I was reading the Madame Bipolar blog today about how few people come to visit you when you are in the psych ward (as opposed to any other hospital stay) and it really struck a chord. I was in the psych ward for 9 days then I went into a recovery facility for almost 3 months. Apart from my husband and kids I had just 3 other visitors in that time. Well I did have one guy who was taking over for me in the charity show up at the psych ward on day 4 (valliumed up to the eyeballs) and demand to know the answers to a whole bunch of (I can;t stress this enough) NON ESSENTIAL questions about the day to day running of operations. At that point in time I couldn’t have managed to tie my shoelaces (assuming of course I still had them…they take those away on admission). In the three months I spent in a quiet, residential, lovely facility (nothing scary at all) I had just 3 other visitors.
- A client … yup my first visitor was one of my clients. I had recently photographed her wedding. She would bring home baked bread. Or take me out for noodles. Her best friend had bipolar so she got it. She made sure to visit me every few weeks.
- My current assistant…basically to make sure she was kept in the loop so she could keep clients in the loop. Fun.
- A former assistant of mine. She lives in a fancy smancy mansion, in a swish part of town and she was pregnant…and she still came (even though she thought she was actually visiting me in the psych ward). She then gave me her beach house for two weeks when I left to transition back into real life a bit easier.
That is it. I was so bored. The girls father would bring me books from the library, but my medication gave me serious short term memory loss. I would get 3 pages in and forget what I was reading. So I would watch anywhere up to 15 hours a day of tv/movies on my laptop.
But what was worse, was coming home and not seeing any of those people again. I slowly started to build new friendships (people I knew before my hospitalisation not including family who I still see….1) mostly new homeschooling families who knew about what we had gone through and weren’t afraid of me.
But even they are starting to wane. You can’t really blame them. People meet you, realise you aren’t actually going to break down in tears or scream at them and decide yes, you are safe to be a friend. Then you organise to meet up again.
This is where it all falls apart for me. I love nothing more than hanging out one on one with people I like. I love going out for lunch or shopping or burlesque classes with a friend. But I can’t control when it will be a good day or a bad day. The worst part is often not knowing until the last minute.
How many times can you cancel last minute and still be called again? Not many I’m afraid. Eventually they take it for granted that you won’t show – who can blame them. Why make plans for something you know is unlikely to ever get around to happening. Eventually I start making “medical” excuses. I had a migraine. A stomach bug. My kid needed to go to emergency. Yup…I lie. I have learnt enough to know these things are considered suitable excuses. I couldn’t sleep so I watched 12 hours of gossip girl re-runs while crying and wishing I was normal…not so much.I absolutely hate dishonesty…so it doesn’t help. I just end up more upset, miserable and alone.
I know one or two people may read this and think I was talking to them (two people I have recently organised to meet and have instead been having very, very bad days)…but I’m not. You guys are still around….at least for now.
I really don’t blame anyone. It just sucks. It sucks I have to sit in bed and cry when I really wanted to be out shopping for these with the lovely Aly or having to have a new emergency gp appointment instead of sipping tea and learning about sewing with Lady Demelza. But I know the rest of the world won’t wait for me to get better.
I guess I just hope one day in the eyes of the world “I sat in my cupboard talking to myself” is as valid an excuse as “I was at emergency all night with a sick kid”.