After spending three years working on mental health improvement, it really is very galling to accept a slip back into insanity. Yet apparently acknowledging the problem is the first step to fixing it.
Faced with stressors that are stressful, yet neither unusual nor extreme, I somehow lost my mind completely. Not literally… But behaviourally I was pretty bad for a few days. I spent three delicious nights alone in a hotel room while my husband was having some heart surgery interstate. I say delicious, because being all alone in a hotel room, having the freedom to do as I please, eat and sleep as I please, read, write, watch telly, shower, as I please, is indescribably joyous. But coupled with low level anxiety about my husband’s surgery, was higher level anxiety about my father’s surgery that was – ironically – scheduled at the exact same time and day, in a different state. I couldn’t possibly be there for both of them.
Results wise, my husband’s surgery was pretty good. He’s home and well and outcomes look very good. He has an incredibly impressive bruise in a rather sensitive area, so I promise not to spoil anyone’s dinner by posting photos of the black and blue monstrosity. My dad’s surgery began, but didn’t finish as there’s ongoing infection that can’t be controlled. The neurosurgeon has contacted the Centre for Disease Control to see if they can come up with magic solutions. In the meantime, he’s starting to look like a pin cushion. He’s now had his sixth cannula inserted after the other five broke, fell out, leaked, and god only knows what else. My dad is a most wonderful man. And a big worry.
My management of the associated anxiety of having two loved ones under the knife simultaneously was pretty insane. I bought razor blades. Planned binges and purges. And booked myself in for a tattoo. I contacted a close friend who ordered me to throw away the razor blades and find something healthy to eat. I threw away the blade, found healthy foods, purged them, found unhealthy foods, purged them, drank too much alcohol, and rushed the design and application of my new tattoo. A tattoo I can ill afford, but I’m pretty sure there’s a no-returns policy.
I finally feel like I’m starting to settle again, but that level of insanity is not easy to slip back out of. It’s like trying to slow the momentum of a speeding train – it can be done, but it won’t happen quickly. And this time I have a tattoo as a permanent reminder of unresolved anxiety, fear and impulsivity. I quite like it, but if I’d taken the time to think about it more, I would have done it completely differently. Alas – despite Cher’s best efforts, we can’t turn back time. So my ankle is now adorned with an infinity symbol and the names of my three very sciencey-mathy boys.
As a sign of good faith in my psychologist, I sent her a copy of my private journal, outlining all the down and dirty details of my fall from grace. I’m sure at my appointment this week, we will have lots of things to chat about.
As I learned during my first psychiatric inpatient treatment two and a half years ago, there is a distinct difference between expectation and reality when it comes to mental health recovery. A lovely illustration depicts expectation as an arrow going in a smooth upward trajectory, while reality is a big scribbly mess going every which way – but ultimately ending in a higher point than it began. I’m in the scribbly mess at the moment.
And now everyone can see my permanent reminder of yet another slip into virtual insanity.