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Turning point

The August of 2006 represented a turning point in my personal saga as I chanced upon a full time job in another petrol station barely 2 minutes walk from home, having given them inadequate information about my high qualifications and medical history. This time I was a cashier serving customers in Shell Wigmore Service Station rather than a mere cleaner and hence a significant improvement in status and money although at £5.50 an hour the wages were still very poor. I did shift work either from 6.30 am to 2.30 pm or from 2.30 pm to 10.30 pm. The job was to provide me with the opportunity of examining myself to see if I could cope with a demanding job mentally and physically following my mental struggle and delusional search. After six weeks I felt satisfied with my progress and became a lot more active. The work itself proved to be therapeutic as my mental faculties needed to be reformed by dealing with real issues in the material world. The job kept the mind constantly engaged in activities like switching on pumps selling three types of fuel for hundreds of customers during a shift as they requested fuel; accepting payments in cash ensuring that the correct change was given, and accepting payments by fuel, credit, and debit cards; managing the Till to remove excess cash for banking and preparing the Float for the next shift; selling cigarettes, gas bottles, coal items, and food items for which the inventory had to be learnt in order to answer customer queries; taking tanker deliveries of fuels which required training; ensuring that pumps were working safely; keeping a check that the closed circuit television recording was operating; monitoring the stealing of fuel and shop items; and engaging in small talk with customers to whom one had to be polite at all times. It felt as if the Almighty knowing exactly what my mind needed to restore itself after the years of digital clock checks and delusional truth search had found me this job. Not only was it good exercise for the mind I was coming into contact with people again rather than wasting myself in the house. I saw the truth of what my younger sister had suggested, namely that karma yoga was a higher discipline than jnana yoga because one needed to fulfill ones responsibilities in life first before seeking God, for which one needed to earn a decent living. I also found that I was able to manage the shop well working alone over long periods and coping with challenging situations so that my delusional mental illness was not a serious impediment in life.

Although Risperidone at 2 mg every two days may have had done me good in terms of maintaining a strain-free mind (a fellow mental patient had described it to me as an uplifting medication), I still needed to know whether the medication was absolutely necessary to prevent me relapsing into the psychotic or severe delusional state that I had been diagnosed with in 2004. I needed to continue to find out if I had ever been and still was a jnana yogi or was suffering from a severe delusional disorder as described by western medicine, and indeed, if these were both the same human condition. I wrote to Dr Shobha my latest consultant psychiatrist about the progress in my latest job and that during this period I had reduced my intake of Risperidone but had now decided to discontinue with the medication altogether for the present time as I did not wish to risk losing my job. I wrote: you are aware of the unfortunate way my job offer was withdrawn by Kent Police purely because of my medical records and are also aware of the long struggle I have had in gaining suitable employment. After spending two years at home without a purpose, I have decided that to lead a normal life I need a job and this job has given me some stability in my life. I hope being occupied will be more beneficial than taking medicines and staying at home. The stigma attached to mental illness is still there despite all the equality and diversity and positive about disability legislation and no employer will offer me employment knowing that I am on medication although I know and can prove that I am more than capable of doing the job. I do not wish to take any medication unnecessarily. Time alone will show what effect this will have on me.

This situation did not last long as I voluntarily went back on Risperidone after only two weeks and informed the doctor and the psychiatrist, but asked her to reduce my medication to 1 mg per day. I had been scared off by the psychiatrist's assertion and Internet literature that I could suffer a recurrence of the severe psychotic episode for which I had been sectioned and hospitalised if I did not continue to take the medication. I had survived that episode without long term hospitalisation, although I had found that since my return home the torturous life and uncertainty about the future had made me suicidal at times. I could not however leave Rashmi and Rupa to cope with life alone and for this reason considered that suicide would be an ungodly act on my part. Accordingly, the most important thing was to try and maintain a stable mind (and this should be with medication if necessary) for Rupa sake as she entered her late teens because there were no relatives in the United Kingdom apart from Rashmi and I to take care of her and to guide her in her life.

The Disability Living Allowance authorities wrote to me in response to the information of my taking up full time work, that it would review the continued payment of this allowance to me. I argued that the payments should continue because I was not yet fully convinced that my medical circumstances had changed significantly.

At the end of October Rashmi took us to the cinema to watch an American film, The Devil Wears Prada which I could concentrate on at last. I saw the funny side of this film again, so that my rehabilitation after the mental torture of God search through digital clock checks must have been reaching completion.

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