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 sleep in again this morning, given my late night planning of the ‘perfect’ day when I am discharged. The first session is distress tolerance and there was only so many of those sour sweets I could tolerate anyway. The lie in goes a bit wrong though. I wake up with 5 minutes to spare before the 1100 session. This means I can’t wash my face or brush my teeth. It also means I can’t make sure all the labels on all my bedside table items are facing forward. Logically, they must be as I checked them before bed but still. Doubt will inevitably slowly creep in.
I have time to grab some water and bump into Patient J3. He asks how I am and I think I might be good. Wow, this is new. Yes, ok, I am good. I then start to remember a nightmare from last night. I have been having reoccurring nightmares over the last few months and some are so real and vivid that I can’t tell what’s reality and what’s a nightmare. Last night I dreamt I was at my old family home being locked in the study and shut off from my family. They were abandoning me in there. Now, it doesn’t take an expert to make the connection to my insecurities and fear of rejection. So pleased these pay out at night just as much as during the day.
We check in and as I start to wake up more, the realisation of not checking my bedside table nor laying the duvet out means my anxiety is rising. Therapist W wants to focus on this today and he’d like me to use a mindfulness technique to calm myself down. Everyone is staring at me. How on earth am I meant to calm down with everyone staring at me? He pushes this a bit further, I appreciate to all of you reading this, and to the other patients in my group, the next part is obvious but Therapist W hasn’t heard it before so, for his benefit. I fear that the nurses will be able to tell I am bad based on the objects on my bedside table. I know, on an intellectual level, that’s ludicrous. However, this is my ultimate fear. That I really am bad and I’ve been pretending to be someone else. I know, I know. This is getting boring to keep reading. Dude, I hear ya, it’s getting boring being me and feeling this all the damn time. Just for good measure, and because it wouldn’t be a Patient C rant without them, here come the snotty tears. It takes a while to calm down but thankfully we’ve moved on to someone else. Whilst another patient is discussing something I tune in to hear Therapist W say, ‘without a plan are you worried you are passive’. Lightbulb moment. Never mind the fact Patient L2 says no, I am saying yes. This is my fear. If I’ve not got a ‘perfect’ day planned, I am unable to do anything. Honestly. This isn’t an exaggerating for dramatic effects. If I don’t have a fully planned day, my depression takes over and nothing, absolutely nothing gets done. That’s my fear. I’ll be discharged and I’ll sit and fester in the dark at home. It’s time for lunch though so no chance to explore this further.
I lunch alone, it’s scampi and chips, I’ve got so much whirring around in my mind, I would like it to all stop. Patient A2 sits with other patients but does come to check if I’d like company. Thank you Patient A2, I appreciate that, even if I’ve been giving you a hard time without you knowing. I know your heart is in the right place.
After lunch, I am feeling vulnerable back in questionable carpet room. Nurse A wants to do my risk assessment but instead gets a barrage of questions from me as I try to convince myself I am ‘Normal’. I admit that I’m scared of being discharged. I’m worrying it makes me a freak. I’m also worrying about day care; will I have to change groups? I am also worrying about WHEN I’m being discharged. Ok, 1 at a time and if I give her 5 minutes, she can check for me.
She comes back confirming I had not misheard my psychiatrist, when I transition to day care, I can indeed stay in my group. She isn’t sure about my discharge but it’s very normal to feel scared. Ahhh, the ‘N’ word. Thank goodness. I am convinced my doctor has the date wrong from the insurance but more worryingly, I am scared what I’ll do at home, alone. I feel safe here. The nurses are only ever on the other side of the door. Plus, I can’t forget to take my meds, the meds come to me! I can cope with the realisation I am not ready for work yet but I am not sure I am ready for home either. Even planning the ‘perfect day’ for 3 hours last night isn’t making me feel any better. What if the plan is wrong? I mean, going to Costco to get more cat litter could indeed go very wrong. I could leave with thousands of other items too… although that’s what Costco is for surely? But what if they don’t have litter in stock? What if I can’t get parked? Light sarcasm with Nurse A helps a little. I tell Nurse A I want to go to M&S, she said that’s fine but she has to accompany me. Ok, I think I can deal with that. Maybe. After the next session.
Session two is IPT and I check in feeling cross and frustrated. I don’t know why and I don’t want to explore it. The therapist doesn’t agree to this though. Only that we don’t have to start with me. Patient P brings up her work colleague again. Do I have the guts to tell her how it hit a nerve with me? Go on, speak up, test out how badly the group will hate you for admitting that colleague is you too.
I very quietly say, ‘if it’s of any help, what you have said hit a nerve. I’m that person in my office’. It’s out there now, I can’t take it back. They all know this about me and I feel like I am stood in front of them naked. I tell her how much thought I put into it last night and that the reason I think I do it is because I need to be needed, and knowledge is power. Not in an egomaniac way, in a ‘people will have to come talk to me’ way.
Therapist J wants to know how I am feeling. Without realising it, I’ve tucked my knees under my chin and I’ve curled up into a tight ball. One minor problem, the weight gain due to the fabulous puddings is preventing me curl up as small as I’d like. Basically, I feel like shit. This is exhausting, but one minor positive, at least the anger has been replaced with humiliation. Patient P thanks me for talking about it. She’d never considered that her colleague may need to be needed but that it makes sense now. Ok, maybe being bad has meant I’ve been a bit good today? If that logic makes any sense?
Therapist J uses this as an opportunity to pounce on me. He wants to understand me a bit better. Oh, please don’t, I don’t want to know what else needs to go on my list that needs fixing. He looks puzzled, he thinks this is a metaphorical list. No no, I do keep an actual list, in excel no less, with all my faults. Therapist J wants to check he’s understood, there is an actual excel list, saved on my computer with my faults? And the only way I’ll ever be good is to cross everything off that list? Jackpot, you’ve got it in one. Now do you understand why the OCD diagnosis was really annoying? That needed to be added to the list too. He wants to know why I can’t learn to like myself DESPITE of the list. Whoa Joe! This is ground breaking territory. You mean, I could stop working insanely hard against myself to cross each item off and just accept them? Huh, well, that’s a new one for me. Maybe I’ve been told it before but I seem to be only hearing it for the first time today. I need to process that one a bit more.
Other topics are covered but I’m zoning out a bit and don’t keep up with them. As soon as the session ends, I feel the need to hide back in questionable carpet room before the relaxation session.
I tuck into my Sudoku hoping it’s order will bring me some calm. In fact, I am going to be nice to myself, I’m going to ask the nurses to book me a massage. As I turn to go back to my room, I spot Patient R2 walking towards me. She’s come as a surprise visit to say hi! HELLO! Thank you! In fact you should be renamed R2, you aren’t a patient anymore, you are a fully-fledged person on the outside and you are surviving! This is amazing. I grill her on how she’s coping. I tell her I thought I could go back to the office next Friday, she laughs in my face. She’s right, I’m not as ok as I’d like to think I am. I am more ok than when I was admitted but not office ok just yet. She reminds me I need to be realistic. There is no point going back and struggling, another few weeks taking time to get better will help me in the long run. I know, I get that, but oh this is tough. She gives me some good advice for the outside world, have someone come meet me when being discharged.
To people reading this, that probably seems obvious but the thing is, I came in alone so I was expecting to go out alone. In hindsight, I wish I’d taken up the offer from Friend PP to come with me. Coming in alone was terrifying. Maybe I do need someone? Asking for help is so hard though. I feel I can do it in here, well, to a certain degree anyway, as I’m here for help so it’s expected. Asking the outside world for help though, that’s still a bloody minefield.
After R3 leaves, I realise I’ve missed the start of the relaxation session. I don’t care, seeing her was worth it. I am so thrilled she’s been able to cope outside of here. It gives me a bit of hope I’ll be able to too.
Now, I am going to admit to doing something naughty. I know that’s a shocker to some of you given the amount I abide by rules but hey, I’ve got to live a little. I make the most of the fact my nurse has gone on break and left only a student nurse to man the nurses station. You may recall, we are locked in here. The only way to get out the front door is for a nurse from the ward to call down to reception. I ask the student nurse. He doesn’t know I am only meant to go out accompanied. I don’t care I am being bad. I want to go shopping alone. He doesn’t even question me and I run round to the front door as quickly as I can. Before I know, I am outside, alone, in London. YIPPEE. It’s overwhelming, but it’s also exhilarating. For about 5 minutes. Then the fact I’ve been bad hits me. This wasn’t fair of me. Do I go back? No, I’m here now, there is only a finite amount of trouble I can get into so I may as well get my supplies anyway. WHSmiths first for a new Sudoku book and some tangfastic. There are so many Sudoku books. How on earth am I meant to pick 1? How, at the age of 30 am I worrying I’ll get this ‘wrong’? Just bloody pick one! For good measure get a wordsearch book too. I always wondered who bought wordsearch books, well now I know, it would appear that’s me!
Onto M&S and time to stock up on goodies. Grapes are the only healthy thing that make it into the basket. Some iced spiced buns, a plethora of fizzy drinks and some sour sweets later, it’s time to head back to the hospital. I sneak back into my room and quickly start arranging all the shopping. No one has noticed, it would appear I’ve gotten away with my little escapade.
Supper is a lonely affair by choice. I’ve got a new Sudoku book now, and that’s all the company I need. Tonight’s supper is quorn roti with avocado relish & sticky toffee pud!
Dr E comes by at 2200, on a Friday night. Woman, you are incredible. There still isn’t any clarity on my discharge date as she needs to speak to the hospital’s new managing director. There has been some ambiguity as to how the 2 nights I was away have been charged but she wants me to work on the basis I am going next Friday. I don’t want to challenge her but I think she’s got it wrong. I’m stressing out about this. I do open up and tell her about my 3-hour planning session last night. She takes a look at the colour coded timetable and states she didn’t realise my obsessional thoughts were as bad as they are. This is something I’m going to need to tell her more about so she can help me. Bugger. I then tell her Therapist J wants me to work on liking myself DESPITE all these things. She agrees but that shouldn’t stop me trying to give up some rituals. Double bugger.
Once I am alone, I look at my M&S haul and try to decide which flavoured drink to have first. I think I’ll try the cranberry lemonade. This doesn’t go as well as it’s obviously been shaken up. I’ve now added my own signature onto questionable carpet room. Seems only fitting given I’ve been here a month. Shit me. By the time I’m discharged, I’ll have been in hospital for a month. A whole month. All of February. Shit. How has this happened? How is this my life? I’m grateful, truly grateful. I never realised how ill I was but still, 1 whole month of my life. It’s a small price to pay if I can get better but still. Plus, with day care, this is going to be more like 2 months of my life. Again, I get that I need this but 2 months is a lot. This will ruin my career hopes for this year. I need to come to terms with that. I need to realise that doing this, now, is more important. Given I was planning my suicide, my career hopes were out the window anyway!
Before finishing today, this quote popped up on my social media feed and I feel it’s rather magnificent: Don’t judge me by my past, I don’t live there anymore