Peter’s Story – Part 40

By this stage, Peter was wanting some answers. He needed something to help lift him from this Depression he was experiencing and he needed to look at formulating some sort of wellness plan so he didn’t find himself in this position again. He knew he couldn’t expect his wife to go through this trauma again and his children deserved better as well.

Speaking to the Case Manager for some reason felt like a relief. This was the first real positive step Peter had made. An appointment was made and the two met the next day at Peter’s home.

Peter was determined that he would be spending the rest of his life on the Disability Pension and expected everyone he told to accept this. When he told the Case Manager this, Peter was surprised by the response. The Case Manager explained that while in Depression, it wasn’t possible for Peter to look very far into the future and what he did see was most likely seen from a negative perspective. He went on to tell Peter that he could see potential in Peter and that the Disability Support Pension would only need to be a temporary thing.

These words proved to be very refreshing for Peter. It was a long time since he had been spoken to like that. It’s amazing that when you have something positive said about you, to you, it has an immediate uplifting effect.

Despite this and Peter doing his best to try and pick himself up, it was still proving to be very difficult. Thankfully, Peter was able to attend appointments with a public system Psychiatrist, which were fully subsidized. Peter explained to him that he was still really struggling with Depression and asked to have his medication altered, accordingly.

Psychiatrists in the public system are renowned for being conservative. The most effective way to treat Depression is with an Anti Depressant medication.

However, if this is done with Bipolar Disorder there is a tendency for the opposite to occur ie Mania. Bipolar Disorder is often managed with a mixture of medications which include Mood Stabilisers. These exert a stabilizing effect and prevent extreme swings of moods. Unfortunately, even with Mood Stabilisers present, some people can still cycle upwards into Mania, and for that reason public system Psychiatrists are reluctant to use Anti Depressants.

Peter desperately wanted the addition of an Anti Depressant but had to accept the decision and battle on. So the status quo continued. Peter remained on the Disability Support Pension, he continued seeing his Case Manager regularly, the mortgage repayments were still on hold (as the interest kept accumulating), he maintained the quest to rebuild his marriage and family unit and work was still not in the equation.

Fate works in mysterious ways, and fate was at work. Peter’s wife, while out one day, ran into an old family friend/business acquaintance. Upon talking about Peter, the friend made an offer.

He had recently built a large Self Storage complex and needed someone to help with the cleaning. Tasks would include, keeping the corridors clean by sweeping, cleaning out the empty storage sheds, mopping the interior walk ways, keeping the outside clean using the motorized sweeper and any other cleaning that is required.

Peter’s wife came home and broke the news to Peter. The hours were to be part time to enable Peter to still claim the Pension. In order to get the job, Peter had to contact the owner and organize a start date. This might seem a simple thing, but try doing this when you’re in a deep Depression and it requires talking on the phone and making a commitment that requires making a decision.

Peter knew he had to do it. Chances like this don’t come along every day and besides it was his wife who discovered it. Surely this was her way of showing she cared and wanted to help. Now it was up to him.

Plucking up the courage, he rang the owner of the storage complex. He was beside himself with fear and self doubt, it was ridiculous for such a simple task. He spoke to the owner and organized a start date, where he would be given an induction and learn what the job entailed. As he finished the call, there was an immediate sense of relief. He had done it! It was only small but it was a confidence boost.

Peter’s relationship with his Case Manager was becoming very therapeutic. So much so that Peter was becoming very inquisitive about the actual role of the Case Manager. The reverse role to what he was currently experiencing was appealing to Peter. He was very sure that one day he could see himself in that role, helping others like himself.

In addition to the Case Manager from the public system, Peter decided to explore a little further. He came upon a local Not For Profit Mental Health Service. This Service has to rely on government funding to run their programs.

The beauty of this service is that you don’t need a referral from a Doctor, you are able to turn up by yourself. You are then assigned a worker who you will meet up with on a mutually decided frequency. It’s not unlike the Case Manager service of the public system. Peter was to learn that this service is called, Personal Helpers and Mentors Program (PHAMS). The worker who is assigned to you is a peer which means they too have a lived experience of a mental illness.

Peter was trying hard. He was back with his family and doing his best to rebuild both marriage and family ties. He was about to start a part time job and he was seeing two different types of case workers. As hard as he was trying however, he was still having to fight the dark clouds of Depression.

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