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’
Thursday was going to be a day off day care, but given it’s Easter and therefore we have 2 bank holidays, I can’t risk amalgamated groups. As already noted, depression doesn’t take a day off for weekends but it also doesn’t take a day off for bank holidays. The hospital will be running groups as usual. But, and the but is big, if there aren’t enough patients, they merge the groups together. I don’t like that and so I’d rather not risk it.
I’m up, I’ve had my porridge, I’ve brushed my teeth, I’ve washed my face and I am out the door with a 20-minute buffer to get to the hospital by bus. Yes, this is two days in a row. I listen to an audio book whilst on the bus to try to keep me calm. The bus goes past my vet surgery and it reminds me that my girl cat has a legion on her paw that needs checking so I call them, whilst sat on the bus right outside the vets, to make an appointment. They can see her tonight. Wow, that would mean doing something other than changing into pjs when I get home. Also, my cat carrier is in the attic and my attic ladder has broken. There is a way round this, I’ve bought a ladder so I can still get in and out the attic but that feels like a lot of hard work. I’ve been meaning to put my suitcase away from my hospital stay for weeks, maybe it’ll actually happen today.
I arrive and I have time to spare. It feels so much better not being rushed. Today’s therapist is Therapist J2, who I am less keen on, instead of Therapist A, who I am keen on. I say to another patient I’ve come in today, not tomorrow, as I can’t risk an amalgamated group. Therapist J2 isn’t in a patient mood and says we should be challenging our fears not feeding them. Yes, Therapist J2, I get that, but I have a colleague in here. If the groups are amalgamated, I’d be in group with a COLLEAGUE. That means I won’t speak. He takes it back and says that’s different then. See, told you. But, what I’ve not said is that even if the colleague wasn’t here, the change in groups would bother me anyway. I’m frustrated because he’s right. I check in as a bit frustrated and anxious. I’m being childish, I don’t say anything more than that as I don’t want to open up to Therapist J2. The others check in and Patient J3 says he’s like time so would like to start.
Patient J3 talks through his angst at Therapist M4 yesterday. We look through this in detail. What is it that made yesterday so uncomfortable? Patient J3 says he didn’t trust her as he’d not seen her before and that lack of trust makes him feel unsafe. I relate to this. I felt the same way when I say her yesterday. However, what Therapist J2 points out is that not trusting someone isn’t a full statement… what is it I don’t trust? This is big for me. I use the statement I don’t trust people without the full understanding of what it is I don’t trust or what I fear. This is good.
Whilst everything Therapist J2 has just shown us is valid and in fact made me think hard about when I am worried about new situations, I do chip in and give a bit more colour to the situation. Patient P and Patient G also chip in. Therapist J2 agrees that it sounds like it was poorly handled but we must remember therapists are humans too and just because she handled it badly yesterday, doesn’t mean she’ll handle future sessions badly. We don’t need to apply a global rating to the therapist.
The group moves onto Patient L5, I am pleased, there is no Patient L4 to butt in now. Her challenges are complex and I want to offer her practical advice to help. Some of this is valid but some is advice that she’s not ready to hear. That’s ok, she’ll get there. I recall some difficult sessions with Patient P where I gave her advice but she rejected it, and I felt she also rejected me. What’s strange is that I no longer feel rejected by her. You may recall I was desperate for her to like me. I think there are two shifts, one, Patient P is open to hearing this advice now. The advice hasn’t changed but she has. The second is that I think I am getting mentally stronger. Both points are great news. I remind Patient P of this and she agrees, I’d said the exact same advice to her 5 weeks ago and she got frustrated and walked out. Patient L5 thinks that’s interesting, she’ll make a note of the advice and hopes she’ll get to the point when she can hear it.
Now it’s my turn. Why am I anxious about the wedding party? We talk through the mum thing again but Therapist J2 points out it’s not my responsibility to manage this, it’s my sisters. Mmm interesting. He’s right but I was trying to protect my sister from this stress. As per usual, I was trying to be the strong one in the family. Therapist J2 then uses a very dramatic analogy to help me understand this. If he told me I was beyond help and I should go through with my suicide plan, on a technicality, it’s not his fault I had killed myself, it’s my feelings of this statement, not the statement itself. Interesting albeit a tad dramatic… he then chips in he’d never work again yada yada yada and jokes. Next, we hit the nub of the problem… I am anxious about the party regardless of the topic of mum. Why? It shines a great big bright spotlight on the fact I am single and very much alone bar the cats. In fact, at one point, I was closer to being the married daughter and my sister was the one who never wanted to get married. That was about 6 years ago now. Since that time, I’ve had a few dates, dated a couple of people for a few months but never really had a serious relationship. In the last few years, I’ve actively avoided anything to do with a relationship. I’ve put up barriers to make myself undateable. I tried to challenge that at the beginning of this year with Guy S. We went on 3 dates and talked a lot. We weren’t physically intimate but I opened up to him. Date 3 happened and the spark wasn’t there, for either of us, so we called it a day. I am scared of relationships. I feel I deserve to be hurt. I deserve to be treated badly. I’ve left men hurt me for decades because ‘I deserved it’. Oh crap, here are the tears. The thing is, I do want to be loved. I want someone at home to complain to, have a drink and movie night with, go for a walk with… But I can’t let myself. I don’t say my needs. Trusting men is a big problem for me Having just been told that lack of trust isn’t the whole statement, I need to look at why I don’t trust men in more detail. More detail that I don’t feel up to right now. I like month 1 of dating, I like month 7+ but months 2-6 aren’t fun. You expose yourself. You open up your best and worst parts. Then they get to walk away trampling all over your emotions if they want to. Sister was never meant to get married. She’s stated for years it’s not something that bothers her. She proposed to brother-in-law because it was the one thing she could give him that he really wanted. She loves him very much but she didn’t need to marry him to validate that. Watching my sister get the grandparents wedding bands was tough, 6 years ago, the family were getting ready to give them to me. It’s not an economical point, I don’t care about the value of the rings, it’s the sentiment.
Lunch is Mac and cheese and today’s pudding option is a chocolate brownie. I decide to have both. This doesn’t feel like a binge, I am not sure if it’s emotional eating. I send a picture of it to a friend to ask if it’s too much. They think I should halve the brownie. Truth is, I don’t want to halve it, I want all of it. I ask the other patients and they think this is a normal sized portion. I eat it all but I eat slowly to see if I get too full. The brownie can be today’s treat and I won’t have my afternoon snack.
Patient P is late to lunch and comes join Patient L5 and I. Whilst we are chatting, Patient L4 takes a seat in the restaurant. Hold up, you were meant to be being transferred to The Priory. Oh, please don’t re-join our group. She loves the drama and the fact there is ambiguity about when she’ll transfer. Apparently, the nurses on the ground floor ward, my old ward, are begging her not to transfer… the word apparently should be bolded and underlined. I doubt that’s what they’ve been saying!
I get a couple of missed calls from Sister. They are back in the UK, wahoo. Whilst still with Patient P and Patient L5, I call her back. I tell her about the situation with mum but that’s she needs to deal with it. I also tell her that we need to be an adult to mum and I don’t think caving into her on this is going to be a good thing. This whole situation is incredibly tough but it’s tough on us all. We are going to be celebrating with mum next weekend so she is still going to be a part of it. But, the decision is ultimately up to Sister and she’s the one who needs to deal with it. Patient P is sat staring at me. When I hang up she says she can’t believe I’ve just done that. I did what was best for me and I did it in the right way. Go Patient C! It’s true. Over the last few days I’ve felt more ok with saying what I need. Hopefully, this is another turning point in my recovery.
Due to the call, there is not time to have a walk so instead I head straight to IPT. Whilst waiting outside the room, a new patient comes to wait too. Look Patient C, if it’s going to worry you so just ask her… “Are you in Group 1”. The answer… yes. Ok, I can relax then. Next, I ask her name, it’s Patient H. I’ve completely lost track of my patient alphabet so I don’t know if this is a new H or an H that should be denoted with a number! Therapist L arrives and calls Patient L3 out for a quick chat, then she calls Patient J3 out. Patient P and I joke that it’s like they are called to the headmaster’s office. Neither of them re-join the group and we start check in. I check in as feeling like I’m making progress but I need to explore (yet again I am using therapist talk!) what came up this morning in more detail. I also explain I am now worrying the brownie was too much.
Group starts with Patient G, she didn’t have any time in this morning’s group so it’s fair she goes first. She’s 6 days in and is feeling so overwhelmed that she doesn’t know where to start. I felt the same way. There was so much to start tackling that it’s hard to understand where to being. We aren’t here because of one or two minor things, it’s hard to know where to begin. Also, as I’ve discovered, things I didn’t even know were bothering me have come tumbling out whilst talking.
Don’t talk but chip in a lot… I love to help people and problem solve. Makes me feel a sense of worth.
It’s ok we didn’t get to me. I ask the group to hold me accountable in my next session as I do need to address it but it’s ok it’s not today. As we leave the room, Patient D says I am very insightful, that means a lot.
Patient P get chatting in the reception area. She is due to leave on Monday but I am not sure she’s ready. I know I am not qualified to make that decision but I tell her why I am worried. She agrees but it’s a financing problem rather than being ready. The therapy we are receiving here is excellent. I have really benefitted from it, it’s just such a shame that this isn’t available to everyone who has a mental health problem but given it is a hefty price tag, there are very few who can afford this. As we are talking, Patient J3 comes out. He’s going for a walk so I decide to tag with him for moral support to make sure I get the bus. Yes, really, I’m getting the bus home for the second day in a row. Today feels like it’s a positive day.
I get home and given the vets appointment, I can’t avoid the attic anymore. Finally, the suitcase will be going away and the cat carrier is coming down. I head to the vets in the car and I am early. Second time out of the house and I am going to have to communicate with people. The vet thinks my girl cat has cut her paw on some broken paw. Whilst in hospital the cats knocked some glass of a shelf, the little buggers. She’s going to be fine but she needs to be seen again in 2 weeks. This is a great money scam of vets! The consultation costs £45 and I’ll have to pay it again for the next visit. It’s too little to put through on insurance as my premium will go up more that £90 for claiming so I have no choice but to pay. I love the cats but please can they try to be less clumsy!
Once home it’s time to face up to calling mum. My boy cat is in a grump with me for leaving him here whilst I took his sister to the vet so keeps trying to sit on my phone whilst talking to mum. The conversation is a good one. We don’t talk about the wedding party and I manage to tell her to stop asking me when I’m going back to work. I’ll let her know, with enough warning, when I am going back. Until then, please can she not ask. To manage her expectations, I tell her it’s at least a month away due to the extended care. Mum being mum, she does remind me I need to get the weight off. I know mum, it’s hardly something I can ignore as I put on my L and XL clothing!
Next up it is supper and I stick to the plan of a healthy veggie microwave one pot. Oh boy, I really want to binge on chocolate. I don’t though but please can the cravings subside. I finally get my new to do note pad out and start writing out the tasks that need doing. I am not going to schedule them, I am going to do them in any order. Come on Patient C, keep riding this positivity wave. The rest of the night is spent typing up some notes, watching something random on tv and lighting a candle. The urge to binge is decreasing and hopefully, it will continue to do so. I head to bed early. I don’t read, I don’t have the concentration, but I am in bed and I am not going to fall into the trap of looking at social media.