A Whirlwind of Activity

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Let’s rewind back a few days:


    Monday: I’m supposed to be doing my tax return. I had accidentally left most of my financial records behind back in New Jersey, and the package of stuff I had been expecting hasn’t arrived. I’m not a happy camper. I manage to come up with a plan B, but it means an eleventh-hour filing days from now.


    In the meantime, maybe I can get off an email newsletter. It’s a horse race against the clock. I have a Wednesday-Thursday conference in LA, and most of Tuesday is set aside for travel and meeting a dear friend. I make very good headway until about 8 PM, then my brain cuts out on me. I literally cannot think. My teeth are aching for no apparent reason, and I’m still agitated about the tax business (aha, the apparent reason). I’m bone tired, but my mind is racing. Sleeping is going to be problematic. Maybe I should blow off LA.

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    My recent near melt-down at the airport in Vegas - brought on by stress and sleep-deprivation - is still fresh in my mind. Let’s see how I feel in the morning, I decide.


    Tuesday: Unexpectedly I wake up feeling refreshed. After careful consideration, I give myself a clean bill of health for travel. I return to my Newsletter, and it seems to write itself. When I send it off sometime around 11:30, a huge load drops off my shoulders.


    I make myself a fruit-yogurt smoothie and a peanut butter sandwich, and take my brunch out to the patio. The morning sun is bathing the hillside that is our backyard in pure gold, and I find myself unwinding, inhaling and exhaling more easily. I’m about to go back inside, but decide to linger a bit longer. Suddenly, my mind enters a state of deep relaxation. I am in the rejuvenation zone.


    I manage to throw my things together for my trip, only panicking twice, and am ready with minutes to spare.


    That afternoon, I’m on AMTRAK, Julian Bream on my iPod, gazing out over a shimmering Pacific Ocean.


    It’s 6:15 PM when I get off a connecting metro line in Pasadena. “Jane” my friend is there to greet me. She is a newsletter reader from Day One and my unofficial opposite gender advisor. She hands me her copy of John Gottman’s “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail.”


    Funny, after two failed marriages - one very recent - you would think I would have done a bit of research, but guys are stupid that way.


    We have dinner at The House of Blues, then catch George Thorogood and the Destroyers. My aural dopamine, I joke to Jane as we leave the club. Just what the doctor ordered.


    I owe a large part of my recent recovery to a small circle of female friends like Jane. These are special people I can phone just to say I have nothing to say, and then talk for two hours. Or exchange long emails. My psyche is still way too fragile to consider dating or relationships, but I need to be talking. Thankfully, I reached out and discovered something wonderful in their friendship and support, not to mention the occasional swift kick in the pants.


    Wednesday: This is the first day of a conference I definitely do not want to attend. It’s about mental health IT concerns – such as privacy of electronic patient records – matters of no interest to me. But the organizers offered to pay my expenses (only the second conference in seven years of conferences in which this has happened), and I need to be talking to IT people for my own reasons.

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    For several months, with Paul my housemate, I’ve been developing an idea of computer-based recovery algorithms for patients and loved ones. Say if two antidepressants failed you, a decision tree would give you your next set of options to discuss with your psychiatrist, including revisiting your original diagnosis. Imagine integrating this particular algorithm with, say, a nutrition algorithm. Imagine coming up with your own recovery plan.


    I’m not too hopeful about gaining any recruits, but then I am very pleasantly surprised: Someone very high up in the California mental health system – a top administrator rather than an IT person - “gets it” instantly. Her support can open a lot of doors. And a very pleasant individual involved in programming offers to be my unofficial IT consultant.


    I arrive back at the hotel, exhausted but extremely satisfied.  Tomorrow, I will leave the conference early and board AMTRAK back to San Diego. I will arrive home just in time for my taxes, then enjoy a few days of serious time off.


    Time to hit the sack. Dang! I told house-keeping not to make the bed. Just kidding.









Published On: April 12, 2007