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 a Saturday and whilst breakfast and 0930 yoga sound good, I need my sleep. Partially because I am drugged and partially because all this emotions stuff is hard work. I carry on dozing with all intentions of going the Saturday group therapy at 1100. However, (yes, you knew a however was coming) I get a text from Friend ML as she is going to feed the cats today. She is sending me lots of pictures of my fur babies and, given I think I read cats are therapeutic somewhere (probably the Daily Mail, a trustworthy source again), I stay in bed asking for more pictures. They keep coming and I am certain they’ve put on weight. Friend ML may need to slow down on the treats front.
Once she’s done it’s time to get up, wash my face, brush my teeth AND let’s do my hair in a different style than my usual. My usual is either:
- Loose around my face with a couple of natural kinks proudly showing off it’s actually clean
- Pulled back off my face to try to hide the fact it’s greasy and I couldn’t make it into the shower that day
Today I opt for a half up, half down style. Yet again, this is progress. I am trying to work out how I feel. Do I still feel ok? Could this be another good day? The worry of it being a good day is almost enough to make it not a good day. Anxiety is such an annoying devil on my shoulder. Please go away so I can go with the flow.
I head to lunch and prepare for a solo date. It’s cheese beef burger with onion rings and salad (I couldn’t face another meal with steamed veg)! Yay. Taking my first bite Patient K asks if she can join me. Before I carry on, I’d like to point out, asking before pulling the chair out is the right etiquette. I feel I could say no if the person is not halfway to being seated. Patient K gets the etiquette right, Patient A2 should take notes. I agree, she can join me. It’s great as I think talking helps make me realise, so far, this is an ok day. I empathise a lot with Patient K, she seems to say a lot of things that I am feeling.
After lunch, no pudding this time, I must try and be good, I walk back to the ward. Patient P & Patient G are in the ward lounge. Do I walk in and join them or do I retreat to questionable carpet room? Final answers…. NOW.
Add 10 points to your running total if you said I joined them. Yes, I know, that’s not what I was expecting either. I’ve somehow put one foot in front of the other until I am at the sofa. I’ve then somehow said ‘Hi, how are you?’. I am not sure I know who I’ve said it too but they both reply so this is working. The nurses come in to do our daily check ups and the three of us continue chatting. The subject of pets comes up. Oh, this is a subject we all know I can do. Out comes the phone, time to log onto the petcube and watch the live streaming from my flat. Patient P has a cat and a bearded lizard – if only she’d been here when Patient R said he was the Lizard King! Apparently cats and reptiles get on. Patient G has a dog which has been allowed in the reception to see her. Oh wow, I didn’t know that was possible. Do you think I could ask Patient ML to bring my cats here? No no Patient C, that really is a crazy idea. We talk about a couple of other points before Patient P gets a call from her sister. They are trying to sort out her insurance as she’s currently self-funding. Her brother-in-law is going to try and convince the insurance company to pay up. I ask her why they won’t cover and the reply sets off my anxiety. She used to be with BUPA and they will only cover 28 days EVER… i.e. no further admissions in your lifetime. She’s changed to AVIVA but they will only fund if you’ve been free from any mental health appointments for more than 2 year. What? This is mental and I am not using that word lightly. Once I’m discharged that’s it? No more care covered under my insurance? Shit. I mean, I am really hoping that I only need one time to get better but, relapse is possible and the thought I’d be doing that alone is hugely scary. I don’t have £6k/week to self-fund without selling my property. This is exactly what Patient P has done. Shit.
I retreat to questionable carpet room and start worrying disproportionately. Do I go speak to a nurse or do I sit and worry myself silly? 10 bonus points if you answered I sat and worried myself silly. It would appear I am making progress, but not that much progress. My anxiety is so high that I don’t make it to the 1400 session. This turns out to be a huge regret as what was timetabled as ‘expressive therapy’ i.e. talking to each other using puppets (really, who makes this stuff up?), was replaced with art therapy today. Bugger. Instead, I sit on my bed and start feeling all the ‘ok-ness’ dwindling away. As it ebbs further and further away, I am unable to get up in time for mindfulness, that’s a 0/4 day. This is what I do at home, I lock myself away and fester. Come on, Patient C, you need to sort this out. Just in time, Friend GG sends me a text. She’s had a pj and sofa day! Yes, you have no idea how well timed this message was. I am not alone. I text back saying I don’t like the supper menu and, even though it clearly states on the top of the menu you can ask for something different, I don’t think that applies to me. She begins goading me into asking for an omelette. Do I think I can do this? Urm, urm, urm… Phew, saved by Nurse M who wants to know how I am. I tell her I’ve been sat here worrying about the insurance point. She looks at me with disbelief. Why haven’t I gone and spoken to them? Why have I sat here alone worrying? I explain I don’t want to be a burden and they should be looking after the others on the ward. She rolls her eyes and asks when will I believe I am good enough for them to help? I don’t know Nurse M, I wish I did. I then explain I don’t like the supper menu. Yet again, she rolls her eyes, I can ask for whatever I want. So, with that, I shuffle down to the restaurant and in a meek and scared little voice, I apologetically ask for a cheese and ham omelette. Yes, you read right. For those of you who have been reading from the beginning, I’ve only gone and bloody done it. Today. Saturday 25th February is the day Patient C got her much longed for omelette.
Patient P is already eating and invites me to join her and her guest. Wow, ok, not only am I having an omelette, I am also going to be social. I try out what we were told yesterday, I tell her and her friend how I was too scared to ask for an omelette because I didn’t want to be a nuisance. They laugh a little but not in a mean way, in a way that makes it ok. I laugh too… why was this such a big deal. Before diving in, I take a picture and send it to a couple of friends in a far too excitable manner.
I take the pudding, trifle, back to my room. I know, I wasn’t going to keep having pudding but today has been very mixed and this is to help it end well. A quick scan of my emails and I don’t believe it, my ‘celeb’ has responded saying he wishes he’d seen this whilst still inpatient, he’d have loved to have talked. Oh, Patient C, why didn’t you say hi? Also, Yay Patient C, you are not a freak!
Although I’ve reduced my anxiety about the insurance, I do start wondering what would have happened to me if I was relying on the NHS system? I am not knocking it; the NHS is a fantastic thing that has come to my aid a number of times. However, it’s mental health resources as very scarce. Having been ‘in crisis’ once before and close to suicide, I have been through their system. It was slow and only really able to offer minimal help. It took weeks, even with the NHS Crisis Team’s involvement, to see a psychiatrist and the most I could get was to be placed on a wait list to have 6 sessions of CBT. My amazing NHS GP stepped in and saw me every day for 20 minutes (a double appointment) over the next 2 weeks until the suicidal thoughts went away. I was very lucky. I am even luckier this time. This is hard to admit but I had a very final plan. That plan was due to happen this weekend. Why this weekend? I had a work project that was due to have finished this week. I wanted to minimise the disruption my suicide could create. Yes, truly, I was more worried about annoying people with the timing of it that the fact I was serious to go through with it. This isn’t easy to type, and no sarcasm can dress this up. The truth is, if I was waiting for the NHS Crisis Team this time, by now, it would have been too late.
This realization takes the last ounce of energy I’ve got left today. I can’t write up my Friday, I can’t handle the fact a courier delivery to the hospital has ‘failed’ even though I know the reception is staffed 24 hours a day, I can barely handle picking up my toothbrush. Somehow, I do. Somehow, I wash my face and brush my teeth but that’s it for today. That’s as good as I can get. Tonight, I am going to sleep, still alive thanks to a brilliant corporate GP; some incredible colleagues, that I hope I can call friends, at work; my wonder woman of a psychiatrist and my corporate medical insurance.