Stuck

I’ve reached a point that I’ve reached many times in the past. A point where outpatient therapy isn’t working. A point where I’m fleeing the images I’m continually seeing in my head, the nightmares, the body memories.

Therapy involves talking. Talking about the flashbacks, the body memories, the terror, the fear, the anxiety. It means facing what I’m scared of and trusting my therapist to go there with me.

At the moment I’m running from all of that. Listening to what younger parts have to tell me seems okay in the moment, but it allows everything else to come up. Once that door is opened it’s very hard to close.

Talking about that in therapy leaves me sitting in an awkward silence. Too scared to talk about what’s really going on, but still frustrated at my fear.

Opening up that cupboard of painful, traumatic memories leaves me feeling overwhelmed. When that emotion reaches a tipping point I zone out. Dissociate to the point of being completely unresponsive. So unresponsive that I’ve been referred to as unconscious whilst in that state.

That unique ability makes outpatient therapy difficult. I’m desperate to talk about everything going on inside, but terrified of not coping, of losing control, of zoning out. Dissociating at the moment, to that extent, is almost guaranteed if either I or my therapist push talking.

That leaves me with only one choice. Another hospital admission. I’m frustrated and angry at it coming to this point again. I don’t want to be in hospital. I want to be okay. I’d prefer to stay at home in my own space, with my own things, and my freedom. Sure, hospital isn’t bad. It’s actually one of the most helpful things I could do right now, and the staff are amazing, but I still don’t want to do it.

I have a month or so until my admission. A month or so to try to get practical things organised for the time I’m in hospital.

Depending on how I cope in the lead up to this admission there may or may not be new posts. I’ll try to keep up with posting every two weeks, but prioritising self-care means this may not happen.

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No One Tells You How Hard It Will Be

I spent almost four weeks in a psychiatric hospital. The admission was helpful, and worthwhile, but being at home is very different.

Whilst in hospital most days looked like this:

7:30-9am: Breakfast

8am: Morning announcement usually announcing the day, date, and time, that morning medications were being dispensed, and the dining room was open until 9am for breakfast.

9:30am: Community meeting which was five to ten minutes of information about the group program, complaints, suggestions, compliments, new patients, patients being discharged, birthdays, and new staff. You’d also go around the room saying your name, and answering an ice-breaker type questions.

10am: Anxiety Management group which was controlled deep breathing for five to fifteen minutes depending on who was running it.

11am: Morning group if you were assigned to one.

12-1pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Afternoon group if you were assigned to one.

3:30pm: Occasionally a walk, but that would depend on nursing staff having time, and patients actually wanting to do it.

Afternoon: During the week there’d be yoga, a fitness class, a psych education group, or art therapy. Each group running only once per week.

5-6:15pm: Dinner

8pm: Relaxation group

8:45pm: Night time medication

That was how my time was spent. I’d also see my psychiatrist six days a week for twenty to fifty minutes. Plus chatting to nurses if I wanted to. If I needed to talk someone was there. If I wanted to rest I could. There was no cooking or cleaning. All I had to do was wash my own clothes.

Home is very different. I’ve had to unpack from moving house. I’m living in a new, somewhat unfamiliar, suburb. There’s dishes, cleaning, and washing to do. I’m trying to be sociable and keep up with friends, but I’m struggling with that. I’m back to showering once or twice a week because I’m physically exhausted, and my mood is low.

I’m anxious and unsettled. I’m scared to leave the house. I burst into tears when I need to leave the house alone. I hide inside because it feels safer than outside. There are so many things I want to do around the house and outside. I have plans for our garden and courtyard, even if they’re small. I have plans for all the things I want to do, but doing them will be a slow process.

I’m safe, and I have support, but I’m struggling. Adjusting to being at home, and to a new house, new suburb is hard (and slow) work.

I was excited to come home, and I don’t regret coming home (I have freedom!), but it’s hard.

Home from Hospital and Still Journalling

Journal, journalling, writing, diary, diary writing, psychiatric hospital admission, mental health, mental illness, dissociative identity disorder, dissociation, DID, trauma, PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder, parts, alters, alternate personality, multiple personality, mpd

One hundred and ninety four pages written and drawn in twenty six days twenty two hours and forty five minutes. That’s how much we did whilst in hospital. It was a long admission – nearly a whole month away from … Continue reading

The Psych Hospital

I’ve been in a psychiatric hospital for one week now. I didn’t come in for a rest, a break, or any kind of respite. This admission is about intensive therapy. Tackling the hard stuff.

Thankfully, today is my day off. The one day each week that I don’t see my psychiatrist. The group program today consisted of a walk that I didn’t go on. I’ve had a chat with my morning nurse, and will do the same this evening. Sundays are quiet here.

During the week the days can be intense.

To begin with there’s the 8am wake up. An announcement over the PA stating the date, time, and that morning meds are being dispensed. The dining room is open from 7:30-9am for breakfast. After breakfast I return to my room and either do some journalling or catch up on the previous night’s TV shows online. At 9:30am there’s a community meeting.

Then the groups start. At 10am there’s an ‘anxiety management’ group which consists of deep breathing exercises for five to ten minutes. Morning group runs from 11am-12pm. One of the psychologists does an assessment early on in your admission and assigns you to appropriate groups.

At 12pm there’s lunch in the dining room. Nothing exciting there. Good, fresh food, and you can eat as much or as little as you like. Afternoon group runs 1:30-2:30pm, and again, you’re assigned to a group.

Afternoons are quiet, and sometimes there’s an educational type group, a walk, or yoga. I tend to fill my afternoons and evenings with journalling, drawing, and processing memories. It’s hard work. I usually see my psychiatrist in the mornings which often means missing morning group.

Dinner is 5-6:15pm, then night meds at 8:45-9:20pm. I’m usually asleep before 10pm, but toss and turn because night staff do checks every single hour overnight.

It’s non-stop. Yes, I get time to myself in my room, but I spend that time journalling and completing homework from my psychiatrist.

I’ve already learnt a lot about our system since being here. I think we’ve done more work in six days with our psychiatrist than we’ve done with our psychologist all year. It’s useful, helpful, but gruelling.

Today I’ve done some knitting, watched two movies, and chatted to friends online. I do have unaccompanied leave, but it’s cold outside and my bed is warm and comfortable. I’m trying to rest, and prepare for another day of nurses, doctors, groups, talking, journalling, processing.

The Body Deserves Respect.

I think that most people understand the concept of respect, but do you understand self-respect? For me, this is a complicated, and somewhat overwhelming concept to understand and put into practice.

Let’s start from the beginning with what respect actually means. Good old Wikipedia defines respect as “Respect is a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem.” If you’re like me, that kind of definition isn’t particularly enlightening. It feels quite abstract and isn’t something I can connect with.

When I think about respect I think of two things – 1) respecting others and 2) respecting myself. I grew up in a chaotic, conflicted home and by age sixteen I’d come to a conclusion: Respect needs to be earned. Age, status, position, and authority give a certain level of respect, but, for me, that respect is only maintained if a person’s behaviour justifies it.

By age sixteen I’d decided that just because my parents were my parents, didn’t mean they were automatically respected. I thought (and still do) that my parents do not deserve respect. The way they’ve behaved and treated those around them warrants only shame and disgust. I think I tend to respect people who a) treat me with respect, b) treat those around them with respect, and c) treat themselves with respect.

Moving on to self-respect. Now that’s a trickier one to deal with and definitely something I struggle with. On a surface level I seem to respect myself, like myself, be okay with who I am. Deep down though? Nope. I’m filled with loathing, disgust, shame, and guilt. I don’t think I’m an okay person. I don’t think I’m loveable, let alone worthy of love. I don’t think I deserve friends or the love, kindness, and care they show me.

Whilst I was journaling this morning, it occurred to me that we tend not to treat ourselves with respect. Not just that though, we don’t treat our body with respect. All the ED behaviours, the self-harm, the overdoses (no OD’s for a long time). That’s not how you respect your body. I wondered what respecting your body would look like.

I think it’s about listening to your body and meeting it’s needs. Eating when hungry, stopping when full. Not misusing or abusing medications, alcohol, or drugs. Not physically hurting the body through self-harm or other unhealthy behaviours. Listening to physical pain and treating it appropriately. Seeking medical attention promptly when needed.

Whilst I feel uncomfortable about about respecting, valuing and nurturing myself, I think it’s something I can do for my body. Having DID means that I share my body with other parts or alters. It means that I can actually see my body as quite separate from myself, and in this case it’s quite useful. It provides a starting point for self-respect. So whilst, deep down, I don’t respect myself, I think I’m prepared to do all I can to take care of my body.

My body has been through years of abuse. Ten of those years were self-inflicted. Starving, binging, over-exercising, cutting, overdosing, and more. Our body didn’t deserve that then, and doesn’t deserve that now. I’m going to try something new…

I promise to try to do all that I can to nourish, care for, and look after our body.