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 Tuesday morning and I am up before 0830. That might not sound that much of an achievement but it really is. I pour some cereal and I am not going to even try to convince you that it’s a ‘Normal’ amount. It’s not, it’s a lot. It’s also a chocolate cereal. I swear when I was a kid, cereals were far blander than the ‘krave’ chocolate puffs of today. Also, I know this blog is littered with spelling and grammar mistakes but ‘k’rave? ‘K’? Really?
Once I’ve scoffed my way through a lot of chocolate puffs, I do something different. Food wise, the day may not be so great but I am going to try and do a few things positively. I go straight back to the bedroom and get dressed. I make the bed, open the curtains and tie back my hair. I don’t brush my teeth, that’s a step too far but I am dressed. I am meant to be meeting a friend for a coffee but I’ve not heard from them yet. That’s ok, I feel like I’ve got some positivity coursing through my veins at the moment.
I take a seat on the sofa and hit play on Big Little Lies, wow it’s good! I may have then binged watched all 7 episodes. It would appear good is not the only thing I binge on! Whilst watching the 7 episodes back to back, I also sort out the bins (I know, I seem to sort out the bins a lot in this blog. Maybe something I should try not to fret about?), change the litter tray and stack the dishwasher. I also sort out a couple of money transfers and start some blog write ups that I’ve been putting off. All in all, this is progress.
Progress stops when I receive an email from the hospital’s day care coordinator. There is some ambiguity about how many days I have been in and what my insurance will cover. Oh gosh, I can’t afford the hospital bill if my insurance isn’t going to pay it. Shit. Shit, bugger shit. I start flicking frantically through my google calendar. I’ve meticulously logged all the days I’ve been in. There has been a mix up about the ½ days I took a month ago but I am still ‘owed’ 1 more day care day. That was meant to be Friday’s plan. I email back and wait for a reply. Deep breaths, if I am liable, I will find a way through this. I can cope and carry on.
I return to the sofa to watch something suitably light whilst trying to resurrect the positivity that today started with. I start messaging people to arrange things to do next week. It’ll be my first whole week with no hospital sessions. I am not sure I am feeling that strong so a whole week feels like a lifetime. One of the people is my manager. She messages that coffee would be best as she’s not sure what time she finishes each day. It’s an occupational hazard at the office so I understand. I start to worry if my absence is creating more stress for the team. Logically, of course it is, they are a woman down however, when she replies telling me to stop it, I click back to realising I don’t need to say sorry for being ill. I don’t need to worry about everyone else at the cost of neglecting myself. I am going this so I am a stronger, better functioning adult.
I start a new colouring picture and then call Mum. I am heading to Oxfordshire tomorrow for a night with Friend KH & RH, plus their 2 littlies so won’t be speaking to her. We talk for a bit and I let her know my plans for the week. This is when Mum comes out with ‘Mum Gold’. She kindly reminds me not to buy any clothes tomorrow as I’m ‘so fat, you can’t fall into accepting your current size’. Great. Thanks. I mean, it’s the truth but I could do without the guilt trip. Also, I have no intention of buying clothes. I have a very specific small list of things to look for and I am not planning on going off plan! I then tell Mum about Mental Health Mates. They host walks around the country for anyone to turn up free of judgement. There is one near me coming up and I am planning to attend. Through the Bryony Gordon podcasts, I’ve also learnt that in certain places in London, there are drop in mental health cafes. Mum, ever the tactful person that she is, tells me ‘don’t get too involved in mental health things, you need normal things too.’ Oh Mum, I love you but you really don’t have a clue.
I head to bed as 2200 looking forward to tomorrow but this isn’t where the story ends. No, I start planning next week and obsessing about each minute. This lasts until 0230. I don’t know how I’ve spent 4 hours doing this but I have, the clock doesn’t lie.
I feel I’m being crushed. I’ve unraveled so much I can’t stop unraveling. I’m nearly at the cardboard skeleton that is the core strength to any ball of twine. I’m scared. I’m really bloody scared. My positivity is increasing, slowly, but it feels so fleeting, so fragile. I’m scared to believe it’s there and I’m scared it’s not there. Everything feels so awful. It feels like my pain has been magnified. Small, simple tasks fail me. I know that I’m moving forward, I just wish it wasn’t so darn hard.
As the day care days dwindle down to 1, I am saving it for Friday. To try to ensure I leave the house, I’ve made plans. I am due to be meeting a friend out of London for some shopping, baby cuddles and an evening with home cooked food. Friend KH is the same friend who sent her 2-year-old to wake me up last time I stayed with them so I am in for a treat.
The alarm(s) have gone off but I’ve rolled back over. I am tired. I kept myself up until 0230 trying to put plans in place for next week. Ah, OCD and the need to plan everything, welcome back to my manic planning. The problem is, the hair most definitely needs a wash and it’s a 1 hour 45-minute drive out of London. I message Friend KH that I am going to be late. I really wish that message said I am not coming. I’d like to stay in bed for the day. I don’t though, I get up, feed the cats and sort out their litter tray. I can hear the warm comfy bed calling me, or more like, calling on the depression to lull it back to a dark room under the duvet. I give in to temptations and get back into bed for 10 minutes. I’m going to be very late but the bed is so comfy! When I finally get out of bed, it’s shower time and out the door. I am finally on the road. I’m not convinced I can face being out at the moment but I won’t let Friend KH with Baby HH down. I feel too accountable which is a good thing.
When I arrive, Friend KH is looking at some children’s clothing. It’s unbearably cute. As we queue to pay, I catch sight of myself in a full-length mirror. Wow, Patient C, you really are big. In fact, I didn’t recognise it was my reflection at first. I look awful. My hair, albeit clean, is scraped back, I’ve got some spots, and I am big. Really big. Friend KH has been following the blog so asks how I am. She knows that the answer is not great but I appreciate her asking. I also appreciate I don’t have to say ‘I’m fine’ as an answer.
I manage to keep the purchases to a minimum, Mum’s lovely words ringing in my ears from last night, but it’s been a good day walking around outside. I get some sorely needed vitamin D. As we are about to leave, I get a call from an unknown number. I ignore it, like I ignore all calls. Friend KH questions me about it. What is it that I am scared about? I’m worried it’s the hospital, I am worried it is work, I am worried! I know that I’ll have to face whatever it is but answering ‘unprepared’ feels too big. They’ve left a voice message and it’s the hospital. I explain to KH that having not answered, I am still going to worry so really, this strategy is ineffective. I’ll call them once back at her house and deal with it. There was another worry that flitted through my mind as I silenced the phone. How do I explain that I am still ill but out shopping? It feels a bit like playing truant from school. I have a valid reason, I am not a fully functioning adult at the moment and being locked in the flat is only going to make this worse but I feel bad I am out with a friend. It’s taken a massive amount of energy and I’m struggling a bit yet I still feel guilty. Does anyone understand what I mean?
I drive back to wait for Friend KH who has gone to collect Kid MH. Whilst waiting in their driveway, I call the hospital. I am nervous, my heart is pounding. Should I apologise for being away for the night? No, come on Patient C, pull it together. You are here trying to be healthy, not playing truant. After a 15 minutes call, it’s all sorted. I do have 1 day left and I am not liable for any costs. Phew, that’s a relief. I can relax now this evening. Just one more day on Friday and then, then I am doing this on my own!
Kid MH, oh my days, she has blonde ringlets for days! Too too cute. Being a 2-year-old with fantastic vocabulary, arguably a lot better than mine, she says things like they are. Sat on the sofa, my bulge is most definitely bulging. She pokes and prods it a bit before asking Bam Bam what is it? Oh, lovely Kid MH, it’s fat, lots and lots of fat. Friend KH and I talk frankly about the next few weeks. I need to get my backside into gear. I need to be walking and eating properly, I need to be leaving the house, I need to be functioning.
Once Friend RH returns from work, it’s a home cooked pie which consists of at least 5 of my 5 a day – thanks Friend KH! – and chats, including Friend RH laughing at my ability to eat a whole box of cereal. Friend RH, we can’t all be blessed with such amazing talents, try not to feel too jealous!
I’m so lucky to have such a fantastic group of friends rooting for me. I need you all right now and you’ve all been amazing.
We head to bed at a perfectly respectable 2230. I am too tired to read and I have a bit of a headache so I turn the light off and surprisingly fall immediately to sleep.
‘I’m awake Bam Bam. Bam Bam, come get me’ – there is nothing better than a 2-year-old alarm clock! It’s 0745 and I am getting up and letting Kid MH out of her room. She’s already smiling. How amazing it must be to be a 2-year-old who only needs to worry about which finger to prod into the paint pot and the location of a favourite teddy. Kid MH, given you appear to be a more functioning person that I am, want to swap places?! Friend KH makes me and Kid MH ‘dippy eggs’ for breakfast. Looking at the soft-boiled eggs in front of me, it’s the first ‘Normal’ breakfast in quite a while. Friend KH’s parents are coming for the day to see their gorgeous grandchildren so I head back upstairs to get dressed.
The grandparents arrive and Kid MH is very giggly as she gets spun around the room. I stay for an hour before getting in the car to head home. Given I’ve got a few more weeks before I am allowed back to work, I will be back for more baby and kid cuddles!
As I drive home, it’s a bit of a pang of sadness that I don’t have what they have. It’s exactly the same pang that hit last time I left them. I also have a pang of sadness that I am not my ‘Normal’ Bam Bam fun.
As I drive back to London, I start to think where I can stop to get some food. The day started positively but I can feel the binge urges coming on. I don’t smoke but I can only imagine that my urges to binge are like a smoker’s urge to smoke when they give up. I carry on driving past all the signs for the motorway services, many of which seem to include a M&S. It’s not until I am 3 minutes from home that I think of the local Tesco. I manage to get a parking spot right outside. As I enter, I pick up a basket, a sure sign that this isn’t going to be a little binge. I get some cereal, milk, pastries, biscuits and crisps. I pay and realise my shame at binging has gone. I frankly don’t care what the lady at the till thinks of my £18 bags of crap.
I get home, change into a tracksuit – take note, it’s not my pjs – and pour a huge bowl of cereal. I don’t know why I am craving cereal so much at the moment. I move onto the pastries and once finished, start to fall asleep on the sofa. I wake up when my cat jumps on my lap. It’s no good, I can’t keep my eyes open. I go to bed and have a nap. This may well come back to bite me when I try to go to sleep tonight but I can’t keep my eyes open either so it’s a no win.
3 hours later and I feel better. Bloated and ashamed but better. I have even more to eat as the negative cycle kicks in. I am ashamed at how big I am and how much I’ve eaten. This shame is uncomfortable. When I am uncomfortable I struggle to cope with the emotion and therefore comfort binge. See the problem in this?
Patient C, you need to get your act together. You can’t live in a cycle of binging, sleeping and hiding. This isn’t what life is for. This isn’t why you’ve fought through hell for the last 14 weeks. Come on. You can do this. This has to stop. I know, you’ve read that many a time before. In the same way I slowly but unsteadily started the walking, I need to not-so-slowly start eating properly again. I clear up the remnants and pack things away. I then plan tomorrow’s food diary. A food diary keeps me honest to myself. I know things are out of control when I am ignoring it. I ignore it because of the shame I feel for eating so much. Ah the shame, what a great emotion that is. Tomorrow is all planned and I feel positive about it. The bulge is now seriously growing. I reckon I’d comfortably pass for a 6-month pregnant lady! No, it’s just a food baby I’ve nurturing.
I am going to finish my blog write up, wash my face, brush my teeth and get into bed. I am going to read for a bit and then, go to sleep. Tomorrow is my last day of intense therapy. I’m ready to say good bye but I am not sure how I’ll cope. It’s confusing but I feel ready to leave the hospital behind. I think.