Prior to my mental illness I was happy with my life. I loved my job and persevered despite not always getting what I want. I didn’t have the relationship and children but I had my health and friends and I was genuinely content. At work I watched people with less experience, and sometimes less knowledge than me, move higher up the ladder and become my supervisors. With strength I accepted that and just kept ploughing through and believed my time would come when I was ready. Eventually the right time did come. The great job and opportunity came but it was halted with my mental illness. I had to start all over again and I had no idea why.
After I packed up my books I sat next to the boxes and curled up in a ball and started to cry. I cried and cried and cried and could not stop crying. I was wet with tears. Well- meaning friends offered me advice to keep moving forward and told me to fight the depression, but instinctively I knew that to fight was not the answer. I had to sit, live and be with the depression. I had to feel it, express it and be it. It was a part of me at this present moment and to get rid of it would be denying a part of who I was.
So I sat with my books and just cried, the tears wet my face, my neck and my clothes. I felt the pain, I felt the sadness. I just felt for most of the night until I was too tired to feel anymore and fell asleep.
The next day I had the prescription for the anti-depressant medication filled. After the night with the flying books I decided that maybe taking the small dose wasn’t such a bad idea. I read up on all the possible side effects such as nausea, loss of appetite, increase in appetite, dizziness, feeling tired. But I was definite in my belief that I was not going to stay on the medication long. I would work out a plan with Sandra and the doctor to slowly reduce the dose.
I had been on so many dud dates that I was just going through the motions and waiting out my three month membership when I met Marcus.
Marcus seemed in no hurry to meet and wanted to take things slow before he actually made the commitment of a first date. At the time I thought that a little strange and that he seemed to be thinking too much about the process, instead of jumping in and enjoying meeting people and having fun.
We finally agreed to meet at a pub. I’ll never forget the moment he walked in. He was talk, dark and handsome and I was instantly attracted to him. Marcus came across with a definite sense of style: dressed in black pants and cream shirt, black overcoat and hat. Dark eyes and wide happy smile. It was obvious he took pride in his appearance and health. But even then I did not think much of it and just enjoyed the date and made no commitment for a next one or to even call each other. But it would seem that Marcus had other ideas.
“Hi Sonia, its Marcus how are you?”
For the first time in years a guy had rung me after a date and I actually liked him. I am so excited that I really started to believe that this is ‘it.’
My dark days are behind me.
We began dating and I am over the moon as he made me laugh all the time and no one had made me laugh as much as he did.
“Sonia, Sonia Rosa” My name is called out by a doctor I have never met before. A Sri Lankan man with a soft face and gentle smile. He wore round glasses and peered down them as I rose from my chair. I followed him to his office.
“What seems to be the problem today?” He asked as he closed the door.
I blurted out to the doctor all that had been going on, my feeling sick in the morning, noon and night but not actually throwing up. Forgetting important things not only at work but for family also. My workload and how I felt about it.
“Do you sleep at night,” the doctor asked in a matter of fact voice.
“Yes I do,” I replied.
He then handed me a sheet of paper with questions on it and numbered scales one to five.
“Don’t think about the questions, just answer them as quickly as possible” he told me, then he left the office to tend to a matter the nurse had called him about. I looked at the questionnaire and did exactly what he asked, with no idea what the questionnaire was about.
To this day I have little memory of the questionnaire.
The doctor returned. “How are you doing?” taking his seat.
“I have finished,” I told him softly and turned the sheet around to show him.
“That’s good” he replied and took the sheet and finished typing something on the computer. I’m not sure if he typed something about me or the patient he had to see urgently. He then took a pen out of his front shirt pocket and started to add up the numbers.
“You have anxiety,” he said. “Your score is very high, see” He then turned the sheet towards me and watched me down the rims of his glasses.
Joan was the delegation queen. She delegated meetings that were her responsibility, she delegated complaints, she even tried to pass off memorandums and reports. On top of all that the criticisms of my work practice started.
“Why haven’t you had supervision with Nicky?” Joan asked loud enough for other people to hear.
“Joan there has been no time, I have been on visits, chairing meetings,” I started to explain. “I cannot do my job and yours as well.”
“That is no reason, you know supervision takes priority. The schedules show that you have missed three supervision sessions with Nicky and a bit less with your other staff members. You need to schedule supervision this week with all of them and make up supervision and you need to let me know the dates and when they are done.” She said tapping her foot.
“Yes Joan.” I had very little energy to argue.
“ Next time ask for help if you cannot meet supervision.”
“I did, I asked you to chair your mee……”
“Never allow this to happen again” Joan cut me off. “Let me know if you need help with supervising staff.” Off she scurried before I could respond or maybe I turned my back to her and got on with my job. I didn’t have time for these arguments anymore. I don’t remember.
I used to wonder why Joan preferred to supervise staff rather than chair meetings that were in her job description. To most people this would seem a little strange but then there wasn’t a lot about Joan that made sense. She always looked like she was frantic running from one thing to another but no one really knew why or where she was running. She was one of those “sorry haven’t got time to talk right now.” She would delegate tasks that belonged to her without any emotion or sense of how you might be feeling at the time. It was like this is a monkey on my back and now I am giving it to you, so that I can get it off my back. I could have tried to get into her head to figure out her motives, but I don’t like scary movies very much so I chose to stay out of there.
The work escalated and the arguments continued.
“Order up,” I call out at my kitchen staff as the waitress brings in an order from the restaurant. The kitchen is ready for yet another busy night of service as the bookings are full until 11pm. “We have two beef, one chicken and one pasta con vongole,” I call out the orders and the kitchen staff move immediately move into action; the clanking of pots and the gas fire being turned on are the first sounds you hear. The beef section proceed to the fridge and return with two steaks that will be cooked on a hot pan. The sauce for the beef is being slowly heated and will be plated last. The chicken is placed in the oven for its final touches. The potatoes are ready and removed and the comis chef begin preparing the plates. The last thing to be added will be the protein. In the pasta section is the chef adding the pasta and vongole to cook together. I notice this and realise that the pasta is going to be ready before the protein. This is disaster and I need to intervene quickly.
“Charlie how soon for the pasta?” I call out.
“One minute chef” Charlie answers back.
“Mark how soon for the beef?” I call again.
“Two minutes chef,” answers Mark.
“Charlie” I begin reprimanding him my voice is angry. “You need to communicate with your colleagues. The pasta cannot be ready before the protein. It will continue cooking on the counter and go cold. You will need to start your dish again and work fast or the proteins will be ready before you.”
I can see he is disgruntled and unhappy as he purses his lips together and mumbles something to himself. Charlie starts again. Lucky the vongole are not yet ready and he can still use those. It’s just the pasta he needs to cook quickly.
At this point the waitress enters the kitchen with another order.
“Order up” I call out. My Chefs are finishing the previous order but are listening to the next one. They must listen for each order and be ready to cook more than one meal at a time.