Since getting out of hospital eleven days ago I have been doing well. Interacting with the kids lovingly and patiently. Watching them open up to me, and return my love. I have written every day. I have felt productive. I volunteered yesterday. I’ve had medical appointments on a few days. Met with the kids’ doctors. Done things. Not hidden. I have not felt depressed. I have had some urges, but nothing unmanageable.
Today was a tough day. The volunteering yesterday involved a lot of lifting of canned food. The wrist I broke in the summer acted up a lot. This morning simple things that normally don’t cause it pain, do. When I tried to walk, my knees crippled in pain. Apparently standing for five hours at the food pantry is something I cannot do. I got quite down about that and had the start of tears, and an angry numbness.
I had a blood check appointment at the hospital. In the parking lot it took 15 minutes to get up to the top level where there was a spot. The average age of patients is about 132, and they drive as such. There were probably twenty 132 years olds ahead of me trying to park. 132 years olds take about seven minutes to park once they find a spot. It’s a proven fact.* I was extremely frustrated after this. Usually I can handle the lack of progression, but this was the worst I’d ever seen it. Go back to your lily-white suburban towns, and drive at 6 miles per hour there!
I made it to my blood check appointment. I’m on a blood thinner, and have to get my INR checked once or twice a week. That’s a measure of how thin my blood is. The higher number the better/thinner it is. Mine was 1.7 today. My desired range is 3.0 – 3.5. My level was dangerously low. I could throw a clot, have a stroke. I had the tester page my cardiologist. My doc has a certain level at which she makes me come into the hospital, and get a heparin drip until my INR goes up. It’s somewhere in the 1s. Heparin is another blood thinner which works under a different mechanism. It is used to ‘bridge’ me from a sub-therapeutic level to a therapeutic one. She called right away, and the tester said out loud that I should go to the E.D. I was devastated. I fucking hate the hospital at this stage. More crying. Luckily it was a miscommunication, and I could be bridged with shots every 12 hours, which I often have to do, until my INR is within range. The dent to the mood was done though, and I cried once I got off the floor.
I was starving. I decided to go for brunch, which I did. The knees had eased up a bit. Not excruciating now, just sore. I bumped into a fellow addict I’d had treatment with, at the restaurant which was cool. I returned to the hospital. I intended to get coffee and write, which is what I did. I had talked to the pharmacist’s assistance in Walgreens in the hospital to make sure I could collect my own shots. There’s a block on my account allowing only my husband to pick up prescriptions. She said it was fine. When I came back after breakfast she wouldn’t give them to me. More tears. Why the fuck am I such a fuck up that I can’t pick up my own prescription.
I was thoroughly pissed at this stage. I mused about it all. ‘Normal’ people have bad days and good days. Suffering from depression does not change that. I will have good days and bad days, and that’s okay. I sat trying to convince myself of that, with an urge to drink building. That is the real problem. When I get down, even if it’s a ‘normal’ down, my mind goes to the maladaptive coping mechanisms I learned when I was at my most depressed. Once you learn something, or think something, you can’t unlearn it, unthink it. The brain has burned those thoughts into itself. For a while, my automatic thought when things were bad was ‘I want to kill myself’. Heck it still is, but now I can recognize it for what it is. It is just a thought, and not what I actually feel. It is my automatic reaction to pain, because it was reinforced over and over when my illness was so bad. I do hope it will eventually fade into the background and other healthier thoughts will become automatic.
My reaction to today was ‘drink’. It was much quieter than in the past however. Progress to be sure. Maybe I can recognize bad days as bad, unhealthy thoughts and unhealthy, pain as pain that we all suffer from. I am not as unique as I like to think. As we say in A.A. there is nothing you have done, that someone else has not also done. Someone else has gone through depression similar to mine, and come out the other side. My depression really isn’t that bad anymore. It’s the lingering effects of the illness that keep catching me out now.
I am in Starbucks, again. I think I should own shares in the company, or at least get free coffee for life or something. It is 18:21 and I am not ready to leave. If I leave I will have to drive by so many stores that sell Blue Moon, Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, and Root I wine. I worry that in my current mind-frame, I will not be strong. I will be week, and I will fail. Again. My psych told me last week that he had been very close to breaking up with me when he saw me in the hospital the week before. He was thinking that he didn’t understand my behaviors, so it might be time I found someone else, who might understand me. He’s not the only one who doesn’t understand my thought processes. I want to stay with him. I don’t think anyone else is going to get me any better. I’ve been with him for over two years, and that’s been a brutal two years. He knows my brain better than anyone, including me. Maybe the threat of having to find a new doctor, to start over again, is helping me. It shouldn’t take an external force to do that though. What does that say about me?
So back to Starbucks… When does it become safe for me to leave? Do I stay here until midnight, so that I am less likely to buy booze. Do I test myself because I have to be able to live my life in the real world. The real world is fucking hard. I hate the real world. It conspires against me. I let it conspire… and win… But tests are not a good idea if you’re pretty sure you will fail. Failing may lead to another hospitalization, a new doctor, disgust from my husband, sadness in my children, and lack of comprehension on my part over and over and over. I have to go home at some point. I have to succeed and not buy drink. If I do I buy drink, I have to tell my husband before I drink it. If I drink it I have to not do anything stupid.
Tomorrow I have an intake interview for a PHP (full day, five days a week) for dual diagnosis patients: substance abuse disorder, and mental illness. I often feel like I should have a last hurrah before I ‘have to’ stay sober. It is such a ridiculous idea, but it is still there. Many people I have known have done the same. One guy in my sobriety program stayed sober the entire time in Chicago, and got wasted the day before he flew home. He threw away 4 – 6 weeks of sobriety for nothing. That, however, is the mind of an addict. Maybe it’s what we as humans in general do. Does it matter? The fact is we all know logically that it is wrong, but on and on we go.
Help me. I’m becoming more anxious, and wanting booze more. Help. Help. Help. I’m stuck in Starbucks. Send someone to bail me out. It closes at 21:00 anyway, so I guess that’s that. I’ll be out of options then…
* Not a proven fact