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 Thursday morning and I can’t decide if I should go in or not. I am tired, yet another late night after the upset of yesterday. My friends, whether they realise or not, were so supportive but oh boy, this feels shitty. I also texted my mum to tell her what had happened. Her response is what I needed, that she loved me and it’ll be ok. I don’t think my family knew I was having panic attacks. I decide the healthy thing to do would be to head in. So, taxi for 1 please. The credit card bill is going to be awful, but I can’t see another way of me getting there though. If I am going to be honest, I may as well admit that in the early hours of the morning, sat awake and alone, my very dark thoughts started to take over. I’m ok, I’m safe but in the cold light of day, I’m a little bit scared they are there.
Session 1 is with Therapist A. I like Therapist A! This is good. I check in stating that I am tired, hopeless, worried I’m slipping backwards and worried about the next 2 weeks. My calendar is very busy and it’s freaking me out. I know, being busy is good, sitting alone in the dark is not. BUT, this feels too much. I feel like I want to give up. Another patient is talking but I zone out to use the mindfulness techniques to prevent another panic attack. Patient J3 has noticed and asks if I am ok. No, not really but I’m fed up of talking about not being ok to be honest. It’s getting boring – not just for you reading this but for me and the group constantly hearing it! I try to remind myself that if I am bad, that’s only one little i and not the whole big I that makes up me. This is when Patient J3 comes up trumps (I am going to get this wrong as I can’t seem to find it on the internet):
3 Men are in a bar, which one is best:
- A man who drinks a bottle of whiskey a day
- A man who drinks a bottle of wine each day and hits his wife
- A man who is a soldier who dedicates his life to fight for his country
Well, this is easy, man 3! Turns out man 3 is Hitler. Man 1 is Churchill and I’ve forgotten who man 2 was but… you get the point. Hitler was made up of many small i’s and if you only judge him by the i above, you’d think he was a good man. Yet, man 1 and man 2 are known in history for being good men and Hitler, well, we know he wasn’t so great.
What Patient J3 wants me to see is that, even if it really is true, me being bad is only one of many many little i’s that make up who I am. He then chips in he doesn’t think I have even one little i that’s bad. Thank you Patient J3.
I head to lunch with Patient D3, J3 and K2. It’s a veggie bake followed by forest fruit crumble drowning in cream. Yes, it would appear eating my feelings is going to continue for another day!
Patient K2 wants to go to the nearby shops so I offer to go with him, I’d been planning to go anyway. The problem is, and I realise this too late, I’d been planning to go to buy more binge food. I’m not ok with doing this in front of Patient K2. Instead, I avoid buying anything for tonight. Progress Patient C! I am feeling incredibly bloated from lunch anyway. Instead we head to WHSmith’s as my cat decided to chew on the cover of one of my new books. Me being me, I can’t therefore keep this book. I’ll know it’s damaged and I don’t keep damaged books. Yes, I do understand this logic is floored. So, stood in WHSmiths, Patient K2 has to help me stay calm. The only ones on the shelves have flaws. I can’t buy one with a flaw. I’m buying one now because I have one that is flawed. I’ve realised, these quirks (or as my Doctor would call them, rituals) have gone unchecked for a long time. I live alone bar my 2 furry friends. Therefore, no one points out to me that giving a book to charity because one corner has been chewed is irrational. Same way my 42 point excel cleaning checklist has never been confronted.
We head back to the hospital for IPT. As it’s Thursday, we can have the original room back so I quickly mark my territory and get my ‘Normal’ seat back. In case you are wondering, marking my territory did not take on a canine like method, I merely hung my jacket on the back of the chair. Very ‘Normal’, I am sure you’ll agree. I check in stating that I am feeling better than this morning. But… yes, there is a but, my binging is getting out of control. I tell the group, including Patient K2, that I’d planned to stock up on more food. I’ve been giving myself permission to keep binging as, tackling one thing at a time is all I can manage. However, I am starting to realise that the binging isn’t something to tackle per se, it’s a symptom of the jumble in my head. I feel shame admitting this, and shame admitting how much food is stockpiled at home. Patient J3 keeps chipping in as he binges too. This irritates me. In fact, Patient J3, who is very lovely, has been irritating me quite a bit recently. Patient P suggested to him that we would make a good couple. I don’t think of Patient J3 in that way. He’s an awesome person but as a friend. This has put me on edge when around him. I don’t handle people of the opposite sex very well. In fact, it triggers a lot of anxiety in me. When he came to give me a hug at the beginning of therapy, I was desperate for him to back away. All he was trying to do was say hi and comfort me though, I know he’s not a threat to me. Still though, my head is jumbled about this.
Anyway, back to the point, Patient J3 keeps chipping in about binging. I want to tell him to stop, this is my story, not yours. I don’t though. Instead, I bottle that up with the unease I feel about him potentially fancying me. Patient K2 offers to come to my home and help me pack up the food to give to a homeless charity. No, that I am not ok with that. Patient J3 says he’ll come too. STOP! Therapist L points out that I keep answering the their suggestions with ‘yes, but…’. Oh no, I don’t want to be that annoying patient that doesn’t listen. So, Patient K2, I’ll explain. This hospital is one world of mine. One of many. My home is another world of mine. The two should never meet. We all saw what happened yesterday when world of hospital met world of work. He instantly says he understands. Phew. Ok, I’m feeling motivated. I think I could go home and begin to pack up the hoarded food. I feel a small but positive determination growing in my ever growing gut.
Just to make sure the record is straight, it was Patient P that thought it would be a good idea for Patient J3 and I to be a couple. Patient J3 has never shown any intent that he agrees with Patient P and would like to act on this. Yet still, this is bothering me.
As Patient J3 and I explained what binging is like, other patients realised they could empathise. Not because they binge but because they self-harm, drink or dabble with drugs to get the same effect: tune out the pain we are feeling and give ourselves short term relief. It most definitely is only short term as once I’ve stopped eating each night, I am disgusted at myself. The patient who takes drugs says he completely relates to that guilt feeling.
Therapist L wants us to do an exercise to help with the shame we feel. We are asked to close our eyes and think of someone companionate. For me, it’s my Nan Nan. I never felt judged by her. I adored her. We are guided through what they would say, what they would do, what they sound like. I imagine my Nan Nan stroking my hand whilst we are sat on the sofa. It’s difficult to maintain the visual but that’s ok apparently. This technique, like all the others, requires time, patience and practise. If only you could buy that!
I get a taxi home to avoid going via M&S and even though I felt motivated to start tackling the food hoard whilst in IPT, that’s gone out the window as quickly as the £18 has gone on my credit card for the taxi. On the sofa, the to do list, including packing up the food, goes out the window too and I scoff a whole bag of M&S wine gums. For those of you who are partial to a wine gum or two, the M&S ones are, in my extensive experience of wine gum consumption, far superior to Maynards. Shocker, I know!
The night binging on the sofa continues until I am interrupted by two things. My nose bleed and a call from my mum. Nose bleed comes first and upsets me. Last year, I had several procedures on my septum to cauterise the blood vessels due to damage from my years of bulimia. The nose bleeds shouldn’t be coming back. I was warned that if they did, I’d likely need a more invasive operation. Bugger. I’ve got a nose bleed and I’ve not had the satisfaction of making myself sick. How is this fair? I could deal with this if it were self-induced but the fact it’s random is upsetting me. For those wondering about the choice of the word ‘satisfaction’ about being sick. It’s a hard one to explain and I would never advise testing this out to check. But, for me, yes being sick was a strange way of getting ‘high’. I’ve never touched drugs; my drug is food. Now, if only I didn’t need to eat to stay alive! So, to deal with the situation at hand, I’ve become a dab hand at tissue origami to fashion a nose like tampon out of Kleenex.
Mum calls again, ok, deep breath, I didn’t speak to her yesterday and she didn’t pester me, she’s playing by the new rules, so should I. Mum’s tipsy. Great. This isn’t going to be a good call. My mum shouldn’t be drinking for health reasons but also because she doesn’t understand the concept of having just 1 drink. Given the minor slurs, I am guessing she’s 2/3rds into the bottle of white wine. We talk a bit about everyday things and then, the conversation takes a nose dive, just like my actual nose. She wants to know if I’ll be better by Sunday (yes, it’s that simple!), if I’ll need medication (ha, mum, too late, I am already on a lot!), will the hospital make me better forever (urm, to be seen I would expect), do I realise that life is tough and you simply have to deal with it (yes but life got a little more than just tough for me) and finally, a side helping of double guilt – did I realise that she is worrying about me and so not sleeping (I’d guessed but thanks for putting that out there in case I’d forgotten). To add to final slam, she tells me it’s bad I am not at work at the moment and I must rush back to prove I am not weak. There is an internet hashtag that states: #sicknotweak. If only my mum understood the internet!
Mum, I know you love me very very much. I have never doubted that. I love you very very much, please never doubt that. However, you don’t get it but suicide is still on my mind. This isn’t your shit, it’s mine, don’t add to it.
I call my sister for two reasons. Firstly, to give her the heads up that mum might call and she’s been drinking but also, I feel the need to vent. We talk a bit and I start testing out being more open and honest with her. We talk about the panic attacks. She had no idea I was getting them. She had no idea I was so depressed though. She listens and doesn’t judge. Mum is mum, we can’t change her, instead, she’ll act a buffer between us. Sunday is Mother’s Day, this will be interesting.
The call from my mum has unnerved me. I self-sabotage by staying up stupidly late doing Sudoku. I’ve decided to give myself permission to skip tomorrow. I’ll call the day care coordinator so I can use that day another time.