A typical day at the clinic

I discovered boredom.. real boredom here at the clinic. They try, they do try to make time fly. It doesn’t. I have recreational classes; painting, relaxation, a sort of gym class that is supposed to be for muscle “awakening”, and even a sewing class. Yet, nothing really fills the time.

I decided to have a routine, boring as it might be, it still makes my days have some meaning. I wake up either by the nurses or by my breakfast tray. Coffee and an apple. I grab my coffee and go down to the terrace to smoke my first and second cigarettes of the day. I go up again shower time. I try to make it as long as possible, to pass time.

I choose my outfit, loose and mostly ugly. I put on my shoes on and go down for another smoke. I socialize. The main question is “did you sleep well”. The answers are the usual. Yes, I took my sleeping pills, or no I woke up at 3 AM, or I have been down here since 6.

I go up again. I decided to write everyday. It keeps me sane. I talk to myself, but also to a different audience – hoping to get read, to get heard. I wait for my notifications, signaling that someone somewhere read me and thought I make sense.

Now the round of psychiatrists begins. I pull the chair away from my desk and put it besides the door. He comes in, silence. I grab my red notebook with the questions of the day. I ask if I should start, and he always says yes. He mostly repeats himself. I am anxious, I am suicidal, I threw up my meals but still gain weight. No, I lie about the throwing up. Someone told me they could lock my bathroom and I have no intention to get this far in my “imprisonment”.

He says little. Let us change this, add that and reduce this. It should work within a few days to a few weeks. I write down everything he says, why I do not know. It gives me the illusion of control; maybe by knowing the names and the dosages of my meds I will be somewhat more lucid.

“N’importe quoi” as the French say – nonsense.  How long do I have to stay here I ask. I get the same response – it depends and we shall take it day by day. I say ok and thank you. He asks if I want a permission to go out. I am always accompanied by a family member – not a friend. I say yes even if I will not go out. It feels good to be in control – illusion again but what can I say? Sometimes I have the luxury of spending the night at home.

Never two days on a row, it is too dangerous he says. I say ok. Whatever, I just want to see my children, sleep in my bed while hugging my husband, holding his hand and seeing him first thing in the morning. I want to hear my baby’s steps running from his room to mine in the middle of the night saying “butterfly”, and asking to sleep in the big bed. I tell him there are no butterflies in the house and resign and happily take him in my arms.

My daughter comes in later about 7 or 8 AM. She stretches her body, still with sleepy eyes and says “good morning mama”. She would then thank me for being here at home. My big baby thinks I could possibly prefer sleeping at the clinic than in her arms. She thinks I am at a medical spa. I do not ask what she imagines or thinks of this place. I would rather not know. She literally jumps over me and look into my eyes. I melt.

My father woke up long ago. He took care of the kids to give me an hour or so in bed. He lovingly makes their hot chocolate. Patience is his virtue, nothing makes him tick. The kids know it and abuse it, but his love does not make him flinch. He has unconditional love for them.

My husband is ordering breakfast online not to make me move a muscle. He is beyond loving – the man of your dreams but just for me. He plans the day, making sure the children stay busy. It is not easy because he tries hard to find not only things that would interest a 2 year old and a 9 year old at the same time. He also tries to make sure I could fit in should I wish to join. He is my rock, my angel.

My stepmother takes over and makes some order in the house. She is trying so hard to follow our old system. She gives love and security to the children – especially to my daughter. She would take her out to eat or to do something girly.

Let me not bring up how I get to say goodbye to them. It is always so painful, just like someone is slashing me in half, someone taking my soul away. I am alive because of them. Meaninglessness slowly but surely starts to settle in again…

Back to reality, back to the clinic. Lunch time is around noon, disgusting tray. I am on a diet and also vegetarian. I get almost everyday some pasta without anything on it, some green beans, and some carrots. If I am lucky some yogurt and some cheese too just to brighten my meal. Disgusting, I pick the edible and leave the rest.

Smoke after lunch and some more small talk. We talk about our illnesses, how we ended up here. Same pain but different stories. Many are bipolar like me, some are addicts, while many more have eating disorders. Ages go from 16 to probably above 65. Groups are formed by age more than illnesses. Although age and illnesses are correlated. I sometime try to nap, specially after my Valium taken at lunch time. It relaxes me and make me lose two more hours of my endless day.

I often get a permission to go out for 2 hours in the afternoon. My father or my husband come around. We run to a place where I can eat. Sometimes my husband takes me on his Vespa. I fly with him to eat out, drink something, or go and enjoy a lovely surprise he prepared. Going back brings back this nauseating feeling, especially when I kiss my visitor goodbye and see the sliding doors closing one after the other…

Dinner at 18:30, meds too. I try to bargain to get them after dinner – I generally throw it all up. This depends on the nurse. Some are real Parasians and some aren’t. Same ugly tray with same food as lunch. Cannot eat it anymore, makes me sick to see the tray despite my huger. I go down for some hot chocolate from the vending machine. Sometimes I bring some food back with me from the supermarket next door. Smoke some more, yes what else to do.

Closing down at 22:00. No more going to the terrace or to the poor common room with it’s useless babyfoot table and meeting chairs. Go up to my room, read on kindle and take the sleeping pill to drift into oblivion till the next day. Nurses check on me like three times at night. Why? No idea, maybe to know that I am still in my room. Maybe to know I am still alive. At 8:00 it starts all over again…

TBC

The real men died in war

I heard about this Asian proverb; that later says the rest are cowards.

I am not making drastic changes, by now you know I am a good old classic chicken. I am all talks and no actions….

No OD planned- partially unachievable given the circumstances. Also, it never works because I am never too serious about it….

I just want to close my eyes and find everything the way it should be. But we cannot have everything… Sacrifices are made. Pricey and painful yet essential. Tears are shed, big hugs, promises that are hard to keep. Burn out; how many can one have? Ho many can the family survive?

A chicken; back to the clinic. Dinner check, medication check, last smoke of the day check. Now waiting for the stuff that sends me to Lalaland, which is unfortunately after a whole 45 minutes. Long time it is when looking for more numbness.

Am supposed to have 24 hours plus out of the clinic tomorrow. Bipolar, I cannot decide… good for me? Bad for them? The opposite? More pressure I am sure on the family. In french they say “on fait aller”; one day at a time.

I miss everyone; but maybe seeing them would do us all no good…

Am off the grid

TBC

Hospitalization 2: What to do when you see your children for the first time

So dear friends, a post that it slightly out of date. Yet it took me a wile to have the courage to write it all down at one go. Now I am at the luxurious clinic. Hell in candy shape… what I would do to be in the arms of my children…

I had one of the worst experiences in my life. In the beginning of my stay, my psychiatrist gave me my first permission to go out – accompanied – for a couple of hours. I was euphoric. I was going to see my family, my kids… I would smell their hair, touch their faces, kiss their fingers… I was going to get hugged and I was going to listen to them saying Mama in the real Live version and not on FaceTime.

I would have slept if I could, by the entrance of the reception all dressed up waiting for them to arrive. Instead I forced myself to sleep. I got up, showered, dressed, put on make up, brushed up my hair… I waited. Lunch tray came, I said no sorry I will eat with my family.

Comes 2 pm I was by the door waiting for them. I can see my little ones holding hands… My babies, here they are. I held them tighter than I ever had. They were here finally in my arms. I imagined that moment and it was never as good as reality. We went through what the asylum requires: some admin stuff to make sure who signs me off and takes responsibility to brings me back.

We walked out, hand in hand all the way to the restaurant. Nothing better than an Italian place, loud and large enough to accommodate my big family. I did not want to sit next to my small baby. He is not even 2 and a half yet. I thought it would be better to have my eldest next to me, and my baby in front on a high chair.

I couldn’t look at them. My tears were flowing so fast. Everyone was trying hard to make fun of the situation, to make it lighter. I had my panic attack starting nicely. Not long before desert arrived, I texted my husband saying it was time to hit the road before I get a full fledged episode. He told my father to start taking me back. The problem was that my baby had fallen asleep on his highchair. It could have been an ideal moment to leave. I kissed my eldest goodbye, tears flowing and breath starting to get out of control. As I grabbed my coat, I made noise…

My baby woke up while I was going down the stairs. Screaming he was, mama, mama. I could not look back, I was almost paralyzed. God knows how I went out of the restaurant. My legs felt like noodles. I was mot going to tolerate them seeing me in this state. I held tight to my dad, breathing I don’t know how and crying my eyes out.

We miraculously reached the clinic. I went to my room and sat on my knees while wailing. To cut the story short, the nurse came in, so did the doctor on duty. They forced me up the bed. They were not nice. They wanted to contain this escalating meltdown by discouraging me to continue having a panic attack. They give me something to feel calmer. I held my head close to my knees and cried so much that I felt empty.

So now, from my horrible experience I want to share with you what you should and shouldn’t do when as a bipolar you need to get too see your children for the first time after your hospitalization:

Do not see them in a different habitat: Big mistake. I highly recommend that you do not spend your first visit – or any visit- if you have small toddlers in a place they do not know. Why am I here? Where is this? Why is Mama here? Why does she leave me here? I did not know the exact questions that go through their little minds. Please do not choose if possible a strange place.

Do not go while they are sleeping: It was tempting yes, leave without disrupting my toddler’s sleep. Big mistake. You need to say goodbye. I always say goodbye even if the children do not like it. You are not playing peekaboo. By 2 years of age, they know that people do not disappear out of the face of earth. It is a betrayal, that you should try hard to avoid if possible.

Let them drop you off: If you are seeing them outside and close to the clinic, let them drop you off, just like they picked you up. It makes more sense to leave their parent in a place that is half familiar, or at least where they know their parent is staying at the moment.

Clearly discuss your “in case” medication: I had and I have an extra dose of anxiolytics in case I need one for anxiousness or else. But the mistake that day was the timing and the dosage. I took it too late and too little. I had to have more, and to put it under my tongue to make it act faster. It would have avoided this emotional flooding as well as my panic attack.

That’s all folks. TBC as usual

Happy birthday 

I would have probably taken you out for lunch, shared a nice wine on a terrace somewhere sunny, chatted with you about your endless projects…

I would have probably bought you shoes, you can never have enough shoes. We would laugh about how a new pair for you would mean a new pair for me since we are the same size…

I would have probably baked you a cake with the kids. We would have made you a card and they would have drawn you and put on heart stickers and glitter.. 

I would have probably decorated the house with ballons and got us all whistles and birthday hats. We would sing you happy birthday and take as many silly pictures as we possibly can…

I would have probably taken you out clubbing. Just the two of us, a girl’s night out. We would dance and laugh our hearts out and come back home so late like two teenagers sneaking so they don’t get caught…

I haven’t seen you for 25 years. You haven’t seen me for 25 years!! Imagine the amount of catching up we have to do… 

I would have probably visited your grave, put on fresh flowers and made a silent prayer that only you could hear… 

I won’t do any of that. Not this year and not the coming one. I have to come to terms that you exist only in my memory and that memory is fading away as I grow older.

I will however still wish you a happy birthday mother. I will secretly wish you still exist in one form or another, with an internet connection and access to this lousy blog reading me. 

How many more 25 years shall we wait till we meet again…

Love