Trying to Tread Water

I haven’t written a proper post for close to a year.

That’s how long depression has been kicking my butt. Not constantly. There have been light, happy, joyful moments and days sparsely sprinkled amongst the doom. The doom, however, heavily outweighs any lightness and joy.

Tweaking my antidepressant no longer helps. I suffer horrid side effects when I increase the dose. My psychiatrist is hesitant to change medications, but it’s something I’ll be pushing for soon.

Along with the unrelenting depression has come almost all the unhelpful behaviours you could think of. Aside from alcohol or illicit drug use. I rarely drink, and have never used drugs. I have enough going on physically and mentally without adding unknown substances to the mix!

Self-harm. Multiple overdoses. Binge eating. Not eating. Not drinking water.

The same behaviours over, and over in moments of ‘I can’t do this anymore’.

I had an inpatient psych admission a couple of months ago. It was helpful, and I was discharged in a much better space. However… within a month I’d overdosed and self-harmed.

I’m supposed to be journaling when I feel anxious or otherwise not okay. Journaling instead of leaping into unhelpful behaviours. I did. Once. That stirred up something inside. Flashbacks started, and small, scared chatter began inside.

I shut that shit down and dove headfirst, straight into an unhelpful behaviour.

Damn it. Not unhelpful. Self-harm, overdoses, eating disorder behaviours. They all help in some way, otherwise I wouldn’t be using them. They are helpful, but in a very short-term way, and they have unhelpful consequences. They don’t help me longterm.

I feel like I’m drowning. I’m trying to keep my head above water, but I’m struggling to do that. I keep going under, gulping water instead of air, only to rise again, cough up all the water, and start breathing…. before going under.

I don’t know how to fix this, and I don’t know what would help.

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Will Therapy Ever End?

Our current therapist made a comment recently that made my heart sink. They said they thought we’re likely to need, at least, some supportive counselling for the rest of our lives.

The body is in it’s early thirties. If we make it to even eighty, that’s another fifty or so years of therapy. Maybe not weekly like now, but perhaps monthly.

Our current therapist will also be retiring in the near future. We’re trying not to worry too much about that, and trying to focus on getting as much DID focussed work done as possible in the time we have left.

That’s one of the hardest parts about having DID. Finding a therapist who has enough knowledge and experience to actually be helpful to us. In the last eight years we’ve just been lucky to come across therapists who are excellent at working with trauma and dissociation.

We’ve recently spent several weeks in hospital. None of us regret the admission. We got a lot of work done, and nearly all of us were able to talk to our therapist. No easy feat when there’s eighteen of us!

Our therapist is confident that we’ll have the majority of our trauma and DID based work done before they retire. I’m not sure how realistic that is. As much as ongoing therapy (for the rest of my life) makes my heart sink, I also can’t imagine our life without regular therapy or hospital admissions.

Does therapy ever end when you’ve experienced chronic childhood trauma?

Running From The Quiet

Do you ever just sit? Just sit, nothing else. No screens, no book, no conversation, just sitting. Letting your mind wander, noticing what you can see, and hear around you.

I don’t do it very often. Actually, I’m an expert at avoiding and distracting. Avoidance is rarely helpful, but distractions aren’t that bad, right? It’s good to distract yourself, isn’t it?  Unless you’re distracting yourself in order to avoid, even if that’s unconsciously.

I keep my mind so busy that it doesn’t have time to wander, ramble, and explore. When it comes to bedtime and there are, finally, no distractions I end up feeling utterly overwhelmed by all the thoughts and feelings that come up. Not necessarily trauma related either. Thoughts about the day, about things from ten years ago, about something I need to do tomorrow, about plans next week.

Keeping my mind busy and distracted all day usually means it hasn’t had time to sit and ponder things. I find I need time to just sit and think. I’m quite organised, so none of that needs doing, but my mind seems to need time to go over the day, and the past, and the future.

Journal writing is usually how I think, but I’ve been finding that too structured. I find myself needing a few hours throughout the day to just let my mind wander. This means no phone, no laptop, no TV. No constant distractions.

Today I spent my time on the train with my phone in my bag. I didn’t look at it except to check the time when I got off the train. I sat. I sat and noticed the other people on the train. I noticed the buildings we passed, the stations we went through. I noticed my mind wander to all sorts of things. It was oddly peaceful.

I needed that time away from constantly distracting myself to just be. I sat in silence on the train and just watched where my mind wandered.

Now, at the end of the day, I’m feeling more content and relaxed than usual. I feel like I have space in my head to deal with day-to-day tasks. It’s not bedtime yet, but I think my mediation before bed tonight will be easier as my mind has had time to wander.

Conversation inside is much easier as well. With my mind less cluttered I can hear and talk to nearly everyone inside.

I think taking a break from constantly distracting needs to be a change we make longterm. With just one day having noticeable benefits, I wonder what impact it will have on our mental health longterm.

Adjusting

We’re home from hospital, and as excited as I was, it’s hard. I’ve been through this process before, and it takes time to adjust to being at home, but this time it feels harder.

Gone is the highly structured and enforced routine. Several weeks in hospital and nearly every day went like this:

7:30am – 9am: Breakfast

8am – 9am: Morning medication

9am: Community meeting

9:30am – 10am: Anxiety management group

10am – 11am: Morning tea

11am – 12pm: Morning group

12pm – 1pm: Lunch (and brief visiting hours)

1pm – 1:15pm: Lunchtime medication (if you have any)

1:30pm – 2:30pm: Afternoon group

2pm – 3pm: Afternoon tea

4pm: Walk/yoga/other group

5pm – 6:15pm: Dinner

5pm – 9pm: Visiting hours

8:45pm – 9:30pm Nighttime medication

10:30pm: Second round of nighttime medication for those who go to bed late (not me!)

All of that routine is gone. I didn’t participate in all of the groups because of my physical health issues, but there was still plenty to do. I also saw my doctor six days a week for what was often an intense therapy session. Plus chatting to my nurse in the morning and afternoon. Then throw in tidying my hospital room, washing my clothes, showering, and other self-care. Very little free time!

Now I’m home it’s really hard to keep any routine going. I can sleep when I want, for as long as I want. I can take medication when I want, eat when I want. Complete freedom.

Admittedly I was craving my freedom a couple of weeks in. Desperate to be able to have more down time, and time for Netflix. My focus was therapy though, so Netflix had to wait. Now I can watch as much as I want, but I’m finding myself bored with it already.

The hardest part? Loneliness. I’m an absolute introvert. I need time to myself to process my day, recharge, and plan for the next day. That doesn’t mean I don’t like socialising though.

In hospital it was easy. If I was feeling sociable I could sit in communal areas and chat with other patients. I could participate more in groups. I could stay longer in the dining room and chat with other patients after finishing my meal.

At home I’m almost always alone. My housemate is physically well and able, and is out a lot. It’s almost like living alone. It’s such a huge difference to being in hospital. In time I’ll adjust to spending more time alone, but for now it’s hard.

I wasn’t anxious about returning home, I was excited! I always am, and I think that makes me forget how hard the adjustment can be. Going suddenly from being surrounded by people, talking to multiple people multiple times a day to seeing one person, chatting briefly, then being alone all day is really difficult.

I feel so lonely. So isolated and alone. I’m working on it though. I’m not giving up and sitting in despair. I’ve got a couple of things planned with close friends and family. I just need to keep reminding myself that it’s okay to feel lonely. It’s okay to feel whatever I feel, but I need to remember that there’s something I can do about it too.

Onwards and upwards! More posts to come about the work we did in hospital.