So the scary corona virus has forced you to work at home?

So the scary corona virus has forced you to work at home?

So the scary corona virus has forced you to work at home?

30 Mar 2020

Transitioning to working from home is tough under normal circumstances, let alone the current health crisis that’s smacking us around like we are in the boxing ring with Muhammad Ali. COVID-19s yelling “float like a butterFlu sting like pneumonia, vaccines can’t hit what vaccines can’t see”. But even the greatest of all time lost in a 10 round fight that ended his career.


Change takes time for us to process, our human nature makes us struggle with change. Despite that struggle we are extremely adaptable to situations that are thrust upon us. It may take a few days or a week even more, it doesn’t matter, you will adapt. The hardest part of it all is relaxing our own expectations of what we should be achieving and just allowing our minds the time to process the shift.

Maintaining our mental well-being during what is a truly strange time in the world can be made easier by following a few simple ideas, outlined below, that have been proven by myself, and other professional colleagues of mine for years, working from our home offices. 

Water.

Staying hydrated is the single most important thing we can do for our mind and body no matter where we are and what we are doing. Our brains are made up of 85% water, it helps our brains produce the vital chemicals, neurological transmitters and provides the energy to power our memory processes. When our brains are fully hydrated, we think faster, are more focused and work with greater clarity and creativity. So, keep a water bottle next to your desk and drink up.

Social and human connections.

Maintain your work interactions. During a normal workday you will interact with co-workers, your employer or employees, these interactions need to be maintained. Regular phone, video calls, zoom meetings and emails to discuss work are necessary to maintain normal communications. These communications will continue to make everyone feel part of the team and more importantly a valuable member of that team. These interactions with those we work with can also be an excellent time to strengthen your personal connections with others who are working from home. Asking simple questions like “what’s your home office set up like?” or a simple “how are you going with the transition?” at the end of your business call or email will help satisfy our need for human connection and greatly strengthen our personal relationships.

DON’T WAIT – Take the initiative, especially if you are the boss! Don’t be afraid to initiate these calls and interactions. Be the person that brings co-workers back together and keeps moral up. You are all in this together.

Draw the line between work and home.

Although you are moving your workspace home, it is important to maintain as much normality as possible. Continue to practice your normal morning or before work routines, choosing a set of clothes that will be your work clothes, smart casual would be best. Sorry Sharon leave your pants on. This will help you make the lines between work and home easier to distinguish, similarly changing out of those clothes will help to end the work day and transition back to being home time. That morning shower and getting ready routine is what sets you up and gives you the confidence to handle the transition and to keep your productivity at a level that keeps everyone happy. Not brushing your teeth and working in your Pjs will be a slippery slope to low productivity and depression not to mention gross, brush your teeth folks!

Designate your work Area.

Don’t make your safe place your workspace! Do your best to keep them separated. Spare rooms, dining tables or a desk in the corner of your living room are great options. Make your work space a place you enjoy being at by adding things that make you happy, some flowers, cool stationary or a photo of your normal office that you are already missing so much to remind you it will still be there when all this finally comes to an end. Make it yours but make sure it is a place you can walk away from at the end of the workday to transition back to being home.

Plan your day.

Planning the day and keeping your regular office hours will help keep you on task and make it easier to adjust to the disruption of the change, it will also help you not binge watch Netflix for 3 days leaving you a weeks’ worth of work to be done in 2 days.

And finally……Distractions.

Normally when talking about distractions and working from home we are told to avoid it, minimise it. Steer clear of housework and other non-work related tasks.

In this case that’s going to be damn near impossible for a lot of us. COVID-19 has forced us indoors, this means more than likely the people who live with us are also always home. The kids want your attention, your partner has their movie playing, your room mates are playing music loud in the lounge room to try and keep themselves occupied. Distraction is everywhere, you can’t get a damn thing done, you are frustrated and going insane….

Fuck it! Join them, so what if your 15-minute scheduled break turns into an hour of you doing craft with your kids or watching a movie with your partner or dancing and singing at the top of your lungs with your room mates. Spending quality time with the people you love is looking after yourself. Self-care is extremely important and human connection is something that fills our cup and keeps our wellbeing on track. Most importantly that connection be it in person or via technology is important, it is what is going to get us through this uncertain time. Embrace it! love it! work will be there in an hour once you’ve looked after you and connected with those you need to. Now excuse me I’m going to got act like a complete idiot with my wife and son……

Written by:

Ben Russoniello©benrussoniello2020

I need to get Naked right now.

I need to get Naked right now.

I need to get Naked right now.

10 Nov 2019

My joints feel stiff, I need to crack them, but they won’t crack. It feels like sandpaper, every time I roll my wrists and ankles are being rubbed with sandpaper, every time, I roll my ankle and wring my wrists to try and release the relentless tension. Until POP my ankle pops and the pain is epic and my foot is swollen because I have just damaged my tendon but I still haven’t released the tension in any of my joints so I continue on with the process over and over and over and over….

My Clothes are too tight, they are getting tighter what the fuck I can’t get comfortable, why do my clothed feel like they are choking me. I can’t get comfortable I need to move maybe this position. Nope. Fuck these clothes are killing me…. ARGGGHHH.

*Stands up, muttering swear words goes to the bedroom takes clothes of and stands like a star fish then puts all the clothes back on and goes back to the lounge*

What I just described is something I go through often. Sometimes its severe and sometimes its just enough to piss me off. Although its kind of funny to think that a grown man can’t handle having his clothes on, because he thinks they are trying to choke him so he strips naked just to put his clothes back on, it can be quite a bad symptom of being mentally ill. It is a feeling of relentless restlessness that causes repetitive movements without a person wanting to do it.

PSYCOMOTOR AGITATION

Yep it has a name, a psychological misfire that causes your motor functions to produce useless movement and tension. It can take many forms, some more severe than others. It involves repetitive, purposeless or unintentional movements or behaviours. These movements happen in response to the growing anxiety in our bodies produced by the feelings of restlessness that are unable to be stopped.

ASSOCIATED CONDITIONS

Psychomotor agitation (PA) is an extremely common symptom of people who are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and will affect the person differently depending on if they are in a Manic, Depressed or Mixed State. PA can also be a good indicator that a person who suffers from suicidal ideation and behaviour isn’t currently coping, we can use these behaviours to help us predict when friends and family who suffer from suicidal ideation need us the most.

Psychomotor Agitation can also affect people from a range of other conditions including;

Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Panic Attacks, General Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Schizophrenia and Dementia

SYMPTOMS OF PSYCHOMOTOR AGITATION (PA)

Some common symptoms of PA are;

Unable to sit still, Stiff body, unable to relieve tension, desperately trying to find a comfortable position, becoming increasingly anxious, irritable and tearful.

These symptoms can cause a person suffering from PA to;

Pace around the room, wring hands, tap fingers and feet, fidget, start or stop a task abruptly, talk very fast, move objects for no reason and take their clothes off and put them back on.

MANAGEMENT OF PSYCHOMOTOR AGITATION

The best way to manage your Psychomotor agitation is to seek professional help from your Doctor, Psychologist or Psychiatrist. They will not only determine the cause of the issue, they will give you the best advice on how to manage it.

Some common treatments for PA are;

Drug therapies, psychotherapy, regular exercise, yoga and meditation and deep breathing exercises.

Many of you reading, this could possibly be the first time you’ve been able to put a name to the behaviours you’ve done for many years. Some of you may already have heard the term. But know that many of us who suffer with mental illnesses go through the same thing and you’re not alone on this one. As annoying and sometimes as painful as it can be, we can minimise its effects Psychomotor Agitation has on our body and our mind giving us that little bit better quality of life that we all strive for being mentally ill.

Now if you excuse me, I need to go rip of my clothes, do a few star jumps and get dressed again.

I see a therapist, it doesn’t mean I’m crazy.

I see a therapist, it doesn’t mean I’m crazy.

I see a therapist, it doesn’t mean I’m crazy.

3 Nov 2019

Hi, I’m Emma and I see a therapist.

As I write this, I wonder how many of you reading this reacted with the thought ‘why is she telling me this?’.

I am telling you because a workplace conversation inspired it.  What is seemingly normal for me, creates reactions of either a wry smile or a look of astonishment of wondering why I would divulge such intimate details of my personal life. 

The conversation started with a concerned co-working who was worried about a relative asking me ‘How do I help my family member?’.  The description of behaviours provided to me indicated an anxiety issue, but I am not a doctor, so I merely provided the family member with steps to take to enable the person to get the assistance they require.

As most of you would be aware there is large focus on mental health amongst society.  It is almost like the world has woken up suddenly and said hey this is a real problem.  We tell people to talk, but then what? Asking if someone is ok and talking is merely the tip of the iceberg.  We are expecting people to be open about their struggles and yet we struggle to hide our reactions when someone openly admits to seeing a therapist or being mentally ill. 

I am not weak, and I am not ‘crazy’, but I do experience depression and anxiety.  I am currently benefiting from the assistance of medication and regular therapy sessions, because my mind and body are tired, tired from my own experiences and traumas as well as being a full-time carer for a mentally ill husband for over a decade.  The last 2 years have had some major life stressors, I am not going into details today, that will take another blog or two (but if you must know, have a look at some of the blogs written by Ben and check out all his crazy).  But these stressors have depleted my serotonin stores, so much so, that it was affecting my day to day life.

I am the first to admit it took me a while before I got the help I needed, mainly because I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t seem to fit within the typical definition of depression and anxiety.  I was what you would call a high functioning depressive.  Sure, I got out of bed each day and went to work but that was purely driven by the fact that if I didn’t push through my son wouldn’t eat.  The inner monologue was and sometimes still is very dark and negative, but that’s why I go to therapy.  So, for now my medication and therapist are an essential item, but I am more than ok with that.

I like to think I am strong enough to admit life gets hard, more than hard, it gets down right fucked and our bodies take a hit.  Tell me, would you try and drive your car with 2 flat tyres and a fill oil light on?  No! So why would you do that to your own body?

Talking about seeing a therapist should be as normal as seeing your doctor.  I understand the current conditions in health care treat seeing a therapist as a luxury, But I am working with the Grey Space to change this.  I hope that sooner rathe than later, I see a movement among our society where we can have a conversation and it normal to say “I haven’t been up to much just the usual work, kids and seeing my therapist’…

I hope that this blog will inspire you to stand up and say ‘I see a therapist’ or better yet, ‘I am on medication AND see a therapist’ but I know baby steps… Honestly I want us all to wear it like a badge of honour, that we were proactive of taking care of our mental health and loving ourselves enough to get help.

Written by:

Emma Kaye | ©emmakayerussoniello2019 | ©thegreyspaceorganisationlimited2019

Medication, Recovery and the discovery of Emotion.

Medication, Recovery and the discovery of Emotion.

9 Oct 2019

Over the years I have been told many things about my emotions, nice things. You know things like you are heartless, you have no emotions and my personal favourite you are not capable of love.

Annnd it would all be true. Sure, there must have been some parts in my life I was able to show real emotion and empathy, right? I mean I have had a few meaningful relationships, didn’t I?

Hard to know looking back, I was largely un-medicated…. who am I kidding I was never medicated a day in my life before recently….. So, I doubt there was much true emotion. I mimicked Pain, love, happiness and I am almost certain my only true emotions where Angry and horny…

I believe I cared about people, but I do not know if I truly loved anyone until I held my son for the first time. Love is a connection and my son was a part of me and I could feel that connection for the first time. My Bipolar and subsequent incarceration made short work of that connection. Damn near broke it off.

It’s now September 2019 and for the first time in my entire life I am properly medicated and slowly building my life back after the Glorious episode that destroyed everything in my life from friendships to my marriage and which nearly took my life. Id had enough, the mess that was left was too much and I was going to get better for myself for the first time ever. As the medication starts to work and the chemicals in my brain start to be a little more balanced a whole new set of challenges start coming up. The first one is a pain in my ass, managing the grogginess of the medication is proving difficult. But there is also another strange thing ive never experienced before. A few weeks ago, a boy took his own life in the town that I live in. I didn’t know this boy, or his family and I don’t think I even have any mutual friends. Usually I would have seen the news and said something like “that’s sad, got to feel for his parents”. But instead I ended up feeling so overwhelmed with sadness I found myself literally crying. Sadness, helplessness and self-reflection in this young boys’ actions to find his peace. I was assured that this is normal to feel sadness when something like this happens. But for me its new. I am now navigating a whole new world of emotion, connection and feeling that ive never had to before.

The medications taking away the noise in my head so much that its able to start having some human function for the first time. I still most definitely have manic, depressive and mixed episodes. There is always that time bomb of an episode that medicated or not that could put me in hospital or destroy everything ive been working  towards. But for now, I am opening myself up to these new human feelings, emotions and connections. Rebuilding that connection with my son has been an amazing triumph for me. These connections are now extending out to others in my life who for some reason are still here, supporting me and loving me.

I continue to move forward in my recovery, I continue to take my medications and to see my doctor, my psychologist and my psychiatrist on a regular basis. And although recovery is in it self hard, and my medication makes groggy and unable to get up in the mornings. I am thankful for the ability it is giving me to not only feel emotions and have empathy but the ability the entire process is giving me to be able to process what I’m feeling a million times better than I have ever been able to in my almost 34 years of life.

To medication, therapy, recovery and the discovery of emotion and what it means to be human I am grateful.

Written by:

Ben Russoniello | ©benrussoniello2019

Friday the 13th. Obsession and 11:11

Friday the 13th. Obsession and 11:11

Friday the 13th. Obsession and 11:11

13 Sep 2019

Today I opened my Facebook to a myriad of Friday the 13th posts. Personally, I have no beefs with the number 13 and as far as I know 13 has no beefs with me. I like 13 that much I flew to Europe on Friday the 13th.  There is a lot of numbers out there that people either love or loathe and even movies made about obsessions with numbers and the Friday the 13th posts reminded me about experience with numbers and obsession.

Obsession

Being bipolar I can be obsessive and obsess over and over on something that my minds created, people hate me, she’s cheating on me, my son thinks I’m a shit dad.  I have some little recurring number obsessions as well, my main one is that on a volume control I need to have it on an even number. Most people close to me know about this stupid little obsession but they pretty much all just accept it and when changing volumes, they make sure its always an even number. So, my number obsessions are nice and small, except this one time when It wasn’t and my life was consumed by the evil maniacal mother fucker, the number 11.

11:11

Now you all might see 11:11 and say make a wish or 11:11 means good luck. But at one point in my life this number quite literally made me break down and lose my mind. The number obsession started small, every time I’d look at the clock it was 11:11, being that there is only 2 x  11:11’s in 24 hours its safe to assume there was some delusion and hallucination involved which is something ive never thought about until just now. The more I thought about it’s the more the number showed up, I noticed it in books, articles, phone numbers and even car number plates. The more It showed up the more obsessed I became with the number. I started being a mathematician to numbers Id see add to 11. I would even count letters in words to make 11 to find some weird meaning.

As the obsession for the number 11 grew the rabbit hole got deeper and I’m pretty sure I was that crazy guy in the subway in the movies with a sign saying, “THE END IS NIGH”. I started to research the number 11, I was so obsessed over a god damn number. Out of the million and one answers for what was going on my obsessed mind found the darkest one there, the number 11 is a destructive number and it is the end of all things. The word destructive itself has 11 letters. 11 was going to be my demise and the end of the world. Now I’m not going to go into detail of what I found about the number 11 and the destructive powers ect because while writing this I have Goosebumps, shivers and a gut feeling of impending doom. And I am not entertaining this obsession again because its just a fucking number. Right?  I spoke to a person who follows numerology it made it worse. I think I may have spoken to my dad about it because for some reason I ended up talking to his good mate Mick about it, I don’t remember how or why or what was said during that call but my obsession stopped not long after that and I went back to normal… or at least as normal as a bipolar mid mania could have been. That experience of obsession is something I never wish to experience again. It took over my life, my thoughts and I swear if I dreamt it would have consumed those as well.

Obsession needs management.

Obsession still creeps into my life now and a gain and fucks with me sometimes a social or work thing I’ve fixated on recently I fixated on the progress of another not for profit, I know it isn’t a competition but my mind still fixated until I removed the things fuelling my obsession over it. But more often it is a numbers thing I have that recurring obsession over the volume level always being on an even number. Unfortunately, it’s just part of having Bipolar and because Bipolar will never ever go away this battle with obsession is going to keep on coming back and so management is the only thing we can do to keep it under control.

We manage obsession the best we can, by identifying it early and removing things that stimulate the obsession social media is the worst for fuelling obsession. Distraction, meditation and mindfulness are all tools we can use to keep obsession under wrap. But we need to accept that it is what it is, we are going to have obsessions because of our illness and that’s ok. Learning to accept and manage obsession and our illness in general is the best way to contain our inner subway nutter.

Written by:

Ben Russoniello | ©benrussoniello2019

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