Clean Sweep

Another late post. I haven’t slept well for the last two nights – two and a half to three hours per night. It looks like that may be the case again. Coming back to reality is proving to be quite taxing and my state of mind is far from settled. 

My recently magnified anxiety of crowds will be in full force on Saturday when I help my fiancée take her disabled mother shopping. Thankfully my step daughter should be accompanying us and I do have the option of remaining in the car if I am unable to go any further. I need to try though. Yet I feel that I already know the answer to that thorny question. Since leaving the hospital on Tuesday any time there has been more than one or two members of family in the immediate vicinity, and especially if there is a lot of conversation and activity, I have to retreat to any place where there is less impact on my senses. What is this new cruelty! I want to go to the shops, and the cinema and restaurants. 

Today (yesterday) I felt a bit manic. I can get that way when I feel overwhelmed or stressed even under regular, although not necessarily normal, conditions. On Wednesday evening I had prepared a list of all the things I need to do (mostly ‘want to do’ in truth) whilst I am returning to work fitness. When I woke up I examined this list and started working through it logically. 

Housework! My fiancée had done all the housework  only a couple of days before I returned yet I somehow extended the requested hoovering into the need to deep clean the entire ground floor. Hoovering, dusting, mopping, wiping, tidying emptying, washing, sweeping and so on from 7:30am through to past 10am. I had done a lot, and very quickly I might add. 

By this time my sister had arrived to take over the safety watch whilst my fiancée went to work. We chatted for a while about family and cleaning (she is just as obsessive if not more). Then, after excusing myself, I left my sister in the lounge and went to perform my much belated morning cleansing ritual. 

For it is a ritual. One I cannot seem to break, shorten or modify. An exact order with a pretty much consistent duration if variable factors such as shaving or nail cutting are not added. On average taking 45 to 50 minutes with evening cleansing generally taking 20 to 25 minutes. This of course does not include the constant hand washing which has started to be counted in the time it takes to use a pump dispensing hand wash – usually one every two days. Interestingly, and very much related, we also established upon my return that the high gas usage previously attributed to excessive use of the central heating and step children’s baths was in actual fact a result of the duration of my showers each day! 

Ah. Yeah. About that. Sorry guys…

A certain level of nervousness accompanied the next task on my list. I needed to find a clinical psychiatrist that could see me as soon as possible to perform a full assessment of my psychiatric state and provide it to my newly acquired therapist. I was also advised by the therapist to ask for a medication review so that I may change my prescription to a combination with more efficacy. Thankfully my wonderful fiancée had shortlisted three within a reasonable radius of our home location. With an anxiety that increased with each call I found one that could see me before my next therapy appointment – the day before. The catch was that the availability was not at the psychiatrist’s local clinic but at their London clinic! I will have to get there avoiding as much of the hustle and bustle of the city as possible – although I will have a family member accompanying me, which is extremely reassuring. Thankfully I will not need to attend at that location for subsequent review appointments.

During the initial consultation with the therapist on Wednesday I was asked to list the issues that I wanted therapy to address. That was unexpected.  Prior to the appointment I had anticipated being required to list each diagnoses, and I reeled off each one not long after the introductions were over. That particular question combined with my currently troubled state left me desperately racking my brain for a list that was as complete as possible. I feared that if I missed anything it wouldn’t be treated over the coming months or years and I would remain forever incomplete. 

When compiling the list of things to do I had this  in mind and, determined not to have trouble with that variety of question again, I had added the entry:

  • Timeline and problems

So, after lunch and the departure of my little sister I began an abridged timeline of my life along with a list of all the difficulties I have day to day. The timeline included anything that could have impacted my mental health and anything that could have been affected by it. I also included details of treatments (such as ECT), therapies, and each inpatient stay at a psychiatric hospital. The list of difficulties was harder to compile but without the time constraint of a therapy session I was confident of comprehensiveness, especially as I had the help of my fiancée.

It took a long time to prepare both documents and whilst I’m pretty sure they are not 100% accurate, due to patchy memory, it will make it so much easier to transfer knowledge about myself in future.

Overall today has been busy but very productive. My ‘To Do’ list is smaller, I have arranged to see a psychiatrist, I have an invaluable memory aid, and the house is marginally cleaner. 

I’ve suggested to my fiancée a picnic on Sunday – somewhere nice, quiet and away from people. I am not sure what fits that description but there should be plenty of options within 30 minutes drive. Maybe we can both escape for the day, or afternoon, and pretend all is well and just be together, holding hands.

I can’t wait.

To self: 

  • Don’t set expectations unrealistically high. 
  • Handle deviations without emotional distress.
  • Try.

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