Off to the psychiatrist for Tony Hornet!
Who can ever believe they are to visit a psychiatrist? Well, I will admit for me it was time to pay a visit to a psychiatrist at a major downtown hospital. It was very odd getting off at the eighth floor of this hospital and walking into the Department of Psychiatry. Then waiting in the hall to see my psychiatrist. Geez I sure had some problems to deal with but was being mentally ill one of them? You must remember as a child of the 1950’s and 1960’s the words divorce, homosexuality and psychiatry were nasty words!
Dr. Ellen Wong was right to the point and a very good listener. She looked you in the eye and only occasionally took notes. Within 5 minutes my initial freak out subsided. My comfort level shot up quickly. She asked a boatload of questions to get to know me better.
When she asked me why I thought I was there I told the story of my various health issues and how threatened I felt at work. I felt by continuing to work I was putting my life in peril. The volume and complexity of work was becoming unmanageable. I felt like there was an impending heart attack around the next corner.
To make matters worse one of my colleagues, Stella Asterix, was off on her third long term disability due to a chronic disease and guess who was filling in for her? I was coming home so exhausted I was in bed by 7 p.m. and waking up equally exhausted. It so happened that Dr. Wong sent me to an endocrinologist as in her blood test that she ordered there were low levels of TSH. The endocrinologist immediately pinpointed the issue as a well-known side effect of Amiodarone, subclinical hyperthyroidism, with exhaustion and heart palpitations being an unpleasant side effect as well as an increased chance of developing anxiety and depression. No medication was prescribed and in a month I returned to a somewhat normal energy level. I had been under much medical and work induced stress this was the last thing I needed.
I really admired Dr. Wong for focusing at least initially on some of the physical problems I was having. She set me up with a new GP for a thorough physical, ordered comprehensive blood tests, ordered a sleep test, sent me to a neurologist and a lung specialist. And to my delight no pills at least for the moment.
Before each session I had with her I completed a “Beck Depression Inventory” wherein certain questions about your mood and anxiety were measured and easily calculated. The higher the score the more likelihood you were suffering from depression and or anxiety.
I saw Dr. Wong each week and in week 5 she said it was her opinion that I was suffering from workplace stress and anxiety and possibly cognitive impairment due to the 14 years of atrial fibrillation resulting in micro-embolisms caused by the atrial fibrillation. I can’t say the stress and anxiety was a surprise but the micro-embolisms and cognitive impairment were worrisome. She set me up with a psychotherapist and a neurologist to do specialized cognitive testing that there was a two-year waiting list for. And she ordered an MRI for the brain for which there was a seven-month waiting period. And to top things off she got me enrolled in an experimental mindfulness session the hospital was offering.
About week 7 she told me I was suffering from depression and this was based on the consistently high scores I had on the Beck Depression Inventory and from her personal observations. This diagnosis was hard to swallow and I still wonder if it was true. Dr. Wong also had me see her colleague for a second opinion which confirmed Dr. Wong’s diagnosis was correct. An initial neurological exam administered during the “second opinion” visit also confirmed my cognitive abilities were not where they should be but that would be confirmed or rejected by a more sophisticated test later.
Things at work were not going well. I revealed to Sally Self my psychiatric diagnosis and pleaded for some experienced help from our legal department in New York. Instead of experienced help I got a junior lawyer nice and eager but with no relevant and helpful ability. I pointed this out to Sally Self who said she could do no more
Things were getting so tight at Up Up and Away Toronto you needed to obtain the permission of the General Counsel of Up Up and Away New York to go on a business trip and probably to blow your nose. Morale was rock bottom. Stress levels were sky high due to a huge flow of project work. Up Up and Away New York had failed a U.S. regulatory inspection and was running scared and creating mountains of legal work to escape severe financial penalties. And me suffering from a litany of physical and psychological problems. The mindfulness had helped for a time but the stress was becoming so overwhelming I had vague thoughts of ending it all if you know what I mean and it was not quitting.
My psychotherapist patiently listened to my problems and gave encouraging advice. Her brother was working for a largecorp and running into severe stress issues so she caught on quickly. She was a good listener and we really talked out my work-related stress and what my options were. It was clear I was working in a very unhealthy environment. So unhealthy it was looking like it was deadly.