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Just letting off steamMy Medical Notes
(and notes on notes)

It was, as little as I can remember, a happy childhood with the exception of the unsettling verbal arguments that my parents would have, away from which I would hide in my room. Them not speaking to each other was often the outcome and this cutting off and cessation of communication after a dispute is behaviour deeply ingrained in me. I cannot stand to witness or be a part of any form of domestic dispute and will squirm in agony if forced to witness friends or family having a 'pointless' argument. Strategy of choice is to leave, easily never to return. Witnessing the arguments I remember feeling that, come what may, I wanted my father to stand up to my mother's 'mood' induced unrealistic demands. He always seemed to try to smooth the waters and placate her and take a subservient role to her perceived dominance.
School days were unremarkable although I know I suffered badly from nerves and would be physically sick and off my food with worry, for days before sports events, school concerts or exams. Swimming was a particular problem because of my fear of water and conviction in my youth that I would sometime die a particularly unpleasant death of drowning. I once childishly decided to end it all and took a mouthful of aspirins. I began to crunch them up but the taste was so awful I spat them out and decided to give life another go! A particularly devious and reprehensible ploy of developing a reoccurring verruca with the aid of a ballpoint pen and a pin excused me from many a swimming session.
My father, although not maliciously, was always deeply critical of everything and everyone. He was a down to earth tea totaler, always hard working with a wonderful sense of ironic humour. His father had a drink and anger problem and deserted his family before the war. His mother who died in 1993 was a remarkably practical, strong willed character who displayed little emotion.
My mother after marriage, apart from a brief spell on a chocolate factory packing line, was a meticulous full time housewife, although apparently harbouring regrets at what she may have become instead. She suffered from 'moods'! An aunt of hers had apparently committed suicide, her mother died before I was born, from cancer and her father developed dementia and senility in his later life, which I witnessed.
'What would the neighbours think' was always important.
An intransigent sense of right and wrong, good and bad and above all, honesty was instilled in me. With extremely rare exceptions I will not lie whatever the cost to me. Unmitigated openness is a part of that same fundamental.
Embracing, hugging, kissing or similar displays of affection were, as far as I can recall, absent. Any innocent social physical contact is uncomfortable for me and has a sexual content.
Sex did not exist and education about it was left to the schools. I was, by today's standards, a late developer who has always regarded sex as an occasional necessity separate from emotional engagement.
My parents had no social life and perhaps as a result, I had no role models for 'normal' friendship type relationships. Their total interdependence was however a strong influence, which may have lead to my unrealistic expectations of what a 'partner' relationship should be like.

6th February 1968 - Eye operation
I can remember nothing of it but was apparently six at the time. It was noticed that I had a small mole that had developed in the corner of my left eye near the tear duct. Better safe than sorry I was taken to the Bristol eye hospital where it was decided that it should be removed to ensure that it didn't grow and interfere with the tear duct in later life. It was a small operation and was done at Frenchay hospital during the course of one day as an outpatient. Close examination of the area of skin near the tear duct in my left eye today, reveals a slightly flatter profile than that of the right, where the offending blemish was removed.

12th November 1975 - Appendectomy - discharged from hospital on 15/11/75
Scant memories remain but one of the most vivid is that of the hospital examination that was done to confirm that I did indeed have appendicitis. Without going into any great detail suffice it to say that it involved a stranger wearing rubber gloves and my bare bottom! Thank goodness that one can't have appendicitis more than once! Allegedly it was a nasty one caught just in time although I suspect everyone is told that just to make him or her feel braver. It was removed at Cosham hospital in Kingswood. Wrapped up in my own trauma I was little aware that at exactly the same time I was undergoing surgery my Grandfather, my mother's father, passed away in Manor Park hospital. My poor parents had to rush from hospital to hospital and make all the necessary funeral arrangements all at the same time.
I was only in hospital for a very few days but was delighted when it was decided I could go home. There was no children's ward so I had been placed in one that was full of old men, and one of them in his dementia had decided that the bottom of my bed was a good thing to hit with his walking stick. The nurses had restrained him before doing any damage but no matter how bad I felt, I wanted to go home. Coming home so soon was a shock to my mother who in all her trauma hadn't even had time to make my bed since the night I had been whisked away to hospital.
Back at home I didn't seem to be recovering very quickly. One night I woke up and to my embarrassment thought I had wet the bed. On examination I discovered I hadn't and instead my appendix scar had burst open and was exuding poison from an infection and it was this that had soaked the sheets! I called to my sleeping parents for help and ended up sat in the bathroom as they ran around in a panic. Expecting me to have to return to hospital and thinking I would need them, to my great embarrassment my mother rushed off with my pyjama bottoms to put them to soak so that they could be washed later. I had to sit all but naked looking into the gaping, weeping hole in my abdomen as my father turned white and disappeared. When my mother quickly returned she found him lying in a faint on their bed and ended up having to deal with two patients!
The doctor was called and upon examination explained it was just an infection and it would sort itself out and that the wound should be cleaned and dressed and left to knit together in due course. Staying at home, with the poisons released, I soon began to recover. It eventually did close up to leave me with only a slightly 'wavy' scar as a lifelong reminder.

1979 Beaten Up.
Look behind the mask!At the age of seventeen, socially inept and developing a biker/heavy rock style of dress as my defensive image, I was beaten up by a group of people as I left a pub, and physically suffered brief unconsciousness, a broken nose, bruises and black eyes.
Socially I was crippled. No medical treatment was obtained.
I continued going out for a drink to pubs with friends but seemed to regularly witness violent confrontations and often encountered hostility from strangers directed towards me. Such was my fear I took to carrying a knife wherever I went. I regarded it as my own 'nuclear deterrent', self-defence use of which would have assured my own destruction in the courts.

June 1980 developed a thorough thyroid toxicosis
I'd had a motorcycle accident and was at the doctors to have some stitches removed from a gash in my leg. Something about my look triggered his suspicions and a resulting blood test revealed I had an over active thyroid.
At the staff canteen in work the sugar was held in a large bowl on the counter near the till. Whenever I bought a cup of coffee and had to spoon over the sugar from the bowl to my cup, my hand would tremor so much I would usually sprinkle much of the sugar all over the counter. I had attributed it to my nervousness and lack of self-confidence. Buying a cup of coffee in similar circumstances or carrying a full pint of beer can still produce the same sort of results and remains a self-conscious ordeal to this day.
I was prescribed appropriate medication but mixed up in my adolescent rebellion, believing I was indestructible and working odd hours and often staying out and missing meals, I found the rigour of taking tablets at set times too much to bother with.
25th June 1981 - Doctor."this character will not take his neomercazol and I explained to him that an overactive thyroid can cause serious illness but he is quite sure he does not wish to continue with it and although his thyroid function tests are obviously still considerably raised I think he is probably gradually curing himself."

By this time I had started doing variable shift work and quickly lost contact with all my school friends as a result. A very few new friends were made through my interest in CB radio. All social activities were uncomfortable for me and I could not identify with the 'normal' people I came into contact with who seemed to occupy their lives with 'meaningless trivia'. I tried cannabis and enjoyed doing it in moderation as a release. I met a girl through the CB who appeared to want me, and drifted into a relationship. I left home and we bought a house and a dog and I even thought about having kids because it seemed the way of things.

1982 - Split. In 1982 I was staying away on a training course for work and somehow coldly came to the conclusion that I did not wish to be with my girlfriend because I didn't like her. I returned home, told her and we split up. I felt guilty I had hurt her and never wanted to hurt anyone like it again. Just able to afford it I kept the house and the dog. Money was tight, I couldn't afford to go out much and had no one to go out with when I did, so I spent many years just working and being on my own. Walking the dog, listening to music, watching TV and smoking dope on a weekend was my life. I was lonely and miserable and desperately wanted a girlfriend but didn't know how it was done and couldn't find anything that raised my spirits enough to be worth bothering to do. Frequent bouts of hopelessness and suicidal thoughts were kept at bay by the smoking.
Occasional 'flings' occurred where I would go with whoever would have me but which I went to great pains to make sure were conducted on the understanding that it was 'just for fun' since I was not emotionally attached in any way. I was inevitably often guilty of behaviour summed up by the phrase 'post coital contempt'! Any sign that the lady concerned was becoming emotionally attached to me would result in a breaking off of the arrangement and a cessation of any contact to save me from the guilt I associated with causing such hurt. I could not speak the word 'love' to anyone since I didn't feel it for anyone, family included, although I was fully aware that it was the stuff of which the world was made.
I was particularly interested in 'spiritual' matters and seemed compelled to try and find the meaning of life. I would on occasions visit spiritualist churches and the like in my vain search.
I experimented with meditation and experienced a one off moment of magical peace that is impossible to adequately describe and which someone once called 'changing level'. Try as I may I never managed to repeat the experience.

1985 - Panic. My first recollection of starting to have major difficulties with how I was thinking and feeling was when working at Kingswood post office serving the public on the counter. I had been doing it by acting and wearing my false, work mask quite acceptably for some time but at some point it became difficult and I would retreat to sit in Kingswood park at lunch times and try to get a grip on the 'panicky' feelings that were new to me. I always suffered terrible nerves when having to occasionally work at a different office or have some interview or other but this was something worse.

07/01/1986 Job Transfer. A sideways job transfer away from dealing with the public, taken as part of the then route to promotion, necessitated change and eased my 'at work' problems.

My 'woofer'.1986 - Dog. I had my dog put down, indirectly as a result of having to leave her alone all day whilst I was at work. I experienced real emotional loss for the first time and carry the enormous pain and guilt with me still.

1988+ Work. An incident occurred at work where a female colleague refused to work with me because of my offensive body odor. I felt the situation was handled inappropriately and as a result felt publicly humiliated and rejected. My self-confidence and self-esteem were completely destroyed and my feelings of worthlessness were increased. Work, which had been the rock in my life to which I had clung, became an unbearable series of what I perceived as personal assaults.

06/7/1990 - Depression. My work sick record shows a days absence due to depression. To have actually taken a day off sick and then to have honestly attributed it to depression despite the stigma indicates I was in a bad way.

Trying desperately to find somewhere I would be accepted for being myself I became loosely involved with a motorcycle club. I was introduced to and tried amphetamine (speed) for the first time. It was a revelation. All my feelings of pointlessness, paranoia, self consciousness, insecurity, not belonging, etc, etc slipped away as never before and for the first time in my life I felt what it was like to be able to just sit and be 'happy'. A friend commented that, when under the influence, I was just more normal and like other people rather than high. As the effect wore off all my negative feelings tangibly returned, I remember, as though I was putting on a heavy old coat.
The experience was important to me and proved in my own mind what the world was like for happier people who did not suffer the thoughts I had to. The dangers were clear and I knew that I couldn't run the risk of doing much of it because it was so nice, so whenever I was able to get some I would keep it for ages unused. If a social situation came up such as a party or a similar impossibly stressful event I would dab a wet finger into the powder and take the smallest of amounts to give me a few hours of coping ability. I was very careful not to fall into the trap of relying on it and would only allow me to do it as an occasional, special, looked forward to event. In all, I have been under its influence no more than a dozen times.

19/07/1990 - Bike Trip. A wonderful 'trip of a lifetime' experience of riding my motorcycle around France culminated in horrific paranoid feelings of rejection at a club party in Belgium where I was not treated in a 'friendly' manner by a couple of other club members. Even here I was different and did not belong. I left the club immediately and ended my limited social life and returned to the pointless misery of my loneliness and solitude only broken by the torture of work.
Without the contacts I was no longer able to get, nor did I wish to take, speed.
My life became a roller coaster of uncontrollable mood swings.
At work flexi time and holiday leave entitlements were saved up and were only taken, usually at short notice, when I could feel I was 'starting to crack' or when a manager confused by my paranoid behaviour suggested I take time off. With rare exceptions, time off meant sitting around waiting to return.

Ello, ello, ello.18/02/1991 - Burglary. Trying to do someone a favour, for the money and to have a little human contact I took in a girl as a lodger but it was a huge mistake. She turned out to be an undesirable type with terribly undesirable acquaintances. She was a constant reminder of my social inadequacies. I reasoned I was a much better, nicer, more honest person than her and all her friends and yet unlike them I was 'unwanted' and unable to attract a mate or even find another human being who had the same thoughts on the world. I tortured myself over my inability and aloneness. Events proved to me I was worthless and nothing more than something to be taken advantage of. I eventually threw her out.
Shortly afterwards I was burgled. I had no contents insurance because, being single with a mortgage money was tight, so the little of worth that I had, which I had gone through hell to earn, had been lost.
My years of struggle where I had to watch every penny and had denied myself many of the things that others have, had all been for nothing.
I tried to force myself to go out. I read books on stress and depression, had spiritual healing, underwent hypnosis, tried meditation, tried crystals, tried all the new age 'hocus pocus' but none of it helped. It seemed that no matter where I turned everyone with 'problems' found their answer in some imagined unproveable world of faith that was neither real nor available to me.

I got in a hopeless, bad way with increasing thoughts of suicide and eventually, much to my disgust because of my pride in my self reliance and feelings of absolute failure, felt obliged to resort to asking my doctor for assistance.
There was a long, long wait before I saw the practice psychologist. Inexplicably, bouncing along on my mood shift roller coaster and at that time unfamiliar with its vagaries, by the time I saw him my mood had lifted somewhat.
I felt awful guilt waiting in the doctor's waiting room surrounded by 'truly' ill people. I felt guilt that with so much suffering in the world I was stupid enough to be 'unhappy'. I naively thought the darkness in me had gone and felt awful I was wasting precious NHS resources better spent on more deserving cases.

5th April 1991 - Psychologist. "following a referral my first meeting with Mr Jones was on 22nd March. To reiterate our discussion of two days ago Mr Jones explained that he had recently been feeling far better and no longer felt he needed to see me. We did discuss his previous difficulties for about an hour and from this account the same problems still exist as you had outlined in the referral letter. At the worst point several months ago he described having been suicidal and he had obviously planned ways of carrying this out. He agreed that it was difficult to explain what had changed or why he feels happier at the moment except to say that he emphasised that he does feel better. At the end I suggested to Mr Jones that he should get in touch again if things worsened and should he do so he would not have to wait as long to see me. He told me he regards seeing a psychologist as the very last resort and if he did however ask to be seen again it would be an indication that he was in real difficulties. The option remains open to him but no more appointments were fixed up."

Of course nothing had changed and I was soon in the depths of despair again. Despite the cost to my self-esteem I returned as everyone tells you, you must, to the doctor for help.
I didn't think he understood how I felt AT ALL.
Attempts to explain how it is for me in hurried fifteen-minute appointments over the years have been clumsy and awkward. Always open and honest and having to try and decide myself what parts of my life are significantly relevant in attempting to reveal what I then suspected was 'just' a congenital neuro chemical deficiency, resulted in often ridiculous out of context revelations. Not being a drinker and not physically able to drink the quantities 'normal' people seem to, I once tried to explain what I thought was the relevance of while under the influence of amphetamine, being able to drink a larger amount without the usual unpleasant results. My point was that this could be some sort of proof that I was ordinarily lacking some of the more usually present levels of neuro transmitters, which had been artificially activated by the drug, The result was that the doctor included in his notes that I 'abused alcohol'! During my sisters divorce I agreed to become a sleeping partner in a remortgaging to enable her to keep her home. Difficulties were encountered when the insurance policy was refused because the doctor's report stated I was an alcohol abuser!!! This has lead to an increasingly strained relationship with my doctor who I now regard as someone to be avoided if at all possible and to whom every word I say will almost surely be misunderstood.
Despite what I felt was his resistance at offering any real help to me it was suggested I should see the practice counsellor although of course there was a long, long waiting list.

2nd December 1992 / 9th December 1992 appointments with a counsellor.
All I can remember about her was her crystals. I walked into her room and she was sat there all ready to help me by just listening, with some large crystal or other on the table. For me that said more about her ability to help me sort myself out than anything she could have said. Here was someone who believed in magic and who just by listening to me rant on was supposedly going to help me sort out the dire moods and thoughts that beset me. I had spent years sat self-analysing, I was good at it, I knew I needed harsher, more capable, more direct action than that. My comments about that time were that if I 'just' needed someone to talk to I could go and talk to a tree. I could see nothing to be gained from talking at someone who was less than proactive and whom I felt after speaking with her, although very nice, was so far removed from my world that I would inevitably run rings around her! With this view added to the difficulties and stigma in taking time off work each week to see her during working hours, I withdrew from any further sessions.
I felt that each thing I tried was a burned bridge and the bridges that were available were becoming fewer and fewer.

Scenes from hell.I carried on working and sleeping, working and sleeping.
My ego and self worth were entirely dependant on my working relationships. At work there were enormous upheavals, re-organisations, changes of philosophy and a move to a new out of town location that tripled my commuting time. I sold my bikes and bought a car and felt uncomfortable and lost without my 'biker' image.
Despite working extremely hard, being a perfectionist, often taking work home to work on my PC and improve existing or create new systems, and doing what was independently acknowledged was better and more than most, it never seemed good enough. I became something of a local computer expert and was always willing to help others and find better ways of doing things 'for the common good'. Embracing the new buzz word philosophies of 'customer first', 'quality' and 'excellence' I was continually running into disputes with management who it seemed would pay lip service to the ethos at the same time as inactively ignoring it or actively obstructing it.
In my annual appraisals I did not seek promotion because I was painfully aware of my limitations and yet I demanded that those who were promoted should be 'worthy', capable of the grade and at the very least 'better than me'. I was outspokenly critical of their failings.
One particular disagreement with a less than competent, over promoted senior manger, which viciously attacked my belief in my own worth, saw me take a doctor certificated fifteen day leave of absence in a massive depression of hopeless despair.

16th March 1994 - from Doctor to Consultant Psychiatrist."Thank you for seeing this thirty two year old man. For the last four years he's been coming to me from time to time complaining of chronic depression and he feels he doesn't enjoy his life. He lives alone and seems to choose a rather isolated life and has difficulty in making relationships with others. Terry works for the Post Office and seems to get his main high from driving his motorbike very fast and at times taking drugs. Terry has seen our clinical psychologist and . . . counsellor each on one or two occasions but does not feel that talking therapies could help him. However things have got dramatically worse in the last month and he became profoundly depressed with strong suicidal tendencies. He was on lofepramine 70mg BD and I have increased this to 210mg per day. He has become less suicidal and has been able to get back to work however he is very keen to know what else can be done to help his depression and keen to see a psychiatrist. I would be grateful for your opinion. He seems to have a strong family history of depression and describes his sister as having similar problems and one aunt committed suicide."

Despite my history of seeking help only to reject what was offered I was referred to the practice Consultant Psychiatrist whom I thought would be expert enough to sort out what was wrong and offer me a way to a 'cure'.

25th May 1994 - from Consultant Psychiatrist to Doctor."One example in literature of this is in the book called 'The Outsider' by Albert Camus. Unfortunately these personality traits are extremely hard to change and are often indeed lifelong. Sometimes such individuals do fall into despair and of course run the risk of suicide at these times. In terms of what can be done for him I think we have to distinguish to some degree between treating his recent depressive symptoms and helping him with his long-standing personality problems. I am sure it is fair to tell him that clinical depression is an illness. It is not his fault. As his depressive symptoms responded to anti depressants it is worth continuing him on his lofepramine for six months or so. The depression may or may not re-occur. If it does then restarting medication would be the best move. He could benefit from having a small starter supply at home for this purpose. The antidepressants take a couple of weeks to work and though if during this time he feels unsafe then he can either stay with relatives or come up to (hospital) as an inpatient or day patient. I think his underlying life and personality problems are much harder to tackle. I do not know of any medication which would help him. He told me he has tried increasing his social circles himself and had a number of different hobbies over the years but gained no satisfaction from doing this.
I do think that if he wants to alter these deep problems then he would need to commit himself to long term psychotherapy in one form or another. This would be no easy option for him either. This is not something that my service could offer him and I did tell him that he would need to look for private psychotherapy if he wanted to pursue his problems this way. Immediately he interpreted this as me rejecting him which is the same response your own counsellor got from him. I tried to talk to him about this but this time he was not listening. Nevertheless I did say I would send him a list of private psychotherapy organisations for him to look at and will do so. If he did begin to look for a psychotherapist then I think he would need somebody of some experience because he could easily set up a situation in therapy where he perceives he is being rejected.
I hope the above assessment is useful for your future contact with him."

I found the experience humiliating particularly, so I judged it, because of the youthfulness and therefore inexperience of the 'expert'. I eventually got a copy of the book from the library and read it. I can't remember much about it now other than it seemed to offer no hope whatsoever, indeed quite the opposite, and ended up with the 'me' going through hell and eventually getting his head cut off!!!
I was sent the list of psychotherapy organisations and despite having great reservations did eventually contact the Severnside Institute Of Psychotherapy.
25/08/1994 - SIP. My enquiry was passed to their Assessment and Referral Service co-ordinator and with much embarrassment and trepidation, mixed with a little hope I went to the big imposing expensive house for my 7:30pm appointment. I can recall little of the embarrassing interview where once again I had to pour out my inner most hurts and anxieties to a complete stranger except for her attitude. She was cold, aloof, insensitive and frankly rude. I desperately attempted to break down the barrier and forge some form of interaction so that I could comfortably talk with her but it was impossible. One abiding memory of my desperate attempts was how I asked if I could smoke when of course I knew I wouldn't be allowed to. In a seemingly deliberate condescending supercilious way that I had never before been subjected to anywhere, she told me I could not 'because of the relationship I had with the cigarettes'.
Within, I think half an hour, I had to hand over the 25 fee and was told I could benefit from psychotherapy and she would be in touch.
28/08/1994 I was sent details of a clinical psychologist in Clifton who would see me privately and whom I should write to in the first instance.
I did not write. I was disgusted. The whole experience confirmed my worse fears. I was in desperate need of help and instead I was being 'preyed' upon by callous people who were simply interested in making money out of my misery. I felt the NHS had thrown me to the lions.
Another bridge had been burned.

More time passed and nothing much altered.

24/05/1995 - Lost Letter? In desperation I swallowed my pride and concluded that whatever the cost it was worth it if I could sort myself out. I wrote to the address of the private clinical psychologist in Clifton that the SIP Assessment and Referral Service co-ordinator had sent me nine months before. I never received a reply or the return of my letter!

Work was, as always, a torture and continued to be what felt like a succession of personal assaults on 'me' but of course I was too broken and fearful to even contemplate trying to leave and get a different job. I was useless and every day made me feel more so. Frustration with the backwardness of the business, the official politically worded half truths (secrets and lying of course being unforgivable crimes!), the fear based inability of the managers to make difficult decisions and risk actioning them, and every other little thing that occurred to me often saw me in trouble. To heighten my anxieties, whenever I was on the edge of a reprimand or 'telling off' or possible suspension for my outspokenness it would always seem to coincide with either a weekend or a bank holiday or a period of annual leave, over which I would have to stew before finding out my fate. Agony.
Many memories have thankfully faded but two incidents are remembered as personal assaults of injustice.
12/12/1994 - Picket. As a union member whose annual wage increase was negotiated by it I felt obliged, although unwillingly, to abide by the democratic majority vote and comply with a call for strike action. Out of an office of more than a hundred of mostly union members only a handful came out. Fearful of the resulting consequences to the negotiating power of the union I joined an early morning peaceful 'picket' of four pathetically pleading people stood in the entrance to the car park. The senior manager, a born again Christian, arrived in his car and outraged by our impudence lost his temper, accelerated and drove straight at us at speed. It was no mistake and we quite literally had to jump for our lives only just escaping serious injury! Back at work the following day I foolishly block e-mailed everyone and used the pretence of resigning from being some form of staff meetings representative to tell them all what had happened. Middle management in charge of me were horrified I should embarrass them like that and I it was (eventually!) decided I should be reprimanded for 'inappropriate use of e-mail' even though no official guide lines of what was considered acceptable use were ever forthcoming.
The other incident occurred on a 'team-building' event. In reality it is genuinely fair to say the self centred staff in that office, most of whom had been forced to work there by reorganisation, had a generally absent team spirit. Business attempts to encourage it with voluntary official Christmas meals and the like were often awkward, ill attended failures. Eventually the business tried to force it by conducting team-building events away from the office during working hours which we had to attend. At one such event a game supervised by a manager was to be 'played' where members of staff were to wear a blindfold and be directed around a field by means of the blowing of a whistle. Despite the obvious intent, this to me was simply humiliating, akin to learning to blindly follow whatever it is you are told to do, or perhaps obediently obey your master's whistle like a dog. I could not do it and refused to participate in that part of the day. I was threatened with disciplinary action for refusing, although of course the final decision would be made days later after the bank holiday weekend. After a long weekend of torment I was told, although I had done wrong, no official action would be taken against me.

I still unofficially took work home since I had found that keeping constantly occupied on my computer learning programming and developing work spreadsheets and systems I was able to lose myself and get satisfaction from the ever more complex finished results. I learned and produced better ways of doing most things and presented some 'for the common good' to the departments concerned.
Relations in my department at an all time low I was moved to another willing to take the risk of having me. I threw myself into the work and experiments at home and obsessively unofficially designed a hugely capable office wide information system often working up to 20 hours a day. It kept all other thoughts at bay.

October 1996 Poland For years I'd had an increasing desire to visit Auschwitz. I have no idea why but certainly had considered the idea of past lives and the like because of the force of the desire. I had intended a two week trip but the effect on me, whatever it may have been, was enormous and I was back within a couple of days. Much horror. I had certainly learned to cry.



MIDAS AboutWork and my intrinsically linked self esteem continued to be problematic with me forcing my desperately needed MIDAS system into use, since the highly paid and respected, so called 'experts' said it wouldn't work and dismissed it (me) out of hand whilst offering no alternatives. At every step it seemed that no matter what I did it wasn't good enough even though it was better than ANYTHING that anyone else was able to produce and was even still in use until 14/06/2002!

Somewhere about this time I was introduced to and read The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. It struck a chord and my mind unconsciously dabbled with seeking significance in random events. Crows or similar large black birds seemed to portent the events to follow. I remain sceptical but find their appearance noticeable still.

In a deliberate attempt to get out of my house but only go anywhere 'safe' I went to a couple of advertised locally held healing/meditation sessions. I'd been before but had stopped since it seemed obviously all delusion. On one occasion surprised that I didn't have one it was suggested that during the meditation I should ask that my 'spirit guide' should reveal itself. Despite my suspicions that it was just TOO neat, during the meditation I became aware of the presence of a man of Jewish descent. It was however THE most unexpectedly powerful experience which brought me to tears! I had been waiting for some sort of spiritual meaning to be opened up to me all my life! I eventually even conjured up his name!? The woman who ran the sessions also offered healing and hypnosis from a new local alternative therapy centre and because she did seem to be 'sensitive' I decided I would pay for some treatment to perhaps help my depressions. I don't believe I can be hypnotised, whatever that may be, but accepted her instructions as a guided visualisation. Her method was effectively to creatively visualise all the bad 'stuff' in me that I wanted to get rid of and simply cast it away. I didn't think this was right.
The last of the few sessions I had with her, it seemed she had undergone a stark personality change. She had been on a Neuro Linguistic Programming course and seemed 'energised' by it. During my session she insisted on showing me her framed NLP certificate and telling me all about her experiences on the course. It seemed as though I was paying dearly for the privilege of stroking her ego! Small comments in the conversation drew me to the conclusion that she had some personality problems of her own that were in desperate need of attention and resolution. At the next free healing/meditation session she was similarly almost aggressively energised. The session was very different than any before and she instructed us, eyes closed, to make arm movements in the air to match the visualisation. I did not wish to and simply visualised doing so. All of a sudden she grabbed my arms and forced me to make the movements. I cancelled my appointments and never saw her again!

***
Somehow somewhere around this time I began to change. I began to change a great deal and began to open up emotionally somehow. A lady I admired who I had always felt was somehow 'special' had shown me some kindness and my self worth was boosted. She gave me a cassette of a selection of music which she wished to share with me. With 'me'! Just then still examining new age philosophies I attended some form of sunrise solstice celebration as advertised in a local magazine. It was small scale and involved a group of perhaps only a dozen people on a cold lonely hill in Gloucestershire dancing around a fire and sharing food and stories. I was disbelieving, aloof and apart and yet the experience was one of acceptance. I felt I was accepted for what I was.
Playing the music cassette I had been given, in the mist of the early morning sunrise in the car on the journey home, it seemed as though every lyric, every track, every poor edit, the order in which they came, everything was meant to be, ala 'The Celestine Prophecy'. I was engaged with the world. I remember feelings of almost overpowering love, something I had NEVER before felt, towards the woman who had given it to me. She, it seemed, understood the unspoken me. At last here was someone who 'knew' ME. I unrealistically endowed her with 'Prophecy' type 'powers' and looked up to her from below the fragile pedestal upon which I placed her.
In later correspondence with her at the same time as having further work difficulties and indulging in almost psychotic, delusional thinking, a small misunderstanding developed, which ended my delusion and had a crushing effect on me. She had dared to misunderstand 'me', which I considered an unforgivable crime! Hurt and 'alone' again I reverted to my childish ways and immediately and heartlessly severed all contact with her as 'punishment'!!.
She had however somehow opened feelings within me and these feelings and a different air about me seemed to attract the attention of a woman I found attractive. She was married. She wanted me and although it was totally against ALL my principles I wanted her. I tried not to but still wrapped up in seeing 'Prophecy' type significance in everything, it was impossible not to proceed. It was absolutely 'meant' to happen! (I still believe that even now with the benefit of hindsight, and deep down in the knowledge we were absolutely not compatible.) Neither of us could stop it. There was significance to each moment at that time that I cannot attempt to describe.
I was a totally different person, unfamiliar to myself. I was elated, creative, joyful, accepting, loving, confidant, almost all that I would be. I was very aware it wouldn't last. For 'understandable' reasons she could not simply walk away from her existing relationship and so inevitably my ego began to draw it's usual comparisons between me and her husband. No matter how decent a person I was and no matter what his alleged failings, I was 'not as good'. I was worth 'less'. I was rejected. Every night she would be with him. It was agony!
Another woman going through some of her own 'stuff' at this time showed passing interest in me. She was absolutely not my type but I went with her, perhaps in my mind out of spite to the one I wanted. It was agreed it would be kept a secret and, to be sure that I didn't hurt her, was on my usual clearly stated understanding that it was to be 'just for fun'? I regretted it deeply and found myself in an intractable situation. I was desperate to escape and get a grip on the bizarre new me that had arisen and figure out how to put the out of control situation to rights.

14/04/1997 - IT Ass. At work a well meaning individual somehow instigated some sort of IT assessment presumably in an attempt to improve my low self-esteem. It of course had precisely the opposite effect. (Accepting any form of praise or compliment is uncomfortable and I do not know how to respond other than immediately degrade, undermine and pick fault in that which is being complimented.) During the interview one of the interviewers clumsily trying to get to the bottom of what career ambition I had, especially since after fifteen years I was still 'only' a postal officer, suggested that I had wasted fifteen years of my life. It was impossible for me not to agree and so this was to be the overriding impact and memory of the experience.

August 1997 - Canada. I arranged to take an extended holiday which I would spend staying with my sister at her flat in Canada. I temporarily escaped to spend the majority of August, totally broken, in an awful mess, sat smoking on my sisters high rise balcony in a foreign land watching the crows!

31st August 1997 - Di. I eventually had to return to confront the mess I was in and did so on the day that Lady Diana had died. I learned of it from a taxi driver on the way back from Bristol bus station when I asked why the flags were at half mast. She meant nothing to me personally but the events that unfolded at that time saw me weeping uncontrollably in front of my television for weeks. Footage of those events will see me break down almost as easily to this day.
It was all over. The 'just for fun' had boasted of her conquest and the other had learned of it. I hated myself. I severed all contact with the 'just for fun' and could no longer see the other. To add weight to the loss of all my self worth, confidence, happiness and creativity the 'Prophecy' type feelings and significances began to subside too and finally deserted me for good. One of the last memories I have of such things was driving home from work, crying in the depths of despair and having a rediculous but forceful image pop into my mind. My small Jewish 'spirit guide' with beard and ringlets all dressed in wind blown black and white, sat on the roof of my Ford Fiesta in the busy rush hour traffic holding desperately on to his hat! Well he could have sat in the passenger seat! A sign of madness perhaps, but at least I laughed as I cried.

***
The lady who had given me the music cassette incredibly forgave my behaviour, allowed me to get back in touch with her on a more 'realistic' basis, and was a constant source of loving support which enabled me to survive and carry on.

I once again began to attend free weekly meditation sessions at a Friends Of The Western Buddhist Order meeting place. Some of the more down to earth philosophy seemed to fit how I saw things perfectly and the meditational practice changed me a great deal. It definitely helped me 'grow' emotionally and deal with some of my hurts. Embracing them was obviously much better than trying to simply push them away. Although 'unstable' I found I was strong enough to at least in part try to embody the principles of 'loving kindness to all living beings' (except myself!) and was even able to change some of my work behaviour especially towards people I regarded as 'enemies'. I stopped eating meat and even without too much difficulty gave up all smoking.

I, perhaps inevitably, fell in love with the lady who had given me the music cassette but of course she was committed in an existing relationship she would not leave, and my ego knew well how to torture me over that!

I signed up on a one night a week 'Introduction To Meditation Course' of several weeks duration. Not smoking but having a chat with a colleague at work in my car, we saw a pigeon fly headlong with a sickening thud into one of the reflective office windows leaving behind a full imprint of its body and wings. It was stunned and perched in a nearby tree. Thinking I would help if it was injured I parted the branches only to frighten it and have it fly out headlong into another window. It broke its neck and was dead.

I continued to be tearful and emotional and would end up in floods of tears at the slightest provocation. A piece of music (especially James Taylor), a film, the sky, a look, everything and anything. I couldn't even go shopping without running the risk of being turned into a blubbering idiot in the aisles if the 'wrong' piece of music came over the PA system. Each morning I would sit for perhaps an hour in the car before I could face actually entering the office. Having given up smoking, instead of taking time out in my car in the office car park for a cigarette, I would instead go out at similar intervals for a cry. EVERY day it would be a case of how far will I safely get, going home, before the tears would begin to pour and blurr my vision. The embarrassment at traffic lights as people pointed!
I felt my work achievements were still belittled, simply put up with or ignored. Single-handed I had to work hard to keep the now vital ever-expanding system running to the standard 'I' demanded.
Someone new to the section with a difficult personality, whom I and others were not fond of and who we knew had little real knowledge and experience, had managed to ingratiate himself with the management with his apparent computer expertise. They gave him every encouragement and there were rumours that he would be given special assignments in systems development. My ego raged and it was difficult to deal with the ever-mounting feelings of injustice and worthlessness. Whatever his negative characteristics he was better than me. He had a wife, children, respect, self esteem, self confidence . . .everything I didn't, as did everyone else so it felt.

29/05/98 - Cracked. After half an hour in the car in the car park I managed to force myself into the office to try and meet a stringent deadline for a huge and 'important' report run. The person I disliked had taken it upon himself to try and alter one of my systems because I wasn't there and it had been damaged. This person who the world thought was so much better than me had cocked it up and given me a load more work to try and fix it. I lost my temper, said I was too busy and out of bloody mindedness told him to do it the old way, the long winded, paper based way that it was done before my automated system had taken over.
It was about ten o'clock. He argued. I cracked. I argued back in front of the amazed witnesses, senior managers included, said 'F*** YOU!' and walked out never to return.
I was bizarrely briefly elated with my conviction that come what may, I would never EVER return! How bad could hell be? That of course didn't last. Very soon I was very, VERY much the opposite.
There seemed nothing left of me. It was all over. Hope was gone. I was finished. It was just a matter of time....
I was back at the doctors within a few days which was the earliest appointment possible.

14th July 1998 from locum Doctor to Consultant Psychiatrist. "I believe you know this 36 year old gentleman who has a long standing mood disturbance. You last saw him in 1994 and at that time felt that he might benefit from psychotherapy. I believe you did some kind of assessment but did not follow it through. I've been seeing him for the last six weeks with a reoccurrence of feeling extremely low, suicidal ideation and agoraphobic tendency. He has restarted lofepramine and is now on 140mg a day. I would be grateful if he could be reviewed possibly by a community psychiatric nurse to help to integrate him more in a day-to-day life. He has entirely stopped taking any illicit substances over the last year and really does want to try and improve his existence. I gather from your letter in 1994 that you were unsure as to whether he does have a clinical depression and I think you may well find that with review his mental state is extremely similar to that in 1994."

13th August 1998 - by Consultant Psychiatrist. "A thin middle aged gentleman with bags under his eyes, a full beard and thick hair tied in a pony tail. He was wearing clothes entirely black in colour, jeans and T-shirt. He had an air of resignation although good eye contact and rapport. Speech was normal. Subjectively mood was awful although objectively there was no obvious lowering. Suicidal ideation was as described previously. His thoughts revealed some discrepancy in his attitudes to psychotherapy or further help we may be able to give. He described feeling hopeless that things will ever change believing there is nothing we can do. That he only came to see us because the doctor had made the appointment and that he has an in built propensity to being like this which will never change. However after this he said he was prepared to try anything whole heartedly and desperately wants to change things. Other thoughts centred on self-pity, hopelessness, realising he had little real life and feeling guilty about bothering us. There was no evidence of psychotic phenomena. Percept was normal and insight reasonably good at times although changeable. After he was seen by Consultant Psychiatrist last time he had one assessment session with a private psychotherapist. This seems to have gone extremely badly and he described the lady he saw having an arrogant and insulting attitude. He felt because he was paying money she would say anything for him to continue in therapy and pay more money and that he was taken advantage of. However he then went on to say that he was now desperate to get to the bottom of his problems and was prepared to try anything whole heartedly although he realised he had a history of trying suggestions initially and then dropping out.
Summary: Mr Jones is a 36 year old man with long standing schizoid and dysthymic personality traits. His presentation today was with symptoms that have been present for many years and do not represent an overlying depressive episode. He is a gentleman that in the past has tended to commit himself initially to help such as psychotherapy only to reject it a short time later. He had seen both a clinical psychologist and counsellor via his GP in March 1994 for talking therapies but had quickly dropped out from this. On discussion with Consultant Psychiatrist we feel it would be appropriate to refer him for assessment by Consultant psychotherapist to see whether he would benefit from any form of psychotherapy although his degree of ego strength and psychological mindedness will need to be carefully considered. In addition you may want to consider low dose anti psychotics such as low dose thyordizine in the future as a further empirical option. It is sometimes felt that these can help schizoid traits with overlying sensitivity difficulties.

2nd October 1998 - Consultant Psychiatrist: Interview Notes: It would seem that Terry has missed out on ordinary emotional exchange which leads him to be ignorant and fearful of relationships for example when there was any silence during the interview Terry was exceedingly uncomfortable experiencing the silence as a demand that he should fill it up. There was no understanding that anything could be exchanged in the silence. While manifesting many schizoid features there was a persecutory facet to him and more surprisingly some effective depth that would not usually be associated with schizoid personality ICD10F60.1 Terry is aware that there is something missing and part of him longs for true relatedness but he is also terrified of the consequences and what he sees as demands. He is unaware of what he might give of himself within a relationship. To an extent Terry rejects or belittles any help offered yet he also recognises that something has already changed that his previous coping strategies are inadequate to deal with. With psychotherapy he may not change a great deal however even a small change might enable significant improvements maybe allowing him to find work. Given the difficulties for Terry in sticking with any form of treatment we suggest that in the first instance he might join a meditation group run in our department. He might find this less threatening than psychodynamic psychotherapy. I have discussed this with my colleague psychotherapist who will let you know how he gets on.

So there it was. Because I had briefly mentioned in passing that I had done some meditation this it seemed, was all that was offered me. Absolutely nothing else except for the doctor's medication. With the tacit approval of the psychotherapist, I stopped taking the medication due to the awful side effects and my belief that it simply 'wasn't right' and put me out of touch with that part of myself which was fundamentally 'me'.
30/10/1998 - Psycho. And so, for about a year, each week on a Friday morning I would suffer the indignation of passing under the 'Psychiatric Unit' signs and attend the group 'meditation' sessions at the hospital.
I remember it like this. It consisted of a group of perhaps at most a dozen, mostly women, sitting on cushions on the floor in a circle with the male psychotherapist. All of them nice and sensitive people. Upon arrival we would all sit for the first fifteen minutes and calm down and listen to some taped music and or mantra type chanting. We would then each take it in turns to say what our week had been like and air any concerns and feelings, passing around the box of tissues as appropriate. The psychotherapist, with the very infrequent offering of some more serious possible analysis, offered brief generalised words of encouragement. We would then in whatever time was left all follow a taped guided meditation or listen to more music before going on our merry way! It seemed to work for most of them. I don't know how but apparently it did, although it seemed to take 'years'.
I felt guilty that it seemed to be no help to me at all but having been offered nothing else what else could I do but keep going for those two hours a week. It seemed almost centred on some 'new age' philosophy of think positive and happy thoughts, and so shall it be. Getting 'grounded' whateber that was seemed to be vital? Indeed the psychotherapist made no secret of the fact that he was privately involved with the organisation, which produced the tapes and ran costly seminars and courses.
As time went on I did change in different ways but I believe that was more a function of the passage of time and the vagaries of my mood shifts rather than any positive benefits from the group.

I spent these horrific days of constant worry, despair and depression, largely just sitting in front of the TV mulling over everything and sleeping, often more than fourteen hours a day. If not sleeping, even having just woken up, feeling so exhausted I wanted to sleep. Apart from shopping for the cheapest of food I would hardly ever leave the house and had contact with almost no one. If I ever did leave the house I was terrified I would meet someone from work and would feel that I was being watched by them since they still 'owned' me. I felt guilty sitting in the sun in the garden and would feel 'caught out' if a helicopter passed over! The prospect of having to reply to a casual 'how are you' from anyone filled me with terror since how should I respond? I couldn't begin to tell them nor could I lie. These were some of my darkest, most unstable, desperate days.

New 'Fester'.28/03/1999 - Car. At the beginning of 1998 I had been forced to buy a new car for commuting to work and had ended up trading in my dead one, using some savings and taking out a two year loan for a pretty, newish Fiesta 1.6Si for 6000. Still making the monthly payments, it had been parked on the street outside the house almost unused for the last ten months and someone had already stolen the wheel trims. I was woken at 4:45am by a loud bang and revving of an engine. The hit and run driver had caused enormous damage to the nearside rear. Of all the cars in the street it seemed quite reasonable in my paranoia that they should have hit only mine and I accepted it stoically. The hastily called police did nothing except instruct me to make a report at a station an hours walk away for insurance purposes. To complete my feelings of persecution I had to walk the trip twice since they issued ME with a documents producer!
Luckily I still had comprehensive insurance and because I was in no fit state to do anything else told the insurance company to take it away and 'just deal with it'. I didn't want it back. Unfortunately not quite a write off, but close, it was badly repaired but I had no ability to deal with the dispute. Accepting my 'victim' role I simply accepted the devalued mess it was in and parked it back outside. I mentally prepared for the house fire which I fully expected would happen next!

May 1999 - Heartbreak. As time went on the lady who had given me the music cassette seemed to have less and less time to be in touch and never called round. She had her other life with her man to whom she went home every day. I imagined it all . . . again! I WAS hers for the taking. Commitment, marriage, kids the whole deal . . . but she didn't want me! I had nothing else to dwell on and it aggravated my sense of worthlessness and powerlessness. I came to believe she saw me as a hopeless mistake and wanted nothing more to do with me, but couldn't bring herself to tell me. I imagined much, much more and much, much worse. I 'may' have lost touch with the truth but I eventually decided I had to do the right thing and it would be better for ALL concerned if I ended contact in my normal way. Instantly, totally and completely! I of course regretted it and think of her constantly, still, but there is no going back!

02/06/1999 - Doomed. I was informed by the Post Office that I was not eligible for a medical retirement because of the wording of the psychiatric reports that had been received. I became 'upset' and distraught, to say the least, and considered 'going postal'.

June 1999 - Transport. Too expensive to keep without a job and with no desire or reason to go anywhere, I sold my car and for the first time since childhood had no transport. I felt further emasculated.

25/06/1999 - Reports. Strong enough to be angry I met with the psychotherapist and obtained copies of the reports that had been provided to the Post Office by Consultant Psychiatrist. 17/3/99 "I assessed him for psychotherapy on the 2 October 1998 in which I recommended group therapy. He has since started in a psychotherapeutic group run by my colleague, psychotherapist. He has attended the group weekly since the 30 October 1998.
I have not reviewed Mr Jones personally since my assessment but have had some feedback from psychotherapist as to his progress.
He was originally referred to me by Dr 'F', Senior House Officer to Dr 'W', with a diagnosis of longstanding schizoid and dysthymic personality traits with intermittent bouts of depression. When I assessed him he described two areas of difficulty in his life, namely a longstanding inability to enjoy life or fit in and, more recently inexplicable tearfulness. He has always found it difficult to relate to others, whether it is handling confrontations or dealing with friendships. His lifestyle has reflected this, with few interests or hobbies and a largely solitary life staying indoors and watching television.His difficulties in relation to others have caused problems at work. He says that he was deeply hurt by an incident several years ago when a female colleague requested to move because of his body odor. He feels that his efforts at work went unacknowledged. He also found compulsory exercise and team building humiliating. He stopped work in the summer of 1998.
I will now respond specifically to your questions. The diagnosis is one of schizoid personality disorder ICD10 F60.1. In addition he has occasional episodes of depression. The episodes of depression are being managed by his GP with appropriate antidepressant medication (Lofepramine 70mgs bd). His personality disorder is being managed in the psychotherapy group run by psychotherapist.
It may be that the difficulty Mr Jones is experiencing in getting a decision on medical retirement is distressing him, but I do not think this is fundamental to his current bouts of depression nor to his underlying personality disorder. I am not convinced that granting medical retirement will be beneficial to his health. Indeed, I think work provided him with some contact with ordinary people which he is in danger of cutting himself off from completely. Now that he is engaged in ongoing group therapy he may well be better able to manage the relationship problems which would arise in the workplace. Group therapy is specifically designed to address people's relationship styles and difficulties.
When I saw him in October I felt that he was in a psychological state which would allow a reasoned decision about his future and there is no indication from psychotherapist that this has changed recently.
I am not certain how much his condition would deteriorate if he stopped his medication as this clearly has no impact on the personality disorder but only on the recurrent episodes of depression.
My impression from my assessment and reports from psychotherapist is that Mr Jones could work well given sensitive and understanding line management. I think that a return to work is a reasonable goal for Mr Jones, and that it would be in his interest to do so, although clearly he may not wish to do so. It may be worth setting this as a goal for him to achieve within the next six months. A gradual return would, I imagine be helpful."
And on 12/5/99-"I stand by my conclusion from my report of the 17 March that Terry could work if given sensitive and understanding line management. It may well be that this will be difficult within the current uncertainties and instability in the Post Office. I see no reason why there should not be an open discussion with Terry on these matters.
I understand he is making good progress with the group therapy and hope that he will be able to find suitable employment either within your organisation or elsewhere."

27/06/99 - I Exist! I could not contain my anger and wrote as follows:
Dear Mr psychotherapist
Following our meeting on 25/6/99 I feel obliged to write to you. I wish to voice my concern over the content of the report dated 17 March 1999 sent by Dr 'A' to the Post Office Area Medical Advisor and a follow up letter of 12th May, copies of which upon my request you have provided me with.

I was unaware such letters had been written until told by the Post Office Area Medical Advisor on 2nd June 1999. This, despite my having given consent to an application for and release of personal medical information to the Post Office Occupational Health Service on the understanding that I would first have sight of any such information.
My first sight of them was as a result of asking you on 18th June if it could be arranged for me to see whatever may exist in my file.

I feel obliged to comment on some of the key points as follows.
"intermittent bouts of depression" - I do not accept this comment which is presumably based on my GP visits. I have suffered from varying degrees of depression almost constantly for at least 15 years only consulting my GP for help as a final last resort. Indeed over the years I have privately tried meditation, healing, herbal remedy, hypnosis, psychotherapy and even drug abuse in an attempt to control it.

"His difficulties in relation to others have caused problems at work." - A complicated chicken and the egg situation. Much of my problems with relationships have been caused by some of the treatment I have received at work which has resulted in a complete withdraw from any form of social life. I blame the Post Office for much!

"The diagnosis is one of schizoid personality disorder ICD10 F60.1. In addition he has occasional episodes of depression. The episodes of depression are being managed by his GP with appropriate antidepressant medication (Lofepramine 70mgs bd). His personality disorder is being managed in the psychotherapy group run by psychotherapist." - Since I stopped working I have sought whatever medical assistance was available to me believing that the doctor and psychotherapists knew what was best for me.

It was my impression that I was referred to the psychotherapy group run by you because in my original assessment interview with Drs 'A' and 'K' on 22/9/98 I had mentioned that I had been on a meditation course over the weeks immediately prior to my 'breakdown'. As I understand it the group psychotherapy session aims to equip the participants with a set of coping skills by means of music, mantras, guided meditations, etc.
It disturbed me that my therapy should be nothing new and was teaching me techniques that I already knew very well and was unsuccessful at effectively implementing. This was however my treatment so what else could I do?

My GP did prescribe Lofepramine for many months but I reported to him that I was experiencing unpleasant side effects (especially dry mouth resulting in gum disease/tooth extraction) with little or no perceived improvement. I was switched to Prozac at the beginning of the year. Different unpleasant side effects including an increase in agitation and aggression appeared. I felt no less despairing and felt increasingly out of touch with myself.
The psychotherapy group was clearly biased towards managing personal problems without medication and since I could identify no positive benefit from the drugs I had been prescribed I felt vindicated in stopping them in May.

I have actively avoided asking for sight of the psychotherapist's report or broaching the subject of what their opinion of my condition is since I assumed I would find their conclusions hurtful and damaging.
Only now after having seen the letter do I realize that the GP and psychotherapists are two totally separate bodies dealing with separate issues who apparently do not communicate with one another. As a result I have perhaps mistakenly ceased taking the medication aimed at my depression and have presumably made it extremely difficult for my GP since I am still asking him for medical certificates but am refusing his medication! He has in fact already made it clear that he is uncomfortable continuing to do so! Each visit to my doctor is now a time of extreme anxiety.

"It may be that the difficulty Mr Jones is experiencing in getting a decision on medical retirement is distressing him, but I do not think this is fundamental to his current bouts of depression nor to his underlying personality disorder. I am not convinced that granting medical retirement will be beneficial to his health. Indeed, I think work provided him with some contact with ordinary people which he is in danger of cutting himself off from completely. Now that he is engaged in ongoing group therapy he may well be better able to manage the relationship problems which would arise in the workplace. Group therapy is specifically designed to address people's relationship styles and difficulties." - I have now been off work for almost 400 days.
I cannot attempt to convey the stress, anxiety, depression and paranoia that I have felt, powerlessly awaiting my fate in this matter for so very long. The question of whether or not I qualify for a medical retirement is absolutely a question of life or death to me. It has taken over almost every waking thought. I see it as my only hope of perhaps salvaging something of my shattered life. Without it I can see no future for myself at all. I do not believe I will ever be able to face returning to work for the Post Office and with increasing paranoia, no self esteem and no self confidence do not see myself being able to work elsewhere.
I presume that all my life savings will have to be used up before I can approach the DSS for some form of benefit. I have already had to sell my car.

On 2nd June I was informed by the Post Office Area Medical Advisor that I did not qualify for a medical retirement because of Dr 'A's report.

I feel absolute despair and very deeply hurt that my fate has been decided in this way in spite of me. My own feelings, desires, and concerns have been ignored. At no time have I been directly asked to contribute in any way to this report, which I believe is inaccurate and inappropriate.
I now feel absolutely worthless, hopeless and completely alienated from the very people to whom I had so desperately turned for help!"


06/08/1999 - LDS. All of a sudden I was finally medically retired by The Post Office with a small pension. I was the luckiest man alive . . . but that didn't mean I was suddenly ok. Nothing had really changed except I was now unemployed and felt I had no future. Some of my worry at least was gone and although deeply scarred by the chains, the bond was broken. What now? A year later I have yet to answer that.


September 1999 - Conned? Money now very tight but trying desperately to start a new life I finally decided, against my better judgement, to attend one of the workshops that the psychotherapist had given out leaflets about. It was a two-day workshop at 45 a day but pleading poverty I did the two days for the price of one. Suffering and terribly insecure in a room full of socially adept strangers, the majority of the time seemed to be spent doing meditations and then a sort of group debriefing of thoughts and feelings and stuff that had arisen as a result. Most of the things the man leading the workshop said were more or less common sense with some good psychotherapy all wrapped up in clever, analyst type psycho babble. His responses to any disbelieving challenge were cleverly self-supporting in the absence of any alleged empirical evidence. He would have made an excellent politician. I was almost convinced until the next part of the workshop.
Someone sat in a chair with each foot on a piece of plastic a bit like a place mat with pretty shapes and colours and things in it. They also held a pile of bits of plastic all screwed together (like a pile of UK number plates) with pretty colours, shapes, bits of PCBs etc. embedded in them. We all had to join hands and sit in a circle for about fifteen minutes! Apparently an American (psychiatric patient perhaps?) had been given psychic instructions on how to build 'the instruments' which would 'accentuate power' and have beneficial effects in our lives. Preposterous!
The instruments were introduced to one of the Friday meditation sessions at the hospital.
For me the last bridge was burned.

20th December 1999 - From psychotherapist to doctor. "I am writing to let you know that Terry has now stopped attending the meditation group here on Friday mornings. This was against my advice as I think there is more he could gain from coming but he was clear that he wanted to finish. True to form he also did not think he had gained much from the experience. I think this is his somewhat cynical view of the world coming through and I am of the opinion that he is now a little better connected to himself and others and is starting to become more mature socially again after a period of being a hermit. I have now discharged him. Please let me know if you need anything else from me."

14/09/2000 - Avoidant Personality Disorder. Surfing the net and reading up on Schizoid Personality Disorder I became increasingly convinced that I did not readily fit the accepted profile. By accident I bumped into sites that detailed the criteria for and characteristics of an Avoidant Personality Disorder. It was an absolute revelation to discover that I fit ABSOLUTELY (in my own mind) the criteria and associated traits for Avoidant Personality Disorder. I am convinced it is absolutely the bedrock of my problems. Much is thus explained/understood. A revelation!! I understand! Gosh - no wonder I reacted like I did then, then, then and now!! My 'depression' seems an inevitable by product . . . not, in itself, the problem!
"
Schizoid Personality Disorder:
These individuals are withdrawn, isolated and have limited interpersonal relationship skills. They are lifelong 'loners' who do not really want close contact with others. There is frequently a rich fantasy life which compensates for the lack of social involvement.
Avoidant Personality Disorder:
These individuals are very shy and extremely sensitive to any threat of rejection or disapproval. Unlike the person with schizoid personality disorder, they desire companionship. Their feelings of inferiority and fears of rejection, however, interfere with their ability to form relationships. In ICD-X this is called anxious personality disorder".

I've been misdiagnosed! But so what? What now?

Nothing has changed. I've been through the mill and nothing has changed.
My mood shifts continue. I have occasional 'good' days. I have mostly bad.
I'm living with it.

I blame no-one but myself . . . .

What sort of a weirdo would actually read all this stuff?!!!

     
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