Wednesday 3 April 2013

I'm sure I unplugged the oven

Why on Earth have I got a picture of my prescription at the start of this post?
And a picture of my ovens?
If you're confused then I am sure you are not alone. 
Don't worry I'll get to the explanation in my usual roundabout fashion.
I was reminded of an election held in the Northern Territory in (I think) the nineties in which the Labor party won the poll, and it was the first ever non-conservative government elected up there.
On the TV show The Panel they showed showed an ad done by the leader of the NT Country Party and he was standing in front of a chainlink fence declaiming to the audience.
The Panel members pointed out quite rightly that here was a man who was not really trying, with all the beauty of the NT at his disposal (Kakadu pictured below) he chose to be photographed in front of an urban wasteland bounded by a wiretrace fence.
Likewise, with all the beauty of Byron at my disposal, why the prescription?, why the ovens? 
Well the answer is that I am mentally ill, no surprise there, anyone who has read any of these posts could tell you that.
What I would like to explain is that these pills, Mirtazapine, also known as Avanza, are anti-depressants specifically for people with anxiety disorder.
When I was about 40 I suddenly became overcome with all sorts of panic.
I still have no real explanation for it, it was nothing to do with turning forty, I was quite relieved to make it that far.
These days my anxiety has settled into an exhausting round of 'checking' things.
When I park the car it often takes me ten minutes to check the handbrake is on, the transmission is in park, the lights are off, my wallet, phone, keys and glasses are accounted for, either with me or clearly visible in the car.
Then I check all the windows are up, and all four doors are locked.
Having checked all this I walk away and then are beset by doubts and have to go back and do the checks all over again.
On top of all this, I am no longer able to park the car on a slope, worried that something will go wrong and the car will roll away.
I have a few times driven to my favourite surf spot, Wategos beach, which is encircled by steep hills and if the crowds are thick and the only parking spot left is sloping then I have turned around and driven away, unable to enjoy the surf, worried I may return and find the car in a ditch at the bottom of the slope.
Likewise when I leave the house in the morning I have to go through and exhaustive, and likewise exhausting, round of checks to see that everything is switched off.
Both the car and home check anxiety fundamentally has money at the bottom of it. 
If the car gets damaged I don't have enough money to fix it without weeks of saving (or borrowing from my long-suffering friend Antony), and at home with the price of power, the thought of leaving the oven on all day is just too much to bear.
Thus, the picture of the ovens.
Anxiety has got so bad for me that I have to photograph the ovens with the cords visibly out of the socket before I can leave the house.
Even then I still go back a number of times to check that the cords that I checked were unplugged thirty seconds ago have not somehow magically re-inserted themselves in the socket.
If photographing these appliances seems a little over the top I can assure you that it is still better than the old days when I often got hit by a panic bomb and had to stop work, pack my mower away and drive home and check that everything was turned off.
Now I can at least get my phone out and look at the picture to reassure myself.
So if you're wondering if you are mentally ill, once again, you are not alone.
Most people check things, in my opinion if you get to checking things more than five times, then there may be an anxiety worm eating away inside you.
Clearly, the actual issue, in my case leaving the oven on, is usually a facade hiding a deeper problem.
If anxiety is starting to interfere with your life AKA, not being able to surf if I can't find a flat space to park or having to leave work to check the oven isn't on then it could be time to seek help.
I've been lucky (and tenacious), after a long search I found a competent mental health professional called Paula and she has the unenviable task of listening to me moan for an hour once a month.
All she does is listen and even I can't explain how it works, but it does.
If you think about it when was the last time someone listened to you?
I don't want to get preachy here, indeed this blog is supposed to be entertaining, but if at least you can go away thinking 'man, at least I am not as nutty as Lachlan', then that's some reassurance that has made the time you spent reading worth it.
So I'll close with this paraphrasing of a gag I heard from David Frost.
"The creed of this blog is simple, if I can bring just one little smile to one little face, then I've really screwed up somewhere".

Magestic Kakadu

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