This series has taken what seems like forever to finish, not because I’m ashamed of what happened, or because I don’t want to talk about it, but because the story keeps continuing, and more and more keeps happening in life. I’ll briefly go over the last bit of my time in the hospital, as well as some bits and pieces of what’s happened in the meantime, all very high level in this post, because I’m wanting to catch you all up with what’s happening with me lately.
So, when we last left off, I had finished off my first day in the BHU (Behavioral Health Unit, aka, psych ward), with some of my own clothes, a slowly clearing mind, and a roommate. The next day, I kept myself busy, though I skipped doing the Zumba dance therapy they did midafternoon. At a 42DD, and with my bra not allowed (due to the underwire), there was no chance that I’d be jumping and dancing around. Otherwise, I occupied myself. I went to group, I did some watercolor painting, some puzzles, & I asked my husband to bring down some feminine hygiene supplies (because, of course that timing had to line up perfectly with my stay, and the basics they had there were not the best). That evening, I discussed discharging the next day with my doctor, which he was OK with, since I had a good support system in place. So, that Friday, I spent a good portion of my day reaching out to my social worker and working with her and my day nurse to get everything set up and filled out. By early afternoon, I was in the car with my husband, holding my cell phone for the first time in days, and seeing all the messages of love and support from the Mental Health community on Twitter (side note: if you haven’t encountered it yet, there is a surprisingly supportive, amazing community of MH warriors on Twitter. Some good hashtags are #sicknotweak, #keeptalkingMH, #endthestigma, though, as you browse these, you may find even more that speak to you and your journey).
I helped pick up my son at preschool that afternoon, which was just awesome. I had missed him so much while I was in the hospital, since children were not allowed to visit. Since it’s been so long, I don’t remember too many specifics from that weekend, or the week that followed, though I do know I had lunch with my dad and stepmom the next day, and I was back at work that following Monday. I also remember talking to my boss about the broad strokes of what was going on (I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression, and I might need to take a day here or there as I work through it). He was very understanding, and mentioned again (as my previous boss had over the holidays) that the option of a leave of absence was always available if I needed it.
About a week after I got home from the hospital, I was re-filling my pill case for the week, when I realized something about the refill order that had been issued for my Wellbutrin. For a year, I’d been on 150 mg, and that’s what I had reported to the hospital while I was there. However, I realized that the prescription sent to the pharmacy when my initial prescription ran out was for 300 mg, which was done without discussion or planning. As my husband had picked up the pills for me, and as the pills looked almost identical, I didn’t notice this right away (and, yes, I realize I should have checked the bottle when it came home). Anyway, in hindsight, that downward spiral had happened about 2 ½, almost 3 weeks into the doubled dose. In discussions that have happened since then, I suspect that, while not the sole factor, the meds may have had an impact on my mental state and getting to the dark place that I ended up in. As my inpatient psychiatrist had issued a prescription for one month for the meds I’d been on in the hospital, I was able to get the right dosage, and then follow up with my doctor to get things corrected on his end as well.
Some other things that have come up in the meantime:
- More panic attacks
- My mom ended up in inpatient, as well, about 3 weeks after me, after drinking one night to the point of falling, biting ¾ of the way through her tongue, and not realizing that she’d bit her tongue until the next morning.
- My doctor and I discussed transitioning to a psychiatrist to manage my meds
- I kept struggling with my depression and anxiety to the point of daydreaming of going inpatient again.
One Friday at the beginning of May, I decided on a psychiatrist that I thought could be a good fit. I called for an appointment, and asked to be put on the cancellation list to get in ASAP. While I was on the phone with the office, an appointment opened up for the following Monday. During my intake appointment, she suggested that, given where I was with everything, an IOP would be good for me. I wasn’t quite sure what “IOP” stood for, but she gave me a referral to 2 different options and I went home and researched, and found out that it was an intensive outpatient program. At that same appointment with her, I had mentioned that my symptoms were starting to seriously affect my ability to work, and if she thought I could be eligible for short-term disability or a medical leave of absence. When she referred me to the IOP, she said they’d be able to handle all of that paperwork for me.
By Wednesday of that week, I had scheduled an intake appointment, which was Thursday, and then Thursday afternoon, they said I was able to start a program the following Monday. Everything happened so quickly, my head was spinning. Luckily, work was OK with me starting leave on relatively short notice, which really helped ease my mind a bit. I’m on my third week of the program. It’s not a magic wand by any stretch of the imagination. I’m still having panic attacks, and my depression and anxiety are still at least moderate, sometimes severe, but I’m gaining a lot of tools, insight and experience.
I’m really wanting to get into writing here more, especially while I’m on leave, though I’m still figuring out what, exactly, that will look like. Any requests/ideas?
Have you ever taken a leave of absence for your mental health or due to mental illness issues? Did it help?