Posted on October 10, 2018
The one where I meet a real Russian!
My temperature is a little low. I woke up without a “wake up” knock because I didn’t take any Seroquel last night. I was trying a theory and it worked! And I don’t feel like shit this morning, either!
It’s funny, yeah, I thought working with animals, especially dogs, would be my everything. It’s the longest job I’ve ever had. But I guess it’s true what they say (for some), that if you turn your passion into a business, it just ruins it. I think I’ll keep this jewellery gig small. Maybe if there was Instagram when I was making jewellery things might have turned out different.
Today I’ve gone from a little manic, you know, when you think you can do ANYTHING IN ONE DAY, to feeling blue and melancholy. Nothing too extreme. But I guess that’s the lack of care.
So if Jeff and I are the opposite when it comes to dealing with stress:
Me – High Stress ——————————— Jeff – More self-compassionate
Then how do we deal with this? I’m always on edge and he isn’t. Hmm?
I feel like he’s too relaxed.
I feel a bit relaxed when he visits. It was nice, I even called my mum and the world didn’t collapse.
But then tonight, there’s a new woman. A REAL Russian. She totally understands when I was telling the others that Russians don’t smile because they’ll literally send you to an asylum if you walk around smiling. So we’re all sitting around comparing disorders and deciding who’s got the worst diagnosis and I feel a bit shit because it’s not me.
She also broke my heart because I started teaching my self Russian on a phone app this week and it’s totes hard. Anyway, so she asked me why I want to learn Russian and I tell her it’s so I can read Dostoevsky in Russian and she tells me not to bother that not even Russians understand him.
I am so devastated that I’m not washing my face tonight.
Posted on October 10, 2018
It’s late; clearly my finest writing time.
I see a lot of sadness here. There’s a drug and alcohol section but it’s separated from us, the regular depressives. But even they are sad, managing their sadness, anger, frustration, loneliness with addiction.
Why are we so sad when we’re so much more connected than we have ever been? There’s a guy I mentioned before, T, he’s the one who hears voices, but I reckon that was due to him taking drugs and alcohol, or did the drugs and alcohol helps him quash the voices? I might ask him tomorrow, now that he’s in our ward.
I don’t remember many times when I was not sad. The Russians are meant to be sad too. Maybe they’re happier that way. Has our quest for joy and happiness mad us sadder?
Posted on October 9, 2018
The one where they teach us about self-compassion.
Studies have shown that entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs because they want to. But, the ones who remain successful are those who are self-compassionate in times of hardship or failure.
Wait, am I writing from my groups book? No, this is a thing I learned.
Is this why Jeff is so successful? Because he is self-compassionate? (I asked him this and he says he’s not always that way).
I don’t think I know what self-compassion looks like. I think it looks egotistical and self-congratulatory and I’ve forgotten the other word.
Here’s what self-compassion looks like on paper and to a therapist:
- Respect – aka not thinking someone is a dickhead
- Being helpful
- Temporarily giving someone else priority
- Being gentle
- Giving a chance to be heard
- Offering genuine, kind words
- Showing genuine affection and support
- Being non-judgementalThe definition of self-compassion on paper and to a therapist is: Acting the same way towards yourself as you would to others when they are in need.
All I want to do is scream into a pillow like an autistic child, but I don’t think they would like that here.
I do it anyway, and I don’t stop. I literally didn’t stop.
I put a pillow over my head (I think it was supposed to be under my head but it was my first time), and something very strange and primal came out, sounds like I’ve never heard, from a place I didn’t recognise. It just kept coming.
I remember this sort of depression, pre-diagnosis, pre-medication. It’s horrifying. It doesn’t make me feel better and I left a tonne of mascara on the pillow.
The only thing running through my mind is what a weird sound it is, also when will it stop, and will the doctors come and jab me with something or take me to a sicker psych ward.
They soothed me with Seroquil and i fell asleep all day until I soothed myself with Survivor catch ups.
My time here feel squandered. Some say “just rest” but I don’t want to. I want to do something with my time, finish writing my books. Finish reading some books. Otherwise it all feels squandered.
Word of the day: Squandered
Posted on October 7, 2018
I feel hungover. I can barely open my eyes.
No standing BP – it’s high enough
When I used to drink, I didn’t really get hangovers, not that I could remember, because I drank vodka with panadol chasers. Someone smart taught me that.
I’m not sure why I write down by blood pressure. I think I take some pride in my usual low BP (not like it is now,but when I’m not here).
Last night made me think of Survivor. You know how people start out with *plans*, but plans to be a different version of themselves so that the others will be *fooled*. But their true colours always come out, just like on Big Brother and the rest of the reality shows.
That’s me. I started out meek and nice, and now look.
I’m a mimicker. I pick on other people’s behaviour. There’s a manic woman here who comes out at night. I become manic. I’m the mob in mob mentality.
I was still awake at 12.30 last night, 2 hours after my night meds, so I asked for more Seroquel. That was a mistake.
If they give me sleep meds so easily, why won’t they give me day meds? Such a conundrum.
Today is Sunday, which is usually a no makeup day for me at home, but I feel it’s not right here. If I let myself go, even if it’s once a week. what else could happen‽ And anyway, I think I need the paint therapy that makeup gives me.
So today will be more brain zappy than the past few weeks have been. My shrink has been weaning me off Pristiq for a while so the zaps have been minor. They will probably be major today and the next few days.
When I took myself off Effexor for 5 days a few years back without telling anyone, I got brain zaps and body zaps and thought I was going crazy. I googled it, and it’s a real thing.
How do you explain brain zaps to someone who has never experienced them?
Here are some ways:
- Imagine a plastic zipper and it’s continually being opened and closed for a millisecond, then for a second, then 1.2 a second, then 2 seconds. Imagine this in your ear, continually, all day and all night. Now imagine it inside your head.
- You know those mosquito zappers that people have outside in summer? Imagine one of those going off in your head every 3 seconds, maybe less, but at a slightly lower decibel.
Here’s a sort of example. It’s duller than this but just as constant.
Still on the mood stablilisers – they’ve been working such a treat – so I should be nice and lovely for when Jeff comes to visit later with my baby fluffies.
Right now though – sleepyville.
How many coffee pods does it take to wake up a mental patient?
No, really. How many?
Saw my baby girls and went down to Werribee river or somewhere. They’re just been brushed out and cleaned up and both Honey and Peaches got filthy in the water and they all got full of burrs and grass seeds. Yay for Jeff’s Sunday night!
We had awesome burgers, fries and onion rings from the Truck Stop Deluxe. Yummmm.
It ended badly when we got back between me and Jeff. I won’t go into it. It was just shit.
Zip Zap Zip Zip.
Posted on October 6, 2018
I’ve been thinking this morning about some of the group sessions, about values and goals.
Values don’t have steps or end dates – they might change over time but that’s it. Like, I value music, but I don’t want to make it (that’s a goal) but I do love to see live bands, and that really makes me happy. Another one of my biggest values is creativity. I like to surround myself with creative people. I also want to write. So my goal associated to that value is to write. My current SMART (yawn) goal is finishing the book that is practically finished. So the idea is to chip away at the goal until it’s done.
Now, because I’m such a sad bastard thinker, all I can see between the desire and the goal is a hundred million mountains, and I fucking hate climbing anything. So they keep telling me that it’s about chipping away at the mountains.
It sounds like my only options are to climb the mountains or to chip away at them. Is that right? No, really, are those my only options? Can someone please tell me.
I feel guilty not being productive with my writing in here. I mean, Van Gogh was at his most prolific while crazy and in asylums. I haven’t looked at a work of my book. It feels like a hundred million miles away.
Jeff is coming for lunch today. He’s bringing me faux pho (rice vermicelli salad with grilled pork from the Pho place in SUnny Sunshine). He’ll then take me across to the shopping centre so I can get my nails done. I thought getting tid of the SNS would be a good idea, but, for real, my nails are and have always been shit, so I am getting them coloured!
There are no group sessions on the weekend, so maybe I’ll chip away?
Jeff’s visit was so nice. We went to the plaza and I got my nails done and got some salad mix so I can have something healthy if I don’t feel like eating the meals.
He tells me that he’s spoken to the doctor. I may be in another three weeks. But I can’t imagine ever leaving.
Posted on October 5, 2018
PM – My nurse didn’t talk to me all day and I didn’t get my evening BP checked. I told you he was a CUNT!
However, there are things I’m really glad about:
Jeff got to go out with Genn to see Jen Cloher. Sure I would have like to have been there but it’s okay. It’s people like this that make me happy to be. So much talent.
And then, because I’m feeling good and, you know, a bit fun, frisky, I decide to hang out with the Sad Bastards.
I get confident
I get loud
I get sweary
I say things people don’t like
I get told off for being offensive with my sweariness (and blasphemousnous, I guess)
I get told off for being loud
I just wonder, I really do, especially after seeing so many of my future selves in here, if I am am ever going to win this battle of trying to change how I am.
Because, let’s face it, if it wasn’t for the others, I wouldn’t give a shit how I am.
I just don’t see a different future, and the attempt to change is so exhausting. This is how I look like after a day of trying to work shit out and, finally, to be told to shut up and I take some white pills and Seroquel.
Posted on October 5, 2018
Well, amazing what can happen in a few short minutes.
This morning, I pulled down my holland blind; this is how I learn that they are held up by magnets. I just pulled gently, I swear. I’ve never had much luck with blinds. Like that time in 1987 when I was living at this old woman’s house in Geelong when I first moved there for uni and it just fell down when I pulled it. She was so mad. But her house smelled of cauliflower and death anyway.
Maybe I should rest today, but I know I should get up, make up and dress up like I do every day.
Today there are classes about Values and Goals. So I decide I am going to be curious.
Last night. Should I tell you about last night‽ What’s there to say, really? It was shit. I cried in my room. If I was at home, I would describe it as that night when I drank too much and took all the pills and wanted to die. I went to bed at 5-ish, thinking it would go away but it didn’t. By 7.30, I raced with my cardigan over my head so nobody could see me sobbing like a crazy person (Holly, it’s my old lady grey cardi with flowers but it doesn’t matter much here). Sorry for the bleakness but there you go. Luckily I was able to take the Seroquil, Valium and whatever else all at once. I called Jeff, which I swore I wouldn’t do because I don’t want him to share the really bad times. He video phoned me with the dogs and cats and I think it was worse because I saw everything I had to lose and still didn’t care. I cried myself to sleep, which, thankfully, came on quickly.
I’m not eating much, which is a fucking miracle.
Jo Vraca has lost her appetite.
You know those illnesses where they say that you’ll lose your appetite? Well, that’s never happened to me – except that one time I drank water in Burma and couldn’t eat or drink for days.
I always hoped to get a tapeworm. I also hoped to get Karen Carpentered. I never got the former, but I definitely got the latter.
My eyes are burning today, like they do after you’ve cried a lot. But I’ve decided after last night’s shenanigans that I will not cry.
The wonderful thing about being in this sort of hospital is that you can totally be yourself. You can:
- Sing to yourself (although people will complain about you during the weekly community meeting)
- Have tics
- Not eat
- Be moody
- Go and hide away – although not for long because they’ll come and ask you if you’re feeling safe and wanting to harm yourself
- Listen to sad bastard music all day
- Wear Furkenstocks
My shrink visits me today, although I wasn’t expecting her. I wonder if it’s because of last night. Yep. She already knows about it.
She tells me I can go out tonight still. We have tickets to see Jen Cloher at the Spiegeltent, but I don’t trust myself to not drink or have another episode like last night and I just can’t handle that. Jeff will go with Genn. He deserves a good night out, and Genn is always a good night out, as is Jen!
Our values workshop
B (he’s 75-ish and very different from my parents) tells me that people don’t like his style of living, that he drinks too much. Everyone wants him to live a certain way and yet all he wants to do is sit on his back porch and drink. So he’s given up. I feel like he’s my future, and it’s bleak, but also feels inevitable. My dad was an alcoholic, I know now, but he’s changed. He’s mellow, and boring. My futurr. But it’s come early.
I’ve said it before, the only reason I don’t drink and take a thousand Valium is because of other people – they don’t like me when I’m drunk, they worry when I drink and take multiple Valium at a time (pussies).
But it’s like the guys at the pub recently when I did some secret day drinking. They started off strangers sitting away from each another. The more they drank, the closer they sat to one another. By the end, they were sharing a table and having a good old laugh. What’s wrong with that? Why is this not okay.
B and I have a lot in common like that – we could be those old dudes at the pub. But it really freaks me out that he’s given up because he’s comfortable with where he is and that’s the future I foresee. These values and goals workshops work for people with some drive. What if you have no drive? What if, like B, you’ve been there and done that? He’s been coming to these places for years. What hope do I have? Booze used to be my Obi Wan Kenobi – nobody else saw it that way, but I did, and it was fucking fun. And what business is it of theirs anyway?
I ate lunch today. Yay. I actually felt like it – veggie frittata with roast veggies and a slathering of Lurpak butter!
This is not public hospital, yo! We get Lurpac butter!
Then I come back to the room and dance in the mirror to some Nick Cave. This one.
I’m creating a playlist I’ll keep adding to. It’s called Jo’s Sad Bastard Hospital Music
I sit back down to write this and wonder why I’m not as talented as these sad bastards. I think of all the creatives who, at least, seem sad and depressed, and yet they’ve nurtured their creativity. I think of Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Courtney Barnett, Adalita. I don’t know. Maybe they’re really happy and solid, actually.
There’s this guy, T, who hears voices. He’s 26 so Saturn Return and all that (I swear I don’t give a rat’s about astrology but the Saturn Return is real, man). So this kid is also in the drug unit, so I guess that hasn’t helped the voices. I used to hear the voices, for maybe 20-25 years. But then I met my shrink and the meds helped. Anyway, T tells me that he likes my eye shadow, that it matches my hair. I’m flattered because it’s true; it looks especially nice today. I feel especially nice today, actually. I washed my hair and it looks pretty.
But then I think, Jo, you’re taking a compliment from a kid who hears voices and clutches a pillow everywhere he goes.
Other than the two groups, lunch and meds, I haven’t left my room.
By the way, I hate my new nurse. He is a a fucking cunt who asks too many questions about why I need to take my Valium exactly 4 hours after the last time. He asks me if I’m anxious, and I go into tapping mode again. I tell him I don’t have anxiety, I have depression, mania, and I am pre-empting the overwhelm after what happened last night. Does he know what happened last night, no? Then stop giving me a hard time. I actually say these things to him and it’s obvious that five days of group sessions about managing interactions with people have NOT rubbed off on me.
I want to call him a CUNT and wonder what the consequences will be if I do. Anyway, he’s my nurse and he hasn’t even said a word to me all day.
I think my mum’s been trying to call me because I get calls from a private number, but I just can’t talk to her because I know I’ll lose my shit and she’ll say all the rubbish people who have no idea always say:
Don’t worry about it.
You’ll be fine.
Think happy thoughts.
Think of everything you have in your life.
But your life is so perfect.
Where’s my fucking rifle?
Posted on October 4, 2018
BP 110/80 – It seems to be pretty steady. I think it’s all the water I’m drinking.
They have asked to have a one on one with me so I’m waiting in the common area. I think I might be in trouble because I have been taking photos in my room of all the ways you can’t kill yourself so I think maybe they’ve found out and want to tell me off. Isn’t that like at work. They call you into the office unannounced because you said something wrong to someone. I’ve also been downloading a lot of TV, but I have my VPN on so they shouldn’t know.
TRIGGER ALERT: Here are some of the ways you cannot possibly hang yourself here – for those who prefer pictures to words.
There was a tonne of drama last night and I didn’t end up taking my meds until around midnight. But that was hardly the drama (but it didn’t help the tapping).
Anyway. Something set off an alarm. Well, I say “something”, but I reckon it was someone smoking in their room. I can’t be sure. But the nurses said it was someone having a hot shower. Anyway. A few people lost their shit and I wanted to just yell at them:
It’s just a fucking alarm. Nothing’s actually happening.
They say that one of the signs of being a sociopath is lacking empathy. In Suskind’s book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (a book I loved until I hated it), another sign is when a baby does not have that scent. Maybe that’s why I like young puppies at 8 weeks. They still have that baby smell, of mother’s milk. But that’s got nothing to do with this, at least I don’t think so.
So back to the drama of the sirens. One of the things they tell you in therapy is that holding down your emotions is part of the problem (although they never say the word problem, naturally). So what about all the other things I hold down like:
Shut the fuck up you stupid cunt.
I want to say that to everyone who is having a *panic attack* during the sirens. Anyway.
By holding that down, am I also creating a “problem” (but not that word, nauturally)?
The guy next door who likes to sit at his desk in the dark with his door open, well he ends up having a major panic attack during the sirens, but it ends up being something a lot more major because the ambulance comes and takes him away. He’s holding his arm. Fuck, maybe he’s having a heart attack?
So I’m waiting for my one on one, maybe they’re going to tell me that I’m not fucked up enough and don’t deserve to take the place of someone with real problems. I often think about how I’m making it all up, that I’m a drama queen and a liar. Everyone tells me I’m a drama queen and a liar. Actually, I didn’t get enough attention as a child, so here I am.
Should I be honest with my feelings in my one-on-one or will they send me somewhere else, where the real crazies are? See, that’s the actual problem (yes, problem, *that* word). You’re told that you should allow some feelings, because they’re natural, but others have to be controlled. I mean, I can tell the difference between “are you alright there, mate?” and “fuck the fuck off you fucking prick”, but what about the in between? That grey area is hard to navigate. That’s the area where we live, but I feel like I live at the dark grey area.
So I start off today super mad. Madder. Not because I’m here. I love it here. There’s a lot more certainty here than I’ve had anywhere in a long time. I know when to wake up (they knock), when to take my meds (before 9am), what times the group sessions are (10:30, 12.30, 2pm), meals (8-9, 12-12.30, 5.30-6.30). It’s like being a baby, I suppose. They say you should give kids a routine. I never had one, but I do now, and I get it.
I go to my one on one. I shouldn’t have been worried. It was just routine blah. But I see a hula hoopin the room and get a little excited. I wonder if Marawa the Great is going to come to teach us to hula like she did that time at Lonely Planet.
The nurses – you get a day nurse, an afternoon nurse (I think) and a night nurse) – comes to see you several times during their shift to see if you want a chat. I do and it seems to make me madder. She asks so many questions. She especially wants to know if I feel safe or like I will self-harm. Seriously, how the fuck would I do that anyway? You’ve seen the photos.
I decide I’m not going to any group sessions today. Four days in and I’m already negative and my usual belligerent self about everything. I’m like the Macadonian – nothing’s going to work, it’s all bullshit.
But I’m in the common room and see that a lot of people are going and I change my mind. Maybe I’ll hear lots of voices (not in my head, real ones) and it might resonate.
The session is Understanding Emotions.
I understand I have three major emotions, AND THEY FUCKING RHYME!
Except my favourite emotions actually don’t rhyme because they are guilt and joy. I think I’ve only felt real joy when I’ve been high. Jeff will try to convince me otherwise, that I have had many moments of real, unadulterated joy, and his saying that will make me MAD, then I will feel GUILT. You see, emotions in action!
#2 Class – What to do with emotions
It’s with the same counseller – he’s good. I like him. He swears a little, wears skinny chinos and nice suede shoes.
However, I’m feeling like I should have taken some Valium today, especially before this class. I’m agitated and my legs are shaking like a 15 year-old boy. I’ve become that annoying person who shakes and taps in agitation. Was that always me? Or is this the new me? I remember Marty used to do this and it annoyed the fuck out of me.
I have been getting lovely messages on Facebook but I haven’t been responding. I don’t know what to say. This is my bulk response to you all (wait for it – if it doesn’t move, then click on it).
Tonight is the second night that I’ve asked Jeff not to visit. When I’ve been in hospital before, for sane stuff like getting my gall bladder removed, broken leg, I hated visitors because you have nothing to say. I have nothing good to say right now. Poor Jeff hates my negativity, and that’s pretty much all I have right now. So I’m saving him, actually. Others want to visit too, but I don’t want to pretend to be happy.
I spend most of the day listening to sad bastard music and working on my new website. It’s all about distraction, but I’m not sure this is what they have in mind when they talk about distraction – but I don’t do mindfulness. Anyway, I’m happily listening to sad bastard music in my little headphones surrounded by sad bastards.
Here’s my soundtrack today:
I don’t take Valium until 3.30pm today and that’s a big mistake.
I have no apetite but I’m drinking plenty of water.
I have some Savoy crackers for dinner with Jeff’s homemade feta. YUM. Also some birthday cake.
Have I said thank you, Jeff? For everything?
I don’t think I will hang out with the Sad Bastards in the common area tonight. I’m too agitated.
There’s something that made me totally laugh tonight. While we’re all worried about single use plastics, in here we’re using NOTHING BUT single use plastics (except our cups and plates). Single use plastics every time we take our meds in those little cups and those disposable plastic cups for our meds water because they don’t trust us to take them otherwise. Like, we can’t just walk away with our meds. We don’t need to open our mouths to prove we’ve taken them but we have to take them at the nurse’s window. Although, for some reason, they asked me to yesterday to open my mouth to show I’d swallowed my Valium.
Anyway, it feels good to laugh for a bit, even if it was a little schadenfreude.