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’ve made it through 5 whole days with no hospital input. 5. Whole. Days. I can’t quite believe it. I’ve not got anything planned for today as I wasn’t sure how I’d be feeling at the end of the first week hospital free. I’m also seeing Mum tomorrow so feel the need to re-coup some energy units in advance. I get up at a sensible time, pre-0800 and have my planned breakfast, it’s the weekend so it’s a treat – hot cross bun with butter. The hospital has arranged a workshop once a month for carers and family members to help them understand what we are going through. Today’s the first one and the topic is depression and anxiety. I’d asked Sister to go and, if she felt Mum could handle it, tell her too. I text her to see if she’s registered. She’s not. She’s going camping with some friends instead. I am annoyed and somewhat hurt. Truthfully, I don’t think I made it clear how important it was to me that she went but at the same time, she could have told me she wasn’t going. I’m in a bad mood now. I don’t feel understood by my family and I’d hoped this could unlock what it’s really like. I can’t get solely mad at her though. This all boils down to poor communication, which, for long term sufferers (a.k.a. blog readers!) is a basic life function I seem to fail at!
To calm down, I sit on the sofa and play a film. It’s a horror film. I’m not a big horror film lover but for some reason really wanted to watch one. Turns out you can scare yourself even when it’s daylight! It’s also not done my anxiety any favours. Funny that, a horror movie specifically designed to scare the audience increases anxiety. I didn’t think this through. Once the film has finished I put on some comedy, anything to help bring the thumping heart rate down. It’s at this point I get the laptop out. I start looking through debt consolidation options. I also look through mortgage options. My 2 year fix is nearly up so I need to do something before it rolls on to the shocking non-fixed rate. The thing is, this is all too overwhelming. I can’t face up to it. The start of a panic attack comes on and I want to run away. The problem is, I can’t run away, running away would mean going outside and I can’t face the outside world so this catch 22 is getting worse and worse. I feel incredibly overwhelmed. I don’t want to be an adult
I press play on another film that I am barely acknowledging whilst the anxiety goes up up up and away. I can’t find my PRN – ‘as needed’ medicine – so I have no choice but to ride this out. I’m not sure if I can face writing either but, writing is a bit like a shower. Once I start, it’s very natural and a release but the starting is hard.
A manage one blog write up before I wonder if I should get dressed? It’s 1530 but it’s never too late to try, right? I’m not 100% sure I am committed to getting dressed so I start another blog write up. Then I realise, I want to binge. I want to binge. I WANT TO BINGE. I don’t, I have the planned snack but it’s not looking good. I am feeling really quite rubbish and I’m still in pjs and my trusty dressing gown.
I finally get up off the sofa and roast a chicken crown. I can’t leave it any longer as a portion of it is for my supper. It’s also part of my food plan for the next 5 days. Once roasted and portioned – are you that surprised I am one of those annoying ‘preppers’ with lots of Tupperware on hand? – I add the mozzarella and pesto. Tonight’s treat is some white chocolate left over from Easter. Once I’ve eaten, I feel less like I am going to binge.
I’ve not done any colouring in ages but I don’t feel I’ve got the energy today. I really feel flatter than flat. If someone could come to my flat and carry me through to my bedroom, I wouldn’t say no. I am also getting more and more anxious about seeing Mum tomorrow. We are going to a museum for a lecture and to see an exhibition. It’s kind of wrong that I am hoping tonight’s chicken will give me food poisoning so I can avoid the awkward conversations tomorrow. This combined with the mortgage worries are driving the anxiety even further up up and away (I wish I was in the Pixar movie ‘Up’ with all those colourful balloons).
Somehow, rather miraculously really, I’ve made it through the day without binging. This is therefore a success. All victories, small or big, need recognition. So, it’s bed time and I’m being super cool and spending my Saturday night in bed before 10pm. Rock’n’Roll! The detailed oriented reader will have noticed that I not only didn’t leave the flat today but I didn’t even get dressed. As for continuing my step progress, I’d estimate I’ve done less that 200! When I crash, it’s somewhat on an epic scale
I wake up and my hair is taking on a life form of its own. Meeting Mum today should be enough of an impetus to wash but, it’s not. Dry shampoo to the rescue. Seriously, the way I go through it, I should definitely buy shares in the company! I know Mum will have something to say about my appearance so I may as well give her fuel to fire it off with. I was going to walk but I really don’t want to go. It takes an argument in my head to get off the sofa, into clothes and out the door. The argument continues for the whole of the bus trip. The benefit of said argument is that I am less anxious about all the bus ‘crimes’ being committed by passengers. They are all flouncing the ‘rules’! Come on people, the blue stickers are there for a reason, give them the overinflated respect that I do!
When I arrive, Mum comes out with more Mum gold:
‘Thank goodness, you aren’t as fat as I’d expected. In fact, you’re only a little fat.’
Oh Mum, where to even begin. The dry shampooed hair goes without a comment but Mum does admit she didn’t think I’d turn up today. Me too Mum, me too. We walk to the museum. We have preview tickets to a new exhibition due to some charity work a family friend does. I love museums so this should be a great day out.
Quick pause: Why oh, why are museums so boring as a teenager yet absolutely riveting as an adult? I love museums now but I used to find them rather tedious with the over enthusiastic teacher leading the outing.
Back to Sunday and we are queuing to go through heightened security. With the world in the mess it is in, this is completely understandable. I mention to Mum that money isn’t exactly great right now. I don’t tell her it’s as bad as it is but this is the first step. She’s cross. How? Why? When? I don’t have the energy to go through all of this now with her but I tell her that I can’t give her my car and I need us to split bills properly. We drop the topic there and, to try to convey she loves me, she reminds me that I really am not as fat as she feared.
The exhibition is great, and it provides a lot of conversation starters to prevent any awkward conversations with Mum. Once we are done, we are going for a late lunch/ early supper. There is a great little vegetarian Indian that Mum loves she we aim for there. As we are walking, Mum probes what’s going on a bit more. I tell her there are good days and bad, this isn’t a linear recovery like a broken leg. She again mentions that I need a makeover. I mean, with a Mum like this, who needs enemies hey?
We order two main courses to share between us whilst I pop next door to buy Mum a beer and me a mini wine. The restaurant is BYOB. I take Mum’s wallet as I have no cash. As we finish eating, I tell Mum that the hospital is hosting family and carer workshops to help people understand this illness a bit more. One was yesterday and I am annoyed I didn’t make it clearer to Sister I wanted her to go. I tell Mum the next two are pertinent to me. One is on panic attacks and one is on suicidality. I’d not known how to pose this to mum. She looks at me and asks, ‘You’ve not been suicidal, have you?’. I am so sorry to hurt you but I need to treat you as an adult so I am going to respond honestly. ‘Yes, Mum, it’s why I had to be an inpatient, there were fears I couldn’t keep myself safe.’
This will sound odd but telling her is a weight off my shoulders. I know that will have hurt her but I can’t keep protecting her. I tell her the workshops aren’t for patients so I won’t be there. Mum says she’ll think about it but will only go if Sister goes, she can’t face this alone. Fair enough, I couldn’t have asked for much more really.
When splitting the bill 50/50 I tell her I’ll pay more as she paid a whopping £3.25 for the two drinks. She snaps but not as I’d expected. She barks at me that she’s allowed to buy her youngest daughter a drink isn’t she. Wow, she’s taken in more than I realised.
I walk her to the station and she links arms with me. I think the physical contact is soothing her. I resist the urge to pull my arm back. She needs this and it’s not hurting me. Once the train departs, I am hit with exhaustion. I take a seat and wait until I feel I can get back on my feet. Rolling this squidgy body around whilst also battling myself is tough work! I do, however, successfully pass not just 1, oh no, but 3 M&S without even the thought of going in. Progress, real, tangible progress!
I should walk home but then I realise, who says I ‘should’? Who made up the rule that I ‘should’ force myself to walk home? No one, at least, no one that I know. This rule isn’t even a rule, it’s a nothing. So, stuff you, non-existent rule. I am taking the bus, a whole other set of rules to deal with but sod it, it’s rules I want to deal with! I get off the bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way. Come on, you never seriously believed I could ignore all my rules, did you? I’ve done 12,000 steps today which hopefully puts some in the bank to make up for yesterday.
I’m still full from earlier so I don’t have supper as full, instead I have an ice lolly. I don’t need to have earnt it. I don’t need to justify it, I can simply have it (yes, I know, the fact I’ve even typed that out is an attempt to justify it, bugger!).
I watch the 3-part drama ‘Three Girls’, it’s not a great idea for a depressed, anxious person to watch something so heavy when said person is already running on empty today!
I don’t have any energy so, no write ups. No colouring. No dot-to-dot just night meds, a book and bed.
That’s 7 whole days, or 168 hours, or 10,080 minutes or 604,800 seconds, that I have not only survived but, at times, enjoyed. I have my fingers crossed, 2 drains stepped on, magic eyelash wishes and any other way to get luck going on that next week continues to move forward, however slowly it takes!