Had really odd dreams. Unsure if they were good or bad, but the rollercoasters were definitely back.
I woke up at 7 and took out my earplugs, but the next thing I knew it was 8:45 and I was being called for meds. That’s the longest lie in I’ve had for weeks!
I got ready, and went for a walk around the carpark, because I felt so so groggy.
Singing lady was still bangin’ on about body maps to anyone who would listen – one of them being the lady I’d spoken to a few days earlier about my experience on the ward.
Once singing lady had gone, I told her pretty much what I wrote in yesterday’s blog. Because a few people’s attitudes towards the staff are so negative it’s become infectious, to the point of being really toxic. The atmosphere on the ward right now is just horrible.
I checked my e-mails, and had one from my lawyer re: Decree Nisi. She said that she’s filed it with the court, and that it will probably take 4-5 months to process.
I was like wtffff???
So, I messaged some of my friends/family about it.
One of the replies I got was ‘well it’s a good job you’re not desperate to re-marry isn’t it?’.
OH YEH THAT’S RIGHT! SUCH A GOOD JOB THAT THE LOVE OF MY LIFE DUMPED ME AND THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO CHANCE OF ME REMARRYING.
I know they probably meant well, but it was the fucking last thing I needed to hear, and I was livid.
It’s a lot easier for me to be angry than sad. It’s an emotion I much prefer, so it tends to be my default.
I went and found one of the nurses for a bit of a vent, and while I was out bumped in to the APIP nurse. She said that she would see me that morning for our appointment, so we could talk about it all then.
I had a bit of time to kill, so decided to use the vending machine to buy a cold diet coke. But because it doesn’t take notes, I went on a quest for coins, which took me on such an adventure that I just ended up buying one from the hospital canteen. It was the first time I’d been there on my own, and thought I’d have to bear it in mind if I want to get off the ward for a bit.
My appointment started 15 minutes late.
I caught her up with everything from the last week – the visit with my friend and her dog, the social anxiety I experienced at the chippy, and my dissociative self-harm episode on Sunday.
I told her I feel a bit anxious about seeing one of my friends tomorrow. I don’t want to end up in the same position as last week, where I end up ruining a whole visit because I ask questions about my ex. We talked about how I can tackle that.
We also talked a bit about how and when I will actually see him again. She says I’m not ready, (which was really reassuring to hear) and that when the time does come, which it inevitably will, we’ll put together a cohesive plan that everyone (including him) is comfortable with.
A long way off though.
We spoke a little bit about my dissociative episode. She said that it sounds like my body was in such overdrive that it just switched off, and that it seems I tend to use self-harm as a way to bring myself back, which totally makes sense.
We also began to touch on my social anxiety, and about gradually exposing myself. She asked how I would feel if she asked me to go on the bus to Primark in town, and I was like FUCK NO. The more questions she asked, the more we both realised that maybe I would be OK with going to the small town that the hospital is close to. It’s a grim town, but I reckon I could maybe handle visiting the shops there. She asked if I would need support, or would I be better on my own. I said to her that it wouldn’t really make a difference. She said that we could look in to that, and adjust my leave accordingly.
I’d only been in the appointment for 40 minutes when it had to abruptly end.
The patient in the room next-door to me had the paramedics in there, and the nurse I was with had to go and help.
I felt a bit put out that my needs were shunned because of something else.
I realise that emergencies happen, but if everyone just thinks ‘Oh it’s Lucy, she’s quiet and doing OK, so she’ll be fine’ then I will never get well! The psychological input is what I am here for, and it is increasingly frustrating that it keeps either being postponed or cut short.
She assured me that she will see me either later on in the afternoon, or if not, first thing in the morning.
I felt a bit hung out to dry.
It was such an abrupt ending.
I didn’t really have time to ground myself before leaving the room.
Lunch was either a pasta bake with minced beef, or vegetable stroganoff.
No thank you!
I remembered the canteen, and decided to go there for lunch instead.
I had a bacon sausage BBQ burger with fries and roast veg. It was loads better than what we have on the ward, and the atmosphere was so much calmer.
I will definitely be doing that more often. It felt more normal.
I had a bit of a chat to a patient who was waiting for someone to come and pick him up, as he’d just been discharged. He was so happy about it, absolutely buzzing. I hope I feel like that one day.
We had the exact same shoes (black Nike AirMax), and he complimented mine. He pointed out that he had a massive hole in his sole because the police stamped on his foot while they were holding him down. I told him that the trick is to get caught by the police in just your socks, that way they can’t fuck up your shoes.
I think he thought I was joking…
I also saw my first ‘face mask’ in the canteen. Like I said, the whole Coronavirus thing doesn’t feel real in here, because it’s not really affecting my day to day. I’ve heard some rumours that people are being laid off by my company, so that made me feel a bit anxious. I’m a very expensive member of staff to be keeping on sick pay atm, so hopefully I’m not up for the chop.
That would be another huge blow that I don’t need right now.
While I was writing, some of the staff came round to do an ‘environmental check’ – basically that I’m not hiding any rotting food or anything.
They complimented my room. They said they just wanted to stay in it, because it’s so tidy and it smells so nice.
LOOK AT MY HALO SHINE.
I decided to go all Elle Woods (‘Legally Blonde’) on my APIP appointment.
If my appointments that are helping me to get better keep getting interrupted or postponed, I’ll just do it myself.
I picked up my Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Workbook that I had only looked at once a few weeks ago, and continued with the Distress Tolerance chapter.
First, was Radical Acceptance.
Basically, accepting that what has happened has happened, whether we like it or not. Trying not to assign blame or get sad or angry about what has happened, because we cannot change it.
The book provided several ‘coping statements’, and I could tick the ones that I felt might help me.
I chose the following…
‘I can’t change what’s already happened’
‘Fighting the past only blinds me to my present’
‘The present is the only moment that I have control over’
The book then went on to ‘distraction techniques’, which ties in quite nicely with what I have actually been doing in APIP…
The first section was on ‘harm reduction’, so actions that are good alternatives to self-harm.
I ticked the following as ideas to try…
Gently dig your fingernails in to your arm without breaking the skin
Draw faces of people you are upset with on balloons, and then pop them
Use a marker on your skin instead of a sharp implement
Write letters to people you are upset with. Either throw them away, or save them to look back on later. (don’t send them!)
Throw soft items against the wall as hard as you can (balled up socks, pillows etc)
Scream in to a pillow
Hit something soft (pillow/mattress/sofa)
Stick pins in to a doll
(I really like this idea, and fully intend on making a proper voodoo like doll when I get out, and then stabbing the shit out of it)
It then went on to give a list of over 100 pleasurable activities, such as ‘go shopping’, ‘take photographs’, ‘watch a funny film’ etc.
I already had a lot of these in my distraction plan, but it was useful to read some more suggestions.
The next section was on distracting yourself by paying attention to others. So, thinking of someone you care about, paying attention to strangers, or doing something for someone else.
I’m finding this a bit difficult atm.
People are far too unpredictable, and almost everything triggers me to think about the interpersonal problems I’ve been having recently.
The book then suggested distracting your thoughts by almost kind of daydreaming.
So, imagining yourself as a hero/heroine fixing all of your past problems, imagining yourself getting praise from someone you really value, or imagining your wildest fantasy coming true.
Daring to dream.
No tick boxes for this one, but the next section was saying that one of the best distractions is leaving.
It’s so true.
And I wish I’d done it so many times in my past.
More tick boxes in the next section. This time, for distracting yourself with chores.
Again, a lot of these were already in my distraction plan, like cleaning for instance.
The next section was about distracting yourself by counting, which again, is in my distraction plan.
The end of the chapter invited me to write my distraction plan, which I already have. But I find it really hard to just pick 10, because it genuinely depends what kind of mood I’m in.
Am I sad? Angry? Anxious? All need different distractions.
So I made this…
I can’t do all of them in here, for instance laundry or going for a swim, but I could write letters to people I am upset with/I admire, or throw a load of balled up socks at the wall.
I took a lot of time choosing things that I think will work for me, and have stuck it up on my bedroom wall.
Take that NHS.
While I was working through the book, a cleaner came in to do my room, and he was male. I had no idea that would fuck me up so much, but it made me super anxious.
Is that a thing?
Am I just wary of strangers that are men?
Does this all stem from the incident in my flat last year?
Is this just a delayed reaction to the trauma??
By this time, it was nearly dinner, so I decided to go and wait for it to arrive. Shouty lady was proper on one, and I was in really close proximity to her, so I decided to go and sit in the dining room to wait instead.
It was bangers and mash, with a vegetable accompaniment of baked beans…
The veggie option was quiche, and the lady who I sometimes play games with (who slathers mayonnaise on FUCKING EVERYTHING) had a huge plate of quiche and beans, which made me feel so sick. I sat on another table, by myself, but she insisted that I went and sat with her and the other 2 ladies who were dining – my nice quiet next-door neighbour (not the one who’s always headbanging and getting the emergency alarm sounded for her), and singing lady.
I was actually quite glad that I went and sat with them. We had a conversation. I got to find out a bit more about singing lady (she has a PhD), and the conversation distracted me from the absolutely disgusting combination of food that the other lady was eating.
Regardless of how pleasant it was, I finished up pretty quickly, wished them a lovely evening, and returned to my room.
I played a couple of games of Risk, and had a can of grape soda, which I enjoyed.
By then, it was nearly 7PM, and I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do.
I felt pretty good, again, which made me feel really fucking anxious.
I was worried that if I watched Drag Race, I’d end up spiralling down in to a pit of despair again.
I really wanted to do something, but I was aware that I’d had quite a full-on day, so probably needed to rest.
Another real Catch 22.
I decided to send some messages out to my friends, and as I was doing that I got a text from my friend who was due to visit the next day cancelling our visit because everything’s so stressful on the outside because of Coronavirus. I said that I’d been umming and ahhing about cancelling it anyway, because I’m making fairly good progress and am finding visits from friends a bit difficult. I was completely transparent with her. I said exactly what I had said to the APIP nurse earlier in the day. I explained my precise reasoning for my worries.
It took a while for her to reply. I was worried that she didn’t understand, or maybe she was offended. Maybe she didn’t know what to say to me because I had mentioned my ex (about how I’m not strong enough to hear about what he’s up to, but I still get really curious when I’m seeing people that I know are seeing him regularly). I genuinely didn’t want to get in to a big long weird conversation about it, I just wanted to get my point across. Eventually she replied and said she completely understood how difficult things are for me, which was reassuring to hear. She said she’d been busy on the phone to her mum, but I’m so ridiculously paranoid atm – my brain just leaps to the worst case scenario.
During that time, I started to think more about how things are on the outside, and what everyone is going through regarding Coronavirus.
I also started to wonder how it would affect me here…
Will my leave be revoked?
Will I have to self-isolate?
I’m asthmatic (very mildly), and it’s on my medical notes, so they’re going to have to take precautions with me regardless of whether I feel it’s necessary or not.
I got myself in to a bit of a weird paranoid place. My thoughts were spiralling out of control. If anything’s going to make me feel paranoid tbf, it’s a global pandemic!
I went to the nurse, explained, and took some medication.
After that, it was business as usual. Just watched some Drag Race, ate some chocolate, and drank some tea, until it was time to sleep.
The ward was really quiet, which made for a very nice change.