Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Quality time

They've just got rid of the right-hand give-way rule on our roads. Or was it the left-hand rule? I don't think I'll miss it.

Dad left this morning. I'm lucky I'm able to talk to him so easily (unlike Dad with his father). He's interested in just about every subject under the sun, so at times we had some pretty in-depth conversations. Immigration. Interstellar travel. Italy. Insurance scams. Islam. And that's only the I's.

He loved giving me advice on what to do with the inside of my flat. Like a lot of things of late, I've been struggling to care. When I came home from work one evening he was studying a colour chart full of greens and yellows, each shade given some ridiculous Kiwified name. I'd had a lot of sinus pain that day. My head was full of Aotea Quay Yellow gunge. Fortunately the pain has since died down even if the gunge is still there.

Saturday wasn't a great day. I'd agreed to see the extremely popular Wellington Ukulele Orchestra with Rose that evening, but first Dad and I browsed some furniture and bed shops in Thorndon. Something about all that very nice but hopelessly unaffordable furniture brought out some quite negative feelings in me. Eventually we found a bed shop whose prices weren't ridiculous and I'll be having a bed delivered tomorrow lunchtime.

I felt very anxious that entire evening. The last time I met Rose I was surprised by just how much we had in common; on Saturday I was sure all those similarities were a mirage. She's a culture vulture who goes out fairly often; I live in a cultural black hole. We had a curry before the show, then on to the San Francisco Bath House. I had no idea what the venue would be like but it turned out to be a bar; there were simply far too many people for my liking. Rose and I turned up just after eight; a supporting guitarist came on at around 8:45; by the time the ukulele people came on stage it was almost 9:30. They were extremely good but all that standing and shoving and being shoved and sweating profusely meant I'd lost interest long before they finished, which was close to midnight. Rose wanted to get to the front so she could see. I didn't envy her one bit standing in high heels for four hours, but she happily danced to the strains of the ukuleles. The band was a motley bunch; just about every hairstyle was represented. The ukuleles themselves were almost incidental - it was really all about the humour, the banter, or as they'd say in Ireland the craic. Mum and Dad had seen them in Geraldine, which was one of the stops on their nationwide tour (that must have been quite a coup for a town of that size). The group tailor their performances to their audience; according to Dad their humour in Geraldine was less, er, anatomical than in Wellington.

In short, Saturday evening wasn't an enjoyable one for me, but these days I can't enjoy any more than I can fly. For that reason (mostly) I really want to come off my Efexor. I've heard horror stories about this so I plan to come off it slowly, 37.5 mg every ten days, then even more slowly when I get to 75 mg. To do this I'll need to get hold of the low-denomination pills. I'm fed up of bouncing around between various mental health services like I'm in some giant pinball machine, and never getting anywhere. It's about time I regained some control.

I saw the psychiatrist last Tuesday. She wasn't bad but I don't think she was the right person for me. She's an ADHD specialist and could tell very quickly that I didn't have ADHD. In fact I wish I could have an injection of the H bit.

Anxiety is still an issue in my latest role but it's no longer crippling. I certainly still have days when my output is reduced, but not to zero like in my old job. I have no idea what the future holds for me - any long-term solutions probably lie outside the corporate world.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm sick of this

This will be a quick post I hope. My weekend was a complete write-off. At about 3pm on Friday my nose started dripping like a tap. I got through those last two hours of work but I've had sinus headaches pretty much all the time since then. This is a recurrence of what I had last month (and never fully recovered from). I took today off work and didn't go to tonight's autism group. I'll try and get a good night's sleep and maybe go in tomorrow, although I'll have to leave work early (and presumably make up time later in the week) because I'm seeing the shrink at 3pm. My sinus problems and the other problem have certainly made life difficult for me since I moved into this place. I've hardly thought about buying or moving furniture, which would be like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

Sadly I had to pull out of Saturday's tramp - would have been a lovely day for it too. The furthest I've been since Friday is the market on the corner of Willis and Vivian Streets; even that felt like an expedition.

This morning at around ten I realised I hadn't taken my pills for the day, then as I was about to pop open the packet I noticed I'd missed yesterday's pills entirely. It's been years since I knowingly missed a dose, but everything is out of whack at the moment.

The good news is that mentally I'm feeling better since my change of role. My anxiety levels at work - once I'd got Monday out of the way - were several notches lower than in my other job. Long may that continue. I had an enjoyable evening with Rose on Thursday - she and I have more in common than I realised.

My parents were very supportive of me when I told them of my trials and tribulations at work. They were away at the weekend - a very pleasant one at Moeraki and Hampden in their caravan - but Mum was worried when I didn't answer her texts.

Dad is coming up here on Wednesday for six days. That's given me some motivation to rearrange those deckchairs. I'll see how the shrink goes. I'm a little wary of psychiatrists but at least this one won't cost me hundreds.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What's the difference between a buffalo and a bison?

Answer: you can't play cricket at the Buffalo. The joke works better in a Brummie accent (see the end of this post).

Last weekend I saw an hour or so of a four-day provincial cricket match at the Basin. It cost me nothing to get in. It's a great little ground (it is quite little) and should provide an excellent atmosphere for NZ's test match against South Africa later this month. The best part, perhaps, is the scoreboard:

Daniel Flynn brought up his hundred off the last ball (for Northern Districts against Wellington) before a short rain delay. At the top of the board is a dysfunctional digital bit which needs an overhaul. The manual bit, by contrast, works like clockwork. It comprises numerous rotating panels - the men inside change the magnetic numbers and letters every over or thereabouts. There's more to change than you think. The passage of play after the rain break was worth seeing, Flynn and Arnel hitting out and putting on 60-something for the ninth wicket.

Today was day two in my new role which I've got until 23rd April. It was much better than yesterday; it must have been my most productive day for some time in any job. I can do this job! My role mostly involves printing and sending out letters to clients: "we need you to get a blood test" or "this is your last chance if you want to proceed with this application". Some of the letters are automated and are badly presented. Mental health issues crop up regularly in the correspondence.

I'm hoping that this job will lift my mood for a sustained period. It's still nowhere near as good for me as the earthquake job where there were only a handful of people in the office, most of whom I couldn't see from my desk. My latest role still has all that performance review guff to deal with. "The bottom 10% will be managed out," I remember reading last April, almost knowing that I'd be a victim of the company's decimation policy. The last two days have given me a window on the call centre. The way people are graded on their calls reminds me of school. In fact so much of how big companies (and the people within them) operate reminds me of school. The way the three women from Accounts tried to outdo each other in their experiences of the Big Four - just like kids at school with their marks - was nauseating to me.

I really envy my dad who would have hated office politics and point-scoring just as much as I do. He's cleverly circumvented the whole system, never needing to know what HR stands for, let alone deal with anyone from that department.

I sit next to a Brummie at work. She's bin in New Zerlund four yers but gows back to Bloity in ten dies.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Work woes

Friday was my last day in my old role. Not many people there even knew. That didn't bother me. I don't have fond memories of my time on Level 25. In fact I don't have many memories at all. I do remember my last attempt at bluffing - nearly a month ago - before everything caved in on me: my big boss was talking about some make-or-break audit-whatsit called the FMR. I must have said MFR at least ten times before realising I'd got the letters in the wrong order. Perhaps that was the last straw for me. I might as well have said MFI (which is a chain store in the UK famous for selling dodgy furniture) or even MI5.

In all seriousness I managed reasonably well in the role until mid-November when my new boss arrived on the scene, creating an extra layer in the hierarchy. He was young, hungry, eager, energetic, basically all the things I wasn't (I'm not even young any more). Suddenly everything I did at work came under close scrutiny by an upstart who could quite easily do both our jobs. I was surplus to requirements. Depression set in, I became even slower and even less accurate, tasks got taken away from me, and before long I was just a body.

It was going to happen eventually, as it always has for me in a team environment. If it's just the three or four or five people in my immediate team then I can just about manage. But then people move in and out, you're expected to build relationships with people outside your team, alliances are formed, and before long I don't even know what I'm doing there any more and I end up on the sidelines. I know of no other possible outcome.

It wasn't a wonderful weekend. For some reason I could never relax. All that sunshine on Saturday did little to lift my mood. I did however watch some provincial cricket at the Basin - more about that in my next post. I saw Julie yesterday; she has her own battles with depression as well as physical pain. She takes twenty pills a day.

Today was my first day in the new role. New start. New opportunity. It would all be blissfully stress-free. If only. It was fairly menial, as jobs go, but I still had my fair share of new information to take in. I made multicoloured hand-written notes with bullet points and asterisks to help me remember. I started out OK but slowed up badly from about two o'clock when the sensory overload set in. I was wide-eyed, the ceiling lights seemingly turned up to 500 watts. It was a hugely frustrating afternoon for me - work got done, but very slowly. I'm quite concerned that I won't even be able to hold down this job for very long.

Buying this property (which, had I left it three months, would have been impossible) meant a new bank and more pieces of plastic in my wallet. I now have thirteen flexible friends, including those that fit into an ATM but have nothing to do with banks, and I can't keep track of them all. Most of the time I dodge the issue by paying in cash. As well as being easier for me (I find handling change much simpler than remembering which card is where), it helps to control my spending and reduce the size of my digital footprint. Regarding the flat itself, it's got a lot going for it and would be great if I was feeling better and could be confident of maintaining an income, but right now it feels like a burden. I structured my mortgage in such a way as to handle this scenario at work, not expecting it to eventuate quite this soon.

On Thursday I'm meeting Rose. Could be interesting.

My appointment with the shrink has been postponed till next Tuesday.

Tomorrow's job (apart from my actual job) is to tell Mum and Dad about all the work stuff. I know they'll be worried sick about me once I tell them, which is why I haven't as yet. Odds-on at least one of them will fly up here before the end of the month.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Onwards and downwards

I've got two more days in my current role at work. On Thursday I'll be moving downstairs - 24 floors downstairs to be precise - to start a role in New Business. I'll have that job for a month, perhaps more, but after that (if there is an after) my salary will be slashed - in half I imagine. To be honest I'm relieved.

Julie decided to come to the Asperger's group. I was a little peeved by that and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was because I didn't feel I could quite be myself.

Would you believe it, Mandy (one of my old colleagues from Auckland) recently won another ten grand on Bullseye, to go with the forty grand she won last August. I've since been asking her for the Bullseye number in advance: "you don't have to be spot on, just kind of close would be fine."

The big news story in Wellington today was that eight-year-old boy who drove an SUV through the middle of town early this morning. Clever little chap isn't he?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Exercising my demons

I did Round the Bays on Sunday. Well I didn't run it all (that just be silly); I jogged the bit at the start, ran the last 500 metres or so, and walked the rest. Supposedly it was 7 km but I think the bloke who measured it must have done so using the dodgy clock in his car: I'm pretty sure it was less. Being part of a work team wasn't pleasant; as soon as I'd crossed the finish line (in about 57 minutes) I wanted to go home. The queue for the buses seemed to go on for ever - it was obvious that walking home would be the quicker option. I walked home with one of my colleagues and felt better after the exercise. All that tennis I used to play in Auckland would sometimes drive me nuts but I certainly benefited from the release of all those endorphins.

I've just been to the gym in my apartment complex. A lot of the equipment is looking a bit tired but that doesn't matter. Some weights that I could actually lift would have been nice though. They even have a squash court - I've got two rackets but I haven't played in ages. I was never any good.

On the same subject, Dad has just bought himself a rowing machine for $250 from the Warehouse.

I was glad to get February out of the way - all 29 days of it - but March so far hasn't been any more fun. I took yesterday afternoon off work (as annual leave, not sick leave) to meet up with one of my cousin's contacts about the business proposition. He was reasonably enthusiastic and would put me in touch with one or two people, but annoyingly he wasn't interested in any of the PowerPoint slides I'd spent many hours preparing! Today I checked my email just in case he'd sent me one, and there were seven of the buggers sitting there including one from a Christchurch businessman who wanted to arrange a meeting. He said Skype was OK but despite setting up two accounts I've yet to Skype anybody. Presumably all these people expected me to reply immediately on my non-existent Blackberry. Dad said that if they ever try and give me a Blackberry at work, I should give them a raspberry. Not much chance of that now of course.

After the meeting I saw the doctor. Like me, she's a pom who's lived in NZ for eight years. Now that I've maxed out my Efexor and it's not helping, she's putting a lot of emphasis on getting a psychiatric assessment.

Work was a little better last week. I've had a lot of (contradictory) advice on how best to handle my situation.

I really wish I could shift this cold. It's been two weeks and counting. But compared to some of the neverending colds I had as a kid, this is nothing.

The weather has been ghastly today (howling winds and torrential rain). The forecast isn't always trustworthy but this time it was deadly accurate.

I had fish and chips last night with my cousin and her family. She then introduced me to a very good Scrabble-based game called Take Two. I'll be seeing her again tonight for some advice on what to do with all these damn emails. It could be very positive but only if I don't make a complete mess of everything.