Day 33

Had really weird dreams about my ex-husband, our house, and the cat.
I think I was at his new house (for some reason), and the living room was just filled with photos of the cat, even though he was nowhere to be seen.
There was also this really strange part where I was with my girlfriends from school, and we had all synched up on our periods. There was this big bowl of used tampons floating in some water.
Gross.

I didn’t feel like I slept at all throughout the night, but I obviously did because I had dreams. I felt like I was just tossing and turning for the entire time I was in bed.
That’s the thing with not taking sleeping pills – getting to sleep can be OK, but staying asleep is the problem. Because I’m so anxious right now, my body is just in constant fight or flight mode – coursing with adrenaline.

Woke up proper at 7AM because I could hear shouty lady through my earplugs.
Had my meds, and they’ve started doing everyone’s temperatures daily now. Mine was 37.3C because I had been queuing up for my meds in my sheepskin coat, ready to go outside and have my coffee. I was like IT’S BECAUSE I’M IN THE COAT – I FEEL FINE, HONEST!

When I got to my bench there was a big pool of vomit there and about 10 empty cans of shite lager in the bin. Clearly someone had had a good night.
The car park was eerily empty, and I couldn’t hear any traffic on the road, just the birds.
It felt like a Sunday.
Very creepy.

Because of Coronavirus, the ward is ridiculously short staffed. There was only one nurse on duty, and I think 4 other members of staff. So that’s the nurse to do nurse things (like medication), 2 members of staff on 1:1 observation, 1 on 10 minute obs, and 1 spare. It’s got to the point where the ward manager is having to escort patients out for cigarettes. It means a lot of waiting around. Things I had to wait at least 5 minutes for in the morning were…
Being let off the ward
Getting my deodorant
Getting a dressing for my leg
Fresh bedsheets
It’s super frustrating, but I know why it’s happening, and I get it. Other patients just don’t. They’re walking around shouting and bitching about how there are no staff around. When they’ve bitched to me, I’ve said to them there’s a global pandemic, the ward is clearly super short staffed, and then they just look at me like I’ve told them I’ve shat on their nan.
Tensions are definitely running high.

An example of such tension is that singing lady thinks she’s sick. She pulled her emergency call button probably about 10 times in the morning. Eventually they got her to sit in the communal area so she’d stop using it, where she slid out of her chair on to the floor and started screaming (while smiling). When she stopped, I was like, IS THERE ANY NEED FOR THAT?! I proper snapped, and she just stared at me.
This is why I spend pretty much all my time in my room.

I did some writing, and then played a game of Risk. Was a bit unsure of what to do with my morning really. I had absolutely no plans for the day – no appointments, no workshops, no visitors.
I figured I needed to space my activities out.

I was waiting for lunch, and the communal area was super loud, so I had to walk through it while wearing earplugs. Lunch was that chicken nacho grill thing that I went mental for last time it was on (I’ve gone all the way round the menus now).
They had the cleaner serving food, because they are so short staffed on the ward.

I sat with my nice quiet next-door neighbour. She said she had Ward Round that morning, and was awaiting a bed at the place they want me to move on to. I asked if she knew much about it, and she said she’d been there twice before, so I picked her brains a bit.
She said that she really liked it (while scary lady was yelling from another table about how much she hates it, what a surprise…). It helped her get back on her feet and transition back home. She said that there is a communal kitchen, and you’re expected to take part in a cleaning rota. There are no safety measures in place in terms of self-harm, so you’re allowed full access to sharps etc. You also hold your own medication; they just check once a week that you’ve taken what you are supposed to. She said that after a referral it can be like the next day, or a few weeks – it depends when a bed becomes available. She showed me a leaflet about it, which had been in the communal area all this time.
So helpful.
But I am 100% not ready for that right now.

Called my parents to have a chat to them about it. I wasn’t due any visitors, and the staff here don’t really have time to talk atm, so thought I’d just have a conversation with someone.
They said that I’m doing so well, but yeh, I’m definitely not ready for that.
They also said it’s clear that I’ve been doing a lot of work therapy-wise, so to make sure I take some down time. That obviously fell on deaf ears because in the afternoon I did some of the hardest ‘work’ I’ve ever done in my life.

I decided to go for a walk, because everyone was shouting and going mental on the ward. I planned to do the hospital mile while listening to The Guilty Feminist podcast, and ended up walking for further than that – about 40 minutes – which was great.

I tried to focus fully on the podcast, but sometimes felt my thoughts straying – mostly back to how things are on the ward. In fact, when I’d walked for 5 minutes or so I remembered I’d not asked anyone to lock my room, so paused the podcast to call the ward secretary and ask someone to do it for me, because I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

The podcast was about apologies, and how often we do it unnecessarily. I know that I always do it when asking for things – particularly here. ‘Oh, I’m really sorry, I know how busy you are, but if you wouldn’t mind could you just change my dressing?’.
Sorry
If you wouldn’t mind
Just
I even do it when I’m writing… I just always think that
Or particularly when I’m sending e-mails at work… Hi there! I was just wondering if we could sort this out, if you wouldn’t mind? I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but we really need to get it fixed. Thank you so so much, I super appreciate it!
Why am I always apologising for things that I need? Apologising for existing?
I often just feel like a massive inconvenience.
But I am not.

While I was walking round, I was aware that I spent most of the time looking down, and deliberately avoiding people’s gaze. When I realised this, I made a point of trying to look up at the trees, and to make eye contact with passers-by and smile.
I am still so socially anxious, and the consultant has said that I need to keep pushing myself. That’s the only way I’m going to get over it.
Gradual exposure, they call it.

I would have walked for longer if I wasn’t so damn cold. I considered going to the canteen for a drink, but didn’t want a cold one as I was freezing, I knew that coffee would make me jittery, and I didn’t really want a hot chocolate. All I wanted was a cup of my rooibos tea (Teapigs – super fancy tea temples), so I decided to go back to the ward once the podcast finished (I walked around in circles until it was over!).

But I want to make doing that mile a daily practise (unless it’s pissing it down). It did me so much good, and I’ve gained like 5lbs in the past 2 weeks cuz of my nightly chocolate binges, so need to walk as much of that off as possible!
I’m also really enjoying listening to The Guilty Feminist (thanks to my cousin for the recommendation!). It’s prompted me to look at certain aspects of myself, and question why I sometimes behave the way I do. It’s very empowering.

In the spirit of apologies, I then wrote a huge ‘making amends’ piece, where I apologise to everyone that I have hurt, and given thank yous where they are due.
You can find it here…

https://lucysback.com/2020/03/19/apologies-thank-yous/

It was very cathartic. Whether people read it or not, I have said it now, and I can move on without repeatedly apologising.
A line has been drawn under everything.


I did feel a bit anxious after posting it though.
What kind of responses would I get?
I touched on some pretty emotional subjects, and made apologies to people for things that they maybe didn’t even realise I had done.

I played a bit of Risk to take my mind off it, looked through some Daylio stats (my mood tracking app), and then it was pretty much dinner time.
Just out of interest, I don’t want to jinx it, but my mood is averaging out at a 3.0 out of 5 this week, which is 0.4 up on last week, so that looks promising… *fingers crossed*

Dinner was an event!…

The cleaners were serving it again. There are just no staff anywhere.
Shouty lady sat down first, then my nice quiet next-door neighbour sat with her, so I sat with them too, because otherwise I’d be on my own, and that would just be weird. We ate in relative silence until slow tremory lady came and sat with us. The tables hold a maximum of four, so it already felt a little crowded, but then scary lady decided she would come and sit with us too.
Right next to me.

She basically just went on this massive rant about the staff and some of the patients, and I wasn’t so scared of her by the end.
She asked what I’d been diagnosed with, to which I answered ‘fuck knows’, and then she went on one about how I’ll never know, and it’s all an experiment, and there’s no reason for us to be here, it’s just human trafficking.

She seemed particularly pissed off that one of the patients who needs 1:1 supervision (who dyed her hair pink yesterday, so that’s what she can be known as now) has a staff member with her all the time – ‘getting all the attention’. She said that her parents were NHS – that’s why she’s got a staff member with her (if you look at her scarred arms though, it’s pretty clear why she’s on a 1:1, and it ain’t that). She also said that the other 1:1 patient is an NHS nurse, so that’s why she’s got a staff member – ‘they all look after their own…’. I was just like Jesus, fuck, I hope she doesn’t find out who my parents are… (retired GP & consultant psychiatrist – both NHS.)

She carried on about how much she hates the staff, and she doesn’t understand why she’s here.
She says she doesn’t drink, she doesn’t take drugs, she’s never hurt anyone (which I’m not actually sure if I believe), and she doesn’t hurt herself – so why is she here?
I mostly just listened to her – didn’t say much except ‘mmhmm’.

She said she likes all the patients here, except for ‘the fat one with pink hair who has everyone do everything for her’, and the ‘doe eyed one who kept asking for fags’. I said I knew exactly who she meant (the girl who asked me the same). Scary lady said that she smuggled fags in for her a couple of times, but they both got caught. So that must have been what the whole ‘smoking in her room’ hoo ha was about a while ago. More fool her tbh.

After spending time with her though, I felt a bit calmer. It wasn’t that bad, and she’s not that scary. I think that if I just keep myself to myself and fly under her radar (keeping my parent’s jobs from her!) I’ll go by relatively unnoticed.
Just keep myself to myself.
Just keep quiet.

I was completely physically and emotionally drained, so cracked straight on with Drag Race, tea, and chocolate.

I received some really nice texts in response to my Apologies & Thank Yous post. One friend said that she hopes my next apologies and thank yous I make are to myself. She said that I’ve really put myself through the ringer and I don’t deserve that.
We’ll see.

I couldn’t get comfortable on my bed. My back was in absolute bits. Don’t know if I slept funny on it or what, but I took some painkillers, and they didn’t even touch me. I spent all evening just feeling so uncomfortable.

One of the lip synchs on Drag Race was to the Spice Girls, and I’d completely forgotten they existed. My bestie from school and I ended up going down a bit of a 90s/00s pop rabbit hole. Got some bangin’ new choons on my playlist now. I love having chats like that – just like everything is normal, rather than about my mental health.

I had a bit of a moment in the evening where I did struggle.

One of the Drag Race challenges was for them to be in girl groups, and sing a song.
The song was called ‘I want to break up’, which is the exact sentence my ex wrote me.
It was just being sang at me over and over again. When the first group finished, I waited for the next song, and it was the same one again, so I had to listen to that line over and over.
If I think back though, a few weeks ago that would have completely destroyed me. Instead, it just felt really uncomfortable and sad.
I could tolerate the pain though, so that’s definite progress.
Those words will haunt me forever, for sure.
Hopefully I won’t hear them too many times again in my future though – it is an uncommon combination of words innit?
But that’s why it hurt so much – it almost felt targeted at me. Also, it felt like my safe space had been violated. I watch Drag Race so much because there’s virtually nothing about romance – it’s empowering, and focused a lot on self-love. It’s un-triggering and safe.

I texted my brother & sister in law in our group chat about their visit the next day, and we decided we’d go to McDonald’s drive thru.
OMG I’M SO EXCITED! I never thought I’d be so excited to go to McDonald’s in this shitty part of the city.
If you know me at all, you will know how much I FUCKING LOVE MCDONALD’S.
I am going to get chicken selects, 2 cheeseburgers, and maybe some more chicken selects to save for a bedtime snack. Omg I’m so excited.
This might actually make my year. I’m not even exaggerating.

As the evening passed, shouty lady would not stop. It’s like if your neighbour has a barking dog or a baby that cries. It’s really annoying, and just constantly in the background, but eventually you just learn to live with it.
That’s progress too. When I first got here, it used to really bother me.

As bedtime approached, I felt increasingly anxious. I just fucking hate going to sleep. It’s the worst part of my day.
I was knackered, but stayed up until 11:15, because that’s when I could next have my painkillers, and my back was in absolute bits.

Took me a while to go to sleep. Felt my mind wandering as I lay there, but tried to bring my thoughts back to something more neutral.
I counted backwards from 100 in 7’s, and just tried to focus on anything other than my thoughts.

3 thoughts on “Day 33

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