Fighting demons

I left the hospital about a month ago.

I didn’t write earlier for many reasons. Initially, I was denied technology for the first 10 days of my hospitalization at the closed-up ward.

They took everything. I was allowed my bed and a few magazines. My luggage was searched. Chargers and electronics were sent home. Glass was separated from plastic. Belts were taken away from clothes. Everything else went into either a small closet to which the nurses held the key, or to the nurses’ office, access to which was upon their discretion. My cigarettes and lighter were locked up too. I got about 3 to 4 smoking breaks; always accompanied.

Interaction was limited. The idea was to spend time to heal without any distractions. Noises were rare – except for the TV that was on low volume. I remember watching Forest Gump while sitting (luckily) on one of the three recliners. Lights were dimmed.

I had visits from my family daily. I was eventually allowed to go down to the yard and cafeteria with them. I would have coffee and sometimes a kinder bueno. I slept 12 hours and ate together with the other five patients at the common table. My diet was mostly derived from the cabbage family. I think this was the cook’s punishment for vegetarians. I surely don’t have vitamin K1 deficiency.

We traded food as we complained about it. It was the highlight of our day. We also shared two bathrooms and a shower. They gave me a bedsheet instead of a towel. Sometimes people forgot to flush. I had to return my shampoo as soon as I finished. At night they sometimes did random searches of the rooms. They would put things back in the closet or their office. This period always reminded me of the Jungle Book song “The Bear Necessities”…

I had daily visits from either one of the doctors or the intern. They would ask all sorts of questions initially to establish my story, my case. It was intense in the beginning then it became more of a routine. I was weaned off my long list of drugs and little by little I had 3 instead of 8.

Without a mobile, we had access to a phone line from 2 to 8 pm. It was religious for me to call home at 7. I would then speak to the children. I would beg the little one to sing me a song.

I began to cry after a few days. I missed my kids and although I could see my eldest in the garden, it was very impersonal and cold. My problem was my youngest. I was dying to hold him. He had never been away from me all that time and I had plenty of time on my hands. I obsessed about seeing him. I dreamt of him, heard him calling my name. I held his tiny blue car I had taken with me to the hospital. I looked at his picture most of the time. I was itching inside to see him.

Doctors had mercy eventually and I was moved to the open section. It basically meant that I could soon have the right to go out for a few hours. I was in a triple room though, I had absolutely no privacy. At the time it didn’t matter because all I cared about was holding my children tight.

My phone was given back to me but I could neither connect to social media, nor write. My stay at the closed ward influenced me to a degree I cannot explain. I thought it shall pass. I thought I will eventually answer calls or at least reply to messages. I am still in my bubble. This is where I feel safe. I still have dinner at 6 PM.

Eventually I was let out. I was on Prozac and lithium. After a few painful blood tests done by intern nurses, the doctors agreed that it is time to move to the real world. I could manage my nausea then. I hadn’t talked about this side effect to anyone. I feared they would change drugs again. I had had a few “mock” stays at home for 48 hours, and as these went well, they had no reason not to let me out.

I was extremely happy. Cured I thought. I was on a cloud. I savored my sheets, my coffee, my family. I felt liberated and free from the weight of all the previous drugs that left me with countless side effects.

I was managing my own medication. No suicidal thoughts. I could get dressed and go out for dinner. I didn’t fall asleep by the time the starter arrived. I did not snore or have awful nightmares. I didn’t wake up at 3 am to empty the fridge.

Yet, I could not write. It drove me crazy. It was as though my mind was emptied – literally. This caused me great pain. Little by little the cloud of happiness was disappearing. Gravity hit in fast and I was left with my initial illness of 2 years ago that hadn’t been treated till now. I felt all the personality changes that follow taking so much drugs. I look at the mirror and wonder who is looking back at me. I barely recognize myself, although I guess we keep the same values.

What keeps me afloat is my family. I cannot break my husband’s heart by falling again. I cannot imagine not seeing my baby boy. It is unthinkable to put my daughter through this one more time. And I honestly don’t know if my father can survive one more of my attacks.

You get the general feeling. I am scared. I also tremble. It is from the lithium. My hands are shaky and my face twitches sometimes.

I look like all color has been taken away from me. My world is black and white. I laugh sometimes, but it is momentarily. The thing I love doing the most is staying in bed alone, but my doctor says I shouldn’t.

My main concern is that this illness has taken over my brain, my life. It is the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I have on my mind at night.

I sleep poorly and have had some ugly panic attacks. My husband sits me through them and holds my hand to help me breath. He tries everything from rubbing my feet to aromatherapy. It eventually passes and leaves me incredibly tired as if I ran a marathon.

Now, I have to start therapy but I don’t feel like talking to a stranger. It has been three weeks since I had to take an appointment. I am scared of the slightest changes. When will I say I am me again? Oh dear, do I really want that?


Leaving the clinic today

Well, I’m quite excited about today. You see, today I leave behind 41 long days of hospitalization. I have been waiting for this day for so long, it seems almost a dream come true.

Yet, I am afraid or rather apprehensive that today I leave the cocoon and safety of the hospital. I know I want nothing more than being with my family, with my husband, with my beautiful children, my ever so giving father and my loving mother in law.

My apprehension comes more from expectations outside. I need to get back to my role as a mother. My children miss me, but I miss them even more. I know that my husband is waiting for me patiently. I also know that my immediate family would like to have the house come back to normal, this was mainly my duty – I am a stay at home mother…

I also know that everyone understands my condition. They understand that now I am in a state of convalescence.

So since the last few entries that I posted on the blog, I like to leave you with some tips and tricks which I hope might be useful should you find yourself in a similar situation.

Here it goes…

Don’t get too comfortable in your hospital stay: I think from my experience you have to know that everything is temporary. Getting used to the safety of the clinic is not something that you should really get used to. What I mean is you always have to know that there is a real world waiting for you outside. This real world is where you will spend the rest of your days. Please know that no matter how long the hospitalization is you will eventually get around and you have to be ready. This is basically a primary psychological preparation.

Prepare your exit so that it easiest for everyone: Knowing that you’re not going to be at your full capacity once you are out makes expectations more real. You will need help. I am speaking as a mother of two beautiful children who require plenty of energy; energy that I do not have right now. Even if your budget is limited try to find help through family, maybe hiring a cleaner or a nanny, or maybe even relying on some good friends. Basic tasks could be haunting In the beginning, and I am certain that people around would be willing to land you a hand.

Continue seeing your therapists and psychiatrist: I cannot stress the importance of this. Professional support outside of the safety of the clinic is essential for your well-being. You will adjust your medication according to the development of your case. You also should make sure that your therapist is there for you, ensuring that you are on the road to healing.

Don’t pretend to be stronger than who you really are: We get carried away, thinking that we are better, thinking there could be no harm in taking more tasks than we should. Remember, one step at a time. Do not take more on your plate. You have a long way to heal even if it doesn’t look it to others.

If you are a parenttalk to your children love them though as a mom or dad you might not have your full energy yet: You would be amazed at what can children understand. Just by maybe saying that mom or dad are yes at home, they will help little by little and take care of you slowly but surely. Ask for their patience, more important and more efficient than melt downs. I cannot stress enough the importance of one day at a time.

Routine is your best friend: My doctors told me to try and keep a routine even though it could be difficult at the beginning. For example try to wake up early and have breakfast every day at the same time. Maybe we can go to the market, pick up the stuff that you would be eating the same day. I personally find that my muscles have weakened so much over the past months. Morning walks will keep you sane and will get you into an exercise routine slowly but surely.

You need to rest: Again my doctors told me that I need to rest everyday. Even talking too much can drain you. He recommended naps but not more than 45 minutes a day.

Be patient: Rome was not built in a day. Stay in tune with your body and don’t over do it. Little by little you will find your old self emerging; or better still your improved self coming to surprise you.

Take supplements: read about taking supplements because this is very important for your overall health. Read about the importance of vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 as well as a variety of other vitamins and minerals, they can benefit your wellbeing more than you can imagine.

Congratulate yourself: Yes, you made it! Give yourself a big pat on the back. Be grateful you made it. They wouldn’t have let you out if you were not ready. And remember, you did most of the work! Be proud for your achievements: )


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


When you burn your bridges

Today, now, I do not know where to go… I burned my bridges. Maybe this is not totally true, but quite. I have been interned, hospitalized, enclosed, sheltered, whatever the word you would like to use for almost what, a month?

Who is counting, and what is counting?! I lost the days, they have lost their meaning, repeat, rewind. How are you today? Small talk… You end-up talking about how 25mg of this makes you constipated.. Life boils down to medication, and medication sadly but surely becomes all you know. Days are translated into numbers, 10 drops, 50 mg in case you need it, one suppository; repeat protocol for night time

Lately, I turn out in places which I’d rather thought unlikely. The CAC*, the hospital, the CAC again, hospital again, the clinic for the crazy ones, and so on… I even forget what I say. I forget what I do. It is so powerful, you would not want to be in my place.

Phone-less, here I am looking for an internet access in this big metropolitan was easier than I think. I always wondered when I saw an internet access shop, what the heck? Everyone has internet… Well Nour, no not always. I gave my link to the world to my father before I left. It was more like an offering gesture: “here, take my weapon of knowledge. I surrender.

I might make no sense, but I burned my bridges today. I am angry as it gets. I am fearless. I am afraid. I am wrong, but I know I am right. I know what to do, yet I am clueless. I ran into this place, paid more money than I needed. I need time. I need time to know what to do, where to go, what is safe, what is risky…

I will use public phones I thought. I will calm down and call to check in, but I do not know any number by heart except mine…

I will walk to the clinic then, but I have no GPS – remember? I am in a big city without a map. A girl without a phone, is almost naked…

Yes, I am this little girl, lost in the big city. Again phone-less. No one knows where I am. I took my anti-anxiety pill, which is working now. I am more relaxed, but still very angry. This browser does not support Spotify. I want to listen to music when writing. The stupid tracks get cutoff the second they become interesting. Just like my sentences, they make no sense. I felt shaky from early morning. I smelled it in the air, something was wrong. Now I know everything is wrong…Writing is the only truth….

*Centre D’accueil et de Crises

If it happens once…

I have already said that my meds are my shield; my little bullet proof glass shield through which I see life. No harm comes in as long as the window is closed.

Yesterday was a good day. I spent time with my husband and I was not thinking of anything else. Just him and me. I didn’t push him away, I didn’t talk about my sad thoughts, I didn’t try to say everything will be ok. I was there and then. In the now and in the moment.

I was enjoying looking at him, holding his hand, having coffee together, hugging him and talking to him. I felt normal. It has been so long since I felt normal. I didn’t need excuses, I didn’t think what would happen if, I was simply enjoying his love and my love to him.

This could sound so absolutely stupid and trivial. It might come to many as something usual. To me this is a big deal. To stay a few hours worry-free is beyond liberating. To accept the love and devotion given by another human being (in this case the love of my life) without any fear is priceless.

If it happens once, it can happen again. I am trying to do my own cognitive behavioral therapy. Using my background in psychology since my psychiatrist said it is too early for psychotherapy. I argue much less, defend myself much less, and try to really listen to those around me. I stopped feeling misunderstood, I don’t want to be a victim even one to my own thoughts.

I am giving myself a chance…

More to follow

Till death do us part..

I married out of love. No, I married out of insane love. My husband is my world. He is my rock, my home, my best friend, my lover, the father of my children, and above all he is my family. 

We go way back, we spent half our lives together. We don’t own each other. We chose to be together and continue to do so on a daily basis. 

Loving me in my good, bad and ugly moments; it is not easy for him. I burden him when I am down and down I am many days. Don’t get me wrong, it is not all gloomy. But it takes a rock to stand by me and to love me without judgement throughout. 

I wouldn’t be me without him. He has this outlook to life full of positivity and trust. He believes impossible is nothing and tells me I can achieve anything I want. 

We drift apart here. I don’t wish for much that is the problem. I cannot have long term plans or any plans as a matter of fact. Taking decisions is one of the things I hate the most. I always weigh in the pros and cons and end up with complicated opinions that make choice so difficult. I take it one day at a time – and this is probably one of the reasons why I am depressed. 

I can’t project myself into the future, but you are my future Hassan. You are my present and my past too. I trust in you and I trust you. You asked me to write about you and here it is. A testimony of love, of a two way unconditional love. I wish nothing but your wellbeing and happiness. I know you dream the same for me. 

Till death do us part…

More to follow