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’
Last nights sleep was not good sleep. The new patient is very unnerving. I know I am not in danger but I feel like I’m prepped in case he does something bad. His incessant screaming isn’t fun. The nurses are doing their best but I’m tired. There is a silver lining to this problem though, I am up in time for breakfast! I bump into Patient L in the restaurant so not only am I having breakfast, I am having it with company too. All bran, marmalade toast and a croissant for good measure. I don’t feel like attending the 0930, once you’ve done the morning sessions once, you’ve done them for life. Instead, I am to sit in my room, breaking my own rule of even going under the duvet. There is no sign of any teeth brushing, face washing or hair washing motivation but that’s ok, I am up and awake.
Instead, I being to indulge in some online retail therapy. I want to buy a new bracelet, maybe I could get away as saying it’s a treat for all my hard work this month? The thing is, I know I shouldn’t. Window online shopping will have to suffice. Tuesday morning group means art therapy. I’m excited and determined to not let my anxiety of ‘failing’ get in the way this week.
I hadn’t realised last week but art therapy is Group 1 and Group 2, it’s also a session Patient C3 has decided she’ll attend. Yippee. The group topic is isolation and to ensure I am fully compliant, I isolate myself on a table away from the rest of the group. Patient C3’s annoying false happiness are already beginning to grate on me. I say false happiness because I think it’s false, I think it’s her trying to be happy to prove she’s ok. Looking back, I am feeling like a judgemental ‘female dog’. She’s here for a reason. She needs help too. Yes, her eagerness is annoying but your snotty tears are pretty damn annoying too. Ok, tomorrow I’ll try to stay calm (internally, I’d obviously never cause a fuss) and recognise you are trying to get yourself better too Patient C3.
Before walking in, I’d been staring at the pictures in the communal area. They are prints of colourful hot air balloons. It’s going to be my inspiration for my picture today. I pick happy and colourful paints and white paper. I really am trying to do this differently. Without much thought, I start drawing lines across the paper. Using a ruler of course, no way I could chance a wonky line. Quite quickly I decide this painting is going to represent my need to live within the lines and rules but, the happy colours are going to put a positive spin on it. This is fun! I start to engage in the chit chat in the room whilst merrily painting within the lines. I do panic that there won’t be enough time to finish it though. Do I ask the therapist or do I sit and worry for the next 20 minutes? No, Patient C you are doing this differently. Turns out there is nothing to worry about, I can finish the painting next week.
To really turn last week’s art session on its head, I offer to go first as we discuss our pictures. I explain the lines and the order I need to live by. Patient L3 laughs and says she’d expected nothing less of me. It’s a nice laugh, an ‘I’ve got your back’ laugh. This feels good. The therapist wants to challenge me. Ok, Therapist V, lets raise the bar. I can finish the painting next week but then she wants to challenge me to do a smaller version in freehand. What? No ruler to rule the lines and order? Ok, I’ll take your challenge (but I am secretly hoping you forget all about it by next Tuesday).
Off to lunch I go and its veggie pie, steamed veg and a bowl of happiness a.k.a. chocolate croissant pudding. This time it’s back to the prior high standards. Lunch is alone but that’s ok, I don’t need company when there is chocolate croissant pudding on the menu.
IPT check in and I bring my anxiety about the screaming patient on the ward plus my fear of being discharged. Patient L seems to have already made her escape from this place but I mention how jealous I am that she’s ready for home and I’m not. Therapist J raises an interesting point. I’ve taken Patient L’s reaction as the blueprint for ‘how to feel when being discharged’. Yes, that is correct, I have seen 1 patient feel happy and therefore I’ve assumed that’s how I SHOULD feel. I’ve seen various other patients go who’ve been anxious so maybe my anxiety is ‘Normal’. The fear I have is that my blueprint for being at home wasn’t healthy. So, I’ve got a bad blueprint which represents my depression, my suicidal thoughts, my isolation and my fear. I’ve got a good blueprint which represents being completely ‘better’, being happy, being a healthy ‘Normal’ adult who is perfectly winning at life and adulthood. Turns out, what I really need is a middle blueprint. A bit like Goldilocks and her porridge. Patient K and I talk about this for a bit. Ok, I’ve got day patient for 4 weeks so I am going to have to get up and dressed, unless in my 1 month in here the world has changed and it’s acceptable to walk naked along the street? (Just checking because other than my spa trip, 2 M&S trips and the view from my window, the world has disappeared from my life! Anything could have happened). I am also going to go out for coffee at the weekends. Even though I have a perfectly good coffee machine at home, I am going to get up and go to my local deli and spend a vast amount of money for a London hipster almond milk flat white so that I’ve at least left the house. The ongoing ambiguity about my discharge date isn’t helping but to be honest, it’s more a guise for all my other worries. The next worry is going to add to my crazy cat lady status. I am worried my cats won’t remember me. Friend ML and my sister have done a mighty good job taking care of them (even via the petcube camera I can see their weight gain) that maybe they don’t want me back? I really need to get out more! I’m told not to be silly, in fact I think the term Patient K used was ‘pipe down now’. Yes, ok, they’ll love me, let’s be honest, they’ll love anyone who feeds them.
The rest of the session goes by without snotty tears or disproportional worry about my cats’ love for me and it’s back to questionable carpet room. Right missy, time to face up to the colouring. You got this girl, you can do this.
Supper interrupts the colouring with steamed veg and a courgette frittata that is very disappointing. Patient J3 keeps me company again and we talk politics. This feels like a ‘Normal’ dinner, chatting about ‘Normal’ things. I like it. I get pudding to go as I want to get back to the colouring. Tonight’s pudding is Bakewell tart with cream. Can I face up to the colouring mistakes and finish the picture? Yes, I can! Yes, there are two mistakes in it but, I’ve finished the whole picture. It looks good! I am happy with it. I wonder if I can start a new one tomorrow?
Dr. E pops by at 2245 – as I’ve said, wonder woman in disguise – and says I’m being discharged on Friday. Ok, I’ll trust you, I think it’s a miscalculation but I’m going to trust you. She doesn’t stop for long but it suits me, I’m engrossed in another Sudoku and The Replacement on TV. Today has felt hard, it’s the Tuesday curse back again, so I decide I don’t have to do any write ups today. Instead, I can do Sudoku and fall asleep.
A parting note: for a bit of interactive fun, let’s see how many of you can spot the two mistakes! (yes, I do know, I need to get out more!)