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Am I getting more mad or more normal?



There’s an unnerving dearth of any bonkers initiatives emanating from DoH, NICE, CQC et al for me to go apoplectic over. So I have no real choice but to continue, in this blog, the theme of exploring whether my current state of psyche means I’m going more mad or more normal. At this rate, you’ll be reading my column in the ‘Psychiatry’ section of Pulse Learning pretty soon.

Anyway. Here I am in the health centre on a Sunday, and I see no pink elephants. Aha, you think, got him already. He cannot possibly be in the health centre on a Sunday, so he’s disorientated in time, or place, or both; in the absence of pink elephants, this doesn’t sound acute; and with other recent blog evidence of disturbance of behaviour, intellect, emotion and I can’t remember what else – another clue – it must be, ta da, dementia!

Wrong. My SICIT score is impeccable. And I’m not depressed, either, because I’ve just had a week off in which I discovered that life outside the hellhole of general practice is actually pretty tolerable.

And, yes, it really is Sunday, and I really am here, in the health centre. What I’m doing is ploughing through all the crud that has accumulated while I’ve been away: insurance reports, wonky but not life-threatening bloods, letters, non-urgent messages, emails, pleas from patients for me to contact them, CQRS/DES drivel, incomprehensible/inappropriate/insane requests from secondary care etc etc etc etc etc etc. A mountain of ‘He can sort that out when he’s back’ stuff.

The only solution, given how our job is increasingly like having a large and increasing quantity of someone else’s excrement tipped daily over our heads, is to come in the day before – hence Sunday – and break the beast’s back today before it has a chance to break mine tomorrow.

So, diagnosis? Yes, as I sit here, ploughing my lonely furrow, I flit from one thing to another, I compress it into a frenzied couple of hours and yes, I make a point of urinating on a picture of Jeremy Hunt. But no, it’s not ADHD, manic psychosis or oppositional defiant disorder. If you do all this too – the going in on Sunday thing, I mean, not the urinating thing, though I do recommend that – it’s normality. If not, can we settle on OCD personality trait? After all, my wife says I have a lot. Of traits, that is, not personality.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield