Can’t Eat? Repeat.

It’s 7.30 am and I’m on day one of my Optifast pre-surgery hellish demonic torture diet. I thought it might be useful to share some of the things I’ve discovered that help pass the time when you can’t eat in the manner you’ve grown accustomed to.

1. Cry.

2. Be horrifically short tempered with your co-workers. Now they’re crying too. You’re all in this together.

3. Drink gigalitres of water. Sprinting to the toilet every four minutes counts toward your cardio quota.

4. Walk past the fresh fruit bowl at work and marvel at the overwhelming urge to unhinge your jaw and eat 26 oranges, 9 bananas and a slightly suspect looking kiwi fruit in one go. Then realise that you apparently do know the names of some fruits and call your mother to tell her she was wrong.

5. Browse your favourite cooking blogs. Sigh deeply. Find an appetising picture and lick the screen. This also doubles as a nice way to get all that pesky dust off your monitor. (Dust is low in carbs)

6. Stand near the exhaust vents of the KFC across the road. Inhale deeply. Cry.

7. On the way home from work stop in at your favourite Chinese takeaway. Wait at the counter. When it’s your turn, step forward and say ‘Nothing, thanks’. Run out of store crying with arms flailing.

8. Set up a slow cooker. Fill it with water and set it to slow cook over 8 hours. Tomorrow you’ll have a delicious meal of warm water to wake up to. This is your life now.

9. Spend time researching interesting topics on the internet, like ‘Why do meal replacement shakes taste like devil farts?’ for example.

10. Look into becoming a bank robber. Food banks only.

Week 9 – Coffee

Week Nine

“coffee”

I worked in one of the first coffee houses in Mount Lawley in the early to mid 90′s. It was one of those dark wood, marble and brass styled cafes with counter service only that would soon be popping up everywhere toward the end of the decade.

The shifts were impossibly long and everything I owned reeked of coffee grinds including my house and car. I was also expected to work a 65 hour week for a $330 salary after tax.  Despite this I pretty much loved every second of it because of the fast pace and the brilliant people who worked there.

Having never gone through the official training to become a certified barista I don’t feel qualified to wax lyrical about the beauty of the Kenyan versus the Guatemalan roasted bean or write a four thousand word essay extolling the virtues of letting the first dark stream of coffee turn golden before placing the cup under the filter basket. Instead, let me tell you about the best damn cup of coffee I ever made.

Not Hot Enough

There were 20 staff in our coffee house and there wasn’t one of us who didn’t sigh when we saw this woman walk in.

The correct temperature to heat milk to for the coffee has been the source of furious debate in Western Australia for decades. In the nineties we didn’t use the temperature gauge you sometimes see your barista placing in the milk (we also wore onions on our belts) instead we went on sound, touch and feel of the metal jug.

It was important to pay attention or you risked one of the two deadly coffee sins – giving the customer lukewarm or burnt milk. Having been trained by a qualified barista who had just returned from a summer making coffee in Europe, our staff were known to make some of the best coffee in the area and we constantly received praise from our clientele.

With the notable exception of one person who, astonishingly, visited daily.

Not Hot Enough was American, loud, rude and had no concept of queuing. She would walk to the front of the line and interrupt any transaction that was in progress. If you asked her to wait she’d phone the owner that afternoon to complain about your rudeness.

“Flat white, HOT – if you could possibly manage it this time.”

Then she’d throw – never hand it to you or place – the exact change on the counter and proceed to stare at the person making the coffee with her arms folded. You’d start the coffee pour and then lift the jug of fresh milk to the steam wand.

“Hurry up. The coffee will be cold before you heat the milk.”

We’d heat the milk to boiling, past the point any other customer would deem acceptable (this action would make our trainer’s head explode) while simultaneously risking the skin on our hand as the milk began to bubble up and over the rim of the metal jug.

We’d pour the milk and place the cup on a saucer.

Not Hot Enough wouldn’t touch it or even look at it. She’d smirk and stare you right in the eye.

“Make it again. You do know how to make coffee, I assume? It’s supposed to be hot.”

Because the owner of the had trained us to never refute anything a customer said about their coffee we’d start again, making it in exactly the same manner.

Only then would she deem it acceptable. She didn’t care about the temperature, she just loved the power trip.

She developed a pathological hatred of one of the staff and forced the poor guy to remake the same coffee five times before he quit on the spot, storming off and leaving us one person down for the rest of the shift.

When she deemed your offering acceptable she’d take the cup and sit at a small table directly opposite the coffee machine, drinking it while staring at you, tutting and shaking her head while she pointed at the cup if you looked at her.

One day I’d had enough and made plans for the next morning.

Knowing that she would be in just after ten, I placed a cup in the oven at half past nine with a teaspoon in it and set it to 200 degrees. Then we removed all napkins from the counter and placed them on a shelf underneath.

She came in and threw the change at the counter. Someone brought the now almost molten cup and spoon up to me as I was re-making the coffee after she had refused my first attempt. I boiled the hell out of the milk, used a napkin to place the cup and spoon on the cold saucer behind the machine and handed it to her.

She sat down and my coworker and I continued taking orders from the other customers in the line.

“Fuck!”

The sound of a teaspoon being dropped on the floor.

Not Hot Enough suddenly appeared in front of the coffee machine.

“Get me a napkin!”

“I’m so terribly sorry, Madam.” 

My coworker Jane, the university lecturer’s daughter with the world’s most stunningly condescending nasal tone worked her magic. “This lovely client needs our last napkin for her delicious cake. We don’t have any more.” Jane cocked her head and smiled “Have you made a mess?”

Not Hot Enough looked like she was going to implode.

“The cup is too hot to pick up”

“Would that not be as Madam requested it? Heating the milk to make the hottest possible coffee will cause a process known as conduction to occur, when the hot liquid heats it’s receptacle. My supervisor will be more than happy to make a coffee at a cooler temperature though, unless this kind lady would like to give you her napkin?”

Not Hot Enough had, minutes before, pushed in front of This Kind Lady. This Kind Lady picked up her piece of choc-cardamom cheesecake and walked off without saying a word. I could have kissed her.

Not Hot Enough was far too arrogant to admit defeat so she sat back down at her table and waited the ten minutes it took for her cup to cool before drinking the coffee and walking out. There followed a tense 48 hours as we waited for a call from the owner saying she had complained about us but there was nothing.

I didn’t see Not Hot Enough until years later in a gourmet deli where she was loudly berating a counter hand over the amount of olives in a small tub that had been handed to her. Some people never change.

I wonder if she still likes her coffee hot?

food and the modern seb, part two: winning at lunch, losing at manboobs.

In yesterday’s post I explained my relationship with food, glorious food up until the age of 11 or so – not the biggest eater, a bit fussy and never welcomed into the local chapter of the clean plate club. In my last year of primary school that began to change.

The author being all Harry Highpants in February 1984. Why didn’t anybody tell me?

I was being bullied at lunch so my parents thought it would be a good idea to eat at my grandparents house which was diagonally across from the school. Excited about not having to sit through daily performances of the off-broadway musical ‘You’re A Poofter And We’re All Going To Kill You’ complete with full ensemble punch-choreography performed by our school’s most talented bogans I jumped at the opportunity.

My Grandmother, who we all called Dot (her name was Dorothea) made a cooked lunch every day – mostly roast chicken or beef with oil brushed potatoes and pumpkin, some peas cooked in butter with diced onion and half a bacon stock cube and corn on the cob. This would be accompanied by freshly warmed bread rolls and thick onion gravy. It was all incredibly rich, salty and delicious.

I can recall the first time, about five weeks into me having lunch with them, both Dot and my Grandfather becoming so excited over me completely clearing my plate that there were hugs and declarations of pride that made me feel like I’d just done the most amazing thing a grandson could ever do and there would be some sort of town parade in my honour later that afternoon.

The next day I was given a bigger serving, which I finished too – not wanting to disappoint after winning my lunchtime audience over the day before. After another month or so of this I was eating more than both of them and it wasn’t long before I started gaining weight.  Helpfully, after years of begging me to eat more my Mum pointed out in front of one of my friends “You’re putting it on a bit mate, you’ve got boobs!”

The author, November 1984. “Got manboobs, might as well have some cake!”

Having no self esteem due to years of daily bullying at school, the comment hit hard and at age twelve I’d found yet another thing to loathe about myself. In an attempt to fill my stomach so that I wasn’t so hungry I started eating tissues. I’d sit there with a box and slowly tear strips off to chew on as I did my homework or read a book. I did this for about a year and don’t recall if I really lost any weight but it did fulfil the constant urge to chew something.

One of the positive things about being a twelve year old was that a growth spurt was around the corner and over the eighteen months or so I shot up to being 6 foot tall and all the fat just stretched out, making me – as I felt – ‘normal’ again. Bye, bye, boobies.

I progressed on to high school and went back to boxed lunches that I sometimes ate and sometimes didn’t and the only standout recollections from that time are that I would regularly steal ‘forbidden food’ from the fridge or pantry. Mum and Dad each had their own stash of chocolate biscuits or dairy milk bars that I wasn’t allowed to have but I took them all the time.

There would be muesli bars or crisps there for me, but I only craved what I wasn’t allowed to have. I got found out and told off a lot over this but I kept doing it. One one occasion I’d eaten a mini chocolate bar and flushed the wrapper down the toilet because Mum would always find them in the bin despite my best attempts to hide them. A small white part of the wrapper hadn’t flushed and my Dad thought it was a cigarette butt and went absolutely mental at me. What stuns me now is that I took the smacks on the arm and the yelled accusations from both parents rather than admit I had secretly eaten something I wasn’t supposed to as if there was some greater shame associated with it.

If only they’d been smart enough to forbid me from having fruit, I’d be the healthiest person alive today.

We moved to Perth when I was 14 and rake thin. I was again bullied, this time on a much larger scale. I don’t know what happened at school on this particular day. I just remember getting home and crying. My parents were both still at work. I went to the pantry and opened a sealed box of waffle ice cream cones, stood there and ate all 24. It was like they were oxygen, I couldn’t get them into my mouth quickly enough.

As soon as I stopped eating I panicked. Someone was going to ask me what happened to them. I went straight to the money jar that my Dad kept on his dresser and took enough to go to the shop and replace them. When he noticed the note missing I told him I’d given it to charity door knockers. This started a cycle of lying and secret binge eating that went on for years.

The author in 1987 – thin again due to a growth spurt but binge eating regularly. Still a dapper bastard though.

Next: food and the modern seb, part three: modelling should help, right?

The Soundtrack To Your Post-Apocalyptic Life

Put the media player of your choice on shuffle.

 

zombie.jpg 

The first song is the overall theme for the apocalypse.

Wonderful Life – Black

“No need to run…and hide. It’s a wonderful, wonderful life” – No wonder you were a one-hit wonder, Black. It’s the freaking Zombie Apocalypse. And you’re going to stand there and get Zombie nommed? 

The second song is the one that plays during your first zombie kill.

Fantasy – Black Box 

 I guess this means it’s going to be in slow motion and possibly soft focus. I’m not complaining. I’m 39. Soft focus makes it better for everyone.

The third song plays while you’re getting chased by a horde of zombies.

Ooh Ahh… Just A Little Bit – Gina G

Presumably the zombies are singing this. It’s a nice hi-nrg tune so the whole scene will be akin to an exercise/aerobics montage.

The fourth song plays when you’re forced to kill your recently bitten loved one.

Love And Kisses – Dannii Minogue

Erm…. slightly inappropriate but as long as they cut out the rap that features the classic line “We ain’t at McDonald’s baby, so what’s your beef?” it’ll do. 

The fifth song plays when you meet your new love interest. 

Rockafeller Skank – Fatboy Slim

I’ll rock a fella. But I’m no skank. As you can see, puns don’t get any better after the Zombie Apocalypse.

The sixth song plays when you make your final stand. 

When Doves Cry – Prince

Perfect. Hitting Zombies in the face with the only weapons I could grab as I ran out of my house (Spice Girls dolls) while Prince faps in the background. Maybe I AM just like my father….

The seventh song plays when you think you’ve made it through it all.

Born Slippy – Underworld

Shouting lager, lager, lager? Unlikely.  

The eighth song plays as you discover you were bitten in the fight.

Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime – The Korgis

I NEED YOUR BRAAAAAAAAAAINS. LIKE THE SUNSHINE.

Dear HIF

Not necessarily an angry letter. More a peeved note. (Now with all-new resolution and extreme customer satisfaction!)

Hello HIF Team!
Hoping you can help me out. I joined HIF after interacting with your awesome social media peeps on Twitter, who should be given a raise and a voucher for a year’s worth people telling them how good looking they are, because they convinced me to sign with you and are great fun to interact with to boot.
I have had some problems since joining though, and they’re hard to summarise in 140 characters or less so I’m writing to your complaints department instead.
1) I got the membership pack, (thank you) but no membership card. The pack told me how awesome the card was though, which I guess is almost as good. I rang the call centre about a month ago to ask for my membership card and the helpful rep apologised and promised to send me a membership card. But I wasn’t sent a membership card. This makes me a sad panda. A sad panda without a membership card to take to the psychologist when having therapy to deal with the sadness caused by not having a membership card. Kind of an infinite loop you’ve created there, HIF.
2) When setting up the direct debit to pay you money in exchange for you covering me in the event of me being hospitalised/requiring medical treatment/getting bitten by a zombie I explained that it needed to be deducted fortnightly on a Friday. Somehow it was set up to deduct on a Wednesday, and a fortnight ago was declined because there wasn’t any money in there. Mainly because I bought some awesome stuff on eBay. Sure, as a responsible adult I should always have money on my account but as you can see from the picture below, toy Daleks are awesome, and I did ask you nicely to deduct it on a Friday.

daleks.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) This rejected direct debit cost me a fee. It was only six dollars, but that sucks. I feel like I’ve given an involuntary tip of three $2 coins to someone who just kneed me in the man parts and ran off giggling. If this was going to be the case, I wish you’d outlined said kneeing of man parts more thoroughly in your signup form so I could have at least braced myself, or put an ‘Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals’ digest down the front of my pants.

4) The above rejection seems to have stopped all direct debits, but nobody told me about this. That’s kind of mean of you, don’t you think?  I open all my mail from you excitedly in the hope that you’ve sent me one of these fabled membership cards (I hear they’re like unicorns! I love unicorns!) but to date no card and no notification that you seem to have cancelled my direct debit. Is it me? Am I too needy? Am I smothering you..?  It’s just that I’ve never been with a health insurance company before, and I’m not sure how to act. You look really pretty today, HIF.

5) I’ve set up a regular payment now from my account and paid the missed payment and this fortnight’s payment. That’s two fortnights, paid. I’m up to date and can safely exit the house again, knowing that if an aeroplane lands on me I’m covered for the ambos scraping bits of me off the underside of a 747 while saying ‘this guy appears to have just eaten a Nasi Goreng from NoodleBox’.

6) I received a letter from you on Friday.  It tells me my contribution frequency is monthly, that I’m overdue and that I have to pay you two month’s worth of payments by the 11th of October.

This is:

a) More incorrect than any of the Spice Girl’s solo attempts.

b) a Tuesday. Which is different from the Wednesday you charged me on, after I asked that you deduct payments on a Friday. 

So if I’m correct, accounts are due on a regularly irregular basis and I should be prepared that you expect payment on ThuWeFriSunaturday every fortmonth. Is that right?
Um…. I know Friday evenings are great for staff drinks and all HIF crew, but you’re starting early methinks. It’s probably Amiee-Renae in accounts. She looks like a right lush and seems rather pushy so I’m not blaming you, HIF.  But…..I don’t pay monthly. I pay fortnightly. Me no wanna be monthly. Ixnay on the onthlymay. 

And I don’t owe you two month’s worth of payments, totalling a frightening $298.20.  I owe you nothing. Even before I made a payment two days ago, I in no way owed you anythingclose to that amount. What’s the giant bill for? Going on holidays soon are we, HIF? Hmmmm?

So team… owing to the fact that I signed up based on several recommendations and have since received what can fairly be described as HA HA SCREW YOU, SEB YOU BIG DAFT PLONKER I request that you please email me and let me know that:

a) You’ve set me back to fortnightly payments and that whoever sent the ‘you owe two months NOW’ letter is told that I said they’re horrid and that I think they smell of gherkins.

b) That someone has had their chocolate biscuit rights removed for not setting my payments on the correct weekday and has also been forced to listen to Rebecca Black’s anthem ‘Friday’ on repeat until they’ve learned the sequence of the days of the week and adjusted my payments to be due Fridays. If this requires an extra pro-rata payment for me to catch up to that day then I’m happy to pay it. Because FRIDAYS. Okay?

c) That you will get me one of these ‘ninth wonder of the world’ cards. It’s like I’ve been invited to an awesome party but I’ve been here for two months and nobody has offered me a glass of Pasito or some french onion dip.

(If you can’t get me a card I will be forced to make one of my own using crayon, and adapting the tagline ‘HIF – we’re a little bit crap so far™’ and wave it about when visiting hospitals, dentists and Noodle Box.)

I look forward to hearing from you. I check my emails daileekly on a Montuendsay aftermornooning. 

Sincerely, 

Seb Sharp – Member Number XXXXX

dalek.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**********UPDATE**********

Not 10 minutes after I contacted HIF via twitter (on a Sunday, as well) the incredible Nikki (HIF’s Digital Manager) responded and provided what I would consider the best follow up I could have hoped for. She also has a great sense of humour and took my letter for what it was – a fun way of dealing with a customer complaint. I didn’t want to leave, or be a bastard about it, I just wanted to get some help sorting out an issue. This gives HIF massive points in my book. Yay, Nikki – HIF should be so incredibly happy to have you on board. 

“PS – sorry to break it to you but zombie attacks are not covered by your policy..” – Nikki @HIF_Australia

 

**********UPDATE 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO**********

(The equally amazing Val emailed me and assisted with all of my issues, showing that HIF staff really do look after their customers. My response below..)

Hello Val,

Thank you very much for the fantastic follow up, I really appreciate it!

Please find attached a scan of the direct debit form, which I have attached using my rather awesome new scanner. I resisted the temptation to scan my face smiling with appreciation at your helping me resolve this (mainly because the instructions advise against it) but please feel free to picture me grinning happily. If you could picture me with hair that would be great. Have you thought about introducing a policy covering male pattern baldness as well as zombie attacks? I’m um.. asking for a friend. 

Seriously though, I’m now an advocate of HIF purely based on the prompt response and fantastic assistance from both yourself and Awesome Nikki™.  

In response to your email:

Membership Card not received with your Welcome Pack

Thanks for ordering me (another) one. I look forward to waving it in other people’s faces while singing ‘Don’t cha wish your health insurance provider was hot like mine?’ , as well as sticky-taping it to my forehead along with some feathers and a cheezel and insisting people call me Lordy GaGa.

Your Direct Debit was not set up to deduct on a Friday

So, I was all ‘I’ll sign up online’, which I did on a Monday. The sign up gives you the option of paying on that day but starting your coverage at a later date, which I thought meant THAT would become the nominated anniversary date for payments. So I looked up my calendar and nominated the day, then submitted. About an hour after submitting it I noticed that I’d chosen it to start on a Thursday so I slapped my forehead with my palm, muttered some swear words and rang the call centre.

I spoke to someone (yes, isn’t that helpful, apologies for not having a name) and explained what I’d done and they said they’d fix it up. I then didn’t check up on this because Masterchef was quite awesome around that time. I also didn’t notice it was deducting on the wrong day until it had failed. I have scolded my Daleks for not alerting me sooner. They responded by exterminating a can of Coke Zero. More fool them – it was my housemate’s.

Your automatic Direct Debits ceased following the account rejection

Makes perfect sense. Nothing worse that multiple rejections. I know this based on my experience as a youth at the Merredin annual blue light disco ’84-’86.  I don’t like to name names of course, but Narelle Kempton was a stuck-up mole. Pretty sure they were just tissues down the front of her A-ha crop-top too. 

You received a bill for two months premiums (and elected to pay fortnightly)

Ahhhhhhh. I see. Fortnightly is best via direct debit. Well, I think fortnightly Fridays is they way to go and then I’ll be better able to manage my Dalek buying budget. I mean save for my future. Yeah, that stuff.

And finally the payments I made were on Friday the 7th October, for both the missed payment and that fortnight – you should see them if our calculation of 5 days to process is right. If you need bank statement-type-things let me know. 

 Thanks again for showing that HIF was indeed the right choice for my very first health insurance provider – absolutely everyone I’ve dealt with has provided top notch service. Thanks again for all of your help.

Seb 

 

Dear Bank Of Queensland

Yes. I wrote and sent a ranty email to a company. I’m surprising like that.

Hello Bank Of Queensland.

I wanted to share with you a recent customer experience that I hope can assist with staff coaching. Or at the very least make you feel slightly bad about yourselves and create the compulsion to eat your feelings via large quantities of cinnamon donuts and vanilla slices.

I have a loan with you. The interest rate on it is high, and over the term of the loan I will be paying you 1.5 times the initial amount borrowed. I’m fine with that, as this has allowed me to purchase a shiny new iMac and really without that I wouldn’t be able to write grumpy passive aggressive complaint letters to you which I feel would be a great loss to all concerned.

When this loan is paid out, I will have given you two thousand dollars in pure profit. My complaint today specifically relates to the amount of service this hefty sum provides me. 

Currently the dollar amount of service I have received from your (now I’m really stifling a giggle here) “organisation” stands at negative fourteen dollars and has knocked approximately nine days off my life. 

I base this loss of my future time on earth on the assumed damage caused by several blood vessels bursting simultaneously during the course of my interactions with your staff coupled with my diminishing will to live while I try to achieve the most simple of tasks – updating the direct debit details for my loan.

Yes, Bug of Queensland. I want to PAY YOU SOME MONEY AND STUFF. Allow me to explain further before I experience a full stroke and end up shorting out my Bluetooth™ keyboard by involuntarily drooling on it.

Every month my loan is paid automatically. You take it from my bank account. This has, for the past two years created rainbows, kittens, tap dance scholarships for several gifted unicorns and filled me with happiness and joy.

On Monday I changed bank accounts, and like a good little customer contacted the five institutions that I needed to update my direct debit details with.  Three did it over the phone. The fourth needed me to fax the details with a scan of my driver’s licence. Easy and convenient for someone who works during business hours (did you know that peoplehave to work to be able to pay you?  Isn’t that astounding? Australia! What a country!).

With my first four calls going smoothly, it came time to call the Bank of Queenslime. The following conversation took place:

REP: Hello, this is (I’ve didn’t catch the rep’s name, but for the purpose of this let’s call her Gertrude Unhelpful-Smythe) How can I help you?

ME: Hello, my name is Seb, I was wondering if you can help me update some direct debit details for a loan I’m paying with you? I have a re…. (gets cut off)

GERTRUDE: You have to go into a branch.

ME:  Oh, okay. I’m in Perth. Do you have any branches in…. (gets cut off)

GERTRUDE: Yes.

ME: Is there a way that I could fax the…. (gets cut off)

GERTRUDE: (sighs) NO, YOU HAVE TO GO INTO A BRANCH.

ME:  Oh.  I’m wondering though – I work from 7am to 4pm, and I’m worried I….(gets cut off)

GERTRUDE: (in the way you’d speak to someone who just vomited on your lunch) YouHAVE to go into a BRANCH.

At this point I was so dazzled by Gertrude’s tone I had to thank her and end the call lest I get all caught up in the moment and ask for her hand in marriage. I’m gay, but she’d totally be worth it. 

I then rang The Borg of Quitesad a second time and got an infinitely more helpful rep who confirmed apologetically that I would indeed have to go into a branch. She helped me locate one close to me. I asked her when it closed. She told me 4pm. I arranged to leave work early to rush to this branch.  I got there at half three. It was closed. It closes at two thirty.

Foiled in my attempts to pay you on time, I looked at your website and found a branch that was open on Saturday.  The closest one to me was 45 minutes drive away, but I needed to make sure you get your monthly payment. Because if you repossessed my iMac I wouldn’t have access to my Bananarama MP3 collection and would therefore have no choice but to promptly find a corner to sit in for the next few months while sobbing/rocking back and forth while humming ‘I Heard A Rumour’ from their hit album ‘WOW’.

So, today being Saturday I set off with several sherpas and began the journey to THE LAND BEYOND THUNDERDOME with a packed lunch of tuna sushi and a small diet orange cordial. After 45 minutes, a Mexican standoff over a parking space and some time dedicated to burying those who had perished on the journey I was finally seated in my “nearest” branch with my neatly typed written request and some photo ID.

The teller who helped me provided fantastic service and is a credit to your organisation. You would do well to send Gertrude over to her in the hopes she learns how to be helpful while suppressing the urge to snarl and spit at your customers.

The only problem was that she couldn’t update my details. She rang for assistance and after several minutes was informed that (uh-oh, here comes the caps lock) I NEEDED TO CALL ON MONDAY TO SPEAK TO SOMEONE WHO WOULD UPDATE MY DETAILS OVER THE PHONE.  She very kindly took my document and scanned my ID and did promise to follow up… but seriously, Bag of Quicksand  – what on earth do you call what you’re doing? Service? Why are you the only organisation that won’t let me organise to keep paying you?  Am I that horrible? What have I done to deserve this? Did I ignore you in high school? Put the empty milk carton back in the fridge? Finance a Ke$ha album?

Thus far, I’ve been insulted by the attitude of your reps, been given incorrect information, lost 90 minutes today and 40 minutes on Monday driving to and from your branches and all of this has been to try and give you six digits followed by eight digits. (Right now, you get a single middle digit).

Indiana Jones went through less to get the Ark of the Covenant. And he got a cool hat and a whip and stuff. All I’m getting from you is aggravation and the privilege of paying you two thousand dollars in interest to be treated like something that dog down the road with the wonky eye barfed up.

So, Bucket of Quagmire. The ball is in your court. I want to pay you. I have the sacred digits required to unlock my monthly payment and will happily give them to anyone in your company who has the ability to enter them into a computer so that rainbows, kittens and tap dancing unicorns can again go about their lives without a care in the world.

I will regard this action as being equal to two thousand dollars of service and will let the 14 dollars in petrol I’ve spent getting to your branches slide. Unless you’d like to credit that to my account.

Bet you don’t though. 

Sincerely,

Seb Sharp

Customer. (kuhs-tuh-mer]

noun

– a person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron.

 

black sunday

Oh Hello! I’m on an increased dosage of anti-depressants! And everything is just…

..well it’s…exactly the same.

But it’s early days yet. I went back to work on Thursday with my tail between my legs. Coworkers were incredibly awesome as they always are and after the initial uncomfortable moments where nobody’s quite sure what to say or ask me it was business as usual.

My visit with my Doctor went really well, she’s going to see me every week for the next few weeks to make sure I don’t have a repeat performance of the manic episodes I experienced the last time we doubled the dosage of my medication (I’m a robot! I’m floating on the ceiling! I’m a floating ceiling robot! Yaaaay!) and that the depression that’s overwhelmed me in the past few weeks starts to shift.

I keep telling myself that this has to be absolute rock bottom. I know for a fact that I’m not going to harm myself because the thoughts I’ve had and darkness that’s been dragging me down…. have lead to me to planning it out, down to the last post I’d write here. Where I’d go. How I’d do it. But I don’t act. It’s just not in me, which I guess is a relief but at the same time a frustration. I have to remain here, and I have no reason, feeling or desire to be. I see no point to existing when it’s this difficult and it hurts this much to simply ‘be’.

I have support, I have loving friends and family and my workplace has proved again and again to be a place of understanding and love. But that isn’t with me when I’m alone. Thoughts and feelings overcome me and I’m spending more time asleep when I’m at home than awake because I just can’t cope. My chest is so heavy and my head hangs down as I walk around the house, needing to wash clothes or make food or wanting to shower but the process seems so difficult I can only get under my bedcovers and hope that when I wake up in a few hours the feeling of hopelessness would have passed.

I hate so much to be in the company of people when I feel like this, so I avoid everyone. Even forcing myself to try and leave the house to catch up with someone won’t help. Anxiety overtakes me and I shut down. It’s so frustrating.

Money has become a problem. In recent months I’ve fallen behind with payments on everything but rent and shared utilities. In one day last week I had seventeen calls from unlisted numbers, all financial institutions trying to get in touch with me. How do you negotiate with someone that needs a $300 payment and you have $25.00 to last the next 7 days? And that when your pay comes in, half of it is going to disappear because your account is already $700 overdrawn?

So that’s where I sit today as I write this. Struggling. Not wanting to be here any more. Not able to do anything about that feeling. Mentally unwell. Physically unwell. Broke. Not wanting company. Not wanting to be alone. Hating myself.

Hating that I hate myself.

Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.

fade to grey

I had another ‘moment’ at work and had to leave today. Things have gotten that bad again, and I’m preparing to fight back against the evil depression-shaped-blackness-evil-osity-thing. Tiring as it is to constantly be putting my undies on the outside, as anyone with depression knows it’s the only way forward.

My workplace is so incredibly supportive and understanding. I am constantly surprised that I still have a job because my mental health issues seem to get in the way so frequently. Just when our team gets into a good rhythm of selling the internet to people I run around in the background with flailing muppet arms, bawling my eyes out before locking myself in the toilet.

Nothing happened to trigger today. I woke up feeling dark, but as I described in my last post it’s been like that for a while. When I arrived at work it just got worse. I took one phone call and then went catatonic. Staring at the screens in front of me, tears rolling down my face, thinking of nothing other than the hopeless life I’m ‘living’.

After a couple of hours I went to see HR to fill them in on what was happening and then went home. I slept for five hours or so but didn’t feel any better. The sudden worsening of depression can no doubt be attributed to Sunday, when anxiety keep me awake all night. I finally got to bed at 4.30 on Monday morning and slept for an hour before getting up to go to work. That day and yesterday were okay, I guess it just had to come back and bite me somehow. I’d be crazy to think it wouldn’t. Heh. Crazy.

As I mentioned in my last blog I had an appointment tonight to see my Doctor which couldn’t have been better timing. Her suggestion has been to increase the dose of my antidepressant (Pristiq) from 50mg to 100mg. I’m a big guy, so maybe it’ll be the larger dose that works. I’m crossing my fingers. And toes. And eyes. Although if increasing the dose is anything like getting onto Pristiq initially was, my eyes will cross without any help from me. And Officeworks had better stock the shelves.

As long as I wear my underpants on the outside I’ll be fine, right?

phoning it in

After the highs, lows and that one day of SOARINGWHOOOOOOHOOOOOOBOINGBOINGBOING the old brain department seems to be ready to attempt the move from drugs that don’t work to some that hopefully do. Or some that at least make me hallucinate bunnies. Bunnies are awesome.

I’ve been on such a ride recently that I’m almost tempted to stay with my dial stuck at ‘Beige Wonderland’ for a while longer but even the beige ups and downs are enough to warrant making some changes. I’ve been at this point a few times before (“I’m sure we’ve driven past that framed Dannii Minogue poster already…are we lost?”) but to succumb to feelings that don’t seem to legitimately belong to me wouldn’t make sense so I’m pulling on my ‘recovering nutter’ pants and trying again.

I’ll keep this just between us and the internet for now but I’m scared. Quite reasonable considering what’s been going on upstairs recently, but I’m hesitant to call my Doctor again. Right now I can think of a good 12 reasons that I probably shouldn’t call including finances, lack of time, she’ll be booked out, gherkins smell funny, the ending of ‘Lost’ was a bit shit and it’s a day of the week ending in ‘y’. This hesitance might be familiar to others with depression. If it’s not awful and it’s not awesome then sometimes it’s good to not do anything. Don’t upset the balance of things. Rest. Don’t try. No need. I didn’t really like being happy anyway, and look what happiness did to Lindsay Lohan.

I know for a fact that this doesn’t work. How? That’s the exact approach I took for a couple of months. Until, y’know, my brain decided to throw a sharp left and I ended up needing to check in with a psych nurse twice a day so she knew I hadn’t ended it all. Lesson learned.

Things are calmer now. I have two fantastic housemates, the support of my employer and co-workers, the most incredible friends a guy could wish for and as people often remind me I’ve managed to make it this far. No time like the present to make appointments, change medications and work even harder toward beating this. The psych that I saw for six sessions late last year told me he thinks that I’ll need a minimum of two years of counselling. He gave me a referral to a colleague he’s sure can help with depression and agoraphobia. He also gave me details for a clinic run out of one of the Universities. Yep, he wants me to go to both. Although the unwell part of me is telling me not to call, that it will be too intense, they won’t be able to help, it will be a waste of money and time, that chips are delicious and why don’t we go to KFC right now – I know I’m not capable of making that judgement for myself at the moment.

So at age 38, having got myself this far and knowing myself extremely well as a result I now have to ignore my strongest instincts because I can’t trust them right now. I feel like I’ve just played on a PS3 for the first time and the 8 year old gaming whiz beside me has just said ‘You’re a bit shit at this, aren’t you!’.

But tomorrow will be call day. 3 calls. One to my Doctor to make an appointment. One to Pizza Hut the Uni Clinic and one to the Psych.

Here goes…