Adventures in Psychiatry : discharged


*** TRIGGER WARNING ***

Wow. This has been a while...

Back in February I was referred back to the community mental health team as an emergency following a very frank conversation with the Time to Talk service. I don't remember much of those very dark months, other than I was severely depressed and actively suicidal. I knew how. I knew when. I had no feelings left or concept of how anyone else would react. If I couldn't feel anything then that must be normal, therefore everyone else was as dead as me so my 'confessing' to my plans would be no big deal. Obviously, this is isn't exactly a logical thought process! Even now, I'm still conflicted by those thoughts and events, but that might be because of the current state of my mental health, but I'll come to that later.

I was assessed at the day hospital and escaped being admitted to the inpatient unit. Instead, I would be attending the day unit for therapies and monitoring.

Have you read the posts on depression by Hyperbole and a Half? They are so spectacularly accurate and well-written. It is exactly what I was feeling, thinking, doing... All of it. How to keep going when everything feels like bullshit and a favor to your friends and family? Every breath is a resentment, or WAS a resentment.

The day hospital tried to make me see a reason to keep going, not just for those who apparently loved me, but for myself. I needed a purpose. Yes, I am Lily's mummy but being so severely depressed meant I felt incapable of caring for her and genuinely believed she would be better off with someone else. Someone who wasn't a useless lump of shite that subsisted in a world of addiction and pain.

I was first admitted to the day hospital in 2006 and placed under the care of Anna. In 2013, I was back - for the fourth or fifth time - and she was still there. I think they were aware that this was something of a last ditch effort before inpatient alternatives were sought out. Anna's prior knowledge of my case history made a huge difference in the outcome of our discussions. She remembered the very start of my illness, and had seen it evolve over the years.

My acceptance by Sussex University was in big red letters on my file. Obviously it was huge news. I think if I had been assigned someone other than Anna, I wouldn't be sitting where I am today as a current student of Sussex. She knew how much education meant to me, so she zoned in on this.

My purpose, my goal, my challenge was to go to university in September. It was the only thing to get any sort of emotional response out of me, so it was the right call to make. Making it a challenge just pushed at my stubborn "I'll show you" streak when people start doubting me. The last thing I wanted was to be admitted to hospital. I might have been prepared to die but I also valued my freedom.

The day hospital operates on group therapy. It was practice for attending lectures and seminars, having a timetable and work to do at home. Combined with the right medication cocktail, things slowly began to improve. I was able to go on my first holiday abroad two days after celebrating my first year of sobriety. We began searching for our first home together in Brighton.

It was stressful - ha, ok, a bit more than just 'stressful' - It was scary. It was not easy, but the support was there to help me make my own way, as I have done for the majority of the time I've been unwell. Whenever I have fallen down, cried and begged to be left behind to die, something has always come along and either given me a sharp kick up the backside or a supportive hand to get back up and carry on.

What have I learned? How am I sat here today?

When something happens that makes you feel uncomfortable, it's all too easy to fall into self-destructive behaviours and habits to avoid those emotions, thoughts, whatever it is you don't want to face. Avoidance gets you nowhere, other than stuck in a vicious cycle of your own self-abuse. I was watching my life disintegrate into nothing, and I wanted it to stop. There is another alternative to death.

I have survived some very close-calls. I must be here for a reason. I don't know what that is yet, but for one reason or another, my body has been kept going when it should have stopped. I'm not going to keep bitch-slapping that reason in the face with another trip to the high-dependency unit.

Never under-estimate the power of logical thought and intelligence. Since I have regained my sense of the rational and irrational, I can think my way through problems and not cause a trail of destruction on the way.

This is what led to my discharge. I spoke with Anna at the end of September and it was apparent to us that I had been stable enough and coped with some huge life stressors well enough that I didn't need secondary input any more. It was very hard saying goodbye, but people come and go in life. That's just what happens. It's ok.

So now I am under the care of my new GP at the university health center. Today, my depression and panic disorder is making itself known but I'm still functional. I am prepared to be referred to the mental health services in Brighton, but for now at least, I'm able to stand on my own and trusted to seek help if I need it. More than once I have been able to pick up the phone and talk problems out when I've been in floods of tears.

Being 'out of the service' is daunting. I don't know why, but it evokes anxiety and self-doubt in me. Discharge is an achievement, so to be referred back again would be a bitter pill to swallow. I am wary of using the counseling service at the university, in case they see my weaknesses and regret accepting me!

My main motivation for keeping my recovery strong: Paying my respects to three amazing girls that have passed away over the past two years. Lisa, Dawn and Jay. I'm living life for them. I want to make them proud. Talking to mutual friends, we agreed that if they were to see us engaging in our disorders due to the grief over their passing, they would be heartbroken. I definitely would be.

So I don't drink. I don't use drugs. I don't self-harm. The cravings have been BAD, but I have yet to cave in.

For Lisa. For Dawn. For Jay.

For the future I have with Alex and Lily.

For my degree. For my career in science.

Now it's time to be brave and see how far I can go on this journey, alone.

Samantha Nicholls. Powered by Blogger.

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