My mood had been steadily declining as the week went on. I had made a bargain with myself to get to Wednesday. The fact that I had to make that deal with myself indicated in itself that things weren’t going well. I got to Wednesday. There was never any doubt that I would. It was my niece L’s third birthday and I was hanging out for some ‘L-time’ and I admit it, I didn’t want to create a family crisis around her birthday.
L-time was perfect. L, her father, her grandmother and I went out for coffee (and fluffy for L). In a bit of a daze, having taken some extra meds to get through the day, L and I played with the toys she had with her… teddy, little monkey and Sally, not to mention the cafe’s range of toys available. We were at a local cafe that had its buildings collapse in the 2011 Earthquakes, and now runs primarily outside (it’s spring here but they provide blankets for warmth in the winter and sun hats in summer). There’s nothing unusual about that in post-quake Christchurch and it’s good when you have kids (and adults) who need a bit of space. Oh, and delicious cake. For local readers, visit Under the Red Verandah Cafe (a shameless piece of advertising).
Spending a few hours with L made a significant difference to my state of mind. I mean it went from ‘I’m not coping‘ as I (strangely for me) posted on Twitter a few days before, to ‘I can do this‘. I concluded once again that I must get myself into the presence of L when I feel that bad. Do not stop, do not pass go… go directly to L’s home and have some quality time with my favourite person.
The thing is I came home feeling better but I still somehow posted this picture on my Facebook timeline that night (with no explanation):
I am not sure exactly why I posted it, but usually I am very careful about posting pictures or comments that could be disturbing and/or worrying to others. I wasn’t thinking. I posted it with a sense of being flushed down a toilet, or maybe jumping, and turned off the computer and went to bed.
By morning I could tell that a few friends were concerned about what I posted, but perhaps more so, I realised that for me, what I had posted was concerning. Time with L hadn’t quite improved my state of mind as I thought it might. I was still very depressed and struggling for hope. Living one day at a time, although it had cut down to one hour at a time. Time to admit there was a problem and get some help. And time to apologise to to friends.
I guess the thing for me is that earlier in the week I had tried to ask for some help (twice) from someone close to me, but they didn’t pick up on it. Perhaps I wasn’t direct enough. Perhaps there were just other things on their mind, but I had to accept responsibility for the need to keep asking until I got the help needed. That’s something that is really hard to do with you’re depressed, hopeless and you’ve already tried without success. You probably know that feeling too.
Yesterday I saw my doctor. Actually he wasn’t my doctor (who was away) but a very good locum who I have seen on a number of times before, and trust more than my own doctor. The first thing he picked up on was that last month’s lithium blood tests showed that I was only just in the therapeutic range. He felt my meds should have been increased at that time the tests came back, considering that I was already showing as depressed at that time.
What worked for me was that I was heard. The doctor heard that my mood was dropping by the week and that I needed some help. I am terrified of returning to my years of hospital admissions, suicide attempts and self harm. It was a never-ending cycle in one hospital door and out another. I will do anything to avoid going back to that lifestyle (if I can call it that). My mood might have dropped dramatically but I still had enough life in me to do anything I needed to do to avoid that. My doctor acknowledged that, as he increased my medication.
I have also now been given six therapy sessions (free) which may help me deal with some of the family issues going on for me right now, and affecting my state of mind. Meanwhile, today I am going out to see L. ‘Therapy‘ of a kind for me, and her chance to show me her new scooter and balance bike (birthday presents).
Someone said ‘fall down seven times, get up eight‘. I don’t know who but I know it’s true. I just have to keep getting back up. I know this is a recurrent illness and every time I get back up is another claim of hope that tomorrow will be better.
“Needing help doesn’t make you weak, in fact quite the opposite. It makes you strong, smart, resourceful, and realistic. Being prideful is a weakness. Asking for help when you know you’re in over your head is STRENGTH. Don’t ever forget that!”