Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Howdy Folks!

My name is Irene and I'm a Manic Depressive person plus I have Borderline Personality Disorder characteristics and therefor I am in therapy groups five days a week. I just thought I would remind you all of that, in case you're thinking I'm having too much fun and am doing things that are merely pleasant and time wasting.

Not that any of you have accused me of that, but I know that you are all hard working people and that you are all tired at the end of the day and look forward to putting your feet up and having a good rest and maybe a take out meal.

It may then seem to you that I just flutter through the day and do inconsequential things that take little effort and maybe you would all like to trade places with me, because it seems so easy to be me.

Today I am exhausted, both physically and mentally, and I feel like both my body and mind have had an extreme work out. All my therapies are designed to make people like me better, in the sense that we mentally become unstuck from the uncomfortable place we are in and move to a place of greater comfort. All the things we do are geared toward that goal. Whatever we suffer from, we're supposed to work through it and become better people in the end. That's a lot of work and the awareness off this weighs on your shoulders, because you may not get it done.

Today at ergo therapy, we talked about our children and the impact that our illness had on our children and the feelings of guilt that we feel as a result of that, and let me tell you, for each person in that room, that is a very heavy burden to carry. Discussing it and bringing these feelings to the surface is a hard thing to do. It exposes your ultimate pain and shame. It's gut wrenching, but it needs to be discussed.

So I don't need to tell you that this is not easy. When we were done, we were like beaten up women with glazed over eyes and shocked expressions on our faces and we very gladly went to the break room to get ourselves a cup of coffee and a cigarette so we could sit together and become normal again.

One hour later we had dance and instead of our minds, we used our bodies, but if you think that is easy for a psychiatric patient, think again. These people have major hang ups about their bodies and calling attention to them and now they are asked to perform intricate movements that are very difficult to music. That can be mortifying and it is with a great deal of shame and self consciousness that we do these things in spite of ourselves, because we are in a safe environment. Some of us have guts and do it and some of us are shy and hardly do it at all. Somehow we last till the end and are relieved when it's over. That we did it again.

Personally, I was worn out and after I rode my bike home, I took a break for half an hour to collect myself before I could walk the dog. He was very happy to see me, because I had been gone for a long time. Doubtlessly he thinks I'll never return. We made our walk around the field and I took another breather before I went to the tobacco shop and the pharmacy, where there was some medicine waiting for me since last week and I was close to running out of some pills, so it was high time I went.

Then I took another break and made a shopping list and rode my bike to the grocery store and did the shopping. I got enough stuff until the weekend, when I will have to replenish some things such as milk, which I always run out of. I teetered home on my bike and unloaded the groceries and had a glass of cold Coke, which tasted delicious and hit the spot. Then I vowed not to move again, but I forgot that the dog needed to go out one more time, because I had fed him his Butcher's and that always has some results.

I realize that people with a full time job feel this worn out every day and I don't envy them. I wonder if it is good to feel this wiped out every day, but it seems we recuperate quickly, because sitting here behind the computer has calmed my mind and is resting my body to some extent.

I realize I have to get used to my new schedule and that soon it won't faze me that much, depending on what happens on a particular day, but I'm sure it is the same for you who have to deal with all sorts of people and their personalities all day long and that is no picnic either. And you don't have a mediator at hand to guide things along the right road.

People go home with each other's problems. I'm lucky in that I don't do that. I leave it all at the clinic when I step out the door and on my bicycle. I don't want to worry about everybody else's pain when I get home, but when you have a job, I suppose you take your job home with you, although there should be a law against it.

I guess my whole point is, that we look at each other and think we have damn good lives, but we don't know what goes on beneath the surface. Because of this, I would not want to trade with anybody, because I can't look beneath the surface. I don't know what your daily worries are and how much they bother your peace of mind.

This was just my short little view to you into my world of therapy, lest you think it's all fun and games, like I maybe make it sound. Just to set the record straight.

Have a wonderful evening, or a wonderful day, whichever you are having.



Frances said...

you are doing well, Irene. Considering how worried you were about taking on more stuff, you are coping better than you could have hoped.
I am sure nobody thinks you have an easy life. Nobody would want ill-health in exchange for their life.
We do all have our problems, but that is how things are.
Keep on keeping on, dear friend.
love and hugs

Catherine said...

I admire your honesty and tenacity Irene, I have said that before. You have really opened people's eyes to the reality of living with a mental health illness which may not have much external manifestations but which takes its toll on your daily life. I am not a mental health nurse but I see a lot of patients here in Ireland in the community who are on depot injections for bi-polar disporders and general antidepressants, and I think sometimes they appear over-medicated so I think the DUtch approach - therapy based - that you are getting is quite progressive.
I am also very impressed ( this might sound patronising but it is not meant to be) by your excellent use of language - you may well be a native speaker - I don't know - or Dutch may be your first language - but you are the first person in a long time who uses the word "faze" in the correct spelling and context. Even in quality broadsheets here I have seen "phased" used and I see red - people are relying on the spellchecker and don't have a clue about the right word. Small things do matter! I am a bit of an anorak about proper English I'm afraid, though not as militant as Lynne TRuss would like us all to be in our vigilatism!
Keep well, I have posted a blogpost on the nurses' conference I went to last week. There are many issues in health here with all the cutbacks.

Wisewebwoman said...

I've said before that I feel what you do here is very important work. It is the narrative of a survivor.
We all have our challenges and I particularly like two phrases I live by (lots!)

"I never compare your outsides to my insides"
"Be kinder than necessary, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

And that is inevitably true.

It is only in sharing we begin to heal.


Anonymous said...

Working on the mind is a HUGE undertaking, as exhausting as working on the physical body but with fewer visible results. I'm not dealing with all that you deal with, but I think I understand at least that much. You sound like you're working so hard - and then you have the courage to blog about it! I admire that so much!

aims said...

This was one of the reasons why I couldn't do group therapy. I couldn't take other people's pain without making it my own and having to solve the issues.

Thankfully I'm better at it - but I still couldn't do the group thing.

Maggie May said...

I think we all have to remind ourselves from time to time that there is anything wrong with you at all! You sound quite up together, much of the time!
You are doing well, Irene.

Weather here is a bit dull & coolish! Wonder what type of day you are having? Hope it is a good one! X