I’m entering a new phase of recovery. While in the hospital this winter/spring, I told my doctors that I can’t keep going on this merry-go-round of getting a med tweak, forcing myself through each day, and then spiraling down into suicidal depression and landing in the hospital every 3 months.
They listened, and we tried many different kinds of meds until I was stable on a combination for 3 days straight with no changes. One of my med patterns is that a med gets tweaked or added/removed each day in the hospital or at each psychiatrist appointment. And somehow I still get discharged without that med combination settling into my body so that we can see that it is really showing the positive results we expect it to show.
So this time – these 58 Days in the hospital from January through April (1/6 of the year!) – I laid down the law, was an even stronger advocate for myself than I usually am, and insisted on this medical stability before discharge, even into an outpatient program. I need a chance to start a new pattern, one that moves forward, rather than cycling back. I flat out said I didn’t think I had it in me to face yet another spiral into suicidality and be able to keep myself from the edge. Something drastic needed to be done. I already feel ashamed each time I end up in the hospital. It took a lot to overcome the shame to admit this time that I wouldn’t be able to stay safe with the same pattern. And to overcome the shame of spending months in the hospital.
See, I have good coping skills. I have a regular, standardized routine of when I get up and go to sleep, and I eat at regular intervals. I strive for structure to each day. I am determined and driven to find recovery. I am the model patient, I’m told. But I ran out of any possible energy to keep going with life without the proper med support.
I have truly wonderful, world-renowned doctors (truth!). And they listened and acted. We have taken a completely different approach to dealing with my mood. The anxiety is properly medicated and I have strong skills to work with it. The OCD shows up in obsessive thinking and visions of myself doing things, including violent images. If I’m not suicidal, these thoughts and visions are much easier to deal with!
But my mood’s baseline has been “Depressed” (say, 2-4 on a scale of 1-10) for the 3.5 years since diagnosis. I’m not here to give out med advice, and so I rarely say what meds I’m on. But what we are doing is really different and I actually feel that my mood and energy are both higher. I have a chance at a new start!
I realized while in the hospital this last month that what I really need is a chance – a real chance – at a new start. I have a new apartment that I’ve barely lived in because of treatment, and I am financially stable. I still have a marriage to grieve and new ways of living to get used to. I have coping skills and a strong support system who has shown up in spades during this long hospitalization period. But some pieces were out of place.
As it turns out, normal stress from my part-time job correlated with a few hospitalizations. And in the last 6 months, I think I worked a total of 2 months because of being in treatment. And so, with a heavy heart, I resigned my job. I can’t work if I’m not feeling well. And to get a new start, I need to focus first on my health.
So here I am, the evening before starting a daily outpatient program again, and I have lost a job, a marriage, a neighborhood and home, and health. That’s a lot to grieve. That’s a lot to start over with. First things first, starting with my health. I got a good med combination that we are putting to the test. Then working on grief. Time to put my life back together from the beginning.