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’
It’s Friday, the day most people look forward to in the week. I’m not feeling it though. I’ve had about 5 hours sleep which is never going to help my mood. You can all place bets on what happens next… I get up and can’t face the shower. My hair has reached a new level of greasiness in terms of self-neglect. I have a long fringe which, due to current hair conditions, has moulded itself back into the pony tail. Yes, my hair is so dirty, it stays in the style I brush it. Excellent. Well done Patient C on hitting a new low. Another dousing of perfume and a comfy jumper from my bedroom floor later and at least I’ve managed to get dressed. I brush my teeth so I’m taking this as a mini victory. You also guessed it that the only way I could get in today was via taxi. I am praying to the traffic gods that I get in in time. The hospital is strict about timings and if you are late, you can’t join therapy. I fire off 2 messages to patients to beg the therapist to let me in if I am late. It’s due to be Therapist W today so I really don’t want to miss his session.
With 3 minutes to spare, I make it in and to the room. It’s just Patient J3 and I at the moment and it’s not Therapist W, what!!! Therapist M5 (M is obviously a popular letter to start with for psychologist names!) is filling in. Others start filing in and we go from being a tiny group to quite a large group. The icing on the cake is Patient C3. My eyes do a little roll to heaven. We go around the circle checking in and that’s when Patient J3 drops a bombshell, the therapists want him to change groups as his ADHD is distracting them. WHAT! No, I do not accept this. Yes, at first I found him very distracting but he’s such a valid and needed person of this group. Apparently, all the other patients in the group had the exact same reaction and staged a revolt yesterday. Thank goodness! Patient J3, we’ll fight for you. I check in and it’s emotional. Yup, the tears form right from the get go. I feel I am failing at recovery now I am home. I also feel extreme guilt. An amazing friend has woken up to a death in the family. It was a child. How selfish am I to be struggling with suicidal thoughts when there are illnesses killing people who shouldn’t die! The friend has sent me a lovely text so my guilt grows, she had the thought to message me whilst going through a heap load of pain. This same friend wrote me a letter for the day after I was discharged. I’ve not written about this yet as the letter was incredibly hard to read (and not only because of their handwriting!). I was told how much I am valued and loved, how I don’t need to put my everything into friends as I should put more into myself. It was incredible to sit and read this on the first day back home. It also made me realise that I am surrounded by incredible people, I am not alone and they love me regardless of my present buying and craziness.
It’s check in so after starting the tears, we move on to the next patient. This is good, maybe I can stop the tears now and it’ll only be a minor teary event. The therapist ensures we all have at least 10 minutes to talk. It’s great as a couple of people have checked in saying they have nothing to talk about yet when it’s their turn, they realise there is something bothering them. We get to me and any hope of no tears goes straight out the window. They come back with full on body shakes, snotty tears and blotchy face. I’m passed the tissues and a patient goes to get me water. Whilst others were talking, I’d been trying to make a list of the things I did achieve yesterday. It’s a list of 21. Yes, I did 21 things yesterday. That should tell me I am not completely failing. The group, as ever, are brilliant. We talk through how I can’t be completely bad and I need to cling on to that. It’ll take time to change but I can do it. The therapist reminds me that I am made up of thousands of complex things including my emotions. I should therefore not define myself by one thing alone. It’s the big I and little i concept. Maybe I am not as far along the bad scale as I’ve been thinking I was.
Finally, before we move to check out, I pipe up. I address Patient C3. I state I am proud of her today. Today is the first time during the check in and group that she’s not stated she’s here due to her physical illness, she has instead brought up her anxiety. This is a big step for her as I am not sure she realised she was depressed and anxious. I hope telling her this helps a bit. I’m also a little bit proud of myself for saying what I thought about a person.
Lunch is with Patient J3, Patient P and Patient D3. I’m clock watching as I’ve got a 1:1 with my psychiatrist during the lunch break. It’s Friday so its cod goujons and chips with a side of… steamed veg! Whilst eating, we talk about tomorrow. My sister’s hen do is finally here. I’ve put on weight whilst in hospital and I feel very self-conscious in everything. I talk though maybe going shopping after therapy today. There is a good selection of shops about 15 minutes away. Yes, the group agree, go do something nice for me so when I wake up tomorrow, there is an outfit I feel good in waiting for me. The other topic of the lunch time chat is the rumour another celebrity has checked in. oooh, exciting! I’ll keep my eyes peeled to see if it’s true.
I head to my 1:1 and start freaking out. Waiting to be called in and I am shaking. Fred (the alligator) is getting quite the battering today. Finally, 20 minutes late, I go in. My psychiatrist is known for running late and normally that’s fine. It’s not fine however when I have 1400 IPT group. I am restless as I don’t want to miss it. I walk in and the tears have started to form before I even take a seat. I tell her I am not coping at home and I’ve not washed in days. She’s not happy with me. Not in an angry way, in a concerned way. She starts telling me that self-care can’t be looked at as an optional activity. Look Dr E, I get that, if I could explain why is the barrier between me and the shower, I would. I can’t though, it’s an invisible chain that pulls me back at the very thought of it. I’m given yet another prescription, this time it’s Diazepam to help when I get too anxious. At this rate, I’ll rattle if you shake me. My daily pill count is now at 10. We end with 2 minutes to spare before IPT and a promise I’ll self-care this weekend.
We are a much smaller group this afternoon which is a relief. We are also in a different room. This throws me. Yes, the room is right next door to our usual one, yes, the chairs and the carpet are the same, yes, I know the therapist but for some reason, this is bothering me. During check in and out come the snotty, body shaking, face blotchy tears. Well, that’s a full sweep of crying sessions today! I explain I feel like my psychiatrist was telling me off like a teacher would at school. I full on lose it for about 20 minutes. When I cry, I struggle to look people in the eyes. I don’t want to see their reaction in case they are laughing at me. We talk as an open group which is really useful. They help me realise that my psychiatrist was trying to help, not make me feel worse.
I chip in at differing points to help the other patients, I really hope it does help. They’ve given me incredible advice and hope that I want to do the same for them. By the end of the session, I am exhausted. I wish I could articulate how draining all this emotional stuff is. If I were still inpatient, I’d be heading straight for a nap now.
So, now I’ve been reassured others have taken a 5 minute taxi to the shops, I feel a bit better. Off I’ll go. First stop an upmarket health and beauty shop. Oh, why don’t I treat myself to an exfoliator. My skin is awful at the moment, a bad combination of meds, stress and junk food. An assistant comes over and offers help. Oh yes, ok, please tell me which of the 50 brands you have on display I should buy. She points one out but recommends I get the serum too. Oh, why the hell not. Feeling better about how I look will hopefully help. She rings them up and states what I owe. Urm pardon?! How much did you just say? Being the stereotypical British woman I am, I don’t question the price, I merely hand over my credit card whilst fear rises up inside me. OMG! This is crazy. Turns out it was the serum that was beyond silly expensive, yes, the item I didn’t even need! MY skin better look like that of a new born baby tomorrow morning.
I take a quick pit stop in a book store. I love reading but I can’t concentrate at the moment so don’t get past the first sentence. As I stand in this brilliant book shop, I become overwhelmed by all the choice. What if I pick the wrong book? No, Patient C, you can’t do this. Instead I walk out. It’s ok. Walking out was right for me in that moment.
I’m feeling so drained but I know, if I don’t get a new outfit, I’ll feel rubbish all day. I cross the road to a clothes shop. I am feeling completely overwhelmed and completely rubbish. An assistant comes over and asks if I need help. Now, I normally avoid shopping at all costs. Anything I need comes to me via the post thanks to online shopping. In store shopping is not my forte. Do I admit I need help and assume the shop assistant will make me feel worse? Yes, lets do this. I admit I’ve put on weight so I am not entirely sure what size I am. Also, I need something fabulous as it’s for my sisters hen. Can I just say a huge bravo to her. She made me feel brilliant. She and a colleague pulled out all the stops with a variety of outfits to help me. When I said I didn’t feel confident in one of the dresses, the went and come me a different outfit. They stayed helping me for over an hour. This may sound like a run of the mill thing that they should have done but to me it was huge. They didn’t laugh at me and they really wanted to help me, even though that meant I picked the cheapest skirt. I left the shop feeling good about my outfit which is a big thing. I taxi it home via another cheeky McDonald’s shop. Yes, I know, what am I doing? I don’t know but comfort eating feels needed.
My sister has asked me to be more honest with how I am feeling so I tell her it’s been a shit day. She asks if I want to come over but no, I am already in pjs with two cats purring away at me. I ain’t moving! The sugar donut I got is stale and not nice so I put it back in the bag. This is when I discover what happens to cats when they lick pure sugar. My boy cat has stuck his head into the paper bag and takes a number of licks. Note to all cat owners, pure sugar has the same effect on cats as it does on small children… he’s hyper and chasing my girl cat around the place at about 100 mph.
After eating my way through 10 zillion calories, I head to bed a lot later than I meant. 4mg of diazepam and 100mg amitriptyline is inside me and I’m still sat here wide eyed at 0100. A friend called me earlier and told me to text her if struggling with sleep. She works shifts so she is often up at strange hours. She also realises that the dark hours of the morning often go hand in hand with very dark thoughts of mine. Thank you, friend. Finally, I fall asleep with the hope I can cope at my sister’s hen do tomorrow.