The Return to Work Plan

Now that the worker’s compensation payments have been provisionally approved, it’s time for me to start working on the most important job – getting better. The lawyer of awesome expressed doubts about my ability to really get better and we all know how much I love a challenge.

So after many intense ruminations, this is the Return to Work Plan I have hit on.

Step one: Get some sterilised hands on my open heart wound.

clean hands

While public hospital psychiatrist Alan hit gold on his diagnosis of my memoir as invasive surgery with ‘dirty fingernails’, he didn’t do much more than poke at the wounds. This whole Lifeline debacle has stirred things up pretty bad and carrying the public weight of fixing it is crippling, so I’m planning on heading off for another incarceration hospitalisation. Shrinkola has suggested a DBT program over PTSD-specific, thinks this best suited to my head soup. Taking his advice.

Step two: Move as far away from people as possible.


While I love Wollongong, it’s really time for us to break up now.  I can’t do cities anymore, not even small cities.  I can’t imagine working in this big a place again, trusting the people I walk past in the street or feeling like part of the community again. Too much bad stuff has happened here specifically and with people in general, so I’m bumping out and going bush.

Can’t wait.

Step three: Remember how to ‘human’. 


The traumas over the last handful of years have stripped away all my defences and left me like a naked peeled prawn. It’s all well and good for Chase to help me to do everything – including breathe, some days – but eventually I’d kinda like to be independent again. We’re gonna live slowly, cook slowly and I’m gonna crochet things to sell at the local market. It’s going to be nothing like the permanent academic job I was hoping for but I think it’s exactly what I need.

Step four: Think about learning to trust again. 


This is where it’s gonna get tricky. Like I was telling the lawyer the other day, this workplace betrayal is so much worse than the one before it precisely because the job with Lifeline was the ultimate conclusion of my last workplace rehabilitation plan.

Last time my trust was completely destroyed by an organisation, I did all the rehab, turned up to the training sessions and resume reviews. I saw the occupational therapist and identified my strengths and weaknesses. Then I got on with things.

I took a staggered approach to returning to work, as per this plan – going back to teaching at university casually before looking for another community services role. I just couldn’t break that deadly urge to give back, do something that ‘mattered’.

When I spoke to the professionals about how I learned to trust again after the last time, one solution was to be very picky about who I chose to work for. To look for employers whose values and mission meant that they would understand the need for careful handling of people with mental illnesses (or even just people). To look at causes I really care for.

So I went to work for Lifeline. One of Australia’s most trusted brands. Our suicide prevention experts.

And they ignored workplace bullying till it drove me to the edge of suicide.

Learning to trust again is going to be the hardest bit.

So we’ll see how that goes before adding any more steps.

Also, have you signed my petition?


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