A Familiar Holding Pattern

After Amelia’s death in January, the depressive episode I was in got worse. I waffled about going back to the partial hospitalization program (Triangle) that I attended in June because it felt like maybe my depression wasn’t bad enough to warrant me being admitted to it and besides what if there were other people who needed the services more than I did. Yeah, I apparently have imposter syndrome about accessing mental health care. But that was what I was thinking, distorted or not, and after some gentle pressure from both my psychiatrist and my therapist, I gave in and got my therapist to call and schedule an intake for me. That was about a month ago.

Even though I felt shitty about taking up space in Triangle, I went in for my first day on February 19th. I was trying to push those thoughts aside and just focus on recovery when I read a statement online that wound up being the destabilizing event that my brain had apparently been waiting for. I wound up not really sleeping much that Monday and felt pretty crummy heading into the PHP the next day. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d read and the implications for what could happen and my thoughts just spiraled into despair. I made it through the first couple groups that morning and then just couldn’t make my brain stop. I asked one of the clinicians if she had a minute and followed her through the back hallway into her office. She was so kind to me and all I could think was what if it was me this time. What if the thoughts running through me took control and I didn’t make it home that night. We talked for maybe ten minutes. Well, she talked and I sobbed. I wound up meeting with the psychiatrist I’d been assigned to and she wound up sectioning me to a nearby ER to be evaluated for an inpatient bed. The irony of being terrified of taking someone else’s much needed spot in the program and winding up being transported across the city by ambulance to spend a week on a locked inpatient unit was not lost on me.

The hospital was okay. They were really lacking in structured activities, so I spent most of my time hanging out with other patients and playing with art supplies. I started another journal and probably filled half of the notebook before I left, mostly to get thoughts out of my head and also because I was just bored. The hospital psychiatrists made a bunch of changes to my meds. There were some not great moments, patients having meltdowns and breaking furniture, the guy who tried to commit suicide on the unit minutes after I’d been taken to my room, the guy who literally ignored me all week but who would sit at the table across from me and flirt with the women there as if I were invisible if I tried to continue being involved in conversation with the women I’d just been talking with. He’d go so far as to talk around me, change the subject of the conversation, or depending on who was around, switch into Portuguese so I couldn’t interject. But things were pretty okay. I found camaraderie in some of the other patients. I burrowed under the occupational therapy department’s weighted blanket that they loaned me.  I gambled with the hospital kitchen, trying to order as many non-water beverages on my meal trays as possible and seeing what they’d cross off. (I think my max was one cup of hot water for tea, one cup of hot water and no sugar added hot chocolate mix, a cup of diet ginger ale, and a diet cranberry juice.) I felt pretty safe and supported.

I wound up celebrating my 35th birthday while hospitalized. I wasn’t really looking forward to my birthday because Amelia’s memorial was scheduled for the following day and it just felt weird to celebrate something after what had happened. My partner came by for a visit that night and brought me a slice of cake, with two other friends which I was not expecting at all. I missed the memorial, of course, which was felt complicated. I tried to distract myself that day, reading over the pamphlets on grief that the interfaith chaplain had given me, hanging out eating way too much no sugar added sorbet and playing games that I continued to suck at and lose. We marked the passing of time by waiting for our next meals, having long forgotten what we’d ordered by the time it arrived. I drank a lot of tea. I was discharged after a week, and referred back to Triangle the next day after spending a night getting much better sleep in my own bed.

The meds change has been interesting so far. The psychiatrist I saw in the ER increased my evening antipsychotic dose because he felt that would help with the ruminating thoughts that were keeping me up at night and added a sleep med. The inpatient psychiatrist I saw discontinued one antidepressant I’d been taking and lowered the dose on another because she though it might be making me more anxious. She also started me on a mood stabilizer which has mostly been making me drowsy during the day. I hear this side effect most likely will pass with time and I’m starting to feel a bit more alert this weekend, so I’m hoping it will eventually be fine. I am noticing that when my mood drops during the day it isn’t dropped as fast or as low so hopefully the med will do what I need it to do after we figure out the right dose for me. I actually woke up feeling really good this morning, even if it didn’t last throughout the day. It’s way better than I felt three weeks ago, or even a month ago. I’ll just have to wait and see what comes to pass.


One thought on “A Familiar Holding Pattern

  1. If it’s any comfort, I have had thoughts along the lines of, “If I weren’t seeing my shrink three times a week, then he could be seeing three -other- people instead, people who would maybe actually get better and be worth the time and effort.” Not exactly impostor syndrome, but guilt at taking up space that someone else deserves more than me. Fortunately, I am able to tell him when I feel that, and he doesn’t get over-the-top effusive about how wrong I am, but just subtly questions around the edges of the belief.

    I am glad you take up space. I think you deserve to take up space.

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