Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Story 1 - ME related

Like many people with (and without) ME I have little time for psychiatrists.  There are exceptions and I've already said that Dr Munro, the Durham University Medical Officer remains one of the most wonderful doctors (or people) that I have ever met.  I am eternally grateful for his kindness, support and wisdom.

My new GP, in a village outside Guildford, decided I needed to see a psychiatrist.  Something many ME patients will understand, having been there themselves.

I was dispatched to see one somewhere in Guildford.  I was 28.  I don't recall much of what was said, but I recall him vividly.  Smoking wasn't banned in those days and he was the only person I ever met who literally chain smoked.  His hands shook as he lit each new cigarette from the previous one.  I remember wondering to myself who really needed a psychiatrist.

His report was sent to my GP who duly read it out to me.  It said that "There is nothing whatsoever the matter with her.  She should keep away from doctors and mustn't be allowed to user her intelligence to discuss it."

Story 2 - Nothing to do with ME

This has nothing to do with ME.  Nothing to do with health or medicine.  It's work related, but I have to tell you, cos it's just so funny.

After being employed part-time for a few years, and being sacked twice for being off sick (surprise), I decided, around 18 years ago, that self-employment was the way forward.  I remain self-employed to this day. 

I set up a home office and started offering secretarial services, whilst at the same time doing some temping through a local agency.  The agency had the local Health Service contract and I was a regular temp at several of the mental health units.  Lovely people and I loved it there. The time came when the Mental Health Authority decided to put together it's own bank of temps.  It was suggested that I apply.  I was offered an interview.

A little background - the Mental Health Authority had 2 units in Guildford and several others spreading west to Camberley. 

I was summonsed for interview at 9am in the morning at Brookwood.  The interviewer was ......................................... A PSYCHIATRIST.  Clearly interview techniques are not on the curriculum at psychiatrist school.

He solemnly explained to me that the job would mean travelling to different locations, "would that be a problem".  I managed not to say, well I've driven from Guildford, what do you think.  Equally solemnly I said that no, it wouldn't be a problem.

He then explained that the job meant starting at 9am.  Would that be a problem.  Again, I managed not to say that it WAS 9am and I was actually there! Again, I said that no, it wouldn't be a problem.

Then he said to me "how do you feel about working with mentally ill people".  I just about managed not to say "oh my God, I didn't realise that's what you did in a mental health unit", and instead explained that I'd been working with several mental health units in the area over the last couple of years.

Then, he fixed me with that solemn stare that only psychiatrists can managed and asked me "if I were to ask your colleagues about your ability to work as a team secretary, what do you think they would say to me".  I explained that all my office experience, including whilst temping, had been working as the only secretary or with just one or two others.  (He did have my CV, after all!)

In case I was a bit stupid, he fixed me with the same solemn stare and solemnly repeated the question, word for word.  "if I were to ask your colleagues about your ability to work as a team secretary, what do you think they would say to me".

This time I cracked.  I stared him straight in the eye and said "I don't know, you'd have to ask them".  

Needless to say, I didn't get put on the bank of temps.  But I've many a good laugh at his expense over the years.

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