oh lordy, long long LONG (obnoxiously long) post ahead. basically a diary entry, struggling with rumination and identifying rumination from emotional processing right now so i’m going to vent some of my thoughts right here - this is almost entirely for me, but making a public post is exactly the right amount of pressure for my executive function to approach the triggering problem helpfully and neutrally.

i have been on leave of absence from work for over a month now because my symptoms are so unpredictable and so stressful to cope with that i have had to take a step back from also expending energy working. i’m at the doctors at least once a week, most of the time i feel simply drained physically and emotionally, and i’m trying to really emphasize the things that help me stay comforted and balanced in this life phase.

my partner has been incredibly supportive throughout the onset of whatever is causing me to me so inflamed and stiff and stupid feeling and foggy all the time. it’s badly exacerbated my adhd and my anxiety, and the onset of seasonal depression is adding another stressor to the list, and my partner who also struggles has been primarily patient, caring, and helpful.

they have been pretty involved in my preparation to return to work, mostly of their own volition. i have asked specifically and directly for help with staying on task when i need to handle communicating with HR as this is a stress trigger for me and brings up anxious avoidance and bad executive function issues.

they have come through on this and furthermore have voluntarily (their idea) helped me draft some emails that helped me advocate for myself better. this process stressed me out a bit and i had some anxiety symptoms that i wasn’t masking due to feeling safe and held in the space we were working in. i took space and self soothing actions when i needed to and am actually really proud of how calmly i was able to express myself and how all of my mindfulness was paying off - i was recognizing my distress as irrational, i was expressing this to someone i trusted and who was affected by the way i acted while i was in my brain stem. this actually felt huge and positive to me.

later, the topic of my reduced return to work schedule came up. my partner and i don’t live together but we do spend stretches of time/several nights at a time sharing space, usually at his place. he has a lot more scheduling restrictions than i do currently and i have been looking for ways to schedule work around my life instead of centering work - a harmful habit that contributed severely to my current burnout and symptom onset.

my partner brought it up in a pretty glib manner. we both have adhd, were experiencing an awkward transition moment, and i asked him what he was thinking of, intending to prompt a verbal brain dump of sorts, which helps me personally feel more socially comfortable when i accidentally go too far into my own thoughts. it was on his list of things running through his mind, and he immediately latched onto it and wanted to talk about it. (there’s a deeper thread here where i believe my partner takes on too much responsibility for my own separate adult tasks and the completion thereof - we’re not married, engaged, or cohabitating for real and i don’t expect him to do these things for me, and feel really grateful when he does. i tell him as much whenever it comes to mind - maybe for him too often, but i think expressing gratitude when you feel it sincerely is a great way to increase good feelings within oneself and all around.

the topic stressed me out immediately - activated body, tears in my eyes. through my anxiety over going back to work, i heard my partner mention maybe working out what our set days would be, if that would be a helpful structure. i took a deep breath and said i didn’t want to talk about this now, if that’s alright, and we moved on. he made an off hand comment about how terrified i was of going back to work, and i replied that of course i was, i was burned out and not fully recovered from it, and still in the throes of a bad flare or whatever it is that’s hurting me. my last days before LOA at work were terrible and embarrassing for me! there’s been a lot of fraught working relationships on hold for a long time now! and i’m struggling so much with executive function as it is. yes, being faced with those things is incredibly scary.

a note to myself here: it’s ok to be afraid of the things that have hurt you. you have receipts! and you’re being brave and facing that possibility anyway! you’re amazing. anyway! :0)

we were wrapping up our visit - that was the vibe. my weekender bag and purse were ready to go, and we had been playing some online video games together. my hand was cramping so i took a break, then so did he, then we were just chatting again. i was willing to revisit the topic of my work schedule, since it seemed like my partner had some input. i asked him about this, and he said - oh, no, i don’t care or have a preference. it just seemed like something i could prompt you to think about… as if he was my manager and this task was due. it was quite cold and removed. i said as much and mentioned his schedule and stress around calendars in general - maybe it would take some stress off to brainstorm so i could have a better idea of what worked well for him.

he expressed his disinterest when i asked for his input. he didn’t care what days (despite having several more non-negotiable commitments than i do) and didn’t have the spoons to look at a calendar. when i asked him if he really didn’t care, even though sometimes when i plan our times i run up against his other commitments (which i am not privy to unless he tells me about them), which seems to be a stressor for him, his answer hurt my feelings!!

he said he really didn’t care, he was just “trying to get back on track,” and that helping me with my communications earlier had taken such an energetic toll on him that he really didn’t feel like planning a date with me, and he already said he didn’t want to look at a calendar right now, and my anxiety now and in that moment was really hard to have “directed at him.” my illness was stressful for him and difficult for him to manage.

this baffled me for several reasons. right off the bat because it was irrelevant to me asking for his input on this topic. i wasn’t trying to plan a date, i was trying to get a loose idea of what sort of pattern he would like, what sort of time frames would feel comfortable. in short, i wanted to collaborate, and felt like i had egg on my face for that. i also felt ashamed of letting my anxiety be visible (i don’t, now).

i was angry. i said as much and took a break from the conversation. when i came back, i reminded him that his participation in my health care journey has thus far been so extremely seen and appreciated. that it hasn’t been taken for granted! that also, it is optional, and i have at several points told him hey, i can do this stuff by myself, and that he has insisted that he wants to help. he said he knew that but that it wasn’t out of bounds to acknowledge that intimately interacting with someone who is very activated can be challenging. this is also true, but the context that he used to bring this up sounded a lot like my visible anxiety is tied to my attractiveness as a partner, and that felt pretty bad. i also reminded him that the question i asked had only to do with some ideas about how much time to spend together and how often, as this was a decision he wanted me to make, and he had explicitly told me that he didn’t care and couldn’t help right now. i was more than willing to drop the topic and move on.

the entirety of this interaction felt out of character for my partner and rattled me a little bit. we haven’t talked much since i came home. i’ve been visiting the scene every so often to see if there’s anything helpful, but i’m stumped. i don’t think i’m ruminating after all.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Anxiety (Including GAD)

Attention-Deficit Disorder

Rejection sensitive

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