Adjusting

12 08 2013

I slept too much this morning.

The bed is not my friend, I keep telling myself. Even though I want to burrow under the covers and hide away from the world…the bed is not my friend.

By noon I’ve showered and dressed and I’m ready to leave the house. I’m exhausted, but feel triumphant. My mother drives me back to UNI, because they managed to discharge me without the meds for my ADHD—something I discovered Sunday morning.

That wasn’t a good moment. We’ll label it “crying episode number four,” and then we’ll stop numbering them, because I’ll just feel discouraged by how high the number gets.

The ECT people didn’t call to schedule my appointment. I suppose they have a full schedule, but that doesn’t make me any less annoyed. I’ve decided to have electricity run through my brain, people! Let’s get this show on the road!

I have moments where I wonder if getting ECT is the easy way out. Then I stop and I realize 1) there’s nothing easy about having an electricity-induced seizure three times a week and 2) nothing I choose at this point constitutes an “easy” way out.

I want to remember that. I need to remember that. Nothing about any of this is easy.

People ask me how I’m doing, and my answer is generally the same: “I’m adjusting.” It’s the truth. Actually, if you want the brutal truth, life is not as amazing as I’d hoped it would be when I got out of UNI. I feel sluggish—like I have mud running through my veins and filling up my skull. I stare at my food. I snap at my boys. I remind myself that it’s okay—I’m adjusting—but I don’t want to adjust. I want to be better.

It’s past 11, and time for me to go to bed. This is the only time of day the bed doesn’t beckon me sweetly, but I’ve made a schedule and it’s bedtime now.

The bed is not my friend.

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Home

11 08 2013

I’ve cried 3 times since I’ve been home, but I’ve mostly hidden it because it doesn’t seem like something I’m supposed to do on the day I’m released from the psychiatric hospital.

That’s probably not what you were hoping to read. It’s certainly not what I was hoping to write.

I know they expect some regression when they release us back into the wild, but I was kind of hoping I might be some sort of rare creature who simply learns from the experience and moves forward.

What? A girl can dream.

I feel oddly discontent. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just feel…off. Like I want to walk around the block or go for a drive or maybe just curl up in a ball and cry. I just don’t know what.

When I got home I took a nap, but not a long one, because they tell me the bed is not my friend. I’m trying to remember that. So when I was sad and I started to cry, I did breathing exercises to regain  my emotional control and I didn’t throw myself into a sobbing heap on the bed.

This is progress, yes?

The Gs were playing Minecraft today (the gist of their conversation: “Don’t put the chicken in the waterfall! You’re going to drown the chicken! Look at all those chickens!) and Little G said to Big G, “Go to water if you’re on fire.” It reminded me of a quote one of the psych techs wrote on the board at UNI: “When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department usually uses water.”

So. Deep breathing. I will not heap sadness upon sadness. I will remember that I have hope.

And I will listen to the Dove chocolate wrapper, which commanded me to sleep late tomorrow. I took a picture of it so I could prove I’m not just making that up (and also just because I can do that now that I’m out of the hospital), but my phone is being a jerk, so no chocolate wrapper picture for you.

Now you’re going to cry, aren’t you? Don’t worry. I can teach you some breathing exercises.





I Am Okay

9 08 2013

8/8/13

10:30 pm

3 Things I’m grateful for:

  1. A loving and supportive husband
  2. Good friends who cheer me on
  3. My fellow patients—kind and insightful people who have become terribly important to me.

3 Things I did well today:

  1. I walked away from conflict when a fellow patient tried to start an argument about religion.
  2. I wrote well.
  3. I kicked ass at Octopus 8.

8/9/13

4:45 am

Fire alarm. Seriously? I roll out of bed and grab a bra. I also decide to use the bathroom. Hey, a girl needs priorities.

4:55 am

False alarm. What a surprise. Waking up mid-sleep cycle has left me with a pounding headache, so when the alarm goes off a second time, I’m more than a little stabby. I’m also pondering what a nightmare it would be if they actually had to herd us all out into the parking lot.

I haven’t told you a lot about how things work here, so let me explain a bit. A large number of adults are here, I believe, voluntarily. We recognize we have problems and we want to get better. However, that’s not the case for everyone. We live in locked wards, and for excursions off the unit (in my case, only for meals and FABs), we’re herded down to the second floor by a faithful psych tech keeper.

There are escape attempts. Not from my unit, at least not while I’ve been here. The mood disorders folk aren’t particularly inclined to make a break for it, as best I can tell. There have, however, been at least five escape attempts, or “Code Whites,” from other units during my stay.

When this happens, off go the psych techs in pursuit of the hapless escapee. As far as I’ve heard, they haven’t lost anyone yet.

Speaking of the psych techs, I’m going to go all fangirl on you for a minute here. The psych techs here are, for the most part, amazing. I have my favorites, but I won’t name names. They teach several of our groups. They take care of our day-to-day needs. They listen to a constant barrage of sadness and anger and just about every other emotion you can imagine, and they do it with an exceptional level of compassion. I can’t imagine they’re paid well enough to be emotionally vomited upon on a daily basis, but they just keep coming back.

Like I said. Fangirl. I just can’t help myself.

The ibuprofen is finally kicking in. Time to try for two more hours of sleep.

8/9/13

7:00 pm

One of the psych techs tonight asked why we journal. It’s a really good question, and one for which I don’t have a particularly good answer. I don’t journal to remember things—if that were the case, I’d be writing down a record of the events that happened. But I don’t write events. I spew forth my thoughts and feelings, and then at the end of the day I go ahead and share it with the rest of you.

I’m still trying to figure out my motivation.

9:40 pm

I’m going home tomorrow. Holy crap, I’m going home tomorrow. I’m excited. I’m ready. But I’m also nervous as hell. I feel safe here. I know what to expect here. I know I’m okay here.

Life is so unexpected in the outside world.

But that’s okay. I am okay. Everything will be okay.

We played Yahtzee tonight, and it felt like a group of friends getting together for a casual game night. I find myself oddly hesitant to leave.

But that’s okay. I am okay. Everything will be okay.





Long Enough

8 08 2013

8/8/13

11:30 am

Recreational Therapy today. My new title: Octopus Eight Champion. We also played a group game that involved simple puzzles—some with missing pieces, some with extra pieces. Take away lesson: I’m really good at solving other people’s problems. I also become incredibly frustrated if I can see a clear solution but I’m blocked from implementing it. (Then again, who wouldn’t be frustrated by that?)

I guess the real question here is, can I see a clear solution to my problems?

I wish it were that easy. Like so many things in life, my depression is not a simple puzzle just waiting for the pieces to be put in the right places. Still, I think I can find some strategies and plans for coping with it.

For now, that will do

“Life is a process, not an event.”

4:30 pm

ECT consult. It’s amazing how nonchalant a doctor can sound about running electricity through my brain, but I suppose it’s old hat to him.

I think I’m going to do it. They have an 80% success rate, and that’s a hard thing to turn down. Please don’t tell me what a bad idea it is, about the people you know for whom it didn’t work, or all the horror stories you’ve heard about it.

21 years is long enough. I’ve suffered long enough.

Besides, if it doesn’t work, I probably won’t remember it anyway.





Safe

7 08 2013

8/7/13

3:50 pm

My roommate left today. I miss her already. Fortunately, they moved me into a private room so I won’t have to break in another one.

Today has had some interesting ups and downs. Right now it boils down to this: I might be staying a little bit longer, and I’m going to have a consult with the team that does Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) to find out if I’m a good ECT candidate.

Life on the 4th Floor certainly is a roller coaster.

6:45 pm

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”
– Winston Churchill

Today I stood and spoke. I will be here until at least Saturday. It won’t be cheap, but I’m absolutely worth it.

7:30 pm

I just did yoga. Namaste, bitches.

9:45 pm

Tonight one of the other patients gave me some sprigs of dried lavender. Lavender is known for its soothing properties, which is appropriate for how I feel tonight—calm, soothed…safe.

It’s a good feeling.





Hopeless

6 08 2013

8/5/13

10:30 pm

Three things I’m grateful for:

  1. My roommate, who helps me stay centered.
  2. My family, who give me a reason to stay alive, even on my darkest days.
  3. Cafeteria privileges, so I can have an omelet for breakfast every morning while I’m here.

Three things I did well today:

  1. I listened to other people.
  2. I expressed gratitude to others.
  3. I owned Riki Tiki Bear.

8/6/13

7:50 pm

My insurance has decreed that tomorrow will be my last full day here.

I’m overwhelmed by this news.

I don’t think there’s any way I can describe just how thoroughly my world has been rocked.

For the first time I feel a glimmer of hope that I might be able to find my way back. There is—to fall back on the old cliche—light (albeit faint) at the end of the tunnel, and they are taking that away from me. Someone who has never met me—never even talked to me—is taking that away from me.

I feel hopeless.

I watch the sun set over the Salt Lake Valley. I listen to the constant murmur of the voices of the other patients. I sip the chamomile tea intended to soothe my shattered composure.

I feel so utterly hopeless.





Gratitude

5 08 2013

8/5/13

Kooky music lady is back. BRING IT.

Wait, she has a bottle of lotion. I’m afraid.

8:30 pm

Fresh Air Break. I wish I had a camera so I could show you this view. I think on a regular day I might not find it that impressive, but in my current circumstances, it’s staggeringly beautiful. Before I leave—once I get my phone back—I want to take pictures of this place. The building, the courtyard, the cafeteria. I want to show you as much as I can of my journey in more than just words.

My therapist gave me an assignment today. That’s right, I have therapy homework. At the end of the day I’m supposed to write down three things I’m thankful for and three things I did fabulously. (In the absence of the ability to identify fabulousness—which happens to all of us—she’s willing to accept things I did well, or even okay, if it’s been that kind of day.)

It’s an interesting assignment, given what we did in Recreational Therapy today. One of the games we played was called the “Gratitude Game.” We stood in a circle and took turns saying what we were thankful for. If you couldn’t come up with something in three seconds you were out, and nothing could be repeated. Some of the things we came up with:

  • family
  • friends
  • the internet
  • rainbows
  • texting
  • email
  • underwear
  • music
  • mascara
  • full-body massages
  • pedicures
  • Thai food
  • pharmaceuticals
  • therapy
  • high heels
  • moisturizer
  • bras

That’s just a fraction of the things that were mentioned. It’s interesting the minutiae you can find gratitude for if you’re really pushed (and really competitive).

In case you’re wondering, I didn’t win the Gratitude Game. I did, however, totally own the Recreational Therapist at Riki Tiki Bear.

BOOM.

*False alarm. It was just massage lotion for our hands, and we did some Tai Chi moves. EVERYTHING IS OKAY.

**I’ll give you my gratitude list tomorrow. It’s time to turn off the computers for now.