Life in the psych unit

So to pick up where I left off, after meeting the psychiatrist myself and Hubby resigned ourselves to the fact that this time I would be staying. How did that feel? Honestly, I'm not entirely sure. Looking back I don't think I know what I felt, I was mostly numb. I don't remember being shown to my bed, although I do remember recognising the voice of a visitor at the next bed as being someone I had come across at work, and completely freaking out. Then the same drill as last time - check through my stuff to make note of it and again take away anything I could hurt myself with. And then it was time for Hubby to leave. That was hard. That was when I cried. I remember clinging on to him, but obviously he couldn't stay. He needed to get home to the kids, find some way of explaining to them why I wasn't there. So, he left, I stayed.

That first weekend, in fact that first week, is mostly a blur. I was more or less left to my own devices. Hospitals, or at least psych units, are very quiet places at the weekend. Do you know, I actually can't tell you anything about that first week because I just don't remember. I think my mind had gone into shut down. I'm reasonably confident I avoided other people as much as I could, I didn't want to talk to anyone, but beyond that it's a blank.

And after that first week? I think I got used to the rhythm of life in there. There was comfort in completely letting go of responsibility, in having someone else tell me when to eat, when to sleep, hand me medication. I didn't have to think, and that's what I needed. No, it was more than that, more than comfort. It was an escape, respite, solace. It was the exact opposite of my life. Anything that reminded me of home was almost too hard to handle. I found it incredibly difficult to speak to Hubby - what do you talk about when all the normality has been stripped away? This was rock bottom. It was an absolutely horrendous time for him as well.

There were nurses on hand to talk if I needed to talk, although I found this really difficult. It takes me a long time to trust someone enough to open up, and given that there were different staff on every day establishing trust was a challenge. Some I could speak to easier than others. Some brought me out of myself, others made me want to pull the covers over my head. New student nurses were nervous and didn't know how to speak to me, and I didn't have it in me to make it any easier on them. Most weeks I saw the psychiatrist or one of her team at least twice if not 3 times, although again I found staff rotation and the lack of continuity difficult. I was also allowed out to see Therapist on a weekly basis.

Mostly I just had to wait for the new medication to take effect and get me to a place where I could begin to see life again. If I wanted to there were activities on most days that I could take part in, but I had no interest. I walked quite a lot, I read, and the interweb was my lifeline. Other than that I waited. Waited to feel something, anything. Waited to want to see my family. Waited to believe that I had a future. It was a horrible, horrible time, I really don't have the words to properly describe it. I was scared to go home, scared even to leave the hospital grounds. When I did start feeling again, mostly it wasn't all that nice. I was incredibly, explosively angry, or so I'm told as I really don't remember. I cried a lot. And then there were interminable stretches where time seemed to slow almost to a standstill and I couldn't see that I would ever get better, would ever want anything more for myself. It felt as though I would always be this half person, alive, but not living.

After about 3 weeks they started to talk about my going home. I wasn't ready, I was nowhere near ready. The first time I went home was just for an hour, and I couldn't wait to get back to the safety of the hospital. Looking back that seems so strange - who would actively want to be in hospital?? But I was so far beyond coping that it was the best place for me. Over the next two weeks I gradually spent more time at home - a couple of hours, a full day, an overnight. It was tough on us all. My kids are young, it was very difficult to explain to them why I was coming home but not staying. For me, I felt like like a visitor in my own home, I didn't know where to put myself. I can only imagine how difficult it was for Hubby. But gradually I began to see that things were not like before, primarily because I was not like before. In my head, going home meant going back to the horror of the zombie-like state I had been in just a few weeks previously, and it took time to see that this wouldn't be the case.

Thankfully I did eventually see that things had changed, that I was getting better. I was a long way from recovered, but I was well enough to go home and continue recovering there. The day I was discharged was the first time I really felt I no longer wanted to be in hospital. I still go back in regularly - I've been seeing someone for mindfulness and am due to see the psychiatrist again next week. It'll be a while before they hand me back to the care of my GP. But I can see now that I'm getting there. This episode is almost at an end, I'll soon be back to work. And then all we want is to just close this chapter of our lives, move on, and forget about it.

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