When the lessons and tasks are all ended,
And the school for the day is dismissed,
And the little ones gather around me,
To bid me good-night and be kissed.
-Charles M. Dickinson, “The Children”
This is not a note from the psych ward technically. I was discjarged yesterday and I am back home.
December 28 was my first visit to the emergency room. From December 28 to today I have been to the ER four times at two different hospitals. I have been admitted to three different hospitals. I have spent more nights in hospital this year than at home. I have talked to at least fifteen doctors and been prescribed at least ten different medications. I have been apprehended and handcuffed by the police twice.
I am happy to say that I am now able to laugh again
I have learned some important skills to help me. The last month and a half was more helpful than the other two hospitals combined. I am mot cured by any stretch of the imagination. I compare leaving the psych ward to graduating from elementary school. I have some of the basic skills I need to survive, but I have tons more to learn. Now I at least have a more accurate diagnosis. That will allow me to work on what will help the most.
Hopefully there will be no more notes from the psych ward from me. I do plan to continue to write about mental health. Tomorrow I will meet with my outpatient team to see where I go from here. After that I am going shopping for spring clothes!!!
I had always thought that once you grew up you could do anything you wanted-stay up all night or eat ice cream straight out of the container.
-Bill Bryson, The Lost Continent
I just woke up this morning and I am waiting for breakfast, which will be here at eight. After breakfast I will pack up most of my belongings and go home for an overnight stay. It will be my first night at home in a month and a half. Today is Saturday and Monday will be my discharge day.
My sense of humour is back along with my energy. It is easier for me to see now the ways the illness filtered my reality. The cognitive skills I have learned here are a very good start to having a more balanced view of my future. It does not look quite as dark and hopeless as when I came here.
In addition to Cognitive Behavior Therapy I have also been learning about Dialectic Behavior Therapy. In very simple terms, it helps with emotion regulation. I will continue to work with both of these after discharge. I have a workbook to help me learn on my own and there are groups I can join in the community.
I am not going to worry so much about all that tonight, though. Tonight I plan to do things I have not been able to do in hospital. I can watch a movie I choose. I can also watch it without all of the talking and background noise. I can have pizza and ice cream, too. Tonight will be my own private party for myself. I deserve it after surviving what these diseases have thrown at me the last few months.
For in every adult there dwells the child that was,
and in every child there lies the adult that will be.
-John Connolly, The Book of Lost Things
Discharge is getting closer and closer. I am doing everything I can think of to get ready for it. A mental health team has been approved for me so I will meet with my case manager shortly after discharge.
Last Friday my doctor gave me a mew diagnosis. I am not ready to say what it is but it does sound pretty accurate. It also sounds like a pretty harsh life sentence right now. It has made me more anxious about discharge so I am trying to supress these thoughts. That is not the healthiest way to cope but it is the most effective for me right now.
Last Sunday I went home ahain. I was able to clean a little to get ready for next weekend. Next Saturday I will go home to spend the night. While I was home Sunday I visited a wonderful couple I know. They were the perfect choice for my first socializing in months. They are very positive and genuinely nice people. Their two year old daughter is so cute and called me aunt Sally. I guess that sounds similar to Jodi. How can you not smile at that? Maybe if nice people such as them like me, I am not as unlikeable and horrible as I think I am.
For my last few weekdays here the focus with my doctor is entirely on tools and questions to help me after discharge. I bought a workbook so I can work on some of these at home as well. I do not think I will be going to anymore of the groups here either. I am starting to disconnect from the routine that has been my life for the last month and a half.
But still I dream that somewhere there must be
The spirit of a child that waits for me.
-Bayard Taylor, The Poetical Works of Bayard Taylor
My discharge is ten days away. I have been home for two quick visits now. The second was better than the first and I am feeling like I may be ready to go back into the real world.
Today will be the last day I spend completely on the ward without going on a pass. There is a social group on Friday afternoons that I have really enjoyed the last few weeks. I wanted to stay here for that one last time and my doctor agreed. After today I have laid out a pretty busy schedule for my passes until discharge. Those passes have been increased to eight hours.
I am going to miss some of the other patients when I leave. In the last couple of weeks I have connected with a few patients and we talk every day. One, who was discharged this week, has my phone number and lives not far from me. We are planning to get together once I am out.
I get my morning medications and vital signs checked every morning after breakfast. The nurse always chats with each patient to see how they are doing. This morning I was joking with the nurse. This is the first time I have noticed my sense of humour coming out without effort since at least mid-December. It was not even a nurse I have worked with much and know. It felt really nice to have that back. It is feeling like the depression has less of a hold on me and the true me is starting to show again.
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
-Robert Louis Stevenson, “My Shadow”
I have a discharge plan. In two weeks I will be home and until then I will be spending more and more time in the real world.
I am feeling much better than when I came into hospital but a little unsure about being out and on my own. I will not be totally alone, I am supposed to get a mental health team to work with after discharge.
Yesterday I took the bus downtown to the library. Going across the bridge into downtown brought back the feelings of when I tried to jump. The doctor said I may never be completely free of suicidal thoughts but with the work I am doing and the medication, the thoughts should not be as strong or prevalent. I guess depression and suicide will be my shadow, but I am learning how to keep them from controlling me.
Today the occupational therapist worked with me to identify some group activities I may want to join after discharge. No matter how my stay here started, they are really doing a great job to get me ready to be back in the community. The stay here has been more beneficial than I could have imagined it would be.
When the light turns green, you go.
When the light turns red, you stop.
But what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?
-Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic
Another Saturday, but this one has not been as quiet as the others. Right after breakfast this morning I went home for a quick check in. It was my first time home in a month. It was kind of weird after being away so long, but thankfully I made it there and back without any issues. I went away from the campus the hospital is on for the first time last Thursday and had a panic attack then. After being on the ward for such a long time it is a bit of an adjustment going back into the world.
Now I am back on the ward. Patients get discharged regularly and new ones take their place right away. The new ones usually do not have passes so they are always on the ward. Most of the latest new ones are much younger than me and that makes it harder to really connect with them. There are a couple of patients here that I talk with but not as many now. It also seems that the newer patients are louder and more rambunctious. I am finding myself in my room more when I am on the ward because it is relatively quiet and peaceful.
My doctor told me yesterday that she has applied for health care supports for me after discharge. That has me thinking that discharge will only be a week or two away. That thought makes me anxious but at the same time it will be nice to be in my own place. I will still be quite alone socially, it will take time to build those connections. There is a wonderful couple that lives not far from me and a very kind and warm mother who reads this blog and sends me notes. At least I can say I have these three great people in my corner!
We know nothing of tomorrow;
our business is to be good and happy today.
-Sydney Smith, Lady Holland’s Memoir
Things are looking a little better. All of the things I have been working on with the doctors and in the groups are starting to take upp as many of my thoughts as suicide. I have not scratched or cut my arms in weeks, either. These in themselves are major things for me right now.
My family doctor visited today. It was so nice to see someone from outside of the hospital. She gave me a hug and patted my back. As sad as it may sound, this is the first time I have been touched by anyone in almost a month. It helps me feel more real in a way I guess. I also received messages from the loveliest couple I know in Vancouver. They are very supportive and caring.
I know when I get depressed I push people away and isolate myself. This makes the depression worse and makes me feel uncared for. It is mostly my own choices, but I blame it on everyone else. I am starting to see that these actions are the depression and anxiety taking control of my thoughts and feelings.
Recovery will not be an easy thing but maybe it is possible. In here it seems it may be anyway. I am not sure if the positive thoughts will stand the test of time when I go back to the “real world.”
Speaking of the real world, my doctor wants me to try going home just to check on things this weekend. That is a big step and very scary.