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’
Monday mornings are hard enough as it is so I am going to make mine that little bit nicer, yes, I’m having another lie in. I don’t care that I am missing breakfast, I’m doing this because I am tired and therefore I am looking after myself. I’ve not managed my teeth, maybe today will be the day? No, that goes out the window too as I’ve woken up with 5 minutes to spare before therapy. Why do I keep doing this to myself? All morning rituals go out the window in an effort to simply get to the room on time.
I make it, and to top it off, there are only 3 of us this morning – to add the cherry on top of the icing on the cake, there is no sign of Patient C3. To add the candle to really top it off, it’s my favourite therapist, Therapist W. During check in, I say how worried I am that I am a bad person. Therapist W decides we should start the group by focusing on me and this core belief. Me no likey and to support this dislike, out comes the snotty tears, yup, it would appear I’ve not learnt to get these under control. I want to work on trying to like myself despite my ‘fix list’. Therapist W draws us the ABC of CBT again but focuses in on the ‘B’. ‘B’s’ are:
- Automatic thoughts
- Rules/ Assumptions
- Core Beliefs
As you are all more than aware by now, my core belief is I am bad and that I am a failure. Again, as you are aware, this manifests its self across all aspects of myself, including, am I failing at being a patient at a psychiatric hospital? You know you need help when it gets to that point. Therapist W wants to keep pushing me to question these beliefs. I look for evidence to support them but I should really look at all evidence. There has been some evidence to contradict it. I’ve had amazing visits, I’ve got messages of support streaming in, the other patients stuck up for me on Sunday… Maybe, just maybe, I am wrong. Maybe, just maybe, I am not bad nor a failure. Mmm. Whilst talking, I start to get very cross at myself, I know what I should be doing but I’m not doing it. I can appreciate you may well be sat reading this wanting to shake the screen and tell me to get a grip woman, you simply can’t be that bad. I know, this is infuriating. I am equally infuriated at not getting it. Therapist W interjects my rant. He points out how much I am bullying myself. What? Woah. Ok. Yes, I am. I’ve been bullied before and it made me feel worse than shit. What I am doing to myself is exactly that. Basically, I call on a coping mechanism (e.g. my list ritual) which, in actual fact, only gives me short term relief, then berate myself for having such a long list that I can never get through. This is then a never ending cycle. To self soothe my bullying, I do a ritual, which leads to anger, which leads to the need to self soothe. Ok, this is interesting. I didn’t know I did this. Well done Therapist W, you’ve hit the nail on the head, you get to remain in pole position of my ‘Therapist Pyramid of Success’. To the readers at home laughing, you know I am being serious. There is a meticulous excel sheet documenting the ‘Therapist Pyramid of Success’… ONLY JOKING! But…maybe I should start one?
I start scribbling away. I get so scared of failing things, I don’t even start them. I am therefore going to make my list of things to start public in the hope I may get around to doing them:
- Running – I used to run 3 miles comfortably and used it as a stress reliever
- Spinning – I was hooked on this but now am so unfit I am too scared to start again
- Colouring – This is cheating slightly as I have been colouring in here. I hate starting though, what if I pick the wrong colours? What if I go outside the lines?
Therapist W calls on the empty chair role play again. Who am I bullying? I’m bullying the blonde hair, gappy tooth, pig tail wearing 7-year-old who wasn’t scared to do things. I was so brave and confident, I was a regular at A&E as I was always in some scrape or another (this was less fun for my mum!). He tells me that person is still a part of me. She needs care and recognition too. I need to be bold and try new things for her. Oh, blimey Therapist W, you’ve gone a little too deep for me now. I need time to process this so kindly move onto Patient K.
During my many snotty tears moments, I struggle to make eye contact with people. I tend to look down at the ground. This has led to my latest feedback to the hospital. For a hospital that knows a large proportion of its patients will spend a large proportion of their time looking down at the ground, it really should reconsider all the hospital carpets, not just questionable carpet room (with the new cranberry lemonade stain). I feel this is an important take away from this session.
Lunch is with Patient K, I can’t remember what it is, shock horror, I can confidently say that whatever it was, it also involved some steamed veg. I think there was pudding too… doh. It was good to have company. I empathise a lot with Patient K, we seem to be coming at life from a similar place.
I head back to my room and have my daily obs and risk assessment done. I decide to be brave, I am going to tell the truth… self-neglect is not low, it’s medium. If the nurses don’t like me for this, well, I’ll simply have to learn to live with that. Oh, my, gosh, this, is, progress! At last! Said progress doesn’t last too long but, short-lived or not, it was progress. Nurse A comes in for the daily ‘how are you’ chat. I’m fine, really. Ok, no, not really. I am very anxious about being discharged. There is still no clarity on this and how on earth am I meant to plan every 15 minutes of my day if I don’t know which day I’ll be freed? What if I am being kicked out tomorrow? Nurse A tells me Dr E is working on it and the fact she’s not called suggests it is Friday. Can I hold onto that? Urm, no. Being anxious about going home is more than just being anxious about being home. It’s about being anxious about a lot of other things too. I am simply bundling them up into one neat and pretty package which we are going to call ‘anxious about going home’. He suggests I raise this at this afternoon’s IPT. Oh, don’t worry, my group know ALL about my worries to go home.
1400 rolls rounds and off to IPT I head. My check in is a rambling jumble of words like ‘anxious’, ‘tired’, ‘home’, ‘rules’, and ‘cats’ (yes, I really am living up to the crazy cat reputation in here). It doesn’t matter which order they came out in, they are all equally horrible and let’s be fair, they aren’t exactly new either. I try not to pre-plan what I am going to say in group therapy as I want to see what I am unconsciously struggling with. Today it’s my rules. This conversation takes a twist that I was not expecting though. I get angry again, just to balance all the emotions out, and realise the reason my rules piss me off so much is that I am jealous of everyone who lives outside the rules. Yes, all of you lot reading this who don’t have to make sure every bottle in every cupboard or table is facing forward. Those who stand when it clearly states ‘no standing on the upper deck’; those who smoke past the sign that states ‘no smoking here’; those who let loose and are free. That’s how it feels. There are two places on this planet that I feel free, Wales and Namibia. Wales because we have a place there, in the middle of the forest, with no one around for miles. I was brought up to have fun in Wales. We were really kids there, getting muddy running around the fields, windsurfing (even though it was the UK and sea was a sub-zero temperature with sheep faeces floating by in high tide), muddy boots allowed in the kitchen and lots of dancing and singing to Genesis. I now struggle with Wales due to conflicted relations with my father but the place still makes me smile. Namibia is a newer one. I first went in 2008 and I remember calling home and telling my mum I felt truly at peace there. I went back in 2014 and it’s true. It’s soothing for the soul. If it weren’t for my mum, I’d move out there. (that’s a LIE! I’m shit scared of doing something that big, I’m using my mum as an excuse. Clever hey!).
So, yes, basically I am jealous of everyone who lives their lives outside the rules. Well done you, please learn how to recreate this using chemicals so I can pop that magic pill and make this all better.
With that little outburst done, we move onto someone else as I sit and feel the jealousy growing. Damn you all for having fun. I’m also jealous at Patient L. She is being discharged this week too but, rather than being a wobbly mess of nerves, she’s excited. She’s ready. She feels she’s got this. I’m so worried about getting it ‘right’ that I am dreading it. My rules tell me I have to get discharge ‘right’. I have to get living at home ‘right’. I don’t appear to have been given a checklist for this so I’ve made up my own and it’s impossible. I can say that now and I’ve still got a few days here.
The IPT session took it out of me. There is no chance I am heading to Chi Kung. Instead, I’ll find solace in… colouring. Yes, why don’t I go back to colouring. Ok, this is calming. Don’t worry about the mistake, no one will notice. Oh bugger. I’ve made another mistake. Ok, can’t face you right now, two mistakes is two too many to deal with. Sudoku it is. This is the point in the afternoon I make the alarming discovery that, in the 28-3 days I’ve been here (i.e. minus the spa), I’ve done 393 Sudoku puzzles. That’s A LOT of Sudoku. Who thinks this could be the ‘O’ in my OCD diagnosis? Who thinks I also need to get out of my room a bit more?
Nurse A disrupts my Sudoku concentration to let me know Dr E is coming early today. Instead of this being good, I jump straight to the worst case and start freaking out – this can’t be good – my insurance isn’t covering any of my stay? I need to leave right now? This has all been a mistake? My heart is pounding, I’m breathing rapidly, I feel like I am about to be told I’ve done something wrong. I quickly try to make the room ‘ordered’ – I know this ritual will only bring short term relief but I don’t care, I need to do something to keep busy until she gets here. ARGH. This also means I’ll be late for supper. Only late by my own rule but late nonetheless. I must put on a ‘perfect’ front for her. Be her ‘perfect’ patient. Dr E hasn’t got the final confirmation but she wants me to prepare to leave on Friday. I’d like to point out to her that a patient with OCD needs something a bit more concrete than unconfirmed plans. She thinks I am ready to go home but I’ve got to attend 4 weeks of day care. 4 whole weeks. Another whole month of my year, gone, just like that. There is relief, I’m not going to be tossed back out and left to cope all on my own. But still, that’s 4 more weeks I am not at work, 4 more weeks I am going to have to face my emotions every day. 4 more weeks lying to my mum.
I head out for supper, now late by own rules. Patient A2 is at the nurses’ station. I feel I need to be kind to her, I’m feeling guilty for all my dodging and complaining about her in the blog. She’s frustrated by the new patient on the ward and their constant screaming. Me too Patient A2. She asks if I’ve got a few minutes? Go on then, I’ll give you that. She’s not sleeping and feels she’s getting worse. She’s googled the side effects of her meds and thinks she’s starting to get them all. Ahh, Dr. Google, how the world was a simpler place before your existence. I don’t know what to say, I am really sorry. I’m still not a doctor though, I don’t think I can offer you anything to help other than DON’T GOOGLE YOUR MEDS. Nurse A comes in and provides my escape.
Supper is Hummus and grilled veg flat bread followed by forest fruit crumble and cream. I have company too! Patient J3 sits with me whilst I eat. It’s a nice change in the routine. Maybe having supper later than usual has its perks?
After supper and back in the room, I know I should have a shower. My hair is on the cusp of ‘McDonalds chip’ greasy rather than ‘just about passable’ greasy. Do I? No, not tonight. No teeth either. It’s straight into pjs and straight under the duvet. Roll on Tuesday.