It’s good to be home, and I hope it stays that way. But of course many things that happened during my inpatient treatment are still fresh on my mind.
A very important part of the therapy took place in groups – twice a week in small group for ninety minutes each, once a week all patients came together to talk for an hour.
It was interesting that the patients were at different levels on their way to recovery. Those who just started therapy were often at a loss, the old life didn’t work anymore, the new life was still out of reach. But other patients were already better and showed the new patients that a change for the better was possible, and that work will pay off.
Best case scenario: The group works together, so everyone is motivated and tries to support those who struggle. Of course not every session is a success. But a close group can deal with that as well.
Of course there also were difficult situations. And my bad hearing often complicated things further. But we got through this together. I miss this sometimes, now that I have to spend a big part of my time alone. But everything I learned became a part of my personality and will hopefully stay with me forever.
I finally finished my part of the mosaic. We started planning this project in January – almost six months ago, and there are still some small things to do.
It was a difficult time. Soon I recognized making a mosaic isn’t my favorite thing to do. I have almost no control over how the glass breaks. And I like having control. This doesn’t match.
There were times when I just wanted to give up. My life is hard enough as it is, I don’t need this on top of everything, or do I? Wouldn’t it be better to focus on the nice aspects of life and save my energy? Another member of he group quit after a few months, and this made me want to throw in the towel as well.
And still. I want to finish what I start. In the past, I often didn’t know when to stop. This lead to lots of frustration, and I try to learn from that and avoid it.
I was so afraid to repeat mistakes of the past, that I almost made a new mistake in the present. I wrote here about how the mosaic became fun, once I let go of my perfectionism.
I learned from that I should be careful when it comes to these kinds of decisions. Sometimes you just need to give things an opportunity to get better after they start poorly.
Right now we are working on our terrace, so the basement doesn’t get wet. My husband suggested I clean the decking tiles with a high pressure cleaner before he takes them down. I liked the idea very much, because it gives me the oppurtunity to contribute to this project – with many things I can’t help because of my back.
Turned out it wasn’t as easy as I thought. Standing for a long time bent over is not very comfortable for my back. Soon I realized I would need many breaks and time, and that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the chores. This annoyed me, but I couldn’t help it.
Somehow I grudgingly accepted I can’t do everything, and my husband agreed as well. I will just do the basic chores and clean everything thoroughly next week. We want to finish working on the terrace as soon as possible, because we want to sit outside this summer after all!
As you can see in the picture above, cleaning the decking tiles was absolutely necessary. It was hard work, but it was fun as well. So it was absolutely worth to change plans and get my priorities straight.
… to blog more often. It’s not that I have no ideas. I started several entries, but they were not good enough in my opinion. Someday I will hopefully edit, like and publish them.
Right now I am struggling to keep up with my daily chores and I am relieved when they are done. I am glad I still get some things done – it could be so much worse. I hope “so much worse” will not happen.
These slumps are probably normal, but it’s never easy for me to just accept them and go on. I very easily start to panic, because I know how bad things can get.
So I try to stay calm and avoid collateral damage. Lows aren’t pretty, but my mind knows they will be followed by better times. Now I just need to convince myself and feel like it.
Spring always is the anniversary of my psychiatric inpatient treatments. Mostly my mood got worse during winter, so many of my inpatient admissions happend in spring.
This spring means, my first inpatient treatment in child and adolescent psyciatry was 31 years ago, and my first inpatient stay as an adult happened 10 years ago.
What upsets me most today is the fact, that I was always told I would be fine again. Of course I believed this and worked hard. And I always was better for a few months, but then things always took a turn for the worse again.
Yesterday my OT therapist said, there must be people who found a way out of depression even after such a long time. She meant well, but I want to be realistic. I don’t expect to be cured from depression anymore. I just want to live my life as it is, the good and the bad times and all.
Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up, but other people often think it is. For me acceptance means to live according to my possibilities, and to stay on the golden middle course most of the time.
On the other hand, these anniversaries are a reason to give myself a pat on the shoulder, because I am still alive and kicking. This coin has two sides, as always.
…are strolling around the neighborhood every day. Since I returned from my last inpatient stay last summer/fall I really stayed on the ball, not walking the dogs is a rare exception from the rule. My form of the day decides how long our walk is.
Dealing with Sam still can be difficult. But my biggest fear, not being able to handle him, didn’t come true. I deal with the tricky situations the best way I can and am able to calm down quickly afterwards. And the daily excercise is good for all of us.
During the last months, I attended seminars about handling difficult dogs. My goal is to understand Sam better, because this will help me to react in the best possible way. Sam has two faces: At home, when everything is quiet, he is very cuddly and listens to commands very well. Outside, or if somebody comes near our house, he is tense and anxious and tries to scare away every human (especailly the mail man, cyclists and joggers) or dog by barking loudly. We try to show him that these situations are not dangerous, but his fears run deep.
It’s a good thing Janet is the complete opposite. Her good spirits and zest of life make us all very happy. Two problematic dogs would be too much for me to handle, but so everything is balanced out.
Since I was a little girl, animals had a positive effect on me. It doesn’t matter if it were budgies, hamsters, horses, cats or dogs. I don’t care what happens to me some days, but our furbabies always are important. On the other hand, some pets from the shelter found a new home and live with us now. Win-win!
This is how a former fellow patient reacted when I told her that I not only try to stay on top of the daily chores, but that I made yoghurt and bread as well.
For a long time I pondered this, but I couldn’t put my finger on the reason why this made me think so much.
First, it’s not all about having fun. I try to deal with chores the same way I dealt with work – it’s part of my daily routine, if I like it or not. When it makes me feel good, this is the proverbial cherry on top. If I would ask myself very kindly every morning: “Viola, would you like to clean the kitchen?” the response often would be “Fuck off!”, and nothing would be done.
Second, I realized that this daily routine gives me a lot to hold on to. Every morning at half past eight my mobile reminds me of my agenda. And when nothing really bad happens, I stick to it. Period. And every evening I have the good feeling to have accomplished something.
My agenda has been changed several times, but now every Friday evening I can sit down and know that every room has been cleaned. On Saturday I take care of the laundry, and of course cooking and washing pans and pots has to be done on the weekend as well. But my daily structure loosely resembles a working day/after work and working week/weekend rhythm. This brings a feeling of normality, and it helps me a lot.
So, doing chores is not always fun, but this is not so important. Staying on top of the chores has become a valuable tool when it comes to battling my depression; and this surprised me a lot. But hey, I take what I get!
… was my husband’s comment on his birthday party.
I would have called it a disaster. My sister-in-law entered the living room, her six month old baby on her arm, and I just broke down. I waved goodbye, said I would be upstairs, and fled – into the arms of my dubious friend, the razor blade. After that, I took my as-needed-med and went to bed.
Later, my mother came to check on me and suggested we take a walk. So I changed and we walked through the rainy night for about fifteen minutes. This calmed me down. Then my mother went back to the party and I went to bed.
On Sunday I just felt miserable and stayed in bed.
Yesterday I felt at least a little bit better. But I knew I need some rest. So I cancelled the OT appointments for this week. I just want to calm down.
Today was even better. I put on make up, went grocery shopping and took a break having coffee and cake, before I drove back home.
It also helps that I started my usual “tour de chores” yesterday, like I do every Monday. With every room I clean, I get a little bit of safety back.
And to come back to my husband’s comment: At least I know for sure that I still am not ready to have contact with the baby. The uncertainty before was way worse. Everybody in the family knows where we stand. Everybody knows I need more time. This clarity is a good thing, despite all the pain.
But right know, I need some rest to regain my equilibrium. I have no doubt I will get better, but I need to take it easy this week. Wish me luck!
This Saturday our house will be full of family (including the baby), and we will celebrate my husband’s birthday. I was hoping my anxiety level would go down, but this didn’t happen.
When I talked to my psychiatrist a few weeks ago, we agreed I should try a new as-needed med to calm me down (it’s an antipsychotic and not habit-forming). Right now, I couldn’t do without it. I am still trying to figure out with dose works best for me. It doesn’t help when I feel “comfortably numb”, but can’t get out of the bed.
If I could make a wish, tomorrow would be Sunday, but of course it doesn’t work this way. I also am afraid that I crash hard after the party, but of course I don’t know that yet.
Right now I just try to keep going, but it’s hard.
My husband’s birthday party on March 2nd is approaching. I feel more anxious and tense every day, and I am getting more and more insecure if I can deal with it.
I try to distract myself – and it works for a few hours. On Sunday I went to a charity event for listed dogs (potentially dangerous dogs of certain “listed” breeds) with a friend. The weather was nice, we met friendly people, I got to understand our dog Sam a little bit better, and we just had a wonderful girl’s day out. Spontaneously we agreed that I will accompany our friend and her dog to a training session tomorrow and film everything. This will be a great day as well. Sitting on the couch thinking won’t help me, this much I know.
Next week will be busy. On his birthday my husband wants to take cake to work for his colleagues – these guys always are hungry, so I will have to bake three cakes. On the evening of the birthday we will eat at a chinese restaurant, this is our date night in Februrary. At this day I will skip OT, it would be too much.
The rest of the week will be filled with chores, shopping, OT and preperations. I hope, a little distraction will keep my anxiety at a reasonable level. Because somehow I have to pass the time and keep my inner demons at bay.