Sunday, March 16, 2014

I am really great

I know, from first read of that header you'd think it was a badly worded way of saying I am well. Which is true, I am, even though I endure every day without unceasing pain. But rather it is an actualisation of worth, a recognition that I am, in fact, really great and I am going to use that greatness to bring good things to others.

You see it was recently my escapeaversary, a year has past since I had my last working day at oldwork. Between that last official day in the office and my ten days of acute psychosis and then the coda with a trip to hospital I endured the most frighting time of my life. For I'd gone fully batshit nuts, actual full-on insanity replete with long crying jags on the floor of my sheet and a muttering-laced fugue state where I'd stand staring at the back wall of my shed as I tried to make sense of what was happening. My mind and body had voted and they'd downed tools and gone on strike.

That strike, that downing of tools saved my life. I was going to break that year because of the toxic workplace I found myself and it was just a matter of when. Then the when happened and I was free. 

Now I know five months off work sounds appealing. It sounds appealing to me right now. I could totally do five months off work. But it wasn't fun months. No gadfly naps in the sun, idle munching of tasty treats and lazy Eloi lovemaking under the Summer stars. Rather it was severe anxiety twixt severe fatigue. Long bouts of exhausted sleep, some partial shambling for toilet'n'food, then back to sleep again. That phase of recovery lasting month after month. But the sun came in, it did. My depression and anxiety began to lift and in lifting then the wreathed sadness of 30 years lifted with it. Gone went the self-hate about a short, fat "Chappo" body. Gone went the self-doubt of feeling a fraud. Gone went the worry that I'd not made a mark because in leaving my old job, a job that was insanely visible and stressful yet insanely rewarding, I got to recognise for the first time my worth. That the crap of childhood and stressors of adulthood, that dwelling in a body that reeked of failure had honed my brain to something remarkable. All of that doubt and self-loathing left me, burned in the flame of recovery, allowing me to understand that I was special, that my pain and body oddities were not in vain, that I had made a fucking difference in my actual world and done so the moment I entered the public service on my very first day, bespectacled and fat with a ponytail that reached down to my crack. 

We try as public servants to make a difference. Many of us sustain ourselves with the knowledge that our service helps others, especially when the times are dark like when money is turned off to help actual people with their real actual pain. And I got that insane privilege, me with my fucked-up body, to make a genuine difference. To actually really help people who endured an extra helping of familial stressors due to the nature of their work. 

I made a fucking difference and not many people can say that. I literally went insane for this country because I stood on the wall for my colleagues and clients alike.

So if we harken back to those days, if you asked me in the 48 hours leading up to my collapse if the pain and suffering I would go through would be worth it, then a past-Mikey would have said no. Past Mikey would have said surrender, let them do it. You cannot help any more. Except, of course, that's not true at all. Past Mikey would grit his teeth, rise from the mat, and stand again, healing as he did so, because that is exactly what he (me) did.

I was talking to my therapist about worrying about my next steps, that I might not be up to the challenge. Except I am up to that challenge. I am up to knocking on a door as a cold call and telling people I want to work for that they should take me on. That I am beyond fucking awesome at what I do and that no one on this planet has ever accomplished as much in their field as me.

Wellness for the win.

Monday, February 17, 2014


I am feeling awesome-sauce. My oldwork disengagement has taken a positive step and my owning area stood up for me in order to make that happen. It makes a hell of a difference to get care and consideration when you didn't get it before. I also found out one of the reports I did got discontinued even though there's a body in my old position now. Not only could they not do my core job properly they couldn't even do my secondary role at all. 

I feel pretty gosh darn tootin' smug about that, a big Cheshire cat grin lit upon my face as I walked downhill to home from the bus stop. I feel better in my body and in my mind and I have taken concrete steps for my wellness plan of personal career progress. It turned out that in doing the insane job that drove me insane that I scored me some clout in them thar Public Service hills and I can use the good times I delivered (long time) as a giant soapbox to stand on when I start barking for myself. 

Of course I doubt I'd have felt so smug if I'd been walking uphill to home instead of downhill but downhill it was. 

My old job was insanely hard and insanely stressful. Right now the Sliding Doors me that didn't collapse would be gearing up for the first big report of the year. Well-me, the one that collapsed and ejection-seat fired himself out of his disintegrating job, has pleasurable editing work to do that is not time sensitive and hardly visible. In addition I get time at work to look for other jobs, with my wellness plan to be the core of my first pitch attempt. 

Wellness for the win—I just can't stress it enough!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

A mid-match report for Feb' '14

Well it's been a couple of weeks since I blogged here. Again my energy and desire to blog is still retarded from the massive writer's block I've suffered since literally going insane for this country.

I actually did. I actually went insane for Australia. I know, it sounds like a hearty wank, the dying gasp of someone clinging to relevance, but I actually genuinely did.

It is now a year since the meeting that pulled the ripcord on my collapse, when my then boss and boss+ castigated me as being crap and incompetent and said I needed a team of people one slot above me in the ladder henceforth vetting all my work. That incident, even though I gave up the next day and said "do what the fuck you want, I am so sick I cannot continue", then fed into weeks of acute stress pain that culminated in a psychotic break from reality that lasted 10 days. 

I had a knock recently. As being part of the Commonwealth government my segment of said government hosted Australia Day Awards. Despite my 15+ years under the white public yoke and doing a job that was both insanely rewarding and insanely visible—over 10 000 people saw the product of my output—I myself have never received one. But, being a good trouper (and trooper) I went across to the event in order to laud colleagues so rewarded, since, being government types, the only people that give a shit are other government people.

Then I saw them. The two worst offenders of the bullying triptych that brought me undone. That with cold malice and forethought bullied me out of my job and then repeatedly put the boot into me when I attempted recovery. They were tight, standing close to each other, smiling and laughing. I saw them and I think they saw me. I'd actually been sitting on a bench when my gaze saw them from the back. I immediately thought "could it be?!, is it them?!", got up, walked forward, looked between the 20 people between us, and confirmed it. It was them—some ten months after they double-teamed me out the workplace.

I blanched white and walked off, entered my new office building, made it back to my desk then cried. The hurt and anger bubbling out with bitterness as I recalled their chummy stance, their idyllic apparent happiness in driving me unto madness. 

Needless to say it was a rough rest of the day. I had to have a day off, steeped in anxiety and pain, but the next day I was back at work. Alas, a couple of weeks later my new supervisor asked to see my old agreement and I went 0–60 from calm to anxiety and started crying, my body hunched in myself like when I experienced the frequent bouts of extreme anxiety where my limbs contracted and the madness draped upon me with heavy cloth. 

She took me into a room and I tearfully expounded upon my tale; how in my last agreement my managers had bullied me into egregious amounts of extra work and how they'd also added a command for me to assess my current duties for possible savings, then slandering my 20 page brief that said I needed more money as not being fit or proper work of a public servant. I even told her the story of the building maintenance issue I attempted to address in my last week, a tale of bureaucratic horror that is equal parts Brazil and 1984. She was nice about it all, having to console a tearful 40+-year-old fat bureaucrat who made the mistake of investing emotionally in what he did about the horrors he (me) endured in the final weeks before he actually went stark raving nuts. Her faith in me, and her praise of me as a proper person, one worthy of support—along with her own tales of dealing with being bullied out of a job—calmed me. I even managed to last out the day, leaving when theWife and theBoy picked me up from a post-school pick-up.

So I am sore, and a little sad, but mostly energised. I am enthused for the future and I am to build on what I have done to do even more. I have been depressed for 30 years but am depressed no longer; or rather have depression with all its advantages and none of the downsides like lack of energy or disinterest in my life. I have a plan and I aim to fulfil it. 

Wellness for the win.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Eastbound & Down—where Mikey realises he is the Kenny Powers of the APS

Whilst awaiting the 2014 return of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report—my go to TV to watch as I ride my exercise bike—I decided to sample the heady delights of Eastbound & Down. Danny McBride is a funny fuck no matter his role—he's the stand out character in Pineapple Express—and having recently seen his first big success of The Foot Fist Way I thought Eastbound might rock. 

Holy shit. It's TV unlike TV. TV without constraint. You watch a show like this and wonder how you can watch three camera plus audience sitcoms ever again. 

McBride's Kenny Powers, a washed up baseball pitcher re-starting his life, has such an incredible belief in self that I can't but help see some of myself in him, in that since recovering from depression I've gone the other way into too much self esteem and sometimes I say and think as Kenny does; "I am the greatest public servant in the history of the APS!". Yes, I have actually said that ... many times (1). 

Eastbound & Down succeeds across the board. It's beautifully shot and edited, the acting is awesome, and even as you cringe you can't help but laugh. I especially love the montage sequences overlaid with music such as Kenny on his jet-ski, the ultimate Bogan accoutrement, powering off into the distance as the credits roll.

It's totally worth racking for the watch. And, because it's loosely athletic themed, I feel fitter for watching it when I ride my SoTPC.

Wellness for the win.

(1) Yes, I believe it. For someone of my level to have done what I've done is fuck-off incredible. And with that realisation of worth it's honestly like I am now playing Special Agent Rimmer instead of the crap real version.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

It's pretty sweet

I am a mid-ranking public servant. I am not in management by choice because the job I used to do was so insanely rewarding that even though it was an insane job that drove me insane it was a job worth doing. 

It's pretty sweet. It's pretty sweet to know that as a public servant what you did mattered and it mattered that you did it well.

Wellness for the win.

With facts pertaining to recent events

I've not come back to blogging with intensity just yet, for I broke my habit last year after a slight kerfuffle in the workplace and spent much of the year in recovery mode.

So what of recent events thus far into the year?

Home Alone with theBoy
I've been on leave since Christmas and looking after theBoy at home on school holidays. He wakes before me and hoobs out to the loungeroom where theWife has left breakfast for him. Which means he doesn't need to wake me and I get some time extra sleep. theWife bought a rash of kidz movies on the cheap and each day he can watch one or two of them. One of these DVDs was the complete Home Alone series. As you may recall the central plot is a child is defending their home turf with a series of traps.

theBoy then proceeded to lay a series of traps around the house for me. If I stood on the whoopie cushion I got blown up. If I knocked over a Lego sculpture that had been placed in front of my door then I got blown up. 

He also attempts to assassinate me with a thrown rubber nipple ball or a home-made Captain America shield. 

That'll teach us to let him interact with popular culture. If only we'd been Brethren; "Wife, get thee to the kitchen and fetch me bread!"

I failed my Search check on my clothes
I had to de-crud the shitbox, the piece of crap second car we have—it was our previous vehicle before we got a leased car—which has been rightfully deemed defective by the ACT government and is currently awaiting a wrecker to come and tow it ... and for me to organise for that to happen. I got out the last of the personal effects from the car and the effects included four jumpers. I piled all of these into my washing basket with the plan to wash one with each load until they were all clean (as they're bulky and take up the same space as five shirts). 

I check the pockets of my pants for tissues and other matter so as to prevent the dreaded tissue in the wash. Only I failed to search the pockets of one of these jumpers and within one of those pockets was a post-it note. 

A post-it note. You cannot believe the damage a post-it note can do to a load of washing. Fetid lumps of glowing fluoro yellow pulp speckled my washing like an explosive shit had cooked off during a cycle. I had to flap my wet clothes before putting them in the dryer so as to dislodge the yuck and the yuck went all over the laundry. The next day I took in the vacuum to not only clean the now dried pulp shards from the floor but from inside the washing machine itself, with smears of post-it clinging and dried to the inside of the tumbler; Mendoza!

I'm reading David Copperfield
When you've been driving all day it's common to, that night, see the road in your mind as you try to sleep. When you've steeped yourself in Charles Dickens all day then the language tends to seep into your manner of speech; "Come hither, child, and place a kiss upon the check of thy Pater!" I'm reading the book via my Kindle emulator on my tablet. If I am in the house then chances are the tablet is in my hand and I'm either reading Copperfield or sifting through the dozen odd websites I visit during the day. I look like a Star Trek: The Next Generation engineering officer with his electronic clipboard save for the absence of uniform, fitness to wear the uniform, and Insert-Techy-Blah-Blah glowing omnipotently behind me. 

Stuff that's happening at the federal level
The old me would have been savaging the Abbott Government for their monstrous violation of common decency and their determination to spread like cement their conservative people-hurting ideology over Australians and visitors alike. However in these current climes it's unwise for a public servant to vent, event if it is via anonymous means, so I am holding off for a while. If/when I leave government service then I'll be back to form on that I am sure. 

Needless to say as a proud technocrat and believer in the power of government to do the greatest good I am not an ardent fan of the Coalition and their approach in pretty much every aspect of governance. The Coalition are the party of monied elites who don't understand how fiat currency works, that our money is a vote of confidence in our ability to live well and prosper and by retarding that ability to live well and prosper—such as monstering poor people or not investing in health and education or science and research—they make their money worth less. The only Coalition member I can stand is Malcolm Turnbull and he must be slapping his forehead a hundred times a day with having to be where he is and have Abbott as the PM. 

I'm humming along in the heat of the day
It's hot in Canberra—it is Summer after-all—and because theBoy is in holiday care I slept longer than I should have. I truly woke up around midday. Despite the heat I forded into battle and rode SoTPC, my nordictrack exercise bike, in the shed. I had two pedestal fans going, one fan aimed at my front and the other at my back, and the bubble of air around me kept me cool despite the heat. The only downside to riding in the heat of the day was that I kept sweating from the ride even after I'd had a shower and gotten dressed, with my having to sponge off my sweat damp three times or so post-shower. It's only now just eased off. 

However my cycling is going well. I am at 18 kays a ride now and I typically only take three or four short breaks during a session. I'm cycling at a higher resistance as well. I actually laughed when my doctor said two years ago that I needed to do at least 40 minutes a day exercise to counter the effects of my not great body and white collar work lifestyle of sitting. As if I could ever do that! And here I am, doing more than that every single day without fail. 

Go wellness-enthused me!

Time for a late lunch
I found KFC in the freezer. I will eat that now. UPDATE: I had it, along with baked potatoes and peas with honey mustard mayonnaise to accompany it. It was delicious.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Each day is better than the last

Not being depressed is a somewhat unusual thing for me. I've had 30 years of feeling like shit and that I was shit and now I only feel like shit some of the time. The idea that I am shit has been banished from the land!

Instead of go to mental commands of "I suck" or "Holy Christ on a cracker I am unappealing" they have been replaced with statements of quiet worth and incremental improvement such as "every day I get a little bit fitter and a little bit smarter" because that is the truth. Every day I do get a little fitter—I am now riding over 17 kays a day on the exercise bike at a three steps higher resistance than the same time last year—and thanks to my nerdy habit of reading lots about government and politics I get a little smarter. This fitness and this increased braininess will then assist me, along with my awesome record of service to date, to find good work to do and where I can have meaningful input. 

The physical yuck is still there, fibro pain and gut trouble, but it's nowhere near the yuck levels it was just prior to my collapse. So even if I can't suppress the called unbidden tendency to say "ouch" when a pain flare lands at least the frequency of me doing it has dropped way off. 

Last night, during a Storyverse bathtime session, I made theBoy laugh. His laughter filled the bathroom and beaming joy lit upon his face. It was one of those moments you get where the rest of the world no longer matters because in that moment you understand your task is to throw your child up to space, to be their second stage. And all the crap, all the pain, all the hurt and all the yuck is banished in that moment.

So when I do fall into the trap of drifting into thoughts of oldwork then I can replace the thought train with that.

Wellness for the win.

Thursday, January 02, 2014


I had a bad night pain-wise with bloating and gas pain and soreness of bod. This morning, as I woke, I woke from a bad dream about oldwork. I got up, saw theBoy was in the loungeroom wrapped up in his Blue Dog hooded blanket watching ABC3, staggered to the toilet to do a morning wee, then staggered back to bed. 

I continued dreaming about oldwork

I woke again about 10 am, headed out to the shed to start my cycle but realised I was still too raggedly tired and went back to bed. I woke just after midday. As I slept again I dreamed about oldwork.

I've been pretty good about not thinking about oldwork or, if I do, I focus on the positives about what I did and the fact I got to leave and get well, but there's still a dark slab of anger about all that happened and my return to the Elysian Fields of blogging brought up a lot of those feelings. Last night, as I drove off to get dinner from two assorted drive-thru places (1), I started talking to myself as I thought of what I'd say if I saw any of the three people that induced my collapse in the workplace (2). 

I started ranting. Full on ranting with spittle fleck as I assailed the would-be victim of my justified outrage with damning indictments of their monstrosity towards my clients, the segment of Oz I had a duty of care towards.  

Then, when I turned out the light around 2 am, then I started dreaming about oldwork

That's the trouble with being an idealist. You can't just switch those feelings off. And if you're a passionate person who believes in things when you recall the villains that stood against that you can and do get angry.

But I will try and break my habit of Il Duce-style car ranting lest it bleed into my subconcious and revisit me in my sleep. 

Right, the bike is looming next to me. It's time to ride and while away the ride watching National Geographic specials about Nazis. 

You got to love docos about Nazis. Even if the docos' personification of Hitler somewhat resembled my own fiery passion when encased in steel and glass as I drove our family food home.  

(1) Red Rooster for theWife and myself and McDonald's for theBoy.
(2) I should point out that I have used solo car-based oratory for interview and/or presentation practice space ever since I've been driving. That and the shower. So it's not uncommon for me to be talking to myself when behind the wheel though that talking is with purpose and not just madness-laced mutterings.