4 – The Present.. August 2016

Although there are many stories that I still need to share I feel this blog is just as important. You will notice through this blog that certain things will be skimmed over, as I have blogs planned for them. So I’ll guess I’ll start by saying:

For everybody that does not know me, my name is Philip Paterson however only my mother gets away with calling me Philip, but I am Phil to everybody else. Currently I’m working as a Mental Support Worker at Uniting Care Wesley Bowden. The main program I work on is the My Future program, which is supporting people with mental illness. I also support people in the My Life program, which are people with disabilities. Recently I have done some work with the Young Carers program and hoping to pick some more work in this program. I have been doing this job for two years with in between studies of TAFE certificates and a started degree in social work at Flinders University. My life experience chooses the career for me and I enjoy every moment.

I am currently in a relationship with a brilliant guy Adonis (Tony) who I love very much and honestly can’t imagine my life without him. It’s been almost a year since we’ve met but it feels like a hell of a lot longer. I’ve actually connected with Tony in a way I have never connected with anybody in my life including family and friends; I also feel that he feels the exact same connection. It’s funny because we all keep secrets to keep trying to impress anybody no matter how good we think we are. But with Tony my secrets come out eventually along with his. I allow myself to be honest with him and even though he may not like it, he talks about it he tries to get that understanding and 90% of the time he gets it. Within the time I have been with Tony I have learnt quite a lot about myself. And again I feel he’s learning about himself at the same time. I truly believe that this is what a love relationship is meant to be.

Tony and I

His family mother, father, sister and soon to be niece all accept our relationship for what it is. For this reason I feel I can be honest with all these people.

My family lives in Hunter Valley, New South Wales, and I live in Adelaide, South Australia. I have a very close relationship with my Mum, Kelly, and Fred and my beautiful niece. I miss them and my journey has been hard without them right beside me, however I know they are then when I need them and vice versa.

Many times in my life I have been reduced to a bag. This bag resembled failure, failure for living inappropriately. Today once again I have been reduced to that bag. After my marriage break down, I have once again lost everything after working so hard for it. However this bag resembles something different, yes I have to start all over again, yes there’s going to be trying times, however my perceptions have changed. This bag resembles experience, determination, and finally after 34 years well 35 understanding.

I’m a person who believes in strong values and beliefs and have good morals and good standards, even through my horrific stages of life. I was always polite my values were caring for people my belief that if people were happy than somehow I would be. However one thing that has a big significant impact on me the last 6 to 12 months, is that my values and beliefs have been challenged. Challenged to the point of confusion. It first started in University when some subjects made you take a good look at yourself. Even though it forced you to have a look at yourself, it didn’t prepare you for the actual challenges you will be faced with in the line of work I now do. However the things that they were teaching us came into effect not too long ago. At work you can imagine I support a lot of people with complex issues. When I first started to study in 2013 in Community Services at TAFE I always said to myself, I wouldn’t be how to work with kids because it would be too sad, and I would definitely not be able to work with any body that has treated a child inappropriately.

My First Challenge On My Values and Beliefs

When I first started at work, I actually requested to not to be put with someone if they had a history of any harm to children, as it was a hit home kind of situation. I must explain about the day my values and my beliefs were challenged for real. See I’ve always thought I was a person who accepted everybody, although I have some Conservative outlooks I thought I’m pretty liberal. The day my values and beliefs were challenged happened like this:

I was asked to do a fill in shift for a client who is not allowed to leave their house due to being released from doing time for treating children inappropriately. Now this time they had to tell me because of the client’s conditions. Of course I wasn’t happy but I really needed the money and I agreed to take this one and only three-hour shift. Over the two years in working in this field I have come across a lot of people who have done quite bad things and maybe not the right things. However this one shift, I can honestly say was the first Time having pre-judgements before knocking on the door. I won’t go into too much detail about what happened over that three-hour period, however, I will tell you that when I came out of the house, I called up the office and requested to have this client permanently.

After that the next four to five days I felt I was losing my mind, I had started to question myself, things like why did I just call up and request to be support for somebody who may or may not have committed one crime that makes me sick, sick to the stomach, sick in the head, sick in the way you would want to rip someone’s head off. Poor Tony copped a lot from me during that time of confusion, the confusion of me being angry with myself. Disgusted and actually hating myself for being judgemental prior to entering the house. To coming out of the house-feeling like I’ve just gone against my own belief system. I still can’t fully explain it. However it’s like if you and your best friend went to have a heated disagreement but after you just carry on because you understand that each other’s thought process is completely different. Although I thought I was good at accepting people prior for their mistakes, the trouble and the stresses that they put on other people, I truly believed that this will be one circumstance my mind would not be open. Not open for the fact of the crime that was done. However my mind was finally opened to the fact that this person has a completely different mind-set to mine.

They say in this job if you can’t put your values and beliefs aside while dealing with people with all kinds of issues, then your no help to them and all the study and hard work is for nothing. But I have acknowledged that even though someone else’s values and belief system is different, I don’t have to get rid of mine permanently. However I like to try to understand, I don’t let anybody think and feel that I am better than they are, I kept in mind that everybody has their own story. If I don’t understand I probe for answers. I have also learnt that if you don’t understand it’s okay because we do have different backgrounds and was shown things differently. Although in the past I truly believed I respected everybody’s situations whether I understood them or not. However after this particular day I became more understanding, not of the situation at hand as I will never understand why anybody would want to prey on the young and vulnerable, but the understanding that we all as a human beings truly are different to each other. Whether Sherry my bestie who has known me for 20 years, who I feel knows me better than anyone and vice versa, the truth is we will never really get to know that person hundred percent. Taking on this realisation has helped me grow to the as a human being and a worker I am now.

I don’t have a whole of friends however the ones that I have help make my life complete, Sherry who totally spells things out for me, I also have Mitchell and Nathan who I live with, best mates for a good 11-12 years who without effort keep me grounded. Can’t wait to go into detail about these people however I want to save a whole blog on them, as I feel they really deserve it.

After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it really felt like I had been buried alive. I think the biggest thing that hit me when diagnosed was the fact I had been working with people who had isolated themselves due to their mental illnesses. I do have to confess there was quite a few times I had that same stereotypical common thoughts on how these people live their life. Although compassionate and empathetic, in my head I would think stop complaining get off your ass and do something about it. I was thinking this because I thought I was so strong of what I’ve been through and I didn’t seem to have these problems. I didn’t believe anxiety or depression really existed. Until it happen to me, bedridden, isolated, scared, confused and generally unaware of my surroundings. Now I feel I have a better insight and understanding into these people’s lives and that they actually do struggle. I can now finally help these people on a different level due to my experience.

Even though I wanted to do this blog about where I am today after every thing and being scared of who I was becoming through my anxiety and depression, I need to be real, the light at the end of the tunnel is something we imagine, and during my bed ridden stage I really felt it was all over for me. The light at the end of the tunnel is hope and faith. I feel the trick isn’t about learning to live with depression and anxiety, however it’s learning to accept that we have this and it will change us, and this is who we are now. The living part does eventually come after the acceptance.

I feel that once I started to accept and really understood what’s happening to me, I started to move. I am learning what certain things and situations trigger my anxiety. However I have learnt to keep going through it. To be honest these are really one of the hardest confusing moments we have to face. You get these feelings but you fight them. A very important thing for me through this process was fighting this for me and not for anybody else. Finally, I decided I didn’t need to explain to anyone or fight this for anyone but myself. You will get people who try motivating you, to empower you, to tell you that it’s okay. However there is a certain point when we as individuals go through this, which we are the ones that have to cross that line, the line that’s been holding us back. It’s funny in away because I meet people today who haven’t seen me before my episodes, and they tell me I’m acting weird, that I am different. This is because I have now became an anxious person instead of the cool calm tell you off for everything kind of person. Now to people I come across I seem on edge, even though they have no idea of the energy I am using to even be there in that moment. But you know what? Its my life, I know what’s going on, I have accepted it, my three Close friends, the man who I love and my family have accepted it. I don’t want to be bedridden again, so if I need to pull over from driving due to an attack, or having to explain myself again because I spoke a little fast through anxiousness I will do that. I will not allow it to take over my life. I believe the more active and busy we keep ourselves, the more in check we have with these common mental health issues.

Please believe that if you are one of these people who are going through absolute hell, due to your depression or anxiety caused by circumstances uncontrolled by you, when you finally get around to understand your mental issue and you finally accept it you start controlling it and that no longer Controls you permanently.

Saying that, in reality you are going to have really shit days and once you learn that it’s actually okay; you will start finding yourself again. When you are having that shit day in that dark and gloomy place of no escape, try to remember the last three days that you got out of bed, the coffee you made yourself, that you went to the shops, you did go to work, you did call your friend that you haven’t spoken to for a while, that you motivated yourself to have a shower, and you did eat. We as humans, always think a lot more when we’re in a negative state. We do go into the feeling that we are doomed and fuck the world. But can you honestly tell me when was the last time you praised yourself for having a good day and actually achieving something like I just mentioned above. If you haven’t I’m here to tell you as someone who is experiencing the same mental issues that you’re doing a bloody great job and count everything you manage to do when there a times you feel that there is no way out.

Sitting here today, with the things I have mentioned in recent blogs with more to come, most people would see these issues as a burden, however I truly see these things as a blessing. Today I can honestly say I have no regrets and don’t wish anything happened differently because through all these experiences I had I finally learnt who I am and I love me. You do know that it’s actually okay to love yourself.

In my mind, the saying “I’ll treat you how you treat me”? Well in these situations people start treating us the way we treat ourselves. If you start to allow this to happen its ok for a short period but you will keep losing more of yourself.

Today, now, this minute I know I have had some very trying times, but I now know that I was never alone in these moments and you will eventually find that you are not alone as well…

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