Well I got through Christmas and decided to return to work. I was allowed to drive again and had been feeling quite well really so it felt like the appropriate time. The 8th January will be forever emblazoned on my memory. At the time the date was of no significance. I eased back in to the office hum drum on a gentle phased return and thought that all was well. Then on returning to my allotted hours I was called in to a meeting with my manager and the human resources woman (I want to write the word cow/jobs worth/nasty words...all the nasty words I can think of) . I clearly remember the patronising face she pulled as she feigned concern whilst delivering me a written warning for sickness. OK. So I have a disability which I thought gave me a degree of protection against this type of procedure. I was sadly misinformed. I even called the equality commission and it turns out that they cannot give me special treatment really as I am only one person doing a single job and operationally they had been compromised too much so a warning fell within the normal remit of sickness. I know it sounds wrong but they toed the line. They'd let me have impairment related sick days, let me work from home and been supportive in the past.
Now how this works is that you cannot have more than 3 incidents of sickness in 3 months or 10 days in a block together as then you'll get pulled back in to another meeting for a chat. If that were to happen I would be given a final warning, and then if it happened again I would be fired pretty much. My lovely warning ran from the 8th January 2012 for an entire year. Considering at this point that I hadn't managed more then 10 months being well it felt like a mountain to climb. I couldn't envisage being well for that long without a relapse considering the stress they had just put me under. Essentially the warning would stay on my file for a year but the trigger system would then run again for the following year anyway, so for me to be warning free I'd have to manage about 2 years without a mental health relapse or any type of illness. Yeah right. The general response from everyone around me was one of disgust. I know employers don't want a lame duck on their team but lame ducks try hard to float and turn up most of the time when they are well.
So I showed up. I tried to do my best and tried my hardest not to be ill. Not just mentally ill but physically ill, not such an easy thing to do when you have small children full of germs. And then my mood started to dip. It was only a gradual dip, but it was definitely a dip. This is when the WRAP comes in useful. The Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It's a little booklet the mental health team give you that helps you to identify when things are going a bit awry and off beam. You have to write down what you are like when you are well, not so well, ill and under a bus. You are then meant to read through it and figure out where you are at and what intervention you might need. It is actually very useful to do as when you are becoming ill, a level of denial can creep in or the attitude of "It's not that bad really" can hang about. It gives you a fact based criteria to measure yourself against and gives you a clear direction about what to do next.
So I was at the not so well part of the plan. Needing some help but not a staged and intensive intervention. The intrusive thoughts were creeping in, the emotional fatigue, irritability, tearfulness and a general feeling of sadness. Back to the psychiatrist I went and shared with him my concerns and guess what? May I introduce you to abilify.