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’
Please note this post comes with a profanity warning!
I get up on time, go me. The Lumie proves it’s worth yet again. I’m going to tackle food today. I’ll have a sensible breakfast and you know what, I am going to take the bus to day care. My credit card is not appreciating the taxi’s. Lets go for the triple and brush my teeth. Given the ever expanding belly, today’s outfit of choice is tracksuit bottoms. I’ve not worn a tracksuit out of the house (except whilst I was an inpatient) so this takes some courage. I also wear my trainers. I’ve got to give myself the best shot possible to walk home. To keep all this positivity going, I pick one of the newly acquired books, I think I’ll start with ‘Mad Girl’. Wednesday’s are commonly referred to as ‘hump days’ but today’s hump day feels like a positive one.
I get to the bus stop but there’s a problem with the bus and it’s not due for 20 minutes which will make me late. That’s ok Patient C, there is an alternative bus if you walk to another stop and change busses once. I manage this. I can do this. I get on the bus, take a seat, put my earphones in and open the new book. I am really hoping I can focus on it. I should never have worried. Bryony XXX you are a genius. It’s like you’ve written this book for me personally. You have even lost a tooth due to bulimia too. You have battled the black dog as well. Oh my, every single word in the prologue speaks to me. How have I not known about you before now? Can I possibly reach out?
The bus journey goes to plan and I successfully change busses and arrive at the hospital on time. Our usual Wednesday Therapist M2 is back, I like her. The group has acquired a new patient during my day off. Yippee. So, this is starting well, I’ve written my check in points and things I’d like to look at and I am ready to go. The new patient walks in a couple of minutes late. New patient takes a seat in the circle. (profanity warning)
FUCK! In fact, that word is not a strong enough work. FUCKITY FUCK FUCK. This is it, my worst fear about being in hospital. New patient is not just a new patient. They are a colleague. Not just a colleague, a colleague from my division and they sit on my floor. Therapist M2 asks who wants to go first at check in. I work vomit out my name and that I am freaking out as New Patient is a colleague. That’s all I remember. I have one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had. My body is shaking uncontrollably. My breathing is all over the place. The tears and snot are flying around. New Patient starts to cry and then leaves the group. This intensifies my panic attack as now I am guilty for them leaving. I’ve been worrying about this scenario since being admitted back in February. I’d been promised that the hospital goes to great lengths to make sure patients who work together are not in the same group. Yet somehow, out of a company of thousands in London, it’s not just a colleague, it’s a colleague from my floor. The therapist has to work out which one of us to take care of. New Patient is walking out and I am hyperventilating. Therapist M2 goes to ensure New Patient is not alone and will be looked after by a nurse. The group and Therapist M2 then try to calm me down. I think I am going to be sick. It takes a while but I slowly stop shaking and calm my breathing down. The emotions running through my mind at 100mph are unexplainable. They are zipping so fast that I can’t catch one to try to put it into words and get help. This is awful. It’s too late, we both know we are here now. Therapist M2 assures me they will sort this out and we will not be in the same group. Fuck it, maybe I should quit day care. The colleague obviously deserves help more than me. The colleague is obviously a better person than me. The group try to assure me, they too would have been freaked by seeing a colleague in here. I don’t know how to describe this other than saying it’s like two very different worlds have collided. It’s a bit like when you see a teacher on the weekend and they are normal people rather than just a teacher. It’s that but times it by 1,000. There are a lot of tears throughout this session.
I feel completely thrown by this. I don’t feel myself. As a result of my messy head, speaking the truth isn’t going to make this morning any worse than it already is. So, Patient A4, you are frustrating me. We are all, including the Therapist, trying to help you and you are not listening to a single word we’ve said. BUT, and this is an important but, my frustration towards you is MY emotion, NOT your responsibility. It’s also a little i. It’s not the only thing that defines you. Other feelings about you are gratefulness, twice now you’ve come to comfort me during a panic attack, twice now you’ve gone to get me water. These things are little i’s too. See, you are not defined by the one i that is frustrating me right now. The Therapist asks Patient A4 if she heard what I said and repeat it back so we know she heard the whole thing, not just the frustration piece. As if to prove a point, Patient A4 can’t repeat it back, she didn’t listen. Fine then, that’s your decision. I am proud of myself for saying what I am truly feeling.
I am still shaking when I go for lunch. My mind is going crazy, which for a mind that was already crazy, is a messy affair. I sit with Patient K2 and Patient D3 who try to help me with the guilt. Apparently, during my panic attack I’d somehow told New Patient that it’s not personal, it’s the shock and the collision of the two separate worlds coming together. The hospital is my ‘safe zone’ and now something from the real world has breached that safety. I get through lunch but only just. Patient K2 offers to come with me to ask for a PRN. A PRN (pro re nata) is medication a patient can take when needed rather than regular daily meds. My PRN is diazepam. Now I am day care, I am not sure how to acquire any so I head to my old ward. Nurse A2, a nurse I really liked, is there. Patient K2 helps translate my nervous babbling to explain I need some help. We are told to wait in the ward lounge whilst he goes and sorts it. Patient K2 keeps reassuring me that my reaction was ‘Normal’. My head won’t slow down. What if I have to move groups? Maybe I should quit day care as New Patient is quite obviously more deserving of help than me. Patient K2 stops me there. He says, in here, in a psychiatric hospital, we are all equal. I think about that for a minute and realise, it’s true. In every other aspect of life there is a ranking. Here, there is no barometer to measure us by, we are all unwell and all in need of help. Trust me, you don’t go to a psychiatric hospital for a holiday. Nurse A2 has worked his magic and 4 mg diazepam is consumed. Nurse A2 has also checked with the therapy department. They are very apologetic and I am not to worry, New Patient has changed groups.
Talking to K2, I get upset. When will my brain give me a break from this hell? I want to know when I can have a day where I won’t hate myself. I have a very clear plan as to how I’d say goodbye to the world but I don’t want that to be my back up when shit gets tough. I’m reminded what I did was good. I admitted I needed help as New Patient was freaking me out. I apparently was very eloquent in my delivery of this message (I highly doubt this Patient K2 but ok). I’ve just wasted all of Patient K2’s lunch break. He tells me he doesn’t mind but I don’t believe him. We head up to IPT.
All the therapists pass on a handover to the afternoon therapist but also any key information to our consultants. No prizes for guessing Therapist R wants to ‘explore’ what happened this morning. Look lady, let’s not ‘explore’ let’s talk! She says I need to process it. I know, I get that. I am feeling incredibly shit that I may have upset New Patient with my panic attack. I feel the need to make this right. I had come in with a list of things I was ready to open up about but that’s gone out the window now. Even the monumental bus success has been forgotten.
Next up we look at Patient P who may get a flat with another patient in the hospital. The hospital strongly discourages maintaining relationships once we leave. The reason is that one person can become the carer and the other the person needing caring without us ever realising. Another reason is a patient’s demise back to hell can trigger us. There are other reasons that Patient P isn’t sure but I tell her to listen to her gut. In my experience, the gut is a good compass for what’s right or wrong for us. We move onto Patient A4. Seriously woman, I know you are not well, I know you are going through some serious shit right now but come on, you’ve got to listen. I try, in my most sincere and calm voice to explain AGAIN something the group have brought up before. The other patients chip in and agree. She isn’t getting it though so I zone out. It’s not my responsibility to get her to understand.
It’s Patient L3 birthday today so we are planning on surprising her with cake. As we bundle out to the courtyard, we all check our phones. Phones aren’t allowed during therapy so this is the first point we hear about the suspected terrorist attack in London. It’s not far from the hospital. Then we hear the army helicopters flying overhead. Oh, my gosh. This is a crazy crazy world we all live in now. To all those impacted by the attack, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
After the singing (sorry Patient L3, I know I was completely off key), I head to M&S. I could feel a binge coming on this morning and now I’m giving in to it. I stock up on more iced & spiced buns as well as copious other treats. Sod the walk home, it’s a taxi day.
I get home and feel like I could fall asleep right now. I don’t, I have a supermarket shop coming with lots of healthy things to try to curtail this binging phase. I do get into pjs though and get to work on the packet of yum yums I bought. Why has it taken me 30 years to discover yum yums? The binge continues and I ignore calls. I manage texts but I don’t have the strength for talking. I try to be kind to myself and head to bed early but that fails too.
Although I am shattered beyond belief, I don’t go to sleep. Instead I sit on my bed and start panicking again. The feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are sliding their slimy tentacles around my brain again. Maybe this world would be better without me in it. I am trying so bloody hard to challenge this thought process. No, my cats wouldn’t be better without me. No, my sister wouldn’t be better without me. No, it’s not my fault that today happened. No, I can allow myself to go to bed. FUCK. Please can someone lend me their crystal ball so I can understand when I’ll be free of this hell. To all the friends who’ve been on the other end of my messages tonight, thank you all so very much. I appreciate your support so much. You may not have known you were helping me, but you were.
For a day that started so well, with so much promise, you sure did do a 180 on me!