perfectly fine with the fact that the other handful of adults in the room are making no effort to pick up the wrapping paper, bring the dirty dishes to the kitchen, stop talking over each other, or leave me sitting on the most uncomfortable chair in the house rather than my own damn couch.

And I definitely don’t want to pretend this day can in any way be complete without my birth son and daughter.

Seriously. Honestly. No one wants me to be authentic today! No one wants to deal with the large, white Bipolar elephant man in the room. They want me to be “normal”. Which, ironically enough, means we want the same thing.

But I didn’t get that for Christmas. Maybe next year when rumor has it “all our troubles will be out of sight.”

For some reason, I’m thinking not. Nor wanting to live THIS day.