Well I never. Today marks 1 whole year of Compos Mentis Me. I was admitted on Tuesday 7th February 2017 to a psychiatric hospital in London. I was convinced I was only going to be there for a week and then I’d slot back into my life fully ‘cured’ and no one would notice. Funnily enough, that’s not what happened. Turns out, depressed brains need quite a lot of time, sleep and help to get themselves healthy again. I also thought that, 1 year on, I’d be writing about how life was amazing, and I am nailing EVERYTHING. Reality can be such a b!tch though because, guess what… I am not winning at life. The good news is, I am not failing at it either. There is no winning and no failing. Why did I not know this earlier?! I am still here (win), I recently binged (fail), I am communicating more (win), I am letting self-care slip (fail), I feeling more like me than I have in years (win), I am letting old bad habits creep back in (fail). So, as you can see, life, Forrest Gump perfectly summed up life:
“My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
I remember Tuesday 7th February with complete clarity. The final straw had been on the Friday. I then couldn’t get past the front door on the Monday so worked from home, albeit only writing emails. My appointment at 20:30 to see Dr E was about as much as I could manage. She said there really is only one option for me and that’s to go next door to the hospital as an inpatient. I wasn’t going to tell anyone. Not a single sole. However, my mentor was messaging asking how I was. I told her. She then managed to convince me I needed to tell Sister. Thank goodness she did. I’m not really sure why I thought I could do this all alone because honestly, everybody needs somebody. I was allowed to go home that night to pack my own bag. I barely slept and, even though I was told there was no need, I wrote a work handover email. Then, I faced reality(ish) by getting a taxi. The 20 minutes journey felt like hours. The taxi driver asked if I was moving – in relation to the large suitcase – and all I could think was ‘how is this me?’. Going into hospital saved my life. It was so scary but so needed. I then faced an endless set of tests and introductions before lying awake in questionable carpet room all night thinking I shouldn’t have been there. I was a rabbit caught in the headlights and being in hospital meant I’d lost the final perceived piece of control I had in my life.
Serious paragraph done with, here’s a couple of tips for anyone facing hospital:
- Pack comfy clothes – there is no fashion parade in a hospital and honestly, the comfy clothes will help you relax that bit more
- Pack shower flip-flops – even though I was lucky enough to have an ensuite, trust me, you want to wear flip flops in the shower!
- Take slippers – regardless of the state of your carpet, trust me, have some slippers
- Remember the nurses will be rifling through your pants… just saying! You may want to pick different sets
- TELL PEOPLE – don’t block people out, your friends and family are so important and they need to be there with you
- Don’t go alone – I wish I’d taken my mentor up on her offer of coming with me as oh, boy, it was blooming scary
- Don’t be scared – Yup, complete contradiction to the above but ultimately, you are in the best place you can be and it will get better
- You are not alone – Group therapy was the best aspect of hospital (ok, bar the pain au chocolat bread and butter pudding). Seriously, others feel, act, react the way you are. You are not a freak. You are not odd. You are ill
- Hospital isn’t for everyone – A number of patients discharged themselves within the first 48 hours. You are not failing if it’s not for you. I was exactly what I needed but it is a lot of hard work. Not everyone is ready to start that. If it’s not for you, ensure you have support in place.
- Let go – you are safe, you will be looked after, you can let go of controls. You can get through this and whilst the first few days will feel awful, letting go is the beginning to feeling better.
Back to the here and now! Spending 6 weeks at Friend GG’s house was brilliant at helping me make positive changes to my routines however, I’ve somehow failed to bring this back home to the flat with me. It would appear I know better than the doctor’s, friends and family and therefore think sitting in pjs all day is exactly what I need. Funnily enough, spending a few days in pjs leads to feeling a bit down. This, is turn, leads to over eating and, at worst, a binge. I reached 46 days binge free and now, I need to get back to that. The discovery of M&S delivery doesn’t help that. Does anyone else think that M&S food is just so superior to all other supermarkets? Anyway, back to my habits! Unless a friend wants to live with me then I need to learn to take care of myself when no one else is around.
Today’s goal is to go for a run, have a bath and take care of me. See, turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks! Self-care, even when I don’t think I need it, is the only way I am going to be able to keep moving forward.
Everyone has mental health. Why? Because it’s just HEALTH! in the same way everyone has physical health. You are not alone and there are things that can be put in place to help you reach a healthy state, just like with physical health. Reach out, talk to someone, you can and will get through this. It won’t be easy and you’re going to feel thoroughly shit at times but, you’ll also feel great at times.
Preaching, seriousness and some sarcasm over, I hope everyone can do something today to take care of them!
I’ll be back soon!