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 was tempted to make it to my last breakfast as an inpatient but I am shattered. I am sacrificing my breakfast for a couple of extra hours in bed. I feel really rocky today. This is it, my last day. I am not feeling the excitement that was brewing yesterday, that seems to have disappeared over night. I know that today’s sessions are going to be important, I need to make sure I not only go but am listening to every last word in the hope it’ll help me when I walk out the front door at 1630.
1100 check in and I’m feeling vulnerable and low. Patient J3 has checked in with his homework which he has been putting off for the week. This raises a smile in me as I am so proud of him! You got this dude. As a group, we focus on the imposter syndrome a.k.a. a fear that we are going to be found out. I feel this acutely but apparently so do other patients in the room! This is a relief. Therapist J starts a grid on the white board, oh goodie, more visuals to help the theory stick.
We look at:
CORE BELIEFS: These are long standing e.g. I’m a failure; I’m bad; I’m not coping
BRIDGING EXPERIENCES: Times I felt my core belief to be true e.g. I didn’t get the promotion I wanted; X didn’t say hi to me
NEGATIVE AUTOMATIC THOUGHTS: These are situational e.g.: No one likes me; I’m going to be found out for not knowing enough
So, yet again, this is highlighting how I start to overcompensate but by overcompensating, I am normally making the situation worse. Great! This theory is all getting rather repetitive, if you’ve followed the blog from day 1, you are probably screaming at the screen with the answers by now. Yes, it’s repetitive but I’ve got 30 years of thinking to unpick here so repetition over 30 days doesn’t even touch the surface. Get ready for a bucket load more of repetition!
Whilst we are talking about all this, I pipe up that I try to pay for things for people, buy them items or try to rescue them in the hope they will like me. As a result, I set up the expectation that I’ll always do this. I’ve got to try not to jump in and be the ‘hero’ or the bank account for people. Ok, the group now have a task for me. They are going to call me out if I start doing this over the next 4 weeks. Great, maybe my credit card will get a break for once!
We move onto WRAP planning. Now this is new so pay close attention. WRAP stands for
Now, you can imagine, this sparks a light in me. Planning and preparing is one of my FAVOURITE activities. I’m going to be able to ace this one! Even better, we get a very formal looking book to write down our plans. Oh, the excitement is building.
WRAP planning is harder than I thought it would be though. We don’t finish it but I’m going to enjoy this homework as my obsessive planning is surely going to be of use. The WRAP plan includes signs we are well and healthy, signs we may be slipping, activities that are useful to get us back on track, people we can open up to and crisis contact numbers if we are hitting a real low. As I work on mine, I’ll share more with you. If anyone thinks a WRAP plan sounds useful, google is full of examples!
The WRAP plan is useful because, as ever, this isn’t ground breaking stuff, but, it’s fundamental and as a result, we often forget to use it. I know that I need to get dressed and leave the flat every day but having it written down in front of me makes it more ‘real’ and more ‘powerful’. Listing the signs that I am slipping back into the dark hell of depression will also hopefully help me identify it earlier and prevent getting to this shitty hole of hell that I feel stuck in.
When we check out, Patient P wants to say something to me. She gets that I am only trying to help but at times, it can be taken the wrong way. She knows it’s from a good place but she hates it. Ok, I hear ya. To try and do this the right way, I am also not going to let this bother me. It’s ok that you don’t want my advice, it’s ok that I’ve been annoying you. And, breathe. Yes, I can truly believe this. I am going to hold on to this.
My final meal as an inpatient is lunch and it’s with Patient J3, D3 and K2 – possibly my most social meal in here. At the same time though, I’m feeling really lonely. I don’t know how I’m going to manage back at home and I’m scared I’ll slip back into old habits. Isolating myself, in the dark, letting my mind go to unhealthy places. Also, what if my cats don’t recognise me? I mean, I’ve washed my clothes here so I’ll probably smell different. My mind is jumping all over the place that I barely notice my consumption of the veggie burger and chips.
I head back to the ward to go through the discharge paperwork with my key nurse today. Pudding is chocolate jaffa cake flavoured popcorn brought in by one of my friends. Eating is taking my mind of worrying. My belongings are all over the place, which is a true reflection of my mind right now. Nurse M comes in to go through the discharge paper work. This does not turn out to be the simple admin task I’d been promised. We do the daily risk assessment and I’m honest, everything is low bar self-neglect, which is medium. Nurse M doesn’t want to tick that though. She wants me to say it’s low. Look Nurse M, it’s taken me a long time to tell you the truth, don’t go challenging this now. She wants to know if her standing next to me whilst I brush my teeth will help. No Nurse M, it won’t. Next, she wants to know if I’ll do them later. I hope so Nurse M but I can’t make any promises. Turns out, all risks have to be low to allow the hospital to discharge me. Fine, Nurse M you win, put whatever you damn well please. I’ll sign it, I’ll do as I am told. I have no option but to go home, the insurance has run out so what exactly do you want me to do? You can falsify the paperwork, it’s not going to make a difference to me. She says we’ll review it later. You go for it Nurse M but this has made me feel worse so I can tell you right here, right now, the teeth aren’t getting brushed.
My bad mood and I trundle upstairs for IPT. I need this right now, I’m feeling myself clam up. There is a new patient in the group but that’s ok, I recognise everyone else. Patient L3 sits next to me and gives me a comforting smile. Then Therapist M2 walks in. I think I can guess what is coming. Yes, brilliant, to make this harder for me, Group 1 & Group 2 are going to have to merge as a therapist is off sick. No guys, come on, I needed this to be as familiar as possible. To add to the change and new faces, we are not going to do IPT, we are going to do a review of the week using worksheets. Now, worksheets would normally excite me, it’s something to try to get right. Today, however, it’s not happening. I’ve closed down. Patient L3 and I are partners but I am no good to her. I tell her how badly I needed this to be our group and IPT. She understands. I also tell her that I am meant to be going out for dinner tonight with Friend ML to say thank you for looking after my cats. I am not so sure I can manage this anymore. Decision making isn’t working either. Maybe I should cancel and stay in alone? No that’s not a good idea. Maybe I should ask Friend ML to come to mine for a takeaway? Yes, that sounds like a good plan. But is it? Oh bugger. Why is this so bloody hard. Patient J3 is trying to cheer me up with funny faces but I really can’t right now. I need to get out of here, I can’t give this room my week review, not when I am about to go home. So, it takes 10 minutes but I decide to be brave and walk out. I need to do what’s best for me.
Having bolted from group, I’m sat on the floor of questionable carpet room wondering what the hell I am going to do. Do I go out tonight? Do I change the plans to a takeaway? Do I tell Friend ML not to come at all? Why can’t I make a decision? Nurse A spots I’ve run away from group and comes to check on me. No, I’m not ok right now. What should I do? Right, come on Patient C, don’t waste this time. Go home, dump the bags and come back for your appointment with Dr. E.
I don’t know how I do it but I’m suddenly in the back of a black cab with all my bags. This is it, I’m on my way home. The poor cabbie thought he’d hit the jackpot, my street in North London is the same name as a street in Aylesbury. Sadly, not my friend, this is not the fare you’d hoped it would be. I start to feel guilty, I should have double checked where the app had stated was home. We get back to mine and I ask him to keep the meter going, help me upstairs and then give me 5 minutes before taking me back. Yes, this is going to cost a small fortune but the way I feel, I can’t manage public transport and I feel guilty this isn’t a London to Aylesbury fair so hopefully this will help a little.
A rapid walk upstairs, a quick change from tracksuit trousers into jeans and a very brief hello to the cats and it’s time to head back to the hospital. The jeans are considerably tighter than when I was admitted but they do up, that’s a small win for the day. As for the cats, they looked confused and one has definitely put on too much weight but they seem ok. I tell myself my rapid exit is for their benefit so as not to confuse them until I am home for the night later. In actual fact it’s for my benefit. If I sit down and play with them, I won’t be able to leave.
I arrive back at the hospital within the hour and Nurse A says I can wait for Dr E in questionable carpet room. I sit back on the bed and look round the empty room, it looks as grey and dismal as when I first walked in all those weeks ago. I sit in the dark freaking out about tonight. Do I go to the restaurant? Do I let Dr E decide for me? Dr E arrives and says having a takeaway wouldn’t be hiding but if I think I can go, I should. We run through the emergency numbers for the hospital in case I need anything and we discuss the support I have in place. Nothing has come up about my risk assessment so I am assuming that someone somewhere has approved my medium self-neglect.
Dr E leaves and Patient J3 comes around the corner. He’s been looking for me to say good bye. Thanks Patient J3, I needed that hug. He’s going to message me over the weekend to make sure I am getting up and dressed and out the house. He thinks dinner tonight with my friend is the right thing to do. He then tells me off when I offer to buy the patients anything they need from the outside world. No, Patient C, you don’t need to buy things for people!
So, this is it. I am going out the front door and not coming back tonight. I head straight to the restaurant as I don’t think I’d make it out if I head home first. My fitness is shocking and the walk is leaving me rather hot. I need to get this sorted asap.
I meet Friend ML at the restaurant and instantly think this is a bad idea. Once seated, I relax a bit and I’m grateful we are out. The restaurant isn’t too busy, the food is great and Friend ML is somehow managing me and this situation brilliantly. Oh, thank you thank you thank you. 3 drinks and a lot of food later, it’s time to call it a night. I’ll be home by 10pm. I manage the bus and short walk back to mine. This is progress in itself. The past few months I’ve resorted to taxis everywhere as I couldn’t face public transport. It’s cost me a not so small fortune.
This is the first proper contact I’ve had with the cats in a month and oh am I happy to see them. I sit in bed and break my own rule of not cats in the bedroom. They can keep me company whilst I do some Sudoku. I’ve made plans for tomorrow and I’ve remembered to take my meds. So far, so good. No, the face doesn’t get washed. No, the teeth don’t get brushed but, I am home, I am feeling ok and that’s the most important thing. I fall asleep quite quickly which is also a blessing. Now I just have to get through the weekend.
I know I am about to embark on a month of day patient treatment so not much is really changing but, looking back, leaving the hospital is a big step. So, what am I taking away with me (other than a lot of luggage)?
- I am not alone – others think and feel what I think and feel
- I am very loved – my entire support network has been beyond brilliant
- I have OCD – my rituals are not ok
- Mental health impacts everyone – the stigma around it needs to be crushed, no one should be embarrassed to get help
- I take on too much responsibility – I carry other people’s emotions instead of focusing on my own
- I may have an addiction problem with Sudoku – 393 in 25 days!
- I can colour outside the lines – life will carry on
- I like pudding – my very tight jeans can confirm this
And finally, the most important one of all:
- There is always another answer – suicide is not the only option