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’
Today is day care. It is also the first day I’ve woken up without the depression fog hanging right over my head. I woke up thinking I could go to work today. I mean, maybe it’s because I spent last night thinking about work but honestly, if I could see my doctor right now, I think I would be ready to go back to the office. This is great. Breakfast, teeth, face and out the door I go basically skipping along the pavement to the bus stop. See, I really am a 31-year-old child. On the bus, I try not to let anxiety take over. I start to play an audio book and focus on the fun and frivolous story being narrated in my ear. I try not to concentrate on the man stood on the stairs when the blue sticker in front of him clearly states ‘No standing on the upper deck or stairs’. No, even the rogue rule breaker won’t ruin this morning.
Some of the patients have a WhatsApp group so I ping them to let them know that Patient C, who thinks she may be ready to become Person C, is on her way in. The response is that apparently, I missed all the drama and most of Group 1 are boycotting therapy. Wow, ok. Well, and this is going to test my people pleasing trait, I don’t care. I am going to be selfish, I need to stick with the therapy and whilst I think of the other patients as some lovely crazy people, I’m not missing therapy for them. I am here for a reason.
It’s a small group, what with the boycott and all, so that means time for us all to speak. We work through the fact that most of our coping mechanisms are learnt as a child however, these don’t work in the long term. They need to be replaced with healthy, adult coping mechanisms. The other thing I learn in this session is how much shame I feel. Shame that I’ve got credit card debt, shame that I am single and alone, shame that I haven’t been the perfect person, shame I’ve not been promoted, etc. etc. I’d list them all but that would be very boring. To be honest, that is quite a big revelation. I know what the word shame means however, I’ve not realised it’s how I feel about every single aspect of my life. Ok, Person C may still need some time being Patient C, the depression fog seems to be clouding over.
On the way to lunch, I learn about the bank holiday escapades. Patient L3 had a fight with new Patient H2. Patient L3 then had a fight with Therapist W. Consequently, Patient L3 ran out of group, ran to the restaurant, into the kitchen and stole a butcher’s knife before being restrained by the kitchen staff. Oh blimey. That’s the kind of story line you see in films! Thankfully Patient L3 is ok and unharmed however they are now, very sensibly, on 1:1 with a nurse – i.e. where a nurse follows you for every minute of all of the 24 hours in the day whilst you are being charged £41/ hour for the pleasure. Patient L3 is refusing to go to any more therapy sessions and some patients have joined the boycott in support.
Lunch is a bean burger with some steamed veg (yes, I’d started to miss the steamed veg) and a couple of potatoes. Once Patient J3 and L5 have finished, they head back to their rooms. Being a day patient, I have no questionable carpet room to hide in so I stay in the restaurant and finally get round to drafting my aunty a letter. I feel I owe her an explanation for what’s going on at the moment. It’s emotional, as all of this is. It also makes me realise that, whilst this morning’s optimism is great, it’s very fragile. It can be broken easily and needs more work. It’s hard to admit but I am not yet ready to be Person C as Patient C still needs some therapy.
I head to IPT and the boycott seems to be losing its strength. A couple of patients have caved and re-joined the group. It’s a good session however, I realise now that I spoke a lot to help others and to problem solve but I didn’t actually have any time to talk about what’s going on in my head. It’s ok but I ask the group to hold me accountable tomorrow, I need to talk through some things.
After group, it’s time for my weekly 1:1 with Dr. E. She’s running late as per usual but thankfully there are no colleagues in the waiting room. I’ve learnt to do a room scan before fully committing to entering the waiting room, just in case. We talk about how my days at home are going, how I feel the medication is working and what my state of mind is. I am a little worried to admit that today is an ok day. This may sound odd, or even crazy given I’m a psychiatric patient, however I am scared to say I am having a good day in case all the support that’s keeping me upright, falls away. What if the doctor says I don’t need any more appointments? What if friends stop being so accommodating? What if I have to stop coming to therapy? [Thursday spoiler] I know, now, a few days later, and having discussed it in the next blog post, that the doctors and therapists are well qualified and realise there are good days and bad days. Basically, they can’t get rid of me that easily.
I head out and to the scene of my (binging) crimes, M&S. I need milk and that is all. Just milk. Yes, they would store the milk in the fridge opposite the yum yums and iced and spiced buns, which I am thrilled to say appear to still be on sale and therefore not an Easter novelty! I survive but I am tired. Milk purchased, I get in a taxi. This feels very naughty after my recent string of successful bus trips. It feels wrong even. I start worrying as I watch the meter going up. Thankfully, I am home in no time at all and whilst a dent in the finances, as dents go, it’s not too bad.
Once home I get straight into PJs. What happens next is disappointing. Actually, a bit more than disappointing, downright annoying. I start binging. By binge standards, it’s a small one but it’s a binge nonetheless. The free meal out I was promised by Friend ML if I was binge free has now been lost. I need to be careful now for two reasons, 1: I regularly apply a global thought – well I’ve messed up now so I might as well truly mess up and 2: This is obviously a sign that something isn’t ok with my emotions. Any of this morning’s optimism has been well and truly crushed under the weight of a lot of biscuits. I don’t want to go in tomorrow. It’s not rational, I’ve had a good day, why am I sabotaging it? I give the binge a brief pause to write the card to my aunt and just as I am about to head face first into the chocolates, my phone rings. It’s Friend KT and she has an exciting question. What Friend KT does not realise is, by talking to me for 30 minutes, she’s stopped the binge. I’ve seen sense and I realise that I don’t need to make this situation worse than it is.
So, let’s not totally write today off, let’s get to bed and start again tomorrow. I don’t need to catastrophise. I can eat healthily tomorrow and use therapy to explore the emotions behind the binge.