Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stress leave

And if that title was an incantation, instead of just an indication, things would be a whole lot better.

But anyway. What goes on?

Well, I potter. I write the Novel. I read - currently medieval history. I feed the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.

I have a list of things I try to do each day - prepare dinner, clean house, feed cats, kick-box. I have a pine post, standing, set in concrete out the back, and I have wrapped it in some of that stuff they use to make camper's bed-rolls, and each day I kick and punch and elbow it into submission.

And presumably, time does its work.

I have had three phone calls from work. The first was from the manager, a "hope you are well" call that went straight to voice-mail. The second was from my boss - not the same as the manager - who said the same, and detailed the several things that were being done as we speak to ensure that when I returned things would be measurably better. The last was from the admin person at work, details to follow.

Plus two nurses invited me and Sarah out to a Greek restaurant, and another has found me on Facebook.

All of this is a bit worrying.

For those who came in late, about two and a half years ago I took an overdose. I have bipolar disorder, and I have some expertise in what and how much to take, and although or perhaps because I was quite unwell at the time, it was a near-run thing. I ended up in the Royal, our largest hospital, unconscious and intubated. There were what I believe to be three days of hallucinations, several weeks of hospitalisations, months of ongoing therapy.

This was at a public hospital, and I work in a fairly small field, and Sarah did have to contact people and tell them I would not be in for work for some time. And it is on the hospital record system - now accessible throughout all the hospitals in the city - and the registrar who wrote it up did me the professional courtesy of including my title in the discharge summary. "Dr Bronze presented having taken an intentional overdose of amitriptyline exceeding... and so on."
Why bring this up?

Because I suspect that this is why I am being treated so well. I think that one of the benefits of having a fairly spectacular psychiatric history is people tend to take what you say seriously when you talk about your mood. I emailed my boss and told him I was taking two weeks minimum off, doctor's recommendation, and it was as if I had sounded a siren, or a code had been called. Not a code blue (someone dying, move towards) or a code black (someone dangerous, move away), but a code sparkly swirly, or a code bronze. Code bronze means "John's looking and sounding a bit odd." The appropriate action seems to be neither move away nor move towards, but "move about in a reassuring manner".

Which is good and bad. I feel a bit guilt-ridden, because I know that this is not how others are treated. I have had friends and family, kith and kin, who have been treated much worse than I have. Who have burned down further and needed more care and received less or none. I feel I am getting treated better than I deserve.

Anyhow. I have things to do. Write novel. Feed birds of air and beasts of field. Kick and punch and elbow defenceless pole.

Thanks for listening,

Saturday, September 18, 2010


... this is under doctor's orders.

Not exactly orders, but doctor's strong suggestions. The story thus far:

Last post, I think, was January. I had vague intentions of writing more, but to be honest, not a lot more than vague. I was writing a book and running a clinic. I had two hundred thousand words and two hundred patients to look after. I had other issues.

My dad, as I may or may not have related, had been diagnosed with lung cancer - stage four non-small cell. The prognosis was exceedingly grim. My brother was going through an on-again-off-again divorce.

And to show it's not all been grim, there was Deadwood and Breaking Bad DVDs, and Facebook, and nights spent lying on the couch eating chocolate with glorious Sarah.

(Hideous realisation: I have forgotten everyone's noms de strange. All I can remember is my wife and my niece. For everyone else, imagine there has been some kind of alien invasion in where-ever the hell this is set, and the aliens have renamed everyone.)

((The above makes no sense to me whatsoever.))

Anyhow - things went on. Then I got burnout.

That was a difficult thing to say. I looked up the symptoms - yes, it's all medicine 2.0 here - and I reckon I had most of them. The staring at the screen for hours while nothing actually got done. The heavy, cold dragging feeling in the chest on the way to work. The concretised thinking. The tendency to cut to the simplest solution rather than work towards the best one. The endless cunctation*.

"I have a new form of bipolar disorder," I said to Dr Tesla (?). He inclined his head.
"Moderate-cycling, where I am deeply depressed Monday to Friday and perfectly normal the other days. And on holidays."

He suggested a few weeks off. I took five days. I went back and it was crap. I took another few days, where I went to the World Science Fiction Convention, Which Sounds Glamourous And Exotic Until You Realise It's Only In Melbourne.

I came back. It was more crap.

I went to my GP. She said don't go in for a fortnight, minimum, maybe a month. See this person, make an appointment to see so and so, do this.

And so, here I am.

And I have also been looking into narrative therapy, writing down things to deal with them. And so, again, electronically, here I am.

Anyhow - I will write more of this soonish. I think if I can write a swathe of stuff, to help "get better", and subsequently keep this to at least weekly, to "stay better", I will be able not only to live my normal life, and write, and face-book and stuff, but also be able to work again. Be able to look go into my workplace, and pick up a file, and actually do something with it.

Anyway, thanks for listening.

*actually a real word. Better spelt than spoken aloud, but useful in staff meetings.