Hold Your Head Up

3 08 2013

Hold your head up, there’s a light in the sky.
I know you’re fed up, but you must try to survive.


2:10 pm

Just arrived at the mood disorders unit. It’s a completely different beast. I have a roommate, who seems very kind, but it still chafes to share my small space with a stranger.

I’m uncomfortable here. I just got into the groove of the acute unit and now everything is different. I have to learn new rules, meet new people. I’m sure this is the right place for me to be, but a small part of me wishes I was still downstairs, where I’d gained a modicum of control.

I never finished my puzzle. They tell me there are puzzles up here, but I think I learned my lesson. We’ll see if it sticks when I get bored.

3:30 pm

Fresh Air Breaks (FAB) are different on this unit. Did I tell you about them before? My memory is a bit muddled between what I’ve told you and what I’ve told individual friends. Anyway, FABs are, of course, smoking breaks. However, they’re also the only opportunity to leave the confines of the UNI building. So I take FABs along with the others, because inhaling the smoke is a small price to pay for the feeling of the sunshine on my skin.

Downstairs we had a small patio for FABs—concrete, surrounded by brick walls, filled with 3 tables and a small bench. Upstairs we have no patio, so they bring us to an area outside the cafeteria. There are trees and a view of the mountains and a place away from the smokers where I can sit and write. I feel the breeze ruffle my hair. I watch the leaves dance on their branches and realize I need to spend more time outside. I don’t appreciate that freedom.

It’s a beautiful day. I’m scared and I’m sad, but it’s a little bit less. And it’s a beautiful day.

9 pm

Did I say I was less sad? I take that back. The 30 minute sob-fest I just had begs to differ. Nothing like a little reminder of why I’m on the mood disorders floor.

My crocheting is still verboten. Apparently I cannot be trusted with yarn and a hook without the proper clearance from my doctor.

I had my first visitor tonight. It’s amazing what a lift that gave to my spirits. Phone calls are treasured as well. I had no idea how precious the familiar would become when I was placed in an unfamiliar environment.


10:30 am

I skipped community group this morning to cry and nap. I’m achingly sad today. I know it will look bad in my reports, but I just want to hibernate.

One positive thing to look forward to, though: Car and the Gs are visiting this afternoon. I know that will help me find my smile (and the pillow they bring from home will help me find my sleep).

12 pm

The others are going to lunch while I sit and wait for my psychiatrist to finish with another patient. I find it rather inconvenient that she came right at lunchtime, though I suppose she finds it inconvenient to come in on a Saturday. I could go to lunch and risk missing her, but I want my crocheting, dammit.

I met with a therapist this morning, and for the first time in what seems like a millennium I feel hopeful. Hopeful I might not always want to die. Hopeful someday I can be happy. Hopeful I might actually leave here.

It’s a good feeling.

12:30 pm

Got my crocheting back. BOOM.

2:30 pm

Music therapy lady is slightly less kooky than the first. I’ve come to the conclusion that you need to be at least a little bit nutty to be a music therapist. (I’m looking at you, Meredith Blumoff.) Still, she brought some good music with her. I think my favorite was “Hold Your Head Up” by Macklemore, which surprised me. There was even a line which perfectly described why I’m blogging this experience to share with all of you:

Freedom is acknowledging the mask you have on
and possessing the strength to take it off.

There are people who keep their journey here private from the world. I understand that; I know the stigma that comes with mental illness this severe. But I also know this: if I hide it, I will never get better. Depression is a part of who I am, and when I push it down, fake a smile, and hide it from the world, it doesn’t go away. It simply waits until I let my guard down and then hits me full force.

So this is me without my mask, doing my best to hold my head up and try to survive.

As one of my friends told me—I got this.

*Note to self: Write mystery novel featuring murderer who wields crochet hook and yarn. GENIUS.



11 responses

6 08 2013
Toni Ellsworth

Jen, sounds like you are learning a lot about yourself. I totally agree with Abby’s comment. You will make progress, some days more than others. But you will progress. Glad you got your crocheting back. I know that it can be a great comfort and it works well as a distraction. Proud of you.

4 08 2013

You are amazing. You should crochet a gun cover or something equally strange. THAT would give them something so talk about…
I am calling you in the morning…

4 08 2013

I’m thinking of you often. Sending light and love.

3 08 2013
Alison Stangel Bulson

You are in my thoughts and prayers every day. Feel better (it sounds like you are totally on the right road to) soon.
AND thank you for sharing.

3 08 2013

Also, murder mystery novel with crochet hook and yarn as the weapon? Yes. Very yes.

3 08 2013

Yay for crocheting!!! I think I will crochet tomorrow just for you. I mean, not crocheting an item for you, but like, dedicating my crocheting to you. Is that weird and/or douchey? Anyway. I love you!

3 08 2013

I love you without your mask. Thank you for sharing your story. Your writing is beautiful as always. May your hope continue to grow brighter. You got this- meaning you got the courage to be vulnerable and authentic–which is way braver than hiding. No one can handle life’s despairs on their own. We ALL need help. The world would be a happier and safer place if we all took off our stupid masks.

3 08 2013

Bravery, babe: you’ve got it in spades. Also, a constitution.

3 08 2013

Jen, you are so brave and beautiful for sharing this experience. I’m here reading and wishing you love and light in your recovery. **hugs**

3 08 2013

I whole-heartedly agree with your friend, you got this!

3 08 2013
Annette Lyon (@AnnetteLyon)

Hooray on the crocheting! You DO “got this.” So glad you’re getting the help you need. So many people here need and love you.

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