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’
This sleeping in malarkey is becoming a regular occurrence. It’s not hiding though, it’s tiredness. I take my nightly meds but don’t let myself go to sleep until at least midnight. Not letting myself sleep is a bad habit of mine. I’d do anything to keep myself awake. I don’t mean in a ‘let’s be a kid and stay up’ way, I mean in a ‘you don’t deserve to go to bed and rest’ way. Yes, yet again, my self-punishment seeps into every aspect of my life. Nurse A coaxes me to get up and it’s just in time for a visit from Dr. E. We talk about the next 24 and 48 hours. She wants me to attend groups tomorrow before being discharged and she’ll come see me at 1600 before I leave. Ok, this is getting real now, I am going home tomorrow. No time to sit and panic though, I need to get up if I am going to make 1100 group.
CBT is with Therapist A today. She’s great at pointing out when we are catastrophizing. I appreciate this as catastrophizing and I are best friends! We explore how I put my father on a pedal stool even though I have some rock-solid evidence he’ll upset me. The evidence isn’t just in my head, it’s actual evidence. Even the most forgiving people would question my repeated attempts to make things right. But, I do. I want him to be the father I think he should be. Now, I realise, I’m a messed up 30-year-old so what hope in hell do I have to change an even more messed up 68-year-old?! Well, turns out I can’t change him. I am going to need to change the way I react to him instead. Therapist A brings out the ABC of CBT again, turns out that session really was useful!
A: My father doesn’t act how I’d like him to
B: It should be different, it’s because I am a bad person and deserve this treatment
C: Unhealthy anger, depression and emotional distress
So, now we are trying to think healthily, what would the NEW B and C be?
New B: I would have liked that situation to be different but I can accept it’s not
New C: Disappointment and sadness – both of which are healthy emotions
Ok Therapist A, I hear ya, but please teach me how to do this? As ever, there is no elusive magic wand, it’ll take practise and time but I can get there (apparently!). I need to let go of this thinking as the only person it’s hurting it me. I can’t spend another 20 years feeling like this. I’ve got to look at the short-term benefits vs. the long-term costs. Oh blimey, this is sounding more and more like a project plan with a cost benefit analysis!
Homing in on another patient, Therapist A throws a couple more theory points out there which are useful. Worrying how people will judge me is my perception of threat; I’m always on a fight or flight mode à I need to tolerate the possibility some people won’t like me (I have some very annoying habits so let’s face it, it’s highly probably some people won’t like me!). This theory comes with pictures, the best kind of theory in my opinion. We need to think of ourselves as a big I and inside said big I are lots of little i’s that represent the many facets of us. By assuming someone won’t like me because of say, my cats, is taking one of the little i’s and defining myself by only that small part of me. This leads to the well-known self-sabotaging and beating myself up.
I like pictures so I instantly like this session. Therapist A moves up the ‘Therapist Pyramid of Success’. This is still only theoretical but I am putting some serious consideration into making this an excel chart!
Lunch rolls round and it’s time to be social. I have lunch with Patient J3 & Patient D3. The cooked menu didn’t appeal so I opt for the trusty ham & cheese panini. I am feeling a little bit optimistic, dare I say it. I’m getting excited to go back home. This is great, this is positive, yippee.
Post lunch and sat back in questionable carpet room, the packing task looks quite overwhelming. How am I going to get all this home? How will I get it up the stairs? There is a rational answer: tip the cabbie a bit extra to help you. Rational thinking doesn’t get much of a look in when I am feeling like this though. Thanks to Friend X for the extra-large John Lewis bag, this is coming in very useful right now. Part of me just wants to go home now, rather than waiting for tomorrow. Get it over and done with as it were. But, no, there is still an afternoon of therapy and my last supper here to go. My optimism and excitement have slowly slipping out the window.
IPT is a hard one today. I check in with my ongoing anxiety about going home and how am I going to survive, I do still have an ounce of the excitement there though. The other patients throw the tips I’ve given them right back at me. Guys, I get it, I’m the world’s biggest hypocrite. Patient P is feeling very low. I’m finding this tough, I really want her to like me. In my little desperate way, this means I feel the need to rescue her and help. It’s like she’s in the cool gang at school and I’m there with no identify or gang to slot into. I ask her about her cat, something I feel is safe territory and a shared interest. It does not go well. In fact, it goes very badly and a bit later in the group, she walks out. Therapist L wants to explore how her walking out makes us all feel. Do I own up that at the age of 30, I still think in terms of school gangs and trying to be friends with the cool kids? Sod it, yes, I do. What’s the point in hiding this stuff anymore. Prior to check in, I’d even written in my trusted notebook that I am worried Patient P doesn’t like me. You are all more than familiar with the fact that I don’t tolerate not being liked. In my desperate bid to be liked, I am not myself and therefore I am pretty darn annoying. The result, as you can guess, is people don’t then like me! Mainly because it’s the annoying ‘try hard’ me not the ‘real’ me. Admitting this stuff is embarrassing. I’ve spent a long time hiding all this inside myself and verbalising it really shows off my lumps and bumps. Each time I do speak up though, it’s like I get a little bit lighter. Not in the scales sense, I can assure you there is only one way the scales are going and that is most certainly not down! In the emotional sense though, I think I ‘weigh less’ that at the beginning of all this.
I head back to questionable carpet room and decide to miss Mindfulness. I appreciate it would probably be quite useful right now but no, sitting in questionable carpet room is needed too. Why, I hear you question, as yes, going to mindfulness does sound like the healthy choice. The reason is I’m suddenly paralysed by the fear of going home – I just want to get home now, rather than sit around. What if I need to come back in? How will I pay for it? I’m not sure I am going to sleep tonight. My heart is doing that fluttery butterfly thing that builds as I get more anxious.
Supper is a quick affair with Patient J3 and you can tell my anxiety is rising as I don’t remember what it was. We all know by now that it was accompanied by steamed veg but I have no recollection of the main course or even if I had pudding. This is yet another safe assumption though.
I get straight into pjs once back on the ward and wait for the last nightly meds in hospital. I’m going to need to be responsible for my own medication from now on. I know, that’s a simple task, right? Wrong! There are numerous examples of days turning into weeks of me forgetting to take my meds. It’s not because I don’t believe in chemicals or fear taking them, it’s just that I simply forget. I’m running late for work and the taxi has already arrived, I run down the stairs and boom, I’ve forgotten to take them. I’m going to need to set a daily reminder I think.
Sat up in bed and still hammering hard at the Sudoku, when a nurse doing obs decides to speak to me like a child ‘try to lie down’ – I’m 30 and I’ll blooming well stay up if I want to! Ok, maybe I am ready to go home!!! I wonder if I’ll make it to my final breakfast tomorrow?