Friday, August 23, 2013

Mental illness: Coming home from hospital

If you follow me on the social networks you'll know I'm freshly out of hospital. I was an inpatient at a psychiatric hospital for two weeks being treated for depression and anxiety. Or maybe it's bipolar II. My shrink can't put me into a DSM-5 box yet.

I've been back out in the big bad world for a week. Well, it isn't that bad, but it is full of new challenges as I try to adjust to life on a completely new family of medications with a son who has gone through a behaviour training program of sorts while I was away.

This is an excerpt from an email I sent my parents earlier this week. Actually, it's most it. There's not much I don't share on here! It explains what went on and how I was feeling in those first three days out of hospital without me having to write it all up again.

19 August 2013

Dear Mum and Dad

The last four days have been quite strange in both good and bad ways. Nothing seems ‘back to normal’ but it’s not all negative, there’s been a lot of positive change, which we were all hoping for I guess. I've only been out of the hospital for three days and I still feel really fragile.

While the medication change has been worth it there are some side effects that aren't great, the worst one being that lithium causes a slight tremor so I'm kind of shaky all the time. Sometimes it isn't noticeable, eg when out for a big walk (which I've started doing regularly) or watching telly (rather than staring at my laptop being unproductive I've been getting back into my shows), but typing on this keyboard or texting on my phone can be quite challenging at times.

Like I told you in my text message Saturday was the hardest day so far. I was so shaky and nervous about seeing Noo after a week of not seeing him that when I arrived at Yo’s house I burst into tears. Noo was so happy to see me. You know how chatty and happy he is normally, well times that by 100 and you can imagine what he was like.

We hung out with Yo and Cal for a little while as Mala had her midday nap. Noo was constantly asking for food to eat. It felt really strange. Callum made him a ham and cheese toasty which I shared with him. Noo's aunt and uncle are very stern with him and he is not allowed to leave the table when eating. Even fruit comes after main meal because it is considered a sweet treat! Seems to have worked, whatever they have done, because the kid has got an appetite and he's stopped being such a fussy eater!

Yo had promised Noo that I would take him for a chocolate shake at the cafĂ© around the corner and then to the local playground. Noo scooted while I walked along. He was just so happy. Oh my god, the talking! He’s language skills have improved ten-fold as he relays stories of what had been happening while I was away. When we got to the cafe we shared a banana bread with Pepe Sayer butter and strawberry jam and Noo had his shake and I had a coffee. He said please and thank you and was just lovely to be with – just so different with me from before I ‘went away’.

I was still so shaky and nervous about doing the right thing though. I don't want to fuck up all the good work they've done by giving Noo more structure and routine to his life, something I've always struggled with.

We went to the park and Noo enjoyed a huge turn on the swing and then the slide. I sat and watched and tried not to be over anxious about him falling or whatever. There were a lot of other kids in the playground and it took an effort for me to not stress about them being mean to him. Of course they weren't going to be, it was just my own fear from when I was a child. I didn't realise just how much of my own childhood anxiety I have been transferring on to him. And anyway, if they had been mean, Noo probably would have handled it differently to me because he is such a confident kid.

When we finally got back to Yo’s place I was worn out. I just needed to be alone for a bit and so had to say goodbye but Noo kept trying all these distraction tactics to keep me there. I felt so bad leaving. He was crying with his little hands reaching out of the front gate but I just had to get into the car and not look back. It was a hideous experience.

Saturday night, back home alone, I was determined to pull my shit together and get him back the next day, despite having said I'd take another week off to be alone to sort out the apartment and work out our new routine. I'm so glad I made that decision! He is just amazing. I'm so happy we are back together and so is he. And he keeps telling anyone who will listen – “My mummy and I are back together! Isn't that great?”

On Sunday I met up with Yo, Cal, Mala and Noo at Marrickville Markets where the sun was shining and we all worried about getting sunburnt. We are having the warmest August which is lovely. We hung out on the grass near where the pony rides are until Mala started getting tired.

“I'm just so glad we are back together Mummy!”

Next job was to transfer the car seat from the Volvo to the Subaru with Noo and all his clothes. Noo and I then headed back to the apartment and he was happy to be back in his own home. He chatted non-stop all the way, saying “I'm just so glad we are back together Mummy!” over and over. My heart filled with so much emotion it was hard to not cry - for the joy of being back together and for the sadness of having to leave him in the first place. I am still so emotionally sensitive that it doesn't take me much to start crying. I have to use all the skills I relearnt in hospital to distract myself in order to stay in control of my emotions.

We hung out for a while and Noo ate all the sandwich he requested: Ham and American mustard on sourdough while watching Escape from Planet Earth. I’d already had the most delicious pulled pork with coleslaw and crackling roll at the markets. Only $9 and oh so good. I hadn't had breakfast so got the roll when I arrived at 10.30am and there was no queue. By the time we left at 11.30 people had already queuing for it. Noo and I will have to take you there one weekend when you get back. I'm salivating just thinking about that thing!

We went back out to the shops later in the afternoon. When we arrived at centre we jumped on board the lift heading for level 2. I said the usual “press number two, Noo” but the other person in the lift had already pressed it. Rather than crack it and give the angry look, Noo said to the man, “thank you for pressing two for us”. I was fucking gobsmacked! Talk about manners!

We checked out the new frozen yogurt place and shared a huge yogurt, trying all the flavours. Then we went into the arcade game place and played air hockey and it was a draw. Noo then said he was hungry again so I said lets go for dinner on the sushi train. I was hungry too as it was 5pm by this time and I had not eaten anything since that delicious roll at 10.30.

We sat up on the train and Noo ate his whole plate of tuna rolls, some raw salmon from my plate and most of the edamame with piles of ginger and soy sauce. He even tried a little wasabi!

Next stop was BiLo and we each had to have a basket with identical contents. I said he could get one Kinder Surprise Egg for his dessert and he also got a small chocolate milk which he finished in the car on the way home. There were no arguments trying to get more treats than were already offered.

By the time we got home, with shower and dinner already done for the day, Noo enjoyed some time with his own iPad while I did a few jobs around the apartment. I’m telling you mum and dad, the happiness emanating from this child is amazing! He was a bit wound up so getting him into bed at the time Yo was managing just wasn't going to happen. Instead of 7.50pm bedtime he was in bed by 8.20 and lights out at 8.35 with only a few arguments. Can’t complain about that! So much better than his old 9.30-10pm bedtime, that is for sure.

Getting ready Monday morning was also pretty easy. He was up before 7am and asked to watch a movie while eating the breakfast that he made for himself (nutella on sourdough with a bowl of strawberries). I resisted the movie as Yo had said no screens in the morning. After a while I thought, fuck it, and told him he could watch some cartoons but no long movies or iPad. I had to shower and wash my hair so I had to give him something.

We got to school by 9am. Before we left, when we got to the lobby Noo says “Hello Terry and Joel! Look! Mummy and I are back together again!” It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it! Actually, I'm bawling, but don't be alarmed. Joel and Terry were really happy to see us and Terry high fived Noo for us being ‘back together again’.

At preschool, it was the same thing from Noo. As soon as we were through the gate he was telling everyone. I stayed for a little while because Noo just wanted to show me off because I was home from hospital. One of the boys asked why I'd been in hospital and Noo answered that it was because he didn't go to bed early enough. I was really surprised and tried to say no way was it his fault! He changed the subject pretty quickly but I will have to address that with him later. I do not want him thinking it is his fault that I am unwell.

Mala heard my voice from the nursery and was trying to get my attention. OMG! She is so funny. She’s lost that baby look and has started to look more like a toddler. She’s started to get quite long. She'd dragged herself to the gate, had her legs all the way out pointing over at us. I went over to her side and gave her a cuddle but she kept pointing at Noo saying “Neh, Neh!”. The both of them are so gorgeous together. Noo really didn't want me to leave but I didn't want to be disruptive so by about 10am I was finally out the gate. I then went for a big walk around the Harbour which will brighten anyone's mood.

Well, that’s enough for today. Not much else to tell you. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday.


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TwitchyCorner said...

Oh my heart, that Ned quote. It so happens I'm championing the seeking of help today-
so glad you've got support and the help you need, with or without a road map. Take care x

Emily Morgan said...

Welcome back - I am glad you are starting to feel better and it sounds like Ned is super happy to have you back! I wish you the best of luck for the future.

Jeanie said...

I am so happy you and Ned are together again too.

After 'Salina's dad died, my parents took her after Christmas home with them and I had a WHOLE WEEK without her. I had never, until then, spent a night apart from her.

I remember the longing and the relief of not being "in charge" - but I also remember the overwhelming warmth of rightness it was after we reunited.

Enjoy - and its all okay, and that is all it has to be. Go and read Eden. You are currently on parallel paths.

AParentingLife said...

Sending lots of fairy wishes and butterfly kisses to you and Ned. I love the way you don't hold back from sharing xx

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