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’
Well, I have some very exciting news, maybe not as exciting as the omelette news but still, it’s exciting. I’ve managed to get up, have a shower (without being seen naked), dry my hair and have a leisurely breakfast! If that’s not progress then I don’t know what it. It may seem trivial to some but I can assure you, it’s monumental stuff for me. What a way to start the week! Monday, here I come. Let’s see if I can be kind to myself at breakfast.
All bran is up and I’m not going to have a croissant, I am going to stop after the cereal. I sit down and I am two mouthfuls in when a patient walks up to tell me I’ve taken his table. Oh shit. He indicates I can still sit there though. Do I move? How does one manage this? He wants this table as he’s withdrawing from something or other and wants to stare at the column straight in front of the table. Ok, that’s fine. Do I move? Do I sit but not talk? Do I try to talk? I stay, in silent, eating what feels like a never-ending bowl of cereal and scarper away quickly.
Back in questionable carpet room, I tuck in to an orange and wait for my meds, which are late. You may have gathered by now that I don’t like things out of order so I don’t like this. I want Nurse A back on duty please. She always does morning meds at 0815. Munching on the orange I decide I’m going to aim for a 4/4 day followed by a visitor tonight. Perfect score per se. Up first, an anxiety workshop.
We check in and right now, I am feeling ok. That’s good right? To boost me up even more, I’ve gained another letter, Patient H. Today’s session is run by Therapist N who I find rather annoying. The therapist is rather twee which is only confirmed when she has an Oscars moment by announcing the ally of anxiety is inertia. No, Therapist N, I think you’ll find inertia is the foe of anxiety and movement is the ally. Once she’s cleared that up, it’s time for another definition:
Anxiety = The avoidance of a fear or threatening environment
People tend to only pick up on their anxiety when it’s already reached high levels. This is a session to help us identify it earlier in the cycle and thus ultimately reduce the anxiety we feel. The key to this is to question what we think. Slowly but surely, the more we question, the more we are likely to rewire our thoughts. Ok, can I pay to upgrade to fast track please? Sadly, said upgrade doesn’t exist. Sheer time and work is the only route. We also get a handout of unhelpful thinking styles. Very unhelpfully I can tick that I have them all. Well, no wonder I am such a mess! The takeaway from this session, I’ve got to have a healthier relationship with my thoughts.
A quick 30-minute pit stop back in questionable carpet room and I’m going to stick to the (new) rule of not climbing under the duvet until bedtime. I think this is a sensible rule.
I make it to CBT group, that’s half way in the perfect day. I check in as feeling nervous, scared and a bit stuck inside myself. The group is with my favourite therapist, Therapist W. We start by looking at unhelpful thinking based on the prior session. I wrote last week that Friend LR has suggested I monitor these and Dr E agreed. Well, I’ve got some explaining to do, I didn’t do it! The weekend was a bit of a toughie so it got forgotten. Now it’s time to start though. I’ll start writing it down in my notebook that I diligently bring to every session so I can keep track.
The group feels safe so when Patient R2 asks how my weekend was, I start explaining this was the weekend I’d planned to commit suicide. Even typing those last 2 words is hard and I am only typing them into a computer. They hold a lot of power. Verbalising it helps though albeit with a hefty load of snotty tears again! Thankfully Therapist W has ensured we have tissues. I explain that I want to get to the light at the end of the tunnel but the ladder seems so very long and steep. Not only that but I seem to slip back down a few rungs at times. The important thing is, I do want to get to the top. I don’t want to give up. Verbalising it has also made it seem so stupid. The fact I was worried about my work project being done, my cat litter being clean and the bins out so as not to inconvenience anyone. Bloody hell Patient C, what about you? I firmly believe you can’t tell someone to do or not to do something for someone else. I can’t be told not to commit suicide for my family/ friends/ cats etc. That’s not helpful. It might be to some people but I need to learn to be enough for myself. Doing things for other people is what gets me in this mess. I try too damn hard to please everyone and I set myself up to fail. So, after a 15 minutes snotty, teary rant, it’s all out. I feel lighter. Like saying the words out loud has removed some physical weight from my shoulders. I am still shocked at how cold and calculated I was about the whole thing. Talking about it has exhausted me. I have no energy units left. I’m feeling very drained.
It’s time for lunch and it’s Patient R2’s penultimate day. She is amazing and asks if I’d like company. Yes, I would. I’d really like to talk to someone rather than reliving that conversation. Patient P also decides to test herself and sit with us. We can somehow all prop each other up.
Lunch is revolting! Tofu and mushroom cobbler. Don’t ask what that is because, I have no clue. I leave most of it and hit up the chocolate fudge cake with cream instead. Mmmm chocolate fudge cake. We all look like we’ve not slept in about 1 week. The session was intense for a lot of us. I head back to my room to recuperate. This is very much the right adjective as I need to re-stock my energy units somehow. Freeview has its positives, putting The Jeremy Kyle show on the TV always makes me feel better about my life.
I am really uncertain about going to IPT at 1400. It feels like a big ask. The thing is, that’s my usual way of thinking and I am meant to be using this stay in hospital to challenge my usual way of thinking… Ok, come on. I muster up the very last of my energy units and decide to go. It takes so much energy to get there that I feel like a lead weight in the chair. During check in I explain I’ve used up every last energy unit I had just to make it so I am not sure what I feel or what I want to bring but I needed to be here. The only other way to explain this feeling is by saying I feel grey. I get on an intellectual level that ‘grey’ is not an feeling or emotion but it’s the only word I can think of. Yet again, another example of my lack of communications skills. I get teary. At risk of dehydrating myself, I gulp down some water. Not sure how many tears will come in this session and dehydration on top of no energy units isn’t going to help the situation. Where do our tears come from? How can I possibly have any left? The group are great though. My default position in life is that everyone is clever and correct about everything and I am stupid. I try to do everything perfectly for everyone but in doing so, fail before I’ve even started. It’s a catch 22. The group help me rationalise that I can’t possible know nothing, I can’t possibly always be wrong. Everyone else can’t possibly always be right. Ok, maybe. This may take some convincing though so I write it down to see if having it in black and white will help. Fundamentally I believe I am bad. This is where this stems from. I can trace this back to something that happened when I was 11 years old. I am bad, no one else is and as a result, I am wrong, everyone else is right. It’s sound logic to me but apparently not to everyone else. I agree to try working on this and we move on to another patient and another person struggling. I am not alone.
That’s it, I definitely don’t have enough energy units for Chi Kung so au revoir perfect 4/4 and hello down time in questionable carpet room. To cheer myself up, and definitely a case of eating my emotions, let’s tuck in to some sour snake sweets. I sit at the desk in my room and flick through my colouring book to try to decide which page to start next. I love colouring however, I get very overwhelmed before starting. What if I get it wrong? What if I pick the wrong colours? What if I make a mistake? What if it’s not good enough? I’m jealous of people who can simply sit down and relax whilst colouring. My fears nearly paralyses’ me. I text a friend to ask for help. Friend ML reminds me no one will die if I get it wrong. This is true; however, I’ll know it’s wrong. I’ll know it’s in the book with a mistake in it. To those that think this isn’t a big deal, I can assure you it is. Apparently, this is another one of my OCD tendencies. I’m kind of wishing I’d never been told about my OCD. I used to think they were little isms that made me, me. Turns out it’s my way of trying to control things. Another ism is that I can’t go to sleep unless all the labels of items are facing in the same direction. Again, no one will die, I get that but I’ll know. What if someone comes into my room and sees them? What will they think of me? My mind jumps to the fact anyone seeing any pots, perfume, bottles, food with the labels all over the place will think I am bad. Again, you may be reading this thinking so what. I can’t tell you what the what is, but it’s something that’s big to me. I try to challenge these little isms every now and then but I end up getting back out of bed as I can’t sleep because I know things are ‘right’. It’s not only here in my hospital room. It’s at home too. This isn’t new. I have been known to be up until 0300 re-arranging the fridge to get it ‘right’. At work, I need my desk in a very specific order. It looks a mess to some but not to me. Not if you know my magic system. I fear I am not doing a very good job of explaining this so I’m going to move on, for now. But, if you have a friend who has quirks and isms, let them be. They may mean a lot to them.
Having gone way off on a tangent, I have good news, I’ve started colouring! I now have bad news, very bad news. I messed up the pattern and now I don’t know what to do. The only way I can solve this is to rip it up or hide it somehow. I know I need to try to do things differently so I am going to leave it for tonight and see if I can cope with it tomorrow.
Time for supper and I get to the restaurant for bang on 1730. I am nearly done when Patient P and Patient S come to join me. Patient P meet Patient S, Patient S meet Patient P. There, now I’ve introduced you, it’s time to head back to the ward for my visitor. Before I forget though! Supper was Butternut squash quiche with steamed fennel.
Friend EM is already here and is waiting in the ward lounge for me. If you are reading this Friend EM, I forgot to tell you, you were in the lounge with Patient A2! Who I swear has a tracker on me. Friend EM has been reading the blog posts and is very excited to be shown questionable carpet room. She expected it to be worse but I can assure you, you don’t want to think what those splodges could be. Friend EM has goodies, this is better than my birthday! Now, I’m not promoting being admitted to a psychiatric hospital for shits and giggles but boy, I’ve gotten some good presents out of this. Friend EM is wonderfully creative and has made me a vase no less! To make the vase feel even better, she has flowers to go in the vase. Finally, she has some longed for flavoured fizzy drink! All in all, a very good haul I must say. Questionable carpet room is most definitely the best room on the ward now. Oh, hi competitive spirit, you’ve been quiet for a bit, good to see you again.
Friend EM and I talk and, I know I am a broken record on this but, wow, everyone is being so incredibly lovely to me. We also discuss being crazy cat ladies. Friend EM isn’t one yet but give it another 12 weeks and you’ll see! Those little balls of fur will turn anyone into a crazy cat lady.
Friend EM has to go but I am so pleased she came to see me. Not just because of the goodies! Talking about this is becoming somewhat easier. I hope it’s also making it easier for someone out there who has had the misfortune to stumble upon this blog and been stuck reading it.
Alone in questionable carpet room and I start to get scared about Dr E’s ward round, scared about next week, scared about being alone at my flat. I struggle to communicate with Dr E. I can’t remember if I’ve already said this but I don’t tell her everything. Not because I don’t trust her, not because I think she’s not heard it before. It’s because I don’t want to let her down. I don’t want to fail her by getting better wrong. That alone probably shows I still have a lot to work on. Argh, why is the brain such an infuriating thing. Time for some distraction in the form of Sudoku.
Nurse A comes in, there is a call for me. Dr E can’t make it tonight, she’s got a patient requiring an emergency appointment. To Patient Z (yes, I am selfishly trying to finish the alphabet) I know how that feels, that was me on Monday 6th February. Said emergency appointment led to my admission on Tuesday 7th February. Like the fantastic little sister that I am, I had to call and tell my sister I was being admitted on her birthday. Well done me! Couldn’t have timed it better if I tried. If Patient Z is out there, you are not alone. You are not a freak. Others think and feel just like you do right this very minute. Someone else has also not washed/ dressed/ brushed their teeth/ moved from the sofa/ left the house either. None of these things mean you are a freak. I know, I’ve done them all and, contrary to what I’ve believed for many a year, I am apparently most definitely not a freak. If I can be considered a non-freak then you most certainly are a non-freak too.
I am proud of myself. Although Dr E can’t make it tonight, I’ve told her I’ve started to worry about being discharged. This is due to be next week, when my insurance runs out. I’m scared of being alone at the flat, I’m scared of how I’ll cope out in the big wide world. I am scared I am not ready and there is no more insurance cover left if I were to need more help. She says she has a plan and we’ll discuss it tomorrow. Thank you Dr E, I had not done a project plan for re-entering the world so I am relieved to know you have.
Getting into bed and I’m shattered, drained and any other adjective to explain this feeling. Let’s quickly look back on the day though. I did make it to ¾ sessions. I did talk and contribute. I told Dr E the truth about being scared. The text I was so worried about sending has been sent and a reply received. I’ve not gotten under the duvet at all today until bed. Finally, 4 mornings and 10 nights in a row done my teeth. This is progress. I think I may be turning the elusive corner. If I am being honest though, the black fog lifting is scary. I don’t want to be ill, I didn’t even realise I was as ill as I was, however, I desperately don’t want to slip into bad habits when I am ‘better’. I don’t want to end up back in this hopeless, helpless despair. I need to know I can do this and be ok.
Lights off and time to fire up another Pixar film for company. I start to get some cramps though. Without thinking, I start rifling through my handbag for the paracetamol I always keep in there. Then, I remember, it’s been confiscated upon admittance. As too were my vitamins by the way. Yes, vitamins. I may be repeating myself but who has overdosed on vitamin C? Anyway, I need some painkillers and the only way to get them is to ask the nurses. Given it’s me, this isn’t straight forward. A ‘Normal’ person would go to the nurses’ station and ask for some. That’s the catch though, I am not ‘Normal’. I finally must the courage after 10 minutes of deliberating and that’s when it happens. Patient A2 comes out of her bedroom. Ok, seriously now, have you implanted a GPS tracker in me? She wants to talk. At 2300. Talk? No. I can’t and I won’t. Next, she wants medical advice from me on if it’s too late for her meds that she’s asked to go on as they are the same as mine. ‘No hablo ingles’ – if only! I point out the 3 nurses stood right in front of us, why doesn’t she ask them? I leave her to it, you know, to ask the medical professionals rather than another psychiatric patient, if she should indeed take her meds. And so, to sleep. Another day survived.