Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Twenty fourteen; pretty, pretty, pretty good

With thanks to Curb.

So, another calender year near done and another to begin. Twenty fourteen was eventful. There was shitty stuff—health-wise for each one of the family—but there was awesome stuff too. For me, I am in a new role far from my former workplace and I'm in a position of actual influence. It's pretty awesome. As I told my psych in a recent work-asked-for-visit I am the APS equivalent of Ben Kenobi—I was struck down but made only more powerful.

I know, that talk sounds a tad nuts, even fully nuts. A mentally empowered me does come with its drawbacks; the hubris and the grandiose visions dancing like fucking sugarplums in my head. But that's cool, that's just something I'll have to learn to better manage in 2015. To keep my ego in check, set rational, achievable goals and not act like Zaphod coming out of the Total Perspective Vortex machine that said he, Zaphod, was the most important person in the universe

My psych said that checking-of-ego was a worthy goal. She also said good-bye—she's off to have a baby—so my work-ordered check-up ended as a fond parting of the ways and I got to say thanks to her for being part of my pyramid of support. 

This year was indeed the "rise and rise of Mikey". As in "risen back to my feet". I'm in a new job, I'm doing useful work and the people I work with value me.

So take that, haters, that's wellness right there.

Here's to 2015; the rise and rise (and rise) of Mikey.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Three steps forward, two steps back

I recently decided to launch my response to oldwork's bullying me from my job back in March 2013 after one of the principle offenders thought they'd be a smart arse and smugly insist they could email me in group-sent emails without my having to be weeded out of the distribution list. 

They were told, many times, they could never contact me again.

With International Disability Day in the offing I decided that was serendipity and went them for what they did to me that caused me to go—leaving me a sick person made far sicker and nearly dead. 

That redress process is running. My new boss asked I was going with it all, as she's worried I'll lapse back into an anxious pain-wracked state, and I said it was "three steps forward, two steps back". I'm glad I launched the process, it will lead to eventual catharsis and, dare I say it, closure for my brutal exit from a job I was most-awesome at. But it has caused memories of pain to return and it takes effort to drive them away—like my 30 minute fast-walk today when I strode off the anxiety that was working in my system, returning to the office in ache and sweat. 

But it is worth it and I am glad I am doing it. They cannot hurt me any more than they did and I will have my riposte.

Wellness for the win.

ThundertheBoy is go!

With thanks to The Thunderbirds.

It's been raining of late here in the nation's capital, with much downpour of oft-cold water.

We recently got chickens—chicks, actually—and they were outside in their coop when the rain came bucketing down. They were there on a try-out to see how they went in the coop, the chickens still spending nights inside with us as they were too young for outside nights.

Given the torrent of water dashing through their coop and, with theWife at the shops, it was up to theBoy and I to save the day.

I held the umbrella up to shield him as he, theBoy, slid into the coop on his tummy like a were-penguin and started upchucking chicks to me as I caught then dropped them in the re-purposed liquor box we used to shuttle them between their new coop and the inside of the house.

In order to shield him, theBoy from the rain pouring down I held the brolly out from myself, my lower back and arse hanging outside the brolly zone of protection and exposed to the storm with sheets of cold water, fat drops laced with triumph, smacking into my body then streaming into one torrent down the wet crack of my PJ-bottom-covered arse. 

The operation was over in less time than a Bin Laden put down—which took like 38 minutes ... all within in gunshot distance of the Pakistani Military Academy—and we were back in the house shortly after our frantic panicked rain-rescue dash of the chicklets. Once the chicks were safely deposited under the warmth of a lamp to dry their damp, tissue-box-pushing feathery little bodies, theBoy and I took turns showering away the muck and the cold of the rain that had so grievously assaulted us.

It was a nice moment. 

Parenting milestone

theBoy and I throwing the dead toaster into the trash-pack. He got it in on his third attempt!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Self-fist raised in the air

In the spirit of International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD) I decided enough was enough and I rolled my biggest boulder which I'd saved for last—a giant IDPwD "Fuck You!" to bastards in my wake.

And it's a doozy (1).

 Wellness for the win. 

(1) With thanks to Community

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Compliment received!

Recently I helped organise a work do at the building I worked in after I returned following my epic collapse then recovery. At the event I got talking with my old foxpod neighbour, V—, who I shared many a convo with over the months I was in that workplace.

"You know, Mikey," she said, "you look better each time I see you."

And it's true. When I first met her I was on half hours recovering from severe anxiety—and do you ever fully recover from it once you've had it?—and was a physical and mental basket-case. 

But that pain and stress ebbed as I got used to being in a new job and far from the horrors of my old workplace, and I felt better about my organisation as a whole because I got to sit with kind, caring people like V—, and because I got excellent support in the aftermath of my collapse and separation.

I had to MC the work do, introduce the topic then throw to the speaker. My head spouted sweat as I spoke but I was okay as I talked because I know my power and ability to communicate. I talked about the import of the issue and even spoke after the event's speaker to plea for people to scope out a similar issue on our website. I felt okay about speaking, even relished it. 

Every day is a win for me now. I'm in my bonus round and loving every minute of it.

Wellness for the win.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Mikey mondegreen

All this time I thought in "Kiss from a Rose" that the line "A light hits the gloom on the gray" was "a light hits the bloom on the grave".

The correct version makes much more sense.

Curse you impassioned-yet-wrongly-sung lyric!

Current fave rendition of said song is from Community, season three, episode seven.

UPDATE: Pierce's rap rejoinder Vs Vaughn is also most-good

UPDATE2: "Going Crazy" by the Paparazzi Kids from S01E16 likewise rawks. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Because it's stolen it's even more delish

I paused my SoTPC ride to get another drink.

(Slurps Pepsi Max)

Oh yeah.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Poison running through my veins

With thanks to Alice Cooper.

Well, Mikey managed to go and wound himself—and as irony would have it from playing with an existing wound.

I have a raised scar weal on my cheek—though it can't really be seen through my beard—but it's so puckered and "rich" that I can't help worrying the weal with my little finger nail. The face wound received during recovery from severe anxiety when two boil scars became one as I picked away as I considered the darkness I dwelt in.

Because I used the little finger nail of my left hand it meant I rested my elbow on my desk and the hard surface of the desk abraded elbow skin. The hole that was made got infected and I got poisoned as a result. I am now on a fuck-load of antibiotics. 

So well done, Mikey, for allowing oldwork to still impact on you by revisiting again and again physical wound sites acquired in the aftermath of your (my) collapse. 

My elbow was in flaming agony when I awoke yesterday morning and as I walked to the doctor I had to keep my left hand in the neck of my shirt as I was in much pain if my arm straightened. 

I looked like a bearded Napoleon in mufti. 

I spent today in a fever haze, slight delirium from my above average bodily temperature as a result of the infection. I'd forgotten just how unpleasant delirium is. Your head swims, you feel hot then cold, you need a boiling shower to arrest the incontinent chatter of your teeth. 

But, the experience hasn't been all awful. The walk to to doctor's and back was delightful—a warm Spring day complete with bird song and a gaggle of cyclists from my son's nearby school passing me by. My doctor, the first one I've really had that went to the mat for me, is awesome and we got to chat US health policy as he filled out my scripts. Today, though I had multiple fever-laced sleeps, I still got to read on my tablet and I even managed to clamber aboard the SoTPC for my daily ride.

I may have been in agony from the poisoned elbow but it didn't stop my from sucking the marrow from my surrounds or my companion/s of the moment. 

That's wellness for the win, right there. Not even a poisoned limb can put a downer on the Mikester.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Reverse frying pan

For most of my life I've felt pretty shit about myself. This low appraisal of self made possible with the additional support of parents, peers and prick-arsed teachers—the shit ones who enjoyed inflicting pain because it gave them the jollies and some perverted sense of self for calling me out as an example of a not-man. 

I shed that feeling of shitness when I healed from my severe nervous breakdown of '13, having been able for the first time to look back on my en-rule thus far, the dash between dates of years of birth and eventual death, and realise I'd actually won. I'd won my life. And that my abilities and the circumstances that led me to do awesome work for the people of the fine land of Oz were forged in the crucible of crap, that all that fucked-up shit I copped as a kid paid off in the end because it led me to what I did and led me to survive what then happened to me. 

Being short, fat and afflicted with pain gave me a razor-sharp mind and a keen understanding of suffering. I could see pain because I lived in pain. And that made me better able to help others.

My fibromyalgia is almost background, though the odd flare still happens. My IBS is bad at the moment but I know that's cyclical and already the peak is tapering away. I know that newwork values my skill-set and that my co-workers, many I'd used to work with years before, like me and appreciate what I do.

I no longer work for people who don't believe in what they do. And I know my organisation is healing from years of illness and sads and I am part of the extra healing that's about to commence.

So I won. I won in the end over all of them. Over the shitty people who did shitty shit to me at school through to horrible people doing horrible things to me as an adult.

Fuck me it is true—the best revenge is doing well.

Wellness for the win.

Go, C—!

Go my friend C— who got her book published. 

It's a cracking read and at the end I wanted to read more. 

Now that's a life win. 

Hat (equals sign) doffed

Monday, August 25, 2014

And they shall be known as Barrington-Smythe

With thanks to Dune.

 I have this endearingly irritating habit of giving names to clothes, in the manner of Jerry from Seinfeld, who named his favourite tee as Golden Boy! (1) Of my own wardrobe there’s “Stainy McStain” a three-tree-rings ago somewhat tightish green and white t-shirt I wear as a PJ top during a typical wash-cycle. So named because on the white part there’s a brownish stain that’s never shifted despite repeated attempts, thus, a stain. A kind of living Mikey “shroud of Turin” imprint that is perhaps from a fluid from me or, more likely, from a meal of a long-time ago. When I wear it I yell in a sing-song voice “I’m wearing Stainy McStain!”, like anyone within distance gives a shit. 

That’s okay for me to do that, the naming of clothes, but my habit then inflicted on loved ones around me. theWife had a top in her rotation once, a blue affair with some gold embroidery. I immediately and enthusiastically labelled it “Sergeant Pepper!” because it was so wonderfully reminiscent of the clobber as worn by The Beatles on the album as known by that abbreviated name. 

Then she stopped wearing the shirt. And, when I asked why she didn’t wear it any more, she labelled me as the cause.

“You ruined it,” she said, her finger pointing in accusation, “ruiner.”

And so I had. 

The other night theBoy was wearing a UFO-themed onsie. Without knowing why I declared the pyjamas had a name. “Barrington-Smythe!” I said. And that this was its name from henceforth. 

I then immediately lied that theBoy had told me that’s what its name was earlier, all while he was in earshot, which elicited a wail at the accusation.

“HE LIES!” he almost certainly said.

For the rest of the night I called them “Barrington-Smythe”whenever possible and continued to do so upon next morn until he shed them as he dressed for the day.

Barrington-Smythe; UFO pyjamas.

What’s not to love about that?

(1) Which tragically did not survive a wash-cycle, its place taken by Baby Blue. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Furtling along...

theBoy and I share a word—furtle, or furtling—which means to swivel your eyeballs in a suspicious manner. It now has a larger meaning of tucking your head down to just eyeballs above the rim level and sneakily zooming along. 

I am officially in a new position and oldwork has forever lost their hold. My newwork is awesome and I get to do fun things as I furtle along, tweaking things here, suggesting things there. An insidious influence by sheer dint of competence. 

Yes, my self-esteem is still that high. As I scored in black pen on the bookshelf hutch in the shed a year ago—I will never feel shit about myself again.

I am still sore. My stomach still suffers the occasional IBS yuckfest, but it's nowhere near as often. The old ladies, my fibromyalgia, still flare now and then, but it's not at five minute intervals of my body self destructing as it was in the days leading up to my collapse. I still suffer occasional anxiety flares, and a loud or sudden noise can send me screaming into fight (slash) flight, but that reaction happens less, and the aftermath is not as bad—and I have a six-year-old!

I used to have a mantra of self-dislike, critiquing flaws such as my body or a wincing recall of a past regret. That's forever gone, replaced with words of courage and defiance: "I cannot be hurt", "I cannot be harmed", "I cannot be beaten" or "I cannot be defeated". 

Even as pain fires as I walk, in my head I'm okay. It's the burden I bear to be awesome.

Wellness for the win.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I did not blow goats; have no proof

Just over a year ago I tried something I've always wanted to try. It was a public performance piece. It ... did not go well. No, no it did not.

But tonight I gave it another go and this time it went well and I did not blow goats. In fact, I fucking rocked it out.

Alas, I didn't record the event, so I do not have proof of non-Goat blowing. But a friend was there and he saw it; he did! So it fucking happened!

This time last year I was deep in the throes of recovery from having gone insane. My breakdown then emergency separation from oldwork was a catalyst for change and resulted in me not only healing but shedding 30 years of sadness as I rose from the floor. 

Tonight I got back up and gave public performance another go and I fucking nailed it. 

They say the best revenge is success. 

So take that, oldwork, I win.

UPDATE: It's July. I've done it twice more; once well and once meh. Mikey for the win!

Monday, May 19, 2014

It's the third act and Ricky Bobby is back on the track!

With thanks to Talladega Nights.

It's now been a couple of weeks since I joined the new team and I am humming along. The workload is thus far bearable and there's kewl things I get to do like go into the field to talk to people and even take photos. I, like Ricky, was knocked out of the workplace and it took the entire second act to get me back to the track. But back on the track I am and I am zooming along.

And my track is an magnificent one. My workplace is in a well-appointed building, I only have to take one bus and I get on with my team. We have enjoyable chats and, thus far, no one has has presented as a psycho—an important quality not to have in any team member. 

I have not heard about my success (slash) fail for the job I recently interviewed for. Today in the mail were returned the work samples I provided at interview, without even a note of thanks—not a good sign. Nor is several emails from me which have gone unanswered.

But that's okay. That's okay because where I have landed in is awesomesauce and I get to do useful, valuable and interesting work.

And you can't get better than that as a public servant.

Wellness for the win.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Seat seep and evil people

It happened again the other day, seat seep. It happens when there's a perfect storm of runny butt and thin-weaved PJ pants sans undies. It squished through the pants and as I got off the bike seat I could see the runny smear left in my wake. 

Fortunately I have discovered the perfect cleanser for seat seep; human sweat. All I had to do was take a tissue, run it over my sweat-stained balding noggin then carefully daub up the stain. Another tissue soaked in sweat followed to ensure maximum cleansing. 

I like the symmetry of that; one secretion cleans away another. 

And from one unpleasant encounter to another; evil people. The building I now work in is a central hub for my org. It means people from outlying buildings come to mine for meetings. As I came in from a work outing I saw an evil person by the ground floor lift foyer and stairs talking with one of my new colleagues. It was the evil person from oldwork who was most-singuarly responsible for my epic collapse. 

I turned away, intent on using the lifts on the other side of the building but I stopped and went back. I walked with purpose to the lift foyer where she was, though without looking at her, summoned a lift, and stood with my back to her just three feet away. I didn't look her in the eyes once in the entire exchange. She ignored me and I her. I spent half a minute waiting, got in the arrived lift car, and stabbed the door close button. By the time I exited the lift on my floor above I just had a touch of heart hammer and it quickly ebbed. I didn't even have time to reflect on what had happened because a work friend in distress came to me to ask me to be a support person in a supervisor meeting. Her pain was overwhelming and her distress acute. And in that moment I threw myself into helping her through her immediate crisis—another fuck you to oldwork where I could put aside their evil to help someone I love.

I've come a long way. In January the mere sight of that evil person with an equally evil other oldwork person at the Australia Day Awards at 40 metres distance was enough to send me fleeing to my then building to gulp-cry with bitter hurt and anger at my desk. Now, four months later, I can stand right next to the worst of them with my back turned. She has no power over me and there is nothing she can do. Furthermore, I know that I am well-liked by my colleagues and they value what I do. So even if she slanders me, and I have no doubt that she has and will continue to do so, her slander mists away because it is by my actions I am known as an awesome public servant who cares deeply for his work and for his clients, customers and colleagues.

Wellness for the win.

Monday, May 12, 2014

I had an interview!

I had a job interview recently. It was the fourth interview I've had since I was officially dropped into the APS redeployment register.

The interview was fine. It was almost intimate, four people in a small office and clustered around a small round table. 

Since I have lost the fear of lacking worth then the interview was enjoyable. I talked at length about how awesome I am and how awesome the job was that I did. I even brought samples to show them my awesome work in action.

Alas I think I fucked the two-part written component of the interview process. Part one was okay. Part two was not. I ran out of time and had half-formed ideas on the page. 

Still, success or fail the interview and the written exercise were good experiences and the process was not scary. And if this potential new workplace decide against taking me on then I won't hold a grudge. I come with freely admitted baggage, after-all.

Today, I waited for my bus at the stop in the cooling dim of late afternoon. I could see two contrails scrawled in the sky staggered either side of Telstra tower, a spray of golden cloud against the darkening blue.

It was a nice moment.

Wellness for the win. 


... I am tracking along with some good and some bad. 

Some bad is putting weight back on. I ride an hour a day on the exercise bike but it seems to do fuck all. That or what I am doing is just retarding some of the gain. I have eaten heavier lunches that's for sure, and I've dabbled of late in pies of the fruity kind. But, since A2 cream, came out I can't but help sup from my pasty mistress.

Anyway being just a little bit fatter sucks the wang. It especially sucked when I discovered my shirt had gotten a little tight when I was in a meeting room designed for four people with 12 at the table and one on speaker phone and my middle button was straining and exposing my navel. I was at the fucking chair next to the one networked PC at a small desk at the back of the room which meant I was just far enough from the main table to be in everyone's eye-line. I had to stay facing side-on so as not to expose the hair-rimmed unblinking eye. The meeting was, whilst stressful, awesome though in that everyone there believed in the purpose we were meeting about and we felt institutional pride in what we're doing (1). It makes a hell of a difference to work with people that believe in what they do.

New work is stressful. I have to learn new things and I have to use the phone more. I hate using the phone. Email is the tool of government and email is preferred! I live in fear of my phone ringing and having to talk to people. So far each time the phone has rung that it has been some fucking coffee company that's trying to send a fax. If I transfer the call the fax machine then it spits out a one page flyer promoting a clearly over-priced coffee pod machine. Fuckers.

I am back in the building I've worked in for the vast bulk of my career. It's the building I was in before I was transferred out by an SES who was irritated by my presence (2). I keep running into people I know from when I was last here, and even fellow refugees from oldwork. I never know what to say about why I am back. Sometimes I will say it's because I went insane and had to flee oldwork like a thief in the night. Sometimes I don't even mention it and just say where I am working now.

A compounding stress is my newwork has dealings with oldwork. I hear the names of the people who hurt me said in a work context. I may even have to take a call from one of those people. If an accidental face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact happens I plan to take their details then pass whatever they need onto a colleague to sort out. Then to go for a calming walk to remind myself I am forever free of them and their horrors. 

Wellness for the win.

(1) Unbelievably fucking Man Hands was there! A former supervisor who once maliciously jiggled my tummy in, I presume, a lame way to say he wanted to show me he thought I was sexy. We did not talk about the incident. 
(2) I had a somewhat voluminous disagreement with that SES about her crass interference in my job when she had no expertise whatsoever in my field and refused to listen to me as the subject fucking expert (2a). I was transferred away to another part of the org, along with my job, with two months. She would also say moronic things in staff meetings like "I can just change you around at will and get you doing whatever job I need you to" only for me to pipe up cheerfully "no you can't; we're specialists" and for her to ignore that I said anything at all. Mikey don't suffer fools no gladly! 
(2a) It should be noted I later literally went insane when I failed to convince management what they were doing, and not doing in the case of health and safety, was fucked and unethical. 

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Back in the saddle and it's feeling good

New work is going well. There's aspects I don't like, but it's likely because I've not done those things before, but there's also elements I love and I get to do them here. 

That's pretty awesome that I get to return to my special type of bureaucracy of which I excel. It makes work more fun and therefore more enjoyable. And not only do the other team members have a sense of humour but so does my boss. 

So it's going pretty sweet for Mikey and he keeps winning.

Wellness for the win.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Topes lose ... topes lose...

I'm in a new place at work and so far, so good (1). It's scary to be back in the game, and it involves tangential contact with oldwork—horrid people's names said in my presence, that sort of thing. But on the whole my current team and boss seems kewl. My boss and I are around the same age and she's had an interesting life. She's also skilled in our trade and knows actual proper stuff, especially about the more formal side of our work—a skill set which I am lacking. Which means I will have to tentacle-touch her forehead and suck out her gooey brain nutrients... 

I've also circled back to familiar terrain, working in a cubicle farm where I used to work some five years before I was transferred for being a combination of "unusual role" meets "loud mouth jerk who continuously annoyed management". There are familiar faces, people I once worked with from when I was here as well as fellow escapees from oldwork. People seem happy to see me and that I have returned to that segment of our vast public service enterprise.

I had a knock today. 

When my computer opened I saw an email awaiting me in the in box, the email program taking forever to load and unable to show the preview pane. I was trapped in an uncomfortable place in a place of knowing who the email was from yet not knowing the result. 

The result was bad.

I'd set a mission to pitch myself to a workplace worthy of my talents. The email was from the place I'd recently pitched to, having dropped off a submission packet of ideas and a suggestion they bring me on board. The preview pane finally kicked in and appeared below the centreline view and I could see the polite words of their rejection. A rejection of "thanks for that submission, your ideas are not for us and we alas have no job for you". I didn't even get a meeting out of the pitch! That rejection was a bit of a whack as I'd put in considerable effort, the pitch with hard copy samples from a spray of years behind me. I'd presumed that sampling alone would have at least scored me a face-to-face.

Alas, I presumed poorly. 

I numbed down a downer to take the edge off the sad and forded on, sitting with my soon-to-depart colleague whose job I stand to inherit. I also made sure to have wellness walks, doing a lap of the outside of the building on the hour to keep anxiety in check as I processed the fairly comprehensive rejection.

So, my pitch and its ideas were not for them. That rejection hurts but the experience is still a win and resilience has formed—a vaccination for rejection pain. Besides, the mission I'd set was to make a pitch to a place I wanted to work at and pitch I did. It wasn't wasted work; it helped clarify my thoughts and I learned lessons along the way.

And while I may have failed to launch myself to a new place or work my new place in work is useful and good. The work environment is nice, the new team seems nice and the work I will do is interesting. I am in a position aligned to my trade and already the role is brimming with possibility. 

One door closes, another one opens.

Wellness for the win.

(1)  I naturally felt of course it was my duty to report broken shit like a toilet mechanism plate that spoinged in nastily when the door was opened and greeted the disabled unwary with a scary bang noise. I also pinged in a report on a dead light. I reported a bunch more but it turned out they're on a luminosity setting where they only come on when needed. The trouble is not every light agrees and you end up with a couple on and the rest dead depending on the time of day and how the sunshine slants in. The effect is not one of "yay, energy savers!" but "Geez, that's fucked, they can't even get all their lights on". 

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.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Books I read in 2013

The following is a list of all the books I read in 2013. As noted in my last blog post of 2013 I ended up going fully nuts in March of 2013 and was out five months from the workplace. You'd think that would have given me a bunch of time to read a lot more books except, of course, I'd gone nuts and when you go nuts and then recover from going nuts you tend not to be able to read books. I'd get two sentences into a paragraph and then my brain would wander to the raw hurt and pain of my collapse and I'd start fixating about oldwork

But, that pain and hurt receded in time, thanks to buckets of support from friends, family and my broader workplace, and I did finally start reading again in about mid-May.

Since I purchased a tablet in November of 2011 I've embraced Kindle like no-one's business and about 80 per-cent of these titles were purchased via Amazon's Kindle store. The ability to instantly gain and start reading a book within mere seconds over the annoyance of library visits or ordering books in is beyond awesome. Especially combined with the ability to use the same platform to look up topics related to your e-book as you go without even having to leave your chair. 

It has never been a better time to be a shut in!

Anyway, the list of books I read in 2013—in order of last read to first—is as follows.

Command and Control by Eric Schlosser 
I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum
Part of Our Time: Some Ruins and Monuments of the Thirties by Murray Kempton 
Murder in America by Evan Wright 
A Storm of Swords by George R R Martin 
Les Mis√©rables by Victor Hugo 
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson 
The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson 
What I Do by Jon Ronson 
Out of the Ordinary by Jon Ronson 
Lost at Sea by Jon Ronson 
Quarterly Essay 51. The Prince: Faith, Abuse and George Pell by David Marr 
Breaking News. Sex, lies and the Murdoch succession by Paul Barry 
The Selling of the President 1968 by Joe McGinniss 
Fatal Vision by Joe McGinniss (inc. 2012 update) 
Scary Monsters and Super Freaks by Mike Sager 
Generation Kill by Evan Wright (1)
Cruel Doubt
by Joe McGinniss 

The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens 
Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran 
Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor by Matthew Latimer 
It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis 
The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan by Michael Hastings 
Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal by Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman 
Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein 
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson 
A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin 
A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin 
Bad Characters : Sex, Crime, Mutiny, Murder and the Australian Imperial Force by Peter Stanley 
The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006–2008 by Thomas E. Ricks

(1) UPDATE: This book wasn't in my list of books via the Kindle emulator but I did read it via my Kindle emulator so that's weird. And I've added this note in 2014. 

Well hello, 2014...

It's some 40 odd minutes into the new year; hooray! I'm in the shed. I just played Baldur's Gate. We saw the New Year in with watching Outnumbered and spent the lead up to that watching Ponderland with Russell Brand.

It's magical thinking to think the quality of your New Year experience will somehow influence how the rest of the year goes. So I am avoiding doing that. However I did have an awesome last day of the year and my favourite part was hanging out in the spinal corridor of our house with all the doors closed to make the corridor dark and playing with glow sticks with theWife and theBoy.

So here's to 2014. Let's hope it's a little less interesting than last year. Boredom, it's an under appreciated quality in a year.