Rāhui, Restlessness and... Resolution?

A lot has happened in the last year that it's hard to break down into bite-sized chunks so I'll just write it out as best I can. Here goes:

In March, one of my best friends (or... just friend?) moved from Australia to NZ and stayed with my parents. She was only meant to be in my parents' house for a few weeks while she had a holiday (her first actual holiday since Highschool) and then the grand ol' Covid-19 arrived and NZ shut down. So she spent lockdown/rāhui* with us... and then didn't leave. She also has some intense mental health issues (mainly depression/anxiety) and I discovered while she was here that she is a trigger. So... that was great. I managed to get her to see a therapist, get on some medication, and encouraged her to take care of herself. She ended up going back to Australia and she's still there until (hopefully) mid-2021. She spent all of 7 months with us. It was unbelievably stressful in so so many ways. Even now she's in a bad space, mentally and physically, and I'm finding my highly sensitive- and highly empathetic-self suffering alongside her in some ways.

During rāhui Arthur (our dog) got extremely sick and was diagnosed with one of the highest levels of Toxoplasmosis that has ever been seen in a NZ laboratory. He had seizures, hurt himself, and was just not himself at all. He was confused, had moments of inability to focus, and had times of being depressive. I wasn't with him while he had these seizures (for the most part) but my husband was which was awful for him and really shook him to his core. I didn't really realise how much a trigger seizures are to me either (courtesy of the death of my eldest sibling), so the one that I was there for sent me into a major dissociative state. We ended up having him put to sleep. I took him to the vet by myself because we weren't all allowed to go. I still miss him terribly. At the same time, the emotional burden - the emotional labour - of the finances surrounding vet bills (and his cremation), his illness, having opinions thrown at me from everyone ("I want him to get better", "you should just put him down", "You can always get a new dog", "he's very sick but we love him") about what to do, his training, his exercise, and medicating him were all entirely and squarely plonked on my shoulders. As if I didn't have enough stressors on my plate (finances, toddler-care, full-time work, being therapist to my friend, etc). Everything was just... put on me to deal with.

I had spinal surgery April 30. I was the first on the table when rāhui lifted from Level 4 to Level 2. Before all of that though, my back was getting increasingly painful after giving birth to my son (nearly 1 1/2 year ago!) and my movement was super restricted. So rāhui involved my parents taking care of my son while my Essential Worker husband and I were working. Then after I had surgery, my mum moved into our house to take care of Little Bear while I was recovering. Now I'm trying to be more active and take advantage of my fixed spine. I'm so very pleased that I can walk and move like a normal person. And then there's the fact that a fixed spine has removed a physical and constant trigger! It was like a half of my PTSD stressors were just... lifted... instantly. It was beyond a life-changing surgery; it's a life-saving surgery. I have my life back.

My surgery and my ability to work (I feel blessed) were and are only possible because of my employer. My employer had me in mind when he got us all health insurance that covers pre-existing conditions. Because of that health insurance my surgery was entirely paid for. Being able to work from home even after recovery and and having a relaxed boss who is willing to go the extra mile in terms of childcare schedules and giving me time to heal etc, is just... I have no words for the gratitude I have for my boss. But.... I now feel obligated to work for them forever even though this is not a career I imagined doing forever and the work stresses me out just enough to make me uncomfortable. And then flip the other way yet again and my employer and I are currently trying to find a way that I can afford mortgage etc and potentially study next year. So I feel like I already owe them so much, that if I can also study and complete a degree it's going it's just so much more that I owe them? I dunno... Don't know what's even going to happen next year yet.

All-in-all though, I no longer have some huge stressors in my life and my symptoms have reduced so much that life is significantly more manageable. I never dreamed that I could actually have 8 hour sleep nights (even with toddler interruptions). I never dreamed that the dissociation would reduce in its intensity. I never dreamed that the hyper-vigilance and hallucinations would almost entirely go away. I'm still dealing with high anxiety and tiredness, but it's not overflowing my cup nearly as much as it used to. I feel like I'm actually getting somewhere in my symptom management.


*Rāhui is my preferred word over "Lockdown" because to me Lockdown sounds very militant, very controlling. Rāhui on the other hand follows the philosophy of protection through prohibition. So in the case of Covid-19, rāhui is more about willingly staying inside to protect our community rather than being forced to stay inside.
 
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