Everyone is safe

Three weeks in, three weeks out.

Longer now, but I wrote these words, longhand, after I’d been out of hospital three weeks. I’m typing them now, with today’s point of view, so you can’t believe anything.

What they don’t tell you, when you leave the mental hospital, is that you have to start running your own life again, like an adult, in control of yourself. You have to set an alarm and actually get out of bed so you can get to work. You have to remember to take your meds, morning and night, you have to go shopping for groceries. You have to create some sort of routine. You have to smile and tell everyone how much better things are now, thanks for asking, because you don’t want to worry them, or make them uncomfortable, or bored.

If you stay in bed all day when you come home from the mental hospital someone might suggest you sign yourself back in. What they don’t tell you is that you don’t know what you want to do, but sleeping all day doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world. I wish I’d  slept more while I was in the mental hospital.

To think I started to miss my normal life, but now that I’m in it I’ve come to realise that I’m actually quite shit at it, shit at my job, shit at making decisions, shit at planning, at being on time, at giving a fuck about it because I don’t really have anything I want to look forward to.

I thought the meds would make me feel less depressed but, SPOILER ALERT, they do not.

Nothing much has changed, mentally, except I’m not expressing myself as readily as I used to and I’m not taking Valium like they are Lifesavers.

I’m not taking them at all, actually, which makes everyone very pleased with me, and themselves. Also also, I haven’t been an asshole to anyone so far.  Is that the bonus we were all hoping for?

I haven’t yelled at anyone, mainly, because stressors have been taken from me and given to others. No more evening work at home. No more new staff for the shop. No more toxic Facebook groups or people. No more this, or that. I have “light duties”, and I’m told not to worry about “this”, and that “that” is being taken care of. I tell them “alright”, I won’t think about it. There’s a lot I don’t think about, like writing, I don’t think about it at all. That’s a lie. Every day I have this fleeting thought. The word “writing” comes and goes. Just like that.

I have ideas. So many ideas. But then I remind myself where my ideas end up. So I let them fly away. Like the word “writing”.

So there it is. I’ve become the benign person I always feared I’d become – no hopes, no dreams, no passions, no vices. Just a benign middle-aged woman, fat, having lost my looks around 30 kilos and 5 years ago, and with nothing much of interest to say.

I’ve literally lost words.

It’s safer this way. For everyone.

Day 20 – October 20th 2018

I’m still living as a bit of a hermit, avoiding eye contact.

The weekends are boring. No group sessions, so I spent today watching episodes of Episodes and LoLing out loud.

I’ve made plans for the immediate future, small ones, setting the bar low. I wonder if three weeks in here have actually done anything more than just managed my change of meds in a safe environment, out of harm’s way. Out of everyone’s way. Jeff couldn’t have managed it.

I’m calmer, less angry, less aggro. It feels like less me. Jeff tells me that it feels like the old me, when we had more conversations, but I chalk that down to the lack of distractions, and better meds. I fear they’ll wear off eventually. They always do, and we have to go through this whole shemozzle all over again.

I wonder what it will be like when I get home? Will I stop hiding? Will I come out of the room? Will I actually sit outside and watch the clouds roll past? Will I write? Will I play with the cats, the dogs? Will I pick flowers? Will I go to trivia nights or do crosswords again? What a small, small life I seem to be planning.

Day 19 – October 19 2018

I admit it: I stopped wearing makeup around the end of week one. Not even mascara.

When I look in the mirror, I see a vacancy. Nobody’s home. My eyelashes seem to have shrunk, there are gaps in my eyebrows and a few greys, dark circles, patchy skin, fading pink hair. I feel disappeared.

It’s not as though I don’t know all this – that’s why I wear make up, to feel… less vacant, maybe.

But between that and wearing leggings as pants, I don’t know what’s happening!

Am I becoming more relaxed, or have I just given up. They feel the same to me, right now.

That said, I know I haven’t given up entirely. A few days after arriving, I walked out of my room to get night meds and my cardigan was on inside out. I knew it was when I left my room. And someone even told me about it but I just grunted.

Tonight, as I was leaving my room, realising my cardi was on inside out, I stopped and sorted it it out. Feeling a little more like the old me, I suppose.

Day 18 – October 18, 2018

I promised myself that I would blog everyday while in here, even if it hurts, or it sucks.

So, because I’m a little lost for words today (or I’ve become terribly boring), I’ve decided my day will be brought to you by the Lemonheads, well, Evan Dando, at his “best”.

Day 17 – October 17 2018

The first half of today is brought to you by the live version of:

Well this morning can just go and fuck itself in the holes.

I go to group. I upset people. I think people are pussies and just way too sensitive and should grow a pair. Remember all the quiet people in class at school who never put up their hand and it just meant that the class went slowly and you got so bored? Well that’s what group was like. And me, well I was already in a shitty mood and did all the things the old teenage me used to do: eye rolls, sighing, you know; don’t pretend you didn’t do it and don’t still, now and again.

It’s like I enjoy their discomfort. I try to think of a time when someone has done the same to me, and I can’t. Actually I think there was one time, at an old job, but I just thought she was a cunty young girl (I was in my early 30s by then and she was mid 20s so, you know). She made me fee like shit, but I simply despised her. Instead, people are so sensitive to my bad behaviour, and I HATE weak people. Yes, that’s what I’ve come to realise. I honestly have a hard time with weak people, the over-pleasers, the “may I” people.

It all gets back to my shrink. They report things. So my homework is to practice the STOP technique. I will take a moment before I react, maybe even take a literal step back. Gah. Homework!

Jeff came to visit and we’re getting back into having conversations. It’s the lack of distractions. When we get home from work, we keep on working, distracting ourselves. So many of us do it – we keep working, or sit and watch tv, scroll through social media. Of course we can’t have conversations – we haven’t done or experienced anything new to have conversations about.

He asked me why I publish this blog. Why I want people to read it?

My answer is always the same: To feel less alone.

We’re all lonely at times, and all we see of each others’ lives are the great moments on social media. We forget that everyone has shitty days, sad days, stressful days, long work days because we just see a teeny slice that’s usually fun or funny. So we wonder: “Is it just me? Am I the only person who’s suffering?”

Day 16 – October 16 2018

Didn’t get my BP taken this morning. Waking up was hard enough.

A nurse woke me at 8.10 to remind me to go and take my meds. They like to clear us out by 8.30 but I went back to sleep instead and she ended up bringing my meds to my room instead. What luxury. Like breakfast in bed.

There’s a girl with super long, pointy, manicured nails. She ran up to the nurses station early in a panic, bloody scratches all over her forearms – that’s her self harming technique, not drugs, booze and anger like my generation. The incident did make me wonder why they let her keep the nails though. I mean, may as well give her a blunt knife.

Saw the shrink and she’s increased the dose of my new meds. I think they’re working, to be honest, because I barely feel like crying, I barely feel like taking Valium. I barely feel a thing. And I can tell that my writing has become pretty ho-hum.

Jeff said he spoke to the shrink yesterday but he won’t tell me what they talked about. Not that I think they’re conspiring (are they), but I do wonder what “the plan” is (do I?)

I think this new kinda me – quieter, less sensitive to dickheads, not too worried about the future – is the best I can expect maybe.

Last night I watched an episode of Shameless, the US version and, wouldn’t you know it, Peggy Bundy was on it (yes yes I know she’s done lots since Married with Children but I’ll always think of her as Peggy Bundy). So it seems Peggy is bi-polar or manic depressive or whatever they’re going to call it. Her mania is loop-de-loop cray, which obviously attracts Frank Gallagher. But what interested me in the episode was that, after she’d chilled, she told Frank that she didn’t like it when she was manic, that she wants to be normal. But Frank gently tells her that she is normal. I guess if we lived in Frank’s world, we would all be normal.

So it got me thinking, who are doing this for, you know? The meds, the therapy, the talk-talk-talk, the TMS, the ECT, the hospital stays? Is it anybody’s business if we want to be self-destructive?

What if I stopped trying so hard to be a “better kind of me”? It would be easier for me, even if it wasn’t for others.

Should I consider psychiatric anarchy?

Day 15 – October 15

BP 120/80 – How ordinary

Questions for my shrink today:

  1. Why am I still here?
  2. What do you expect I will learn here?
  3. Do you know that nothing has changed in my routine since I got here (except I’m sleeping more)? I work all day, stay in my room hidden away, get angry at people etc
  4. Is there anything wrong with hiding away?

I’ve been listening to A LOT of Cold Chisel these past few weeks, literally falling asleep to them in my ears, then waking up in the middle of the night with them still going in my ears and I’ve loved it. I no longer feel embarrassed about it. They music is raw and loud and rough, like me, I think.

It reminds me of when I was still living at home, a teenager, I did exactly the same with whatever band I was into at the time. But as I fell asleep, I would fantasise that I was the singer or lead guitarist. Anyway, I had this record player that my folks still have, and it played both sides of the record – not by flipping it over though. The stylus moved over and around to the bottom of the record and would play it upside down. How’s that for 80s technology – I can’t even find a you tube video of one.

I championed my “healing” today, given the dramas of the last few days.

I sat in the common room (with my headphones in playing at full volume) not wanting to kill the people who were talking across the room over me – PROGRESS!

It was hours before I asked for my Diazepam.

Seriously, though, I don’t think Valium works on me anymore. I did accuse them, early on, of giving me placebos but they said it would be illegal, yadda yadda.

My appetite is back, unfortunately. There I was hoping that I would lose weight at this resort!

Day 14 – October 14 2018

BP 128/70

I have a Sunday alone so I decide to do some work on my values.

Here’s what mine seem to be:

I did some online tests to be certain. Obviously online values tests will be accurate, but they seem to be in my case.
But I always ask if these answers are based on now or on the knowledge you think you have of yourself, you know? We get stuck in a loop, maybe? But I’ll go with these.

Then there are some questions we went through in group:
What have been my peak experiences?

  1. Traveling to the US to study
  2. Making beautiful thing like embroidered toys and beaded jewellery
  3. Writing in French phonetics – I actually got a thrill doing this
  4. Going to great concerts and gigs – big and small – Muse in Prague, Radiohead at the Hollywood Bowl, Peaches at Big Day Out, Clare Bowditch at the Builders, Courtney Barnett at RRR
  5. Hearing new music for the first time and feeling completely overwhelmed – this happened the first time I heard Sia’s Breathe Me, and Courtney Barnett’s Depreston.

  6. Publishing my books – This feels like it *should* be here but I’m not 100% sure. I know that writing them were peak experiences.

The values I was honouring around these peak times:

  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Knowledge
  • Independence
  • Freedom

Suppressed Values – When have I been angry or upset – then flip it to reveal what value was suppressed.

  1. Growth of the business with so many staff
    • Suppressed value – independence
  2. Relying on others to make something happen – like walking the dogs, having fun while travelling (this seems obscure, but, you know…) – because I feel like I won’t do it without them. Like when your gym buddy can’t go and you’re disappointed and won’t go either, like it’s their fault.
    • Suppressed values – curiosity, independence, freedom, joy
  3. When someone has a belief that is so completely against mine, but it feels to me that they don’t have a real reason to feel the way they do, as if I feel it’s just a trend.
    • Suppressed Values – Curiosity, freedom, independence
  4. My inability to make goals or stick to plans or remember things, or maintain a diary/planner
    • Suppressed values – Curiosity, creativity, knowledge
  5. Whenever I’m complimented (or my mother tells me that I’m “the best” anything).
    • Suppressed value – I thought it was Independence but now I’ wondering if it’s not just curiosity or some sort of false humility. I’m just not sure why.
  6. Not finishing things – DipEd, Photography Cert, Canine Myotherapy Cert, etc etc
    • Suppressed values – Knowledge, curiosity, excitement, freedom, creativity

Code of Conduct – what’s most important in my life?

Creative self expression, which is the wanky way of saying: Knowledge and its creative communication.

I get really angry at friends or anyone who doesn’t want to try something new or interesting because I feel they’re missing out and I want them to have excellent experiences too.

I remember this one time when Jeff took our neighbour’s kids to the Show and I begged them to go on the scariest rides even if they were too frightened to. I virtually had a fight with these kids about it. Jeff told me later that he explained to them why I was so angry with them when they told me they wouldn’t go on the scary rides. He told them: Jo just wants you to experience everything, even if it’s scary, just to know what it’s like.

This, I think, is the value that’s missing for me right now.

Day 13 – October 13th 2018 – Jeff’s Birthday!

Inmate release day for Jeff’s birthday. No words. Just pictures. Thanks to the breaker-outerers.


Day 12 – October 12 2018 Dissociative

Dissociative Behaviour Disorder

I learned from my shrink this morning that I may be suffering from this too. So many diagnoses at my age!

It does describe perfectly how I feel when I become a bully, and yell, get angry and all that.

It’s like I see myself from above, or below, or beside or wherever. I see what is happening, what I’m saying, or writing to people, and I don’t even know how to stop, like it’s coming from a place that’s not me. I just keep saying things or doing things, or writing things. I’m not saying that I’m Sybil or anything, but the diagnosis makes sense.

So because of my anger last night I’ve isolated myself all day.
It’s either passive or aggressive.
Or it’s fear.
Or it’s just easy.

People talk about the same shit in here. They talk about depression. I’m sick of the same conversations. My psych and my counsellor say it’s my inability to tolerate things. Like when I check out of meetings when they get boring.

I was never shown how to tolerate things. My dad never tolerated a single thing, especially lateness.. But I just don’t think I care.

I’ve had headphones when I leave my room so that even if I’m not listening to anything people will ignore me and I can ignore them because, you know, I can’t hear them.

My shrink says it’s because I’ve never really learned to grow up, to mature.

I want to go home but my shrink says I’m not ready. I don’t know why. I’m not doing anything different here. I hide in my room.

Most of the inmates have been here tonnes of times. One woman with kids and who’s only in her 30s says she’s spent 6 months in total out of the last two years here.

Isn’t that proof that none of this works?

I didn’t take any valium today. Tomorrow will be a different story. I’m catching up with friends for Jeff’s birthday. I will take all the valium.