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’
I wake up exhausted. It took a long time to fall asleep last night as I had convinced myself that something bad was happening in my property. The first thing I do when awake, you guessed it, log onto the petcube to check. The cats have knocked the camera down so all I can see it the ceiling. Excellent, well at least that looks like it’s still intact. I take my meds and then decide, no, I need more sleep. The first session is the ABCs of CBT again and to regular readers, you know I went last week. Back to bed it is but, this time, not in a depressed ‘let’s hide under the duvet’ way. In a ‘I need more sleep and that’s ok’ way. Dr E calls and my Nurse brings the phone in, she can’t make it at 1030 is it ok if she only comes tonight. That’s perfect for me, I can roll back over for another hour.
The only problem with sleeping in is breakfast. I could go out and ask the nurses to call the restaurant to get something sent up…OR… I could have Toblerone for breakfast? Toblerone it is, and as a friend said, it’s the best kind of breakfast. I agree. I sit in bed with the TV on in the background. I’ve got 20 minutes until the 1100 CBT session and I am determined to make it.
I’m face washed and teeth brushed as I head to CBT group. This is interesting, we have two new patients in the group. Both, annoyingly, have letters that I’ve already collected. Patient L3 and Patient J4. They are clearly nervous, oh I know how you both feel, I was sat right where you were only a couple of weeks ago. Trust us, we won’t bite. Patient L3 is struggling to manage her anxiety so, in a ‘let me try and fix you’ way, I give her my fidget cube for the session.
There is time in the session to look at my rituals. I am finally in a place where I can admit that yes, indeed, I am struggling with OCD. I genuinely didn’t know. I thought OCD only came in the cleanliness form and given my lack of washing, there was no way I could have OCD. No, it’s not just cleanliness. It’s any obsessive compulsive ritual that starts to impact your life. Some of my rituals are ‘smaller’ than others. An example being that I can only listen to the TV or radio is the volume is at an increment of 5. I know on a rational level that nothing bad is going to happen if the TV volume is 8 rather than 5 or 10 but I can’t concentrate on the program until it’s ‘fixed’. Everything has its place, everything therefore has to be in its place. I am worrying this makes me a freak. Patient P jumps in, David Beckham has OCD so I’m in good company. Wow, ok, if David Beckham has it then I’m fine…or not. Now the OCD has been pointed out to me, it’s annoying me. What I thought were quirks and isms are actually a problem. I’m noticing even more of them now too. I abide by rules (or at least rules I think are valid). The courtyard at the hospital has a smoking area. It also has a non smoking area. Patients don’t abide by this and I get very worked up about it. Not because I am outside, no no, nothing as sensible as this. I get wound up that something is not being done as it should be. Another rule I have, although I am going to use an old example, is that doing an action may predict the future. Yes, really, I believe this at times. Theoretically this is impossible, or, at best, I should be a millionaire and flogging this to help others. When waiting for my A-Level results, I’d throw and catch a ball. If I caught it every single time, I’d pass my A-Levels and get into Uni. If I dropped it, I’d failed and I’d have nothing. I dropped the ball. I then spent a lot of that summer freaking out and wondering if I can undo it by catching the ball even more times next time. I did pass my A-Levels, I did get into Uni. I did drop the ball. I’m told to make a list of my rituals and start tackling the easy ones first.
We move onto the theory of NATs – Negative Automatic Thoughts. I have so many of these all based on the core belief I am bad and a failure. When I receive a compliment, I am certain the person has got it wrong. I must be putting on a façade and therefore the compliment is for a fake me. If they knew the real me, they wouldn’t be saying something nice. I’m very insecure and apparently, in my mind, the world’s best actress. Yet again, why am I not making my millions starting in Hollywood Blockbusters? Therapist M says something that, if I’ve heard before, hasn’t clicked. I’m not going to be able to take on compliments immediately. That will take a long time. What I must do is question them though. Ohhhhh, ok. That makes sense. I thought I’d been failing at CBT as I couldn’t believe them. I’ve got to start questioning my mind. There may be another story then the one my head is telling me. Look at the research on children, it takes 6 positives to outweigh 1 negative. We are biologically wired to hear negatives as we are designed to stay alive. A way to start questioning this is to keep a compliments log. Ok, all friends out there take note, I am now recording all compliments. If my head no longer fits through the door frame, it’s worked!
Before we end the session, Patient P describes a work colleague. This colleague always knows what’s going on in the office, what’s happening in people’s lives etc. This hits a nerve. I’m that person at the office. It’s a running joke amongst my team that if there is something to know, I’ll have the latest on it. It’s not meant as a positive. The therapist interjects to offer why the colleague might be doing this. Oh, my gosh, she’s right. Why do I need to know everything about everyone and what’s going on? Because I am nosy? Well no, that’s not it actually. It’s because I am really insecure. Knowing the office gossip or office rumours means I know something. It means I might be useful. It means people need me for something. I’m so worried I am not needed, maybe this is enough to keep me. Again, hearing this all out loud is crazy. I now feel really overwhelmed. There is so much for me to ‘fix’ and I am worried I’ll never get there. Thank goodness it’s lunch now as I need to sit and process all this.
Lunch is daunting. It’s chicken parmigiana but all the small tables are taken. I want to be alone as I think I might cry. I’ve got no choice but to sit at a large table, all alone and hope no one comes over. I get my wish. It takes ages to eat lunch, I’m processing this latest revelation really slowly. I need to stop focusing on everyone else, I need to focus on me. I don’t like me though. Focussing on me isn’t easy. Bugger.
I head back to my room and sit on the bed. Now I’ve made a rule about the duvet, it’s set in stone. Even though I want to get under the duvet, the new rule means I can’t. So, I don’t. At least today the rule makes sense. My physical obs and risk assessment are done and it’s time for IPT. I head up to the room and in walks Therapist J. The really annoying therapist that doesn’t understand the concept of IPT. He’s great as a CBT therapist, he’s awful at IPT though. I get incredibly frustrated. He’s not letting anyone talk. I want to raise something but there is no gap to interject. The only positive about him is that he brings a positive energy and this session can feel lethargic at times. Patient L brings up the bulimia again. I want to help, I’ve got decades of first-hand experience in this. Can I help? No, Therapist J doesn’t stop. SHUT UP. I want to walk out. I don’t but I want to. My anxiety levels are rapidly rising. Finally, I can get a word in. I try to explain what finally clicked to help me. Patient L finds it useful. I start to reflect on how I am feeling, mainly because zoning out means I don’t have to entertain annoying Therapist J. Deep down, I am a little jealous that Patient L is making herself sick. I’m fat and overeating and I don’t have that security blanket anymore. I don’t want it back per se. The cost of an implanted tooth, my nose surgery and a mass on my liver later and the costs most definitely outweigh the benefits. But. I am fat. Ok, Patient C, try to think differently please. Yes, you need to lose some weight. Once you are out of here, get back to walking home, get back to swimming, look into a squash club. Maybe even consider getting back into tap lessons. Ok, this is working. I am pleased I’ve given up the bulimia, that was a momentary wobble. I do still need to work on overeating but I can manage that. From 20th November until 6th February I was eating 3 balanced meals, 2 snacks and one treat food per day. That is the longest time in my adult life that I’ve eaten ‘Normally’. In fact, it’s the longest time since I was 11 that I’ve eaten ‘Normally’. I did it, it was working, the weight was slowly coming down to a healthy weight. See, you are stronger that you seem – to quote A. A. Milne. It appears Friend ML’s calligraphy is working. Maybe I am taking it in.
I stay for the whole session but I am frustrated at Therapist J. This frustration has a positive though. I have a visitor tonight who wants to arrive at 1645. No, sorry, I have a session that runs until 1700 and I am going to it. It’s ‘Finding My Voice’ which I still clearly need to learn. Friend FC is fine about it. Why do I worry so much?
Well, the much anticipated ‘Finding My Voice’ session is weird. Very weird. The therapist leading it is lovely but if there was a fly on the wall, you’d call us all mad. Not only because we are but ‘Finding My Voice’ is basically shouting at different pitches on different in and out breathes. This ranges from high cackles when we open out our arms, to low murmurs when we wrap up our body. We end by hanging ourselves over the back of the chairs and cackling at the top of our voices. Ok, there is my voice! And I’ve giggled. Finally, to really make the session worthwhile, I’ve picked up Patient Y. A real patient Y rather than me assigning it to them. Yay.
Back in questionable carpet room and in walks Friend FC. She’s the mother of my goddaughter. She sits down and immediately wants to know why I didn’t tell her. I am sorry. I didn’t know how to tell someone that one life event has trigged a plan to end it all. Her and her husband, Friend JC, want to help, however they can. If I am allowed out this weekend for coffee, why don’t they come with their daughters for a walk round the park. Yes, that’s a great idea. Any chance we can swap the coffee for a glass of wine though? She reminds me I am very much loved. She’s here for me, at whatever time, for whatever I need. Watch out Friend FC, you’ll regret that offer. She also has goodies, baby pink tulips, jelly beans and a book. The roses have seen better days so time to swap them out for the new tulips. I now have a lovely vase of tulips and a handmade vase with purple flowers.
Friend FC heads home to relieve the nanny and I head to supper. Patient P & Patient G are there and I can join them. It’s tofu stir friend noodles tonight followed by a favourite of mine, carrot cake. Friend KH, this isn’t on par with yours, I may need to schedule a visit for my carrot cake fix soon. Patient G leaves and Patient P turns to me and says, you do realise you definitely have OCD don’t you. Yes, that realisation has dawned on me. I didn’t realise until being here but, having shared quite a lot in group over the last couple of days, yes. I conceded. I have OCD. She heads off and I enjoy the last couple of mouthfuls of carrot cake.
Dr E comes on her daily ward round. I feel calm tonight. We talk about next week, Thursday will be my discharge day. I will stay for the whole day of groups but then, I’ll head home. Alone. To my flat. Alone. In the flat. Alone. Oh, I’ve said that already. Deep breath Patient C. You can, and will, do this. Dr E doesn’t think I am ready to go back to work yet though. What? I am, I’ve caused enough trouble already. Please Dr E, please. She stands firm, the answer is no. I tell her I am ok, I think I could cope. She agrees I could cope but that would be it, I’d be coping. Bugger, she’s right. I’d cope but it would be costing me a lot of energy units and, I’d at some point start struggling. I have to do this differently. Dr E wants me to come in as a day patient after being discharged. Oh. Ok. Wow. I knew my insurance covered it but didn’t think it would be on the cards for me. I sit on the bed and start my blog posts. Hopefully focussing on the past 2 days will stop me worrying about not being ready to go back to work yet. Face and teeth get done, another day under my belt. Hopefully I won’t tie myself up in knots tonight because the label on my folder is the wrong way round. And, to top is all off, here are the long awaited images for the questionable carpet! Enjoy.