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’
Right, so, hello Monday, how are we today? I’m tired. I’m also behind my own schedule. I should be trying to get to day care for the 0930 session. I know they are all repeats and it’s not the group therapy but I was still going to try. I ask my cleaner to start with my neighbour first as I am not going to be out before she arrives. After a lot of procrastination, I make it onto the scales for the first time in months. It’s not as bad as I was expecting but it is bad. I am 3 lbs away from my heaviest ever weight back when I was 21. Ha, 10 years ago and I’ve managed to come full circle. Today is the day I stop binging. Don’t judge just yet, this may be different to all the other times I’ve written that, today feels different. I can’t tell you why but please, let us wait until the end of the post to see if I can make it through. Next, it’s into the shower. Face washed, hair washed and teeth brushed, I am on a roll.
Drying my hair and getting out the door takes a little longer than I anticipated. I get in the car but I am worrying I am going to be late. After Friday’s IPT where Patient L3 got turned away, I know I can’t be late. I make it to a parking space at 1100 on the dot, I make it to the hospital at 1102. I make it to group at 1103 and Therapist W lets me in as we’ve not started yet. I am so flustered. I check in as on edge – I was worried about being late; worried – about my weight; lonely – I really felt alone this weekend; ashamed – about pretty much everything to do with me including Friend ML taking my hoard away.
The group chip in even though it’s still check in and tell me how big this was. They ask how I felt… The prominent current feelings about it are relief it’s gone but ashamed at how much food there was. I admit I didn’t go outside at the weekend except to get food and that I binged pretty much the entire time. I also tell them I cancelled Sunday. Being tired is the truth but part of it was anxiety about seeing Friend ML after she’d seen all the food. Oh crap. Today feels ok though, I am dressed and washed and I am here. My check in is long but people are proud of me and I realise, even calling mum yesterday, these are all steps in the right direction. I have done well. Yes, not going outside this weekend was a waste but I still did well.
Patient L4 checks in and then Patient L5. Therapist W opens the group and Patient L5 goes first. She’s still quite new but hasn’t taken any time to speak yet so I am pleased she’s starting to open up in front of us. She speaks for about 4 minutes before Patient L4 starts putting her jumper on and getting ready to walk out. We are all advised to stay and talk through feeling that may mean we want to leave so Therapist W asks her what’s going on. Patient L4 feels rejected by the group. During check in people offered advice or chipped in for everyone bar her she states. She felt rejected last week so was giving it one last try but she still feels rejected so it must be her. During her check in, I zoned out. As I was late to group, I hadn’t done my usual brain storm in my notebook. I had used her check in and an opportunity to write somethings down from my head to the book. Also, yes, she did frustrate me last week. 3 patients walked out of 2 groups because of her behaviour so yes, I may have been unwittingly rejecting you. Patient J3 speaks up – no one spoke to him during check in either, she’s not alone. Patient L4 keeps on though, she is a victim. That’s her identity. She says no one can understand how bad the last 6 months have been for her, she’s had it the hardest out of all of us. Woah! Hold it right there lady.
I open my mouth and as shocked as you may be reading this, I am shocked too, I am going to tell her how I feel.
How dare she say that. She has no clue what we have all been through over the last 6 months. I am not here for shits and giggles or a holiday. How dare she assume she’s the only one suffering. I don’t say this but as you know, I had planned my death in microscopic detail. I wasn’t having a barrel of laughs. Patient L4 doesn’t get it and starts to list out why her last 6 months were worse than mine. I open my mouth again and tell her I don’t need her to list what she’s gone through. We all need help, it’s why we are here. We have all had shit going on. I am sorry she’s had it tough but she’s not alone. This isn’t a competition.
She clearly isn’t well and needs help but I’ve got no patience for her. I’m proud I spoke up. I hope I handled it ok but I am proud of myself. This isn’t like me. I don’t care if she hates me, this is progress!
Patient L4 continues on her ‘woe is me’ routine. Therapist W is trying to point out what she’s doing. Other patients are trying to point out what she is doing but yet she carries on. I feel so shit for Patient L5, she was talking about things that weren’t easy and it’s been de-railed. That’s it, I’ve tried to stay calm over the last 15 minutes whilst the whole group try to help Patient L4 realise what’s she doing, but I can’t. So, open my mouth I go again. I tell her these are my feelings and she’s not responsible for my feelings, however, my feelings are of utter frustration at Patient L4. You are not listening to us or the therapist who are trying to help you. This isn’t a competition, you don’t need to be the victim. Patient L5 tells me I don’t need to discuss this, she’s taken on board what Therapist W has said and she gets that she is unfixable and her life is so awful. No Patient L4, you’ve not understood anything or else you wouldn’t have just said that. I’m sorry but you are making me angry.
I sit and think about it for a minute and then I realise why this is frustrating me so much. Being a victim is an identity. It’s an identity I used to have. All through school, I was the victim. I used to say how bad my life was, how it was worse than everyone else’s. This continued for a long time. To some degree maybe I still do it at times. I am frustrated at you as I can see something really ugly about how I used to behave. Therapist W stops me. He says he’s never seen me have a victim complex whilst at the hospital and that I may well have done in the past but I shouldn’t beat myself up for that. It’s the past. Patient P chips in and agrees. She’s been here for pretty much the entire 8 weeks I’ve been here. Apparently, I’ve never shown the victim complex Patient L4 is currently showering all over us. That’s a relief. Therapist W wants me to be careful about berating myself for past behaviour.
We move on but I think about my past a bit more. I acted the victim because I was attention seeking. The term attention seeking has such negative connotations but regardless of how people attention seek, the world needs to realise it’s because they need someone to listen to them. I did attention seeking behaviour because I had a storm brewing in my head that I couldn’t communicate. My eating disorder was a cry for help. Attention seeking is also self-sabotaging. Being the victim meant people didn’t want to be my friend. It was annoying in the same way Patient L4 is really annoying me now. I have come to the conclusion that my frustration towards Patient L4 is valid, I don’t need to beat myself up.
Patient L5 and Patient P are conscious I am worried my day care sessions are running out and do I want to take some time. I state no, not at the moment, I need to calm down but how thankful I am that they asked. As we check out I state I am calmer than I was but I’d like to ask Patient P and Patient J3 a favour. I need to stop binging. Missing breakfast was due to running out of time, I promise I’ll have breakfast tomorrow. I would like them to ask me ‘are you sure?’ if they see my plate piled high or me with bulging M&S bags of junk food. I don’t want them to helicopter parent me, just ask once. If I say yes, drop it, if I say no, help me and let me talk about it. They both get it completely. They understand about not helicopter-ing me (is that even a term) but also know to prompt me.
All in all, this wasn’t a wasted session. I didn’t get to talk about my argument with mum or the details and emotions about Friend ML taking my hoard but I have learnt I can voice my frustration, apparently rather eloquently too.
Group ends and Patient P and Patient J3 tell me how amazed they are at how I spoke out. It was exactly what they were thinking but couldn’t find a way to say it. They say I wrapped it all up into a very well-constructed statement. Wow, maybe, just maybe, I can communicate. I am on a bit of a high. Not that I upset patient L4, I am not malicious, but that I did what I needed to do. I said what I needed to say.
Lunch is grilled white fish in lemon butter with roasted carrots and some pesto pasta salad. I think this is a ‘Normal’ serving. Patient L5 joins Patient P, Patient J3 and I. She thanks me as she was upset she got interrupted. Wow, thank you. I did good this morning. This is a great feeling.
After lunch, I head next door to the waiting room for my 1:1 with Dr E. Please can there be no more colleagues waiting to surprise me. I get my wish; the waiting room is practically empty. This morning I had the foresight to pack a mini banana and a clementine. I have the banana now as I am still a bit hungry.
I get called to go through and Dr E says she’s worried about me. She’s heard about last Wednesday, she’s heard I didn’t make it in for all of Friday, she’s conscious it was my sister’s wedding and I hadn’t replied to her messages. I tell her the truth. The unedited truth. The binging has been worse than I’d led her to believe. I’ve been hiding more food than she thought. I told her it’s cleared now and she reminds me, I need to have a treat every day to normalise it. It’s true, for the few months I had my food under control, having a treat every day helped me stay on track and not feel like I was restricting or missing out. We talk about my sister’s wedding and my mum’s behaviour. She confirms it’s ok to feel sad, it’s a really sad situation. I tell her I stood up for myself to mum and the patient in group. She’s pleased and reminds me how much of a change that is. Finally, we talk about the day care extension. The extension was not only granted, they’ve offered more than she’d expected. It works out as another month of day care 3 times a week. I’ve got to promise her that I’ll try harder on the days off to be putting this into practise, I can’t keep hiding away. She doesn’t want me to be institutionalised but does think I need the additional month. She tells me not to worry about work, they will deal with it. We also agree, I’ve got to tell mum to stop asking me when I’ll be going back. It’s not helpful.
I head back to the main hospital for IPT and I have no M&S bags. I think I did ok. Day 1 of not binging is the hardest. I can only imagine it’s like day 1 of not smoking/ drinking/ taking drugs.
As we head in to the room, a new patient joins us. I start to worry if she’s definitely in Group 1. I like everything to be ‘right’ and my idea of right and wrong are very black and white. I ask Therapist M2 if this is Group 1. I know full well it’s Group 1 but I ask because I want the new patient to hear so I can confirm she’s in the right group. The new patient doesn’t leave so I try to tell myself it’s ok, she must be in the right group. I only wish I knew that for certain.
I check in as feeling ok, I’m proud of myself for this morning but I am worried about tonight. I don’t want to binge tonight and I am worried my mum will call about the argument yesterday which could trigger a binge. Patient L3 arrives 9 minutes late. Therapist M2 asks if we are ok to let her in and it’s a unanimous yes. I know this goes against my feelings on Friday but I don’t mind today. Therapist M2 goes around the group discussing the things people have checked in with. Then it’s my turn. I decide to speak up about my nerves that the new patient is in the wrong group. I try to explain it’s not her, it’s the rules. Another example of things being right or wrong is when people go to the wrong till at the shops. You know the computer-generated voice that asks you very politely to please go to till 4? Well, when the person then goes to till 6 instead, it bothers me, a lot. It doesn’t make sense, I know. I know nothing bad is going to happen to me but I need everything to be in order. Things need to be right. The new patient confirms she is definitely meant to be in Group 1 which is a relief. Next, we talk about the binging. Patient J3, a patient who is here to control his binging, reminds me the first few days are the hardest but I can do it. If I need help, I should message them. I know this, I just wish I could have the certainty that I won’t muck it up tonight. I also express my anger that my parents need parenting which I am tired of doing.
I check out a lot calmer than I started. The therapist and the group note that I’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve said what I needed to say to help me, not once but on a few occasions. This is positive. I’ve also tackled the hoarded food. Finally, I didn’t go and stock up on food during the lunch break. All in all, I feel good. This is a great feeling.
I go and collect yet more books and head back to the car. I decide not to return the parcels today, I want to head home, I am tired having had two late nights in a row. Once home, I put on my pjs and make an afternoon snack. A proper tea pot of Rooibos tea, 2 biscuits and a clementine. This is a ‘Normal’ snack and it’s my treat food for the day. I am tired but need to fight the desire to fall asleep. I want a healthy night sleep tonight. A friend is off work sick and has made me a daily task list. Today I’ve earnt 3 stamps so far and if I have a healthy supper and read in bed then I’ll reach 5 out of a possible 6. Number 6 isn’t going to happen as it was return the clothes parcels. We agree on the 6 tasks for tomorrow too. Tomorrow is going to be a day off day care and we all know those haven’t gone so well in the past.
I have supper and stick to my plan. A healthy one pot meal and some yogurt. I’m pleased with myself. I get out my dot-to-dot to help me stay awake until 2130. When I reach number 300, I stop, brush my teeth and get into bed. This time with my book, not my iPad as tv screen. I read for about an hour but I have to keep re-reading bits as my concentration is not great. Once I feel I am nodding off, I turn the light off and roll over to sleep. All in all, today has been a really positive step in the right direction. Let us hope tomorrow goes the same way.