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’
Late to bed, late to rise. I’m very conscious that my sleep routine is non-existent. I know I need to work on this. I know my insomnia is part of this illness but I really wish I could allow myself to go to bed. I was meant to be up and out of here by 0900. I don’t actually surface until 0945. I’ve missed the first session at the hospital so decide to have breakfast at home. It’s a hot cross bun, glass of milk and REAL COFFEE. Oh my, how I’ve missed you. Real coffee is most definitely better than hospital dishwater. I can’t face public transport. It’s also too late for me to walk. So, debt or no debt, it’s taxi time. I feel a bit like crying. I can’t get over the fact that this mess of a person is who I’ve been reduced to.
The first session is Art Therapy. I am still working on my painting from last week – lots of straight lines to represent my OCD and bright colours to try to show my recovery from this dark place. Art therapy is a mixed session so there are a lot of new faces. I slip back into old habits. I want all the newbies to like me and think I am a ‘good’ patient. I’m cracking jokes (not funny ones at that) and trying to be all smiley. I feel like crap inside. Why oh, why do I put on this happy and ‘good’ façade? Most of art therapy passes without any incident. Sadly, Patient J3 decided not to serenade us this week either. At the end of the creative time, we re-group to discuss what the pictures mean to us. For someone like Patient J3, this means simply messing around. He’s brilliant trying to make up some therapeutic mumbo jumbo to please the art therapist when in actual fact all he has done it try different things and had some fun. It’s true though. Sometimes, we just want to have some fun, let loose and not have to think about our emotions. We get enough of that in all the rest of the sessions. As we go around the circle, Patient L3 clasps her hand over her mouth. What happens next is my absolute worst fear in here. New Patient F3 is not just someone she thought looks familiar, it’s someone from her work. Shit! This is a fear of mine. My manager and some work friends know the truth but obviously not the whole office.
By the end of art therapy, I am wishing I was at home and able to crawl under the duvet with the cats. Instead though, I head to lunch with Patient J3, today’s menu is salmon and sweet potato fishcakes. It’s really tasty! This is when I miss being an inpatient. There is no questionable carpet room to retreat to so instead I head to the ward I was on and sit in the lounge. Nurse A comes to catch up with me. We talk through the weekend and how I am disappointed with myself. She tells me not to give myself such a hard time and I’m welcome in the ward lounge whenever I want. Thank you, Nurse A.
I head to afternoon group and I can tell this is going to go downhill rapidly. A patient in the group is talking about how suicidal they are. I’m finding this really triggering. I don’t feel I am coping at home and this scares me. My head then jumps to thinking that if I can’t make it at home, I’ll never be able to make it and so what’s the point. This is a prime example of catastrophizing. I can see that, when sat here typing this up now, I could not see that on Tuesday at 1400. The desire to crawl back under the duvet is very strong. I start trying to distract myself by adding more chores to my list of things to do. This is a double-edged sword as this will only serve to make me feel guilty later on when I start doing chores. The patient continues to discuss how hopeless and helpless they feel. I’ve got to try not to jump in and rescue them. I can feel my walls going up and my teeth clenching. I feel hurt; why aren’t I good enough? Why am I in this state? Why is everyone else amazing and I’m not? I can’t take up time in therapy when there are others leaving soon. Oh brain, how I hate you. To try and fight all these thoughts, I do talk. I offer a patient some insight. It’s not advice per se, but an observation of her situation. She’s not suicidal thankfully so I can’t do too much damage.
I end the session feeling awful. I state I feel shit during check out. Patient L3 stays back to check I am ok. I am not but it’s ok that I am not. I’ve got to process what’s going on in my head first and try to communicate some more of it in the therapy sessions. I trundle down the stairs like my shoes are made of led. The day care administrator wants to see me. This feels a little like being called to the head teachers office. Apparently, they need to know the exact days I will be in over the next 4 weeks. Dude, this isn’t exactly something I can quickly muster up! My doctor and I have agreed 4 days for the first 2 weeks and 3 days for the following 3 weeks as the best way to utilise my insurance. Sounds easy right, just pick the 1 day or 2 days I don’t want to go into day care. WRONG. This is not easy. What if I am having a bad day? What if I can’t get up? I don’t want to ‘waste’ a day care day if I haven’t made it in. Also, I don’t want too many days at home in a row. I don’t feel I am coping at home so leaving me to my own devices isn’t a good idea. I get stressed, I don’t know which days to say, this isn’t exactly an illness that comes with a timetable, however hard I try to make it. She tells me I can let her know by Friday. Ha, good luck with that, I am not sure my crystal ball will be in working order by then.
I get a taxi home. For anyone who has never experienced depression, I am going to try to explain what it’s like. It’s like someone has pulled the plug on me and all my energy units have fallen out my feet. The prospect of putting one foot in front of the other to walk to the bus stop is the equivalent of asking a somewhat healthy person to go and run a marathon. They won’t be able to do it, or if they do, it’ll surely be painful. That’s how I feel as I stand on the pavement waiting for the taxi. The bus would be significantly cheaper however, I don’t think I can make it.
Finally, in the door and I just about make it into my pjs. I’m exhausted and I feel so low. My friend is meant to be coming over for a takeaway tonight but I really want to cancel. I sit in the study (a.k.a. entrance area of my flat) and start colouring. I toy with cancelling on Friend ML but deep down, I know it’s better if I see someone tonight. Fine, well, the least I can do is have something to eat. A packet for crisps and an iced spice bun later and I realise this is comfort eating. Damn it. Why are emotions so complicated?
Friend ML arrives and we decide to toast my progress. What progress this is, is hard to say but we toast it anyway. Bubbles flowing, a cheeky Nando’s ordered and we chat. We chat like two ‘Normal’ friends on a ‘Normal’ night in. Having her come over lifts my mood and increases my energy levels. Thank you!
She leaves as she’s got work tomorrow. Oh the ‘w’ word. I really want to be back at work. I really want to be fully functioning and doing a good job. What worries me is the way I feel right now. I can’t even get through a full day of therapy, how am I going to get through a whole day of work? I’m really scared. I’m scared that having stopped, I’ll never get started again. So, with that anxiety rising through my body, instead of doing the sensible thing and reminding myself that work is at least another 3 weeks away so I should park it and head to bed, no no, I do the unhealthy thing. I sit and worry about it. I wonder if I should log onto my work emails ‘just to check’. I worry about how much of a burden my sick leave is causing my team. I’m worried that if it’s not causing them a burden it’s because actually, I’m shit and they don’t need me. Oh brain, if you could put even 1% of the energy it takes to hate yourself into work, you’d be a genius. Before I know what’s happened, it’s 0100. I’ve talked myself out of logging onto my work emails as I realise this is overcompensating and likely to have a worse impact on me. Instead, I head to bed and pray that my mind will calm down a bit.