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’
I fell asleep early last night in a desperate bid to calm the storm in my mind. I slept so at the very least, I’ve had a 9-hour break from it. I still feel so low though. I am sitting at the kitchen table having some cereal. No, it’s not just some, it’s a lot. Food is my comfort, even though I know it’s only short term relief and I’ll soon be beating myself up for over eating.
I am very undecided about going in today. I feel like I desperately need a sofa day. Sky has some great films and it is a bank holiday, maybe I should stay here? That way, I can also hide from the world. I know though, the fact I want to stay here with the blinds down means I really do need to go in today. I get up, I get dressed and I get in a taxi. I am not even going to attempt the bus today. The taxi can be my bank holiday present to myself. I have very greasy hair but frankly, I couldn’t give a shit.
Session 1 time, CBT, with Therapist W. He seems to take our check ins, analyse them and then tell us what we meant but in a far better way. He seems to unscrabble my mind. We also have a new patient, Patient H2. I am not sure how I feel about him. I’ll try not to judge straight away but, I am really not sure. I check in as flat, I can’t see a future for myself. I can’t see a world with me in it. I have also not emailed my psychiatrist as I said I would on Friday, can the therapists help me? I’m not crying, I am not snotty, bloody or otherwise, I am sat here quite calm and collected but resigned to my future. This, this is a scary place to be. To be so done. To feel calm that there is no other option. Therapist W can sense I am in a dark place and he is prompting me. Can I write 2 sentences to my psychiatrist? It doesn’t need to be everything, it only needs to let her know I am in a bad place. Therapist W wants to go through why it’s so hard to write those couple of sentences. The truth is, I don’t like the truth. If I tell someone how awful the thoughts in my head are, then it’ll be true. I can’t lie to myself anymore. I can’t pretend to myself. It’s not just the big wide world that I want to plaster on the ‘I’m fine’ façade. It’s for me too. If I admit this is what I think, maybe it’ll be more real.
Therapist W points out that I am rebuffing the groups ideas. I don’t appear to be able to hear the positive comments they are all telling me. He’s right. I thrive off positivity. I need to be told positive feedback to get the best out of me. However, in this scenario, all the positive things they are saying, I can’t absorb. I find evidence to support my hypothesis that I am bad. So, yes, I need positive reinforcement, no, I don’t deal well with negative comments, but yes, I will always look for evidence to prove the positives wrong. Confused? Yes, me too, so imagine what my mind looks like!
Patient H, more than any of the others, is desperately trying to rescue me from this hell that I am wading through. He’s so desperate that he’s missed the point of what is troubling me. I want him to stop trying to save me. I don’t though, I let him continue speaking. I don’t want to stop him as I think what he is saying may also be useful to him too. Therapist W picks up that I may not be taking it all in. I am frustrated that I am not being heard, I am frustrated that I am struggling so much with my emotions. I really want to binge. Before the session finishes, Therapist W reminds us that our brains are very good at fabricating evidence to support our negative self-beliefs and that very few people’s negative self-belief is true… but what if I am one of those few?
I have lunch alone with my audiobook as my companion. Patient H comes over to check I wasn’t offended by him trying to help me. I tell him no, I promise, even though I can’t promise. He needs me to say it was ok, I can read it in his eyes. Lunch is chicken and spinach lasagne followed by a slice of unrecognisable sweet thing. I attack the Sudoku and keep listening to the book until it’s time for IPT.
It’s 13:57 and there is no sign of Therapist M2. Where are they? Have they changed the rooms and not told me? Therapist M2 turns up at 13:59. Cutting it a bit fine mister! There is no one behind him. Am I about to face my first group therapy without a group? This makes me nervous. What will happen? What are the rules for this? At 14:01 Patient N2 arrives then at 14:02 Patient H2 turns up, he’s the new patient. He scares me a bit so I am not that pleased to see him. So, there are 3 of us, and a therapist. Sounds a bit like a bad 80’s film plot.
Check in starts and I state I am feeling flat, struggling with the feeling of too many plans this week and worrying about the party I missed yesterday. I’m worried because my ex was there with his wife and child. I have no feelings towards him anymore, that much I can guarantee. The worry is that he might find out I’m a psychiatric patient at the moment. My ex cheated on me just before Christmas 6 years ago. For a few days, we fell into a limbo of trying to work out if we could make the relationship work or not. Then, 2 days before Christmas, he came to my family home to tell me it was over. He didn’t stop there though, he then told me he’d never be able to trust me to have his kids because of my bulimia. He threw my mental health at my face. To try to be fair and give his side of this, he’d spent a lot of our relationship trying to help me stop the bulimia. At times, because I worked abroad, that meant him going through my suitcase on a Sunday night to remove the hordes of laxatives. I can’t have been an easy person to be in a relationship. Still, he threw it in my face at the most painful moment and here I am, 6 years later, a psychiatric patient. If he has found out yesterday, well, I’ve proven him right. I don’t want him back but I do want what he, and many others, have. I want someone to love me, I’d love a child too.
Therapist M2 points out that when we compare ourselves to other people, we always lose. We’ll never come out on tip. He’s right. I’ve never won the comparison race. Then, he reminds me of a statement I am very familiar with… Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. Just because I am recovering and feel alone now, doesn’t mean I will always be recovering and alone. The fact life feels unbearable at the moment does not mean it will always feel unbearable. I need to hang on to that. Therapist M2 also wants to say how well I’ve been doing. He remembers first meeting me. I was grey, curled inwards and a shell of a person. In the last few months, I’ve opened up, I’ve taken risks, I’ve cried and admitted my pain. That’s big. It’s huge in fact. I need to keep reminding myself of this. He suggests I put post-it notes around the flat.
I then remember something about the weekend. I paid for supper on Saturday as Sister and I had already agreed that it would be part of the present for Aunty’s birthday. It also meant I paid for Friend AG. I didn’t know how to ask for the money. I felt ashamed as I should be able to afford supper for my friends and family. When we were stopping for a poncey coffee, I not only let her buy me the coffee, I also accepted her money when she remembered she’d not paid. That little triumph then spurred me on. At the pub on Sunday, I paid for our roasts to make it easier for us to pay for Aunt’s again. Feeling like I shouldn’t feel too guilty asking for money, I told Sister there and then what she owed me for the weekend. I even added on what she owed me for Mother’s day which was ages ago. I’ve not checked if she’s done the bank transfer but I’ve asked. That’s a big change.
Back in Monday’s IPT session and Therapist M2 is telling us to be our own best friend. Pour as much energy as I pour into my friends, into myself. Friends have said this to me since I have admitted how ill I am. It’s a foreign concept to me. How do I be nice to myself? So, Patient C, meet your new best friend, Person C. This is the best friend that is going to help you transition from Patient to Person. I’ve shown I have more strength that I realise by admitting I have a problem. I’ve sought help and I can promise you that wasn’t easy. So, I need to take off the sponge façade that holds onto every single negative thing, not matter how minor it is, and I need to take off the Teflon coating that doesn’t let me absorb any positives. I may be about to bore you with an anecdote I’ve already used but… bear with me.
At work, we have annual performance reviews. These are printed and given to us the night before the meeting so we can review it. I take mine home, sit on the kitchen floor with my pencil and read, then re-read, then highlighted all the things that stung in the development points. I didn’t read the positive points. I then memorised the bits that I thought were the worst bits. I found evidence to support that I really was shit. I ignored any evidence that supported I’d actually got good feedback with some lovely comments. Oh, Patient C, the things you do and say to yourself are worse than anything anyone else can do or say to you. Please learn, please stop.
I’ve calmed a little since my thoughts of binging but not enough to prevent what happens next. I enter M&S. Yes, M&S. I know, I was doing so well, why am I self-sabotaging now? You can guess what goes in the basket. Yum Yums, Iced & Spiced buns, wine gums, 2 sandwiches and 3 small packet of crisps. Bugger. I pay, I leave and I head to the taxi line. No, I am not going to walk or even bus back home. I want to get home and I want to get home quickly. The quickest method is taxi.
I am not going to use the ‘e’ word any more (exhausted). I don’t feel it does the feeling I have enough justice. I don’t know what word would do it justice though. I walk in the door and commence a binge. Not a huge binge but a binge nonetheless. I then get into pjs and sit at the kitchen table to finish my latest querkles colouring picture. It’s very satisfying to see the finished piece but I am annoyed I have made a couple of mistakes. I’ll just have to live with it. I’ve finished the colouring at about 2130 so I have a decision to make. Do I start a new one and risk having a late night as I won’t be able to stop until I feel I’ve reached a stopping point – don’t ask me how I determine a stopping point, I don’t know myself, if just becomes a rule – or do I do the sensible thing and go to bed with my book and try to read? I am going to offer blog points for this guess…
10 points if you guessed… I went to bed and tried to read! Ha, bet that caught a few of you out. It’s taken me by surprise too and I am the person making these decisions! Me, Patient C, is going to do the sensible thing for both mind and body. I crawl into bed with my book and a soothing Spotify bedtime mix. I read for a bit before turning the light off, rolling over and falling into blissful, and most importantly, depression free slumber.