Wednesday, December 18, 2013
A few weeks ago, I was in the hospital again. Admittance #4 of 2013, if we're keeping track.
#1) Gall bladder attack and removal
#2) Severe pancreatitis and liver disfunction
#3) Double pneumonia
#4) Psychiatric unit
Yes. I know what you're probably thinking. I really just told the entire internet that I went to the funny farm. The castle of crazy. The bin of loons. And it's not the first time. But to not say it out loud would send the message that having severe depression and anxiety is shameful. It's not. So, I said it out loud and refuse to be ashamed.
I was having a hard time. Multiple panic attacks every. single. day. Depression that made breathing seem like hard work. Near constant suicidal thoughts. It was pretty brutal. And after a while, it started to feel dangerous. So, I admitted myself.
I was in the unit for three days. It was not a good experience. Not even a little. Rarely are psychiatric units a place of hope. Truthfully, most units are places where they wait for your medications to start to kick in and the suicidal thoughts to go away. Nothing more than that. Understaffed. Chaotic. Sterile. Humiliating. That about sums it up.
The hardest part was when I met with the psychiatrist. I told him my history, social and psychiatric. I carefully listed as many of my medications as I could possibly remember. Prozac and Lithium and Celexa and Lexapro and... and... and... The list was a mile long. I answered all the usual questions. After a while, he just stared at me with a look of bewilderment and said, "We can't really do anything else for you. At this point, we'll have to rely on just improving your health. You need to try getting one of those..." And then, I stopped listening for a while. And it sunk in. I've tried it all. They are out of options. How can this be? Is my brain really *that* broken? Apparently, yes.
Huh. *long, awkward pause* Well, that sucks.
What did I do after that conversation with the psychiatrist? I kept swimming.
In case you skipped the video above, this would be a good time to watch it. It's worth it. I swear. I'll wait right here.
So. What's next?
Well, I've been fighting this for 25 years and have to come to terms with the fact that nothing has worked over the long haul and probably never will. I have officially been diagnosed as "treatment resistant." I have to figure out exactly what that means and find a way to embrace it. A pill will probably never fix me, and that's that.
What have I been doing since I left the hospital?
Light therapy. Yoga. Occasional sleep deprivation. (Yes, that is actually a recognized treatment for depression.) I'm not sure if any of it is actually working, or if it keeps me busy between panic attacks. Either way, I'm doing it.
I keep telling myself that this is not the end. It's just the beginning. But instead of the beginning of a new treatment plan or approach, it's the beginning of acceptance. I'm going to stock up on metaphorical swimsuits. I'm going to learn to tread water now and again when I'm just too tired. I'm going to do the best I can to keep up my physical health so I can better cope when my mental health goes to shit.
I guess I'm just going to swim.