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’
The magic of Sunday has floated away. My mood is in the basement; I can’t get out of bed. I don’t mean I’m too tired and I want more sleep, or even that I want to have a duvet day. I mean I actually can’t get up. The depression seeps into every limb and makes my body feel like a lead balloon. I hide under the duvet hoping it will pass. I really want to say goodbye to Patient T. I want breakfast, damn it, I’ll even allow myself the elusive omelette. Come on brain, you can do this. Let me get up… it’s just a tiny movement. I’ll let you off brushing your teeth if it means you get up. Come on…COME ON. No, the depression has taken over and getting up is not going to happen. I am going to blemish my perfect attendance record and I am going to miss my chance to say bye to Patient T. What’s the point, I’ve f*&ked up so really, what’s the point with today at all? The nurses continue their obs. I continue to hide from the world. At 1000 a nurse asks if I am going to go to group. Yes, I will – or no, I won’t – oh I don’t know right now. It takes 50 minutes to manage to talk my depression into standing up. I brush my teeth, my act of two fingers up to the depression. I don’t manage to put on a bra though! With a minute to spare, I make it to group. The thought of being ready to be discharged and return to work this week has vanished.
The noise from last night’s patient above me is unexplained but Patient N is not back, thank the good lord. Time to focus on morning group. Today we are looking at being people pleasers and the inevitable guilt that we feel by not always pleasing everyone. Yep, I 100% tick the boxes for this. I have guilt for being here, guilt to my family for putting them through this, guilt to my colleagues for leaving them in the lurch, guilt to my cats that I’m not at home. The last one shouldn’t be on the list as my cats are probably loving not having me around. The friend who is feeding them has a penchant for giving them treats. She’s not a people pleaser but is definitely a feline pleaser. We are taught to validate our feelings, tell ourselves we deserve to be happy. Let’s try this out, ‘My name is Patient C and I deserve to be happy, it’s good to be happy’, I sit and wait for the light from above to shine on me, it doesn’t come. I can say the words but the real work is in believing them. Does anyone like themselves? Turns out the answer is yes. I never knew that.
We move on to change management. This is ironic as this is my job, in fact, it’s my job title! I can deal with that kind of change, or so I think, but when it comes to change in my environment, I shut down at the thought of it. It’s been suggested I have OCD tendencies by my psychiatrist. Apparently making a daily personal schedule including a reminder to get dressed isn’t ‘Normal’. I know what you are all thinking, no one really makes a personal schedule that includes getting dressed. I can tell you right now that yes, yes I do! I can’t function without it. It’s not that I’d forget to get dressed, it’s that I need to know the exact time slot I’ve got to do it in. Changes in my life upset me. I can trace this back to some monumental changes that were unpleasant when I was little. Now it just takes over. It includes things like a change in manager at work, a change to the bus timetable and a change to the way my remote controls are lined up on the coffee table. Ok, I should get listening as this will be useful. I catastrophize. It’s hard to admit but when I do a change assessment in daily life, I think of the worst possible outcome. I need to change the way I make this assessment. Ironic isn’t it, I need to change the way I look at change. Excellent, and how am I meant to master that? Apparently by proactively managing the situation rather than shutting down. I need to stop self-sabotaging by believing that the worst is going to happen. I need to take care of myself so I am in the healthiest place to assess changes. Our capacity to think and believe something is dependent on our ability to self-care. Bugger, I’m stuffed them. I can’t even brush my teeth at times, let alone full on self-care.
Moving onto something to try to brighten up the post a little that I forgot to mention yesterday. For obvious reasons, we aren’t allowed razors on the inside. I mean sensible right, a group of people who have either wanted to or tried to commit suicide should probably not be allowed something sharp. Problem though, I only had 1 night to prepare to be admitted and I spent most of that night in tears panicking rather than thinking through the lack of razors. So, I’m sure you can all see where this is going but there are a lot of very hairy ladies walking around here. Maybe I should use my first outing for a trip to the beauticians, I wonder if the nurses will allow that.
I am at risk of being deemed a social butterfly. I have lunch with Patient S and Patient A, Chicken quesadillas with salad. Patient S explains he’s given himself a month to throw everything at this and get better. A month sounds like a long time but I’ve already been here a week and I’ve not even left the building yet. Will I be here a month? I decide I must trust the doctors and I’d rather spend a bit longer getting this right than discharge and end up back here due to relapse. A month though, wow!
Walking back to the ward from lunch and I bump into my favourite nurse, Nurse A. She asks how I am and then, without warning, I start full on crying to her. Urm what? Where did this come from? I don’t even know why I am crying right now. She gently escorts me back to questionable carpet room and stays with me whilst I calm down. When will I stop crying? I don’t understand how I am not dangerously dehydrated with the amount of crying I’ve been doing recently. One would think there would be a finite number of tears we can produce but I passed that point a long time ago.
As usual, we start afternoon group with a check in. ‘My name is Patient C and I feel sad and frustrated with myself’. As a group, we look at change management a bit further. Change floors me, if I could, I’d have my whole world stay exactly as it is. I perceive all change as a threat and therefore live my life on high alert. The reality though is that although I feel uneasy at the beginning of change, most times, it’s for the best and I’ve settled into it. I get the feeling of rising panic when there is going to be a change which increases if I must make a decision. I worry I will make the wrong decision and wonder what am I missing out on. If I do get it wrong, I punish myself however I’ve never once congratulated myself when I’ve gotten it right. Basically, I put too much pressure on myself setting unrealistic expectations and therefore I am always disappointed with myself. Great, well, how do I turn off my threat perception? I try looking on amazon for the manual for this but it appears it doesn’t exist. Dam it. More hard work to be done here then.
Today’s final session is Chi Kung. I have no idea what it is but I might as well give it a go. Turns out it’s a Chinese meditation. I’m feeling very stuck inside myself at the moment, I am starting to wonder if I still have a voice in there. Thankfully this session requires absolutely no talking. We learn each part of the practise and then do a complete cycle. One step is to have a smiling heart. I don’t know what that is, I am not sure I’ve ever smiled from my heart, it’s kind of why I am here. I try though and strangely enough, if you think about it hard enough, it does feel a bit like my heart just smiled at me.
Tonight, for dinner I’d like to eat alone. I feel I’ve done a lot of socialising in the last few days and a date night with the smart phone is needed. Tonight’s meal is salmon fish cake with cabbage and salad. With only a mouthful to go, in walks Patient A2 who asks if I have 10 minutes so she can join me. No! no no no no NO! I want to go back to my questionable carpet room. I don’t want to talk to you about meds again. So, what do you think I say? BINGO! 10 points to you if you thought I said ‘Yes, you can join me, of course!’. She wants to ask me more about meds, withdrawal and joining group. I repeat, yet again the broken leg story. I mean come on, your family are paying a significant amount of money for you to be here, surely you should do what the hospital suggest is best for you? Patient A2 has not been attending any groups. Jeez woman, I mean for £5,200 a week, you could have been at The Ritz if all you wanted was a bedroom. Her husband arrives and says he agrees with what I’ve been saying. It must be hard to be a family member of a patient. He’s lovely though and just wants the best for his wife. I feel like saying, make her listen to her doctor then! But realise that’s probably not useful advice. Patient A2 is so frustrated with not magically getting better that she’s switched psychiatrist. Good luck to you but until you are ready to get better, forcing it isn’t going to work. I know, I tried. I make my apologies and leave before I start getting cross.
Back in questionable carpet room and I have a decision to make. Do I brave up and get in the shower? I meant to shower this morning but we all know by now that didn’t go well. The easy way to solve this is ask someone else to decide for me. In steps friend MI who sternly texts back I need to shower. There, it’s not my decision so I have to do it. Not only do I shower, I apply moisturiser too! Whoop Whoop Yeah! One minor point, now I am on hourly obs, I’ve become a bit complacent with timings and managed to still be seen naked. Doh!
There had been some friends that I’ve been nervous to tell about this ‘episode’. Friend K was one of them. His no-nonsense approach to life made me wonder if he’d understand. Turns out I shouldn’t have questioned my friendships as everyone has been unbelievable. To add to this, Friend K has just made my night, I’ve laughed out loud. If you are reading this, you are right, you would be several magnitudes more annoying than Patient R, do not become Patient K!
My psychiatrist, Dr E, comes and sees me every day. She is another nomination for wonder woman, I don’t know how she does it. But, I have big news! I am going to have a home visit day. I was meant to be going to the spa with my sister and aunt. I thought that would signal discharge for me and I’d be magically ‘fixed’. The realisation that was unrealistic hit me on Friday night. Dr E says I should try and go to the spa but I must be readmitted as soon as I get back. Wow, ok. I was not expecting this. Now I have a couple of dilemmas, let’s start with the biggest one first, my legs and underarms! I’ve not shaved! I can’t go to a spa whilst currently being a serious contender for the female bigfoot awards. Next dilemma, what if I can’t cope? What if it’s too much?
Right, today might have started badly but let’s end it positively, let’s go ask for my night meds. Yes, by golly, I’ve only gone and done it! Night meds consumed and I sit reflecting on last week. This time last week, I was at home, crying my eyes out as I worked up the courage to tell my sister. I started to worry about what was going to happen to the rest of my life and it took a number of phone calls from a number of amazing people to talk me into getting into bed. 1 week on and whilst I don’t think I am ‘fixed’, I’ve definitely started moving in the right direction. I will one day look back at this experience and realise it was the best thing I could do for myself. One day in the not too distant future hopefully and preferably with a G&T in hand!