As fancy as my “Suite” here is, the pillows are inflatable and very uncomfortable so I didn’t get much sleep last night. Have you ever tried to sleep with a BALLOON as your pillow? It’s infuriating. Especially after a long day when all you want to do is sleep.
Apart from that, it seems to be going well here in Hospital.
The fancy private psych ward I’m staying in (Doctors think I’ll be here about 2 weeks minimum…that’s scary to me) really loves “Group Therapy” and it’s important to them that patients show they’re trying their best to be ‘active participants in their healing’ so attending the group sessions is mandatory.
So today I went to my first 2 sessions ever. On weekends, we have group therapy from 9-12pm and then get the rest of day free. (Well, other patients do. I’m on suicide watch so I’m not allowed to wander off campus for the first 24 hours). On the weekdays, ‘classes’ run from 9:00am to 3:30pm – then everyone can have ‘free time’. I think i’ll spend more time attending group therapy here than I attended lectures and tutorials at Uni.
Surprisingly to me, I’ve also been tagged as a ‘risk of aggression’ on the ward because of my answers to some psych screening questions when I checked into Hospital yesterday afternoon: “do you feel anxious?” YES “do you feel agitated?” YES “do you feel frustrated?” YES. “Have you felt angry in the last 2 weeks?” Well lets see…A girl impersonated me and got me fired, the pest control guy I hired to sort out the dead rats destroyed our ceiling and my husband drunkenly had a go at me, so yeah, I’ve been pretty damn ANGRY in the last 2 weeks. Boom. Tagged as some kind of violent nutter. Awesome. I mean that with great sarcasm, by the way.
Anyway. The first group held about 12 people of varying ages – from about 20 to about 70 years old. The Group session was on ways to promote/engage in self care in difficult situations. The group leader was a positive, bright Ocupational Therapist who had a really lovely laugh. It was gutteral and light and I liked whenever she burst into laughter, which she did a lot. I felt as if everyone in ‘class’ knew each other. They greeted each other with smiles and seemed very comfortable around each other. I felt like the odd one out. The new girl.
We all sat in a big circle of chairs while the OT asked us to “shout out” our ideas on self care ideas in times of stress/sadness/anxiety/etc and she’d write them on the whiteboard. There were a lot of really loud people in class, but people wanted to joke and laugh with each other, no one seemed willing to actually ‘do the work’. The willing student in me (I love anything that’s a class/a reason to learn something new) was so excited. I literally had to write on my hand “JD. SHUT UP” to keep myself from shouting out answers to everything whenever the ‘teacher’ asked us. I need to keep a low profile here, I don’t know what anyone’s ‘triggers’ are and maybe a know-it-all show-off isn’t the way to introduce myself to a roomful of anxious, mentally unwell people.
So I tried my best to just be quiet.
Come on, guys – answer the question! I pleaded silently. It’s so EASY!
I couldn’t help myself when people reluctantly provided ideas of self care “go for a walk” “listen to music” one girl who looked like she could easily batter me in a fight offered up “snorkelling”.
SNORKELLING as a form of self care, you say? I guess it’s different strokes for different folks. Huh. Don’t judge JD. If you were as smart as you think you are, you wouldn’t be in the hospital or in this incredibly frustrating group in the first place. The OT looked hopefully around at the room as only a few ideas had been added to the whiteboard “Any other ideas? Guys? Come on…think. Things that help calm you and make you happy when you feel stressed or unhappy?”
I had dozens.
After a beat, I yelled out some of mine – probably about 5 ideas.
“That’s the spirit” The OT encouraged with one of her lovely laughs.
I noticed other patients raising their eyebrows and rolling their eyes at each other “who does this girl think she is?”
I don’t mean to show off, guys. I’m just excited to be part of a class.
The next class was “Assertion, not aggression in communication” which I found a real struggle with, as in the last 2 weeks I’ve had to be especially AGGRESSIVE to just get my point across. Natasha wouldn’t stop impersonating me and badly affecting my life if I gently told her my values and that my feelings were rattled by her obnoxious behaviour and gave her choices as to how she could better behave (all learnt in this morning’s class) and the Pest Control company who had RUINED our ceiling were not going to listen when I observed the situation without bias “Your service man hasn’t done the work we asked him to do but has instead put his foot through our ceiling”, calmly explained how I felt about that “I feel incredibly angry about this particular cock up”, backed this up with my values “I value mine and Alun’s home and it is important to us both that the f**king ceiling stays in tact” and offered the company a few ‘helpful options’ “You could pay the f**king bill for the invoice to fix it” or…
Or I’ll find where you are and savagely insert a large pineapple right up your anus?
No, that wouldn’t work.
Again, I tried to behave myself in class. I sat on my hands as we took turns going around the circle of patients, taking turns to read out an example ‘stressful situation’ our teacher Michael had given us and telling him how we would resolve it assertively and not aggressively.
My ‘situation’ was that my “son” had been frequently having friends over to the house and they had been making a huge mess and then leaving.
The expected answer:
- Observe the situation objectively “Son, I have noticed that whenever you have friends over, you guys make a big mess and no one clears it up”
- Express feelings “This makes me feel frustrated and unappreciated”
- Discuss values in relation to the action “I value a clean, orderly home, son”
- Suggest options (OPTIONS?!?) to the person you’re resolving conflict with. At this point I’d had enough of this bollocks and said out loud to my pretend son “Your options are to clean up after yourself…or MOVE OUT”. The room erupted into laughter and even Michael (the teacher) had to take a few moments to compose himself.
After “groups” everyone had free time and I havent’ seen a hospital ward empty so quickly in my life. Everyone was off to meet their husbands/boyfriends/mates for the afternoon. So this afternoon, I’ve just messed about on my own. It’s actually been really nice. I took my colouring books, pencils and a bottle of water by the outdoor area and sat on a table and chairs in the sun and coloured in. I like roaming around the hospital with noone else around, it’s kind of cool.
The highlight of my day was Alun coming to visit me. We’ve only been apart one night but oh my days, I’d missed him. He smelled SO GOOD and looked so handsome in his bright blue shirt and jeans. Gorgeous. I’m blessed to have Alun in my life, truly. He drives me nuts (literally) but he’s the best person I know.
It’s almost dinner time. We get a menu of options every day. I keep choosing 1 or 2 things and finding my meal tray really empty-looking and sad. I think next time I’ll choose a SOUP and DINNER ROLL with my main meal (they provide 3 options of everything, how cool is that, please?) so that my dinner won’t look as sad. Haha.
I will try hard every day. I promised myself I would so I’m going to.