Do You Stay Inside The Lines?

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’

Yet again morning meds are going to have to come to me, in bed. I can’t get up. Not won’t, not can’t be bothered, not let’s just have 5 more minutes, I can’t. I can’t face what’s on the other side of the door. I can’t face the nurses, the patients and the world right now. The cleaners come but are quickly scared off by my bed hair. I stay as I am until 1100. Today is Day 13, unlucky for some and it would appear not great for my depression either.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times I have a petcube camera so I can remotely watch and play with my cats (definition of crazy cat lady right here). It also has a noise detector and sends me a notification if there is sudden noise. Normally this is a motorbike engine, downstairs washing machine etc etc. Today, I log on, and a stranger is in my flat. OH, MY, GOSH. Urm, what do I do? He’s stroking one of my cats… ok, he doesn’t appear to be stealing anything. Do I start recording to capture his face? Do I screen shot? Do I call the police? Let’s turn on the voice control. ‘Hello, L? K? Is that you?’ Well, my sister has sent her fiancé, K, to feed the cats for me and he has brought a friend. Heart in mouth moment over and time to continue hiding. At least the cats are being well looked after – my sister isn’t such a fan so sending her fiancé is probably for the best.

I need to shower; my hair is currently stuck in the position it fell on the pillow. If I were too near a deep fat fryer, you’d be able to cook chips with the grease. Well I may has well go for the hat-trick then and brush my teeth and wash my face too. Just for fun, I even moisturise. Might as well. Bugger, this was going so well, my electronic toothbrush is out of battery. I didn’t pack the charger. Manually brushing your teeth with an electronic toothbrush is weird, don’t you think? Or am I the only one who has faced this conundrum?

Today is Sunday, which means only one thing, ROAST DINNER. Yes! I head down feeling smug as I’m clean! This gets better, Patient S is there, hooray, I recognise someone. I may as well be sociable over lunch. I mention how the spa didn’t go to plan. He mentions he’s worried he’s not getting better. It’s tough. Normally, goals have measurable milestones. Mental health is a bit different. You may think you’ve hit a milestone one day only to find it was temporary and you’re back near the beginning. I understand his frustration. I thought I’d be back at work by now, back at home, back being ‘Normal’. Thinking about the future only stirs up more anxiety so clearly, I am not doing well. My home was my sanctuary, yet the thought of going back and being on my own scares me – plus I’d have to cook!

Patient S also brings up another point. He’s frustrated with how weak his shower is, apparently, it’s like showering in the rain. Hold on, I recognise that statement. He thinks that the hospital doesn’t like him and so have given him a worse room. No way! That’s amazing, I had the same worry. Other people worry like me. I mean, we both obviously need to learn how to handle it better but yet again, this is proof, I am not alone.

I consider going to this afternoon’s session on assertion & boundaries. I need to learn this – I am a yes person, saying no isn’t in my vocabulary. I am pretty certain if my boss told me to jump off the building, I’d turn to her and say ‘Of course, how would you like it done’ or if my mum asks me to sort something, I not only sort it, I pay for it and hand deliver it. I simply can’t face it though. I really need some time out. Instead, I turn on a film and start colouring. Colouring, as it turns out, is very therapeutic. I concentrate on picture which means I don’t have to concentrate on the things going around my head. I don’t manage to stay within the lines but decide I can let myself off, it doesn’t have to be perfect. I mean, it’s hardly like it’s a masterpiece, it’s a picture in a de-stress colouring book. By definition I shouldn’t be stressed whilst colouring in the de-stress colouring book. That’s the thing, I think in extremes, in an all or nothing way. If I colour and decide I’ve messed it up, I’ve previously thought I had to stop completely as the picture would now be ruined. Same with work, if I can’t get it perfect, why bother at all. It’s not a healthy way to live.

I head to supper even though I am not that hungry. It’s quiche with steamed veg (no point building up the anticipation, it’s always bloody steamed veg). There is good news though, there is still some chocolate croissant pudding left from yesterday! Oh, happy days. This does help me feel better, albeit only for as long as there is some in the bowl. My nightly meds, plus the puddings in here are a bad combination for weight gain. I’d been warned about it when starting my meds. I am trying not to let it bother me. I am trying to cling on to the fact that this is a yummy pudding and I wanted it. I can’t have it every day but for today, it’s what I want.

There is no sign of my ‘celeb’ at supper, I am worrying that my message may have scared him away. Yes, I am that paranoid (a.k.a. self-centred) that I think I could be responsible for his absence from supper. Obviously, there are 101 other reasons he may not be here – he’s full from lunch, he’s coming down later, he’s been allowed out with family etc. I always assume it’s me that’s done something wrong and me that’s caused the problem.

Back in the room and my nurse, Nurse E, comes to catch up with me. Nurse E has the most amazing Jamaican accent and I can’t help but smile when she comes for a chat. She asks about the spa (bad); my suicidal feelings (very bad) and my sleep (not too bad). I can’t say it enough, nurses are great. We talk through my concerns about the outside world and why I don’t seem to be any better. She points out the jibbery wreck that was admitted on 7th February and that right now, I can hold eye contact, have a conversation with her and rationalise (albeit not everything). She’s right. I have progressed. It’s hard to see though. If this was in a neat project plan, I’d be able to track the milestones with a RAG (red, amber, green) status. I could issue a status report to my psychiatrist with key next steps and actions whilst highlighting any risks and issues. The problem with this is that my project plan to get better has a lot of blanks in it – I don’t know how to fix this. There is no predetermined manual for recovery. Let’s look at the broken leg (again). Everyone knows that if you break a leg, you get an x-ray (task 1); Have a cast/boot put on (task 2); maybe have an operation (Task 3 dependant on the results of task 1); use crutches for 8 weeks (task 4); have cast/ boot taken off (task 5) and finally physio (task 6). There are sub-tasks too – such as learning to use crutches but let’s not get bogged down with the rights and wrongs of project planning. Obviously, not all broken legs follow this path, but on the whole, this is the plan and you know it from the beginning. The same cannot be said of mental health recovery. How am I meant to issue my status reports now?

I spend the evening back in my room. Colouring. And going outside the lines. And trying not to let it bother me when it really does. I want to get some sparkling water and some sour sweets. I start to toy with the idea of going to the nearby M&S. I go as far as to get my money out, get my sparks card and write a list of what I need. My bravery stops there though. I attempt to open my door a number of times to ask if I can go yet don’t quite get as far as actually opening it. Damn it. Back to my colouring I go then. Sparkling water and sour sweets will just have to wait.

My evening is brightened up by messages from friends including one who can come and visit on Tuesday lunch time! Amazing. Friends visits are definitely good for me. They are also a link to the outside world. In fact, looking at my week, I’m gathering quite the social diary:

Monday: Visit from BS

Tuesday: Visit from NM

Wednesday: Massage

Thursday: TBC

Friday: Visit from GG

Saturday: TBC

Sunday: Visit from ML

This brightens my mood, I am actually looking forward to this week. I don’t know how long I am here for but hopefully my friends will still come say hi if I am lucky enough to be on the outside.

Let’s end today positively. Let’s brush my teeth and wash my face. You got this girl!  I have every intention of attending tomorrow’s sessions so let’s see if I can’t put on my big girl pants and speak.

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