2020! Now I wasn’t expecting that.

This was a new decade, it was the time to start a new year without the resolutions, but with new goals. Well that lasted didn’t it! Within the first month I was told to leave two separate restaurants because of my assistance dog! The first I was resilient and pointed out that they were in the wrong, I got my food and left. The second of the same chain I was kicked out and didn’t given get my food, so thank you McDonalds!

What would the rest of the year have in store? I wasn’t going to allow big corporates dish out discrimination because of the presence of an assistance dog. Then the first reports of this first a new-fangled cold. No need to worry it won’t be anything significant, we could still speak, shake hands and hug!

imageAnd then:

Two people off sick with COVID related symptoms, nothing to worry about but when you are done for the day, we will deep clean and let you know when you can return. Now that’s easier said than done as lighting the litmus paper of panic and unknown. After a quick ‘deep clean’ I returned to the office for a week before the national lockdown was instigated. We were to stay home, save lives protect and clap for the NHS. The death toll was mounting and progressively becoming a concern that vulnerable loved ones were now at risk.

The lockdown was not all that bad, the unnecessary panic buying was ridiculous. Now here is where my life got difficult, no in-fact this is when life started to get bloody hard. With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (“PTSD”). I found heading to the shops a challenge at times, throw into the mix a bunch of aggressive idiots arguing over paracetamol or the number of toilet rolls they had stacked in their trolley. This idiotic behaviour made my life difficult, increasing my hyper-vigilance and social anxiety to levels i had not felt for a long time.

My PTSD assistance dog Ziggy was working overtime. My first shop resulted in me leaving without anything I needed, partly as a result of panic buyers and partly because of the urge to leave.

The second attempt I arrived at the store, parked up and got my mind focused. This focus was far from enough as I couldn’t face the lengthy queue outside before I was then sat back in the car trying to level my focus. PTSD has its moments and at times it is almost debilitating, I drove home and made a cuppa, realising that I had no milk, no fresh food. Saved by a store providing what i would describe as an emergency box. This provided me with the essentials that I needed; it also gave me the chance to make a proper cuppa with milk!

As the weeks and months plodded through, I began with a solid focus, I was keeping fit with Joe Wicks in the morning, I was setting up a routine to ensure that I would stay positive and driven. I needed to continue the working and achieving results. This was not a time to just sit in my pants and plod along.

I will not bore you with the ins and outs of what its like day to day with my PTSD, my assistance dog and working from home. The short version is that it didn’t take long to be up washed, fed and working in my pants!

Now you have that image firmly in your mind, the government swings its stance to return to work. This is simple for most and the concerns that arise form this are generally have the workplace ut the appropriate measures in place, is it safe to travel on public transport and are the facemasks providing the adequate protection.

These are not my concerns, mine are simple how will I cope with the commute, historically this has mentally drained me to the point of being physically sick. Was this going to happen again? Add into the mix the anxiety at the thought of tackling the commute. I now have to ensure that Ziggy was up to the high standard expected of him.

The simple thought of returning to the office sparks anxiety. So how have I been working around this? Is this a problem for me or is this a problem for Human Resources?

I am in the fortunate position to have a manger that is empathetic towards my PTSD, it is not only this but accepting and realising that Ziggy through the lockdown and the lack of exposure will naturally have a form of skill fade. Add into the mix that Ziggy is an animal and part of his skill is reading faces, the new facemasks have caused an issue.

I have found that the current situation has caused my hyper-vigilance to go through the roof, before with Ziggy I felt enabled, each day was exciting my PTSD was present but it wasn’t me. I could breeze through the busy London streets with so much more ease with Ziggy.

Now I am super vigilant, but now on a different level, social distance face masks. I can no longer read a face and neither can my dog. It is difficult to explain but this is significant in my ability to read situations and live a normal life has been greatly affected.

I am in a position that I want to return to work and now have that as a target. Stupid huh? I should just get on with it, bite the bullet. Well historically I would have said the same, it is only now I am able to recognise that if I run before I walk then it will lead to failure.

Times have changed and I know that in order to get over this hurdle I need to work at it. To take the steps, I need to return to the office full time need to be developed. If I am forced to return to work and without consideration for my mental health and wellbeing, then it is likely to have a negative impact and push me back for years. I may be wrong but it should be reasonable that when returning to the new normal that consideration should be given to the bigger picture, forcing people to return could be the kick that pushes individual down a path that nobody wants to walk.

So when you are planning a return don’t just jump, don’t be the pusher work together take the positive route for all involved.




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