This is a blog about depression. If you are easily offended or take offence to my very sarcastic humour, please do not read any further. Mental illness is not a joke; it is not something to point fun at and I fully understand that. BUT…when the going gets tough, sarcasm and humour is my defence and so I will be parading it around all over this blog.
If you need help, please get it. Whilst I hope this has a happy ending, I don’t know yet and given I’ve not been able to fix myself, I really don’t want others using this as a ‘How To Be Happy for Beginners v2.0’
It’s so surreal in here. My psychiatrist told me she was purposely trying to create a safe bubble for me to get stronger in. That is the only way I can describe what this place feels like, a safe bubble. I still wake up every morning thinking I am at home though. It’s a bit of a slap in the face when I realise that no, I am in fact tantalising close to home yet a million miles away from being there. To pick myself up, maybe today will be OMELETTE DAY!…
No. It’s not. I can’t bring myself to ask for one or that I deserve one so I compromise, sugar free alpen, dishwater and a croissant. The croissant doesn’t require asking anyone for anything. Maybe tomorrow will be omelette day?
Yoga next and oh boy am I stiff after the session on Friday night. It’s good though, yoga here is more relaxed than other yoga classes I’ve been too. There is no stick thin lady with perfect make up and luxury gym wear managing to tie her legs in a pretzel shape behind her head. You know the kind I mean. The ones that don’t even break a sweat. Yoga is going on the list of things do to on the outside!
I decide, as it’s the weekend, I don’t need to have a perfect record of attending sessions so decide to bail on Drama Therapy. Doesn’t sound like it’s for me anyway. As I get comfy in questionable carpet room, the cleaner arrives and promptly ejects me. This is it, I have no choice but to seek refuge in the ward lounge. That means I might have to talk to someone I don’t know. It’s also time for my daily check-up. Every day, all patients have their blood pressure, temperature and pulse taken, regardless of why you are here. Alongside this, there is a daily risk assessment which checks if you are likely to abscond, self-harm, refuse food, attempt suicide, comply with treatment etc. I wonder if people answer this honestly as I don’t have the guts to tell them what’s truly running through my head. I always tell them low risk. Whilst I might have attempted to get my head through the window gap, if I’d succeeded, I wouldn’t have gotten further than the end of the road before climbing back in, I am too much of a people pleaser so wouldn’t want the nurses to dislike me.
Patient A2 is talking to the nurses at the nurses’ station and spots me in the ward lounge. Oh, shit, she’s walking towards me, oh shit oh shit. She sits down in the lounge, oh shit oh shit oh shit. She wants to know if I am ok with her asking about my meds. I don’t mind, genuinely but I am very conscious that I am not a doctor and don’t want someone making a decision based on my experience. Patient A2 explains how she used to have a very clean living life and am I taking my meds and if so how am I coping with the number of chemicals I am now taking. I find this so strange. A fully qualified doctor has recommended I take them to treat my illness, why wouldn’t I take them? Let’s just go back to the broken leg example shall we. If I’d broken my leg, would you ask me about the chemicals I am taking in the form of pain relief? Or the cast and crutches I need? No, of course not. Well, antidepressants are like the cast and crutches. They aren’t going to ‘fix’ me but they are going to allow me to do the hard work needed to ‘fix’ me. When am I going to be able to stop justifying my meds and my mental health? I’m not here for shits and giggles, I wanted to die. I tell her the broken leg story a couple of times but she still seems unsure. Sorry love, if you’re not willing to accept the help we are getting then there is nothing a mere depressed mortal like me can say to help. I’m saved by the (telephone) bell as her consultant is on the phone. I make a quick exit whilst I can and head to lunch.
I don’t believe it, they have a Sunday roast, and it’s good! Not only is it good, I sit with 3 other people too, Patient T, J & J2. My alphabet of patients is coming along nicely. I wonder if I’ll manage to get a Patient X and Z? Patient S has been allowed day leave and has gone to meet friends at the pub. Oh the pub, how I miss thee. A glass of Malbec would be perfect with this roast and Yorkshire pudding. Sadly, we only have water and juice, not quite the pairing I was hoping for. We wonder if Patient S, a full-grown male, is going to have a drink. This is very exciting lunch banter.
I attempt to get into the afternoon session but I am denied! It involves role play so leaving early isn’t allowed, so I must miss the whole thing. Oh, well, I tried and given it seems like I’ll be here next Sunday, I’ll have to let it go. It’s ok as I’ve got a massage booked and then a friend is coming later. I make my way back to questionable carpet room carefully dodging any contact with Patient A2 again. Roll on 1500 and it is massage time! It’s amazing, she is wonder woman in disguise. I’ll be back again. I hold my tension in my neck and shoulders, like a lot of desk bound workers, so when she clicks through my knots, the relief is unbelievable. I wonder if she can reach my mind too and click through the knots in my brain too?
So far, today feels good. It’s been a while since I’ve felt so ‘Normal’. I like it. Maybe I am ready to go home? Maybe I can be discharged in the next couple of days? Maybe I can go back to work? So many questions, I must remember to tell my psychiatrist tomorrow.
Sat on my bed listening to music and waiting for my friend, I can hear a crying woman above me, shortly followed by what sounds like the room being trashed – is Patient N back?! After the massage, I could have almost imagined I was sitting in a travel lodge room – can you tell I am still bitter about not having the upper floor rooms? – but the chaos upstairs firmly grounds me back in the reality.
AG arrives and has goodies! She asked what I wanted smuggled in and the only thing I could think of was sparkling water, I know how to let loose! She also has chocolate, amazing! Turns out AG has travelled more than 165 miles just to visit me. Me, as in me me? Why? Why would she do that? I am so happy to see her and she helps remind me why getting better is so important but seriously woman, a 330 mile round trip just for me? I know I should try to fight this and say I am worth it but it’s hard, bloody hard. AG, thank you!
AG joins me for dinner and we sit with Patient T. It’s his last supper, he’s being discharged tomorrow. We all laugh and chat and it’s amazing, it’s like a last dinner with a friend. That’s the thing, I mentioned in a prior blog post that members of your group start to become your family in here. Patient T was great at spotting I was trying to talk and helping me find my voice. He also shared my frustrations about Patient R! I’m worried for him, worried if the outside world is going to treat him gently whilst he reacclimatises. Some of that worry is self-projection. I wonder if the world will treat me gently. AG is brilliant too, she strikes just the right tone at dinner. In walks Patient S and we grill him like he’s just been to outer space. What’s it like out there? Did you have a pint or two? How did it feel? He says nothing but gives us a knowing smile and nod. Ahhh, it was good!
Back in the room and AG stays a bit longer. Saying good bye is hard, it reminds me I still can’t go and do whatever I’d like to do. I must trust the doctors, I know that. The rest of the evening is spent in questionable carpet room writing and doing Sudoku. I would like to point out though, I am getting braver. I left my room and asked for my nightly meds tonight! Look at me go, there seems to be no stopping me now, unless you count the omelette and thinking I am a complete failure obviously. Time for drug fuelled sleep and the promise of an omelette tomorrow.