I have been home from the psychiatric hospital for a week now and, at times, I am overwhelmed by very small things. It is a wonderful thing to be discharged from the hospital particularly when there is a good plan in place and one feels safe. That was certainly my experience. To be honest, though, it is not easy. One may think being back in the comfort of one’s home would feel soothing and relaxing but for me, I have not consistently felt that. I certainly sleep better in my bed with my life partner by my side and I certainly like not being checked on every 15 minutes. The stresses that brought me to the hospital are still there although dulled. I am still experiencing weird occurrences of remembering different aspects of being in the hospital as brought on by smells or sounds. I need to be careful when that happens not to allow it to take over my thoughts in those moments as it will not accomplish anything positive.
I am still not feeling great so I still need to monitor my symptoms. That can be difficult at times. There are times when I feel like everyone in the entire world is texting or calling to check on me and it feels too enormous to respond. That then brings on tremendous guilt and its own version of negative self-thoughts. The truth is nothing about this is easy for anyone involved in my life.
My therapist had used the term that I needed “a break” and classified that as me going to the hospital. I told her this week that I could not continue to describe my hospitalization as “a break” as it was not as if I took off a few days to go to Canyon Ranch (I wish!) or took a few days at the beach. In my mind, it was not really about taking a break but rather keeping me safe. That was the bottom line and the reality of my hospitalization. That is the new language now that I will be using. While I may have also needed a break from reality, the intention of going into the hospital was to keep me safe, simple as that. I talked with my husband about this language and he agreed. I am learning a lot right now about how important it is to let others in. It was important to tell my therapist that I did not agree with her language and we were able to talk about it and come up with a solution. Also, just as important, I knew to bring this to my husband’s attention in order for us to be on the same page. Semantics can carry a lot of meaning and it is so important for me to be understood. It is a very empowering feeling.
What would be helpful right now? Certainly hearing from my family and friends is important, I just may not respond if I am not up to it. It is not personal. I need to let others into my world a bit more as I have been unable to do so for months. This is very hard for me as I have not felt others “with” me in that emotional way in several months as my depression has fought against those feelings. Cut me some slack while I find my way. Yes, it is great to be home from the hospital but there is still a lot for me to acclimate to socially, emotionally and rationally. I need to try to give myself a break, too, during this process and for me that is like delving into the unknown. It scares me but I can intellectually see how important it is to my ongoing recovery.
My new medication is holding a lot of hope and during this waiting game of a few more weeks as it kicks in, I have chosen to have a couple of ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) treatments to help me get through. This was not an easy decision to make and although I originally told my doctor in the hospital I would not have more treatments as an outpatient, I came to it on my own once I was home for a few days. I felt empowered and terrified making this decision as there is so much anxiety for me before each treatment. It was helpful though while I was in the hospital and I need to give myself every opportunity to feel better. As my very eloquent therapist said to me this week, “it’s enough already!”
Yes, it really fucking is.
A week ago today I went for my early morning ketamine treatment at the hospital and never left. The plan was set in motion last Wednesday. I needed to be hospitalized and I needed to be safe. I was not thrilled with the idea but was the one who made the call to push things forward.
I met with the doctor who always follows me when I am inpatient and we came to an agreement: I would have 3 ECT treatments before beginning my new medication which I could not begin until today. I had the ECT treatments which brought back a level of anxiety in me I would not wish on anyone. They seemed to help my mood though so I am holding on to that positive. The first ECT was difficult though as ketamine was used as the actual anesthetic which I had never had before. I had difficulty walking after the treatment and even required 2 counselors to help me in the bathroom which was one of the most humiliating moments of my life. I was shaky all day but was told that they would go back to using the anesthetic they used in the past for future treatments.
I went to groups, talked with other patients, counselors and doctors and took care of myself. It was a difficult 7 days. I was away from my daughter, whose only understanding of me being away was that I went somewhere to get new medicine for my depression. I missed her more and more as each day went by. My husband visited as did my parents.
Evenings were the most difficult for me. I felt desperately alone and ached to hold my daughter. I worried about the burden I had become to those I love. I perseverated about these things over and over again.
I knew I needed to be in the hospital and did not waste time going over that. I needed to be in a safe place with little responsibility.
I am home now and very happy to be here. I feel exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. I still need to take things slowly and moment by moment. No extra pressure needed here!
I began my new medication this morning which comes in patch form (MAOI). I pray for positive results. I only agreed to a few ECT treatments to lift me up enough out of my misery in order to hold me until this new medication kicks in. I am terrified of doing more because of my memory issues and because of the great anxiety that is conjured up prior to each treatment. Again, I am focusing on moments at a time right now while I transition back to home life.
I will say it again: depression is a mean and horrible illness and I will continue to fight it with everything I have. I am lucky to have my treatment team in place and my family and friends are right by my side. It will take me some time to thoroughly process the past 7 days and I know I need to give myself that time and opportunity. Honestly, it’s a lot. A lot transpired during the past 7 days and while some was inspiring, some was downright terrifying and brought me to a place of pure despair and loneliness.
If you see me, if you want to contact me, just be positive and be supportive. I honestly cannot handle anything more or less right now. Just be real.