The Rehab Diaries Week 4 – Holiday Time is Over

 

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Finally, I got to see the new doctor.  He was a pleasant character and after a few leading questions I found myself pretty much telling him my life story, including how I had applied for medical school this year, and missed the UMAT cut off for my school of choice my just a couple of points.

He was supportive, saying that he had several patients who had gone on to careers in medicine, and some much older than me.  He tried to decipher my doctor’s notes – apparently he has typical doctor’s handwriting – and it appears that he eventually intends to supervise me onto 100mg of Zeldox, which would indicate 2-3 more weeks of rehab.  He told me that he would be putting it up to 60mg this week.

When mum picked me up for leave that afternoon I passed on that information and her reaction was one of despair.  How could I be there for a month?  Don’t my doctors understand the havoc I am wreaking on my family yet again? Thanks mum, real helpful…  (Actually I’ve been there for five weeks before but I think this admission will top that.)

If last week was the week of agitation, this week is the week of anxiety.  I’m still experiencing racing thoughts, racing through everything I could possibly be anxious about.  Just leaving the hospital makes me feel so ill.  BF and I were going to the beach last week but that’s out of the question now.

For some reason thinking about moving home is triggering me badly.  It’s just the whole moving process being such a pain in the butt, I just want it over with.  We’ve been going to my place to get bits and pieces and that’s so hard.  For some reason being in my suburb is giving me anxiety over the fact that it’s a super rough area.  Which it is, but I’ve lived there for two years and never been broken into or had any such trouble from the residents.  The drama stayed out of our house and on the street but still I can’t help agonising.  It sucks.

I’ve been catastrophizing something dreadful.  My mind latches onto a dreadful idea, and I can’t relax until I’ve been able to confirm it.  For example, while I was on leave one morning I became convinced that someone had gone into my room and stolen my contraceptive pill.  Which is ridiculous, right?  That’s a horrible thing to do and I haven’t even talked to the other patients enough to infuriate someone to the point where they would do that.  But I couldn’t let it go.  I ended up calling the nurses’ station and making one of the nurses check that it was in my drawer.  Which it was.

I’ve had many ‘ideas’ like this.  When I have them I make sure to tell the staff so that my irrational thinking is going on record because this needs to stop.  Of course the fact that I’m aware that these thoughts are irrational bodes well for me but it’s still eating me alive.

And then to add a poisonous olive on the side of this paranoia laced anxiety cocktail, I woke up one morning and the double doors between ward one and two had been thrown open.

Holiday time is over.

“Oh yes, we’re back to normal functioning this week.  Prepare for fifty thousand admissions.”  My nurse confirmed cheerfully as she brought my morning tablets.

I later found out that this number is actually closer to seven.  Admissions generally happen two days of the week, so they were able to stagger the patients coming in.

The advantage of course is that all the staff are running at full capacity, including the therapists.  Group therapy is back.  I gave groups another chance, and the first one I went to left me feeling positive – the therapist allowed us to check in, so the self pitying ramblers were not allowed to talk over anyone or hog the air time.

I’m certainly not above talking too much, and it’s something I’m very self conscious about; I’ve noticed in group therapy that those who talk the most tend to apply the skills the least and I can’t possibly be the only one.  I always cringe and swear I’m going to pass ever time they start going around the circle to check in but let loose when it’s my turn.  Those damn therapists sure know how to ask leading questions.

I was also eagerly awaiting the return of my therapist this week to finally start unpacking all this anxiety but my excitement was premature.  I saw her once before she had to go on leave for a week for surgery.  LAIM.  Am I going to get any kind of decent interpersonal therapy before I get discharged?

We’ll find out next week I guess.

Mac

 

The Rehab Diaries Week 3 – Oh so quiet, just not in my head.

 

 

justmymind

 

My brain is resisting sleep.  Getting out of bed is hard but getting in is harder.  My anxiety is so restless even though I’m on more than ever before.

I was bouncing off the walls.  A good proportion of my dad was spent pacing back and forth.  I was hiding in my room to avoid human contact.  Even though the ward was closed and there were hardly any patients in, as we know I still found everything and anything to be irrationally enraged at.

My trichillomania had been triggered as it often is in times like this but bizarrely instead of pulling out my own hair, it has been transferred onto my boyfriend.

“Can you talk to the doctor about this?”  He asked jokingly, pointing to his scabbed up face.  I cringed.  Once he put it out there it seemed to be no joke at all.  Popping his zits is something I do a lot – be honest ladies, you know you do this – but my attacks on his face had gotten harsher.  Patches of hair from his beard were missing too, as I kept saying I “just want to get rid of the weird hairs.” I had to keep checking for grey hairs, or split hairs, or hairs thicker or thinner than the others.  And if I found one, it had to go.

BF had been saying that he wanted to meet the doctor to get a better understanding of my illness.  I asked the doctor if him sitting in for a bit was ok, which he agreed to but once the door closed, stage fright struck.  We asked BF if he had any questions and he kept saying he didn’t know.  After a few minutes of this I grew impatient and threw him out.

The doctor was sympathetic to my claims of elevated mood from the previous week, even though it was maddeningly settled that day so he couldn’t observe it in consultation.  He admitted that the increased melatonin may have overshot the mark and scaled it back to 25, increasing my zeldox by another 20 at night because previously when I had been taking 20 morning and night I always needed a nap at midday.

My med woes were not over however, as later that night a nurse came running into my room absolutely beside herself.  “It’s no good, Mac.  We’ve messed up your cycle.  You need to start used protection because if you get pregnant because of me, I’ll never forgive myself!”

She explained that there had been a communication issue regarding the dispensing of my contraceptive pill.  A few days after I arrived another nurse gave my pill back to me and told me to manage it myself.  I thought that was fair enough.  But that night, I saw a little Yaz in with my normal pills.  Silly me just assumed without questioning that they’d changes their minds.

Apparently it hadn’t been recorded that I was managing it myself, so depending on which nurse was doing the medication rounds, some nights I was being given the pill, and some nights I wasn’t.  And stupid Mac was just swallowing whatever she was given without checking.

After apologising profusely she launched into a lengthy lecture about safe sex that left us both ruffled and red-faced.  Do I have access to condoms?  Will BF wear one?  Will I make him wear one?  Can we abstain?  Is it hard for him?  Hard for me?

I’m going red again just thinking about it.

Her concerns turned out to be unjustified as I got my period a few days later.  Maybe that explains my mood.  I’ve had to deal with all the delightful extras that come with that, including the cramps.  My cramps are nasty at the best of times, and the only thing that really helps is heat.  Unfortunately heat packs are not allowed due to the risk of self-harm so the staff loaded me up with panadeine and I had several hot showers a day.  The temperature of the showers is set to a maximum of pleasantly warm so we can’t burn ourselves.

On the increased zeldox my brain became settled enough to make one major decision – I have decided to move back in with my parents.  My health has been so bad for so long I’ve had to get real about what I actually need and at this point I feel like living in my parents’ house is the best option.

The configuration of the house will have to be changed to give me acceptable independence.  My parents have tasked me with working it out and it has shown to be a good way to keep my mind active.

New year’s eve fell on this week and it had me really worked up.  Maybe because it was so hot, maybe because my mum and I had an argument over the way I cleaned the bathroom on leave but I was ready to go without dinner – and let my boyfriend do the same – after I called around several take out places for dinner to find they were all closed and had a ‘fuck this I’m done’ moment.

After a pep talk from mum I called one more place – which was open.  My anxieties about traffic and crowds were completely unfounded, while the restaurant was located in the middle of town it was deserted when we got there at 5.30.  And the pizza was fantastic.

I’m not really one to get worked up over FOMO, so I wasn’t keen for grandiose new year’s plans and BF is the same.  But I was a little bummed about not being able to do the midnight kiss.  See, normally the clinic doors lock at ten so we have to be back by then when we’re on leave.  The staff were willing to make an exception for new years eve but legally we had to be back by midnight.

So we went to 9pm fireworks which were fantastic…so fantastic that I had a brief seizure!  I’m epileptic, even though my seizures are very rare I am changing meds at the moment so it’s not that big a deal.  I notified the staff when I got back to the hospital and that was their impression as well.

My doctor was off for the rest of the week and I was supposed to see one of the others but I didn’t realise that he works on a different schedule to mine, who works Tuesdays and Fridays.  The fill-in works Mondays and Thursdays so I went out all New years day thinking I would be seeing him on Friday, but no deal.  Oops!

With only the one tablet being increased it’s not that big a deal; they can’t bring it up faster than once a week anyway.

I would have to wait until the next week to see him, when the ward opened again…how would I be handling that?  You’ll have to wait until the next instalment to find out.

Mac

 

 

The Rehab Diaries Week 2 – Christmas On the Closed Ward

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Exactly a week before Christmas a note slipped under my door warning me of changes to the ward over the Christmas break, which would start in a few days and last two weeks. I was aware the ward shut downs to half capacity over Christmas, but I had never been in hospital during that time before.

One of the hospital’s two wards would be closed off completely.  This happened to be the one I was admitted to but I didn’t have to move because the wards are separated by a set of doors, and my room is one of three that are on the other side despite being under care of staff of ward 2.

No more patients are supposed to be admitted during this time, although there were about three more admitted over the next few weeks whenever someone discharged themselves prematurely.  Which happens, it’s a voluntary clinic after all.  Many discharges were planned for that Friday before the closing, so in the end the staff were caring for about a third of the usual patients.

Many staff were forced on leave as well by the hospital, including all of the therapists.  That meant no group or private therapy for two weeks.  No one was thrilled about this, least of all me.  Part of the reason I came to hospital was to have some intensive psychotherapy to unpack why I spent the second half of last year in a constant state of mental breakdown.  The timing of this admission is unfortunate.

Also going on leave against his will was my doctor.  After feeling frustrated with his apparent unwillingness to make a decision last week I explained the kind of pressure that I was feeling.  He explained once again that usually the way to treat my anxiety symptoms would be to add an antidepressant but that my bipolar made that a risky move.  He suggested doubling my melatonin pill, which could help my depression and anxiety and fix my broken sleep in a less risky way than a classic antidepressant.  I agreed.

His going on leave was another cause for concern.  This would be yet another doctor to haul out my life story in front of, who would no doubt have a different therapeutic philosophy and I had no way of knowing what kind of changes he might make.  It’s kind of disturbing really how so many staff said they wanted to stay on – especially the therapists.

As it turned out however upping the melatonin was not as risk free as we may have thought.  My mood swung, and it swung high.  And hard.

My thoughts were racing.  I was shaky, ruminative, anxious.  Irritable.  I spent much of the day pacing about my room and feeling murderous toward my fellow patients.  It just so happened that at this time there were several patients who liked to play instruments.  And just hearing them play sent me into the most unreasonable state of irritation.

There was a lady with a flute, a guy with a guitar and a nurse with a ukulele who liked to join them.  They had timetabled daily sing-alongs but guitar boy could be heard strumming away contemplatively at all hours of the day and for some reason my brain equated that with being unreasonable.

I know, irony.

I got so irritated that on closing day I ended up in the nurse unit managers office having a cry about how annoyed I was.  I thought she would laugh me out of her office but she was sympathetic.

“Why do you think I timetabled these music groups?  They annoy me too!  I was hoping they’d get it out of their system in the allotted hour.”

She jokingly assured me that most of them were getting discharged that day.

The ward closed but it wasn’t a happy place.  Christmas is a triggering time for many people.  I’m lucky not to have to deal with the family dramas that a lot of the other patients were trying to cope with and they struggled.  There was many, many meltdowns.  The short staffed nurses did their best to cope but some therapists certainly would have come in handy.

As for me, my mood just kept on climbing.  On Christmas eve I my mum came and picked me up to help prepare the house for Christmas and when I jumped in the car I stunned her by immediately covering ten different topics in two minutes, occasionally stopping to cackle manically.

“Oh my God…take a breath.  You’re acting a bit manic.”

“My thoughts are racing.”  I admitted.

“oooooooooook.  We’re going to working keeping a nice calm environment today.”

I was worried about how I’d handle Christmas Eve mass and dinner – when the mood’s up, anxiety tends to be up as well – but in the company of my family I was able to relax and go with the flow of the evening.

On the day itself my anxiety was intense- event though I was woken up by a nurse leaving a box of chocolates on my bedside table.  I thought getting out of the hospital was going to be hard and I was right.  The nurses were stressed out trying to get meds for ten patients at once as we all had to go out at the same time.  Some of the patients were getting agitated and taking it out on the nurses and that was hard to take.   I made a mental note to bring a box of leftover candies back with me that night.

After my extreme high the day before I was tired for most of Christmas day and spent most of it on the couch pretending to mind my cousin’s children as they wreaked havoc in front of me.  For the most part everyone left me alone and I got a few good presents out of the day, so I can’t complain really.

If you read last week’s entry you may be wondering…did I speak to the nurse my boyfriend unloaded on last week?  Yes I did – eventually.  She wasn’t in for a week after the incident but on her first shift back I asked for her version of events.

The way BF told it, he’d appealed to her for help after I refused to engage him but she remembered differently.  According to her this guy – the boyfriend of a patient, remember – came up to her and gave her a brief history of BF.  It’s not a happy history.  She asked him if he was seeing a psychologist – which he is – and rightfully delegated that conversation onto him.  Then I suppose he asked her what to do about his wilful girlfriend problem.

How bizarre.

He didn’t deny any of this when I told him what she said, and did end up seeing his therapist soon after, saying that he felt better equipped for it.  I wish I understood what it was about my depressive episode that made his whole life flash before his eyes though.

Until next time,

 

Mac

The Rehab Diaries Part 2 – The Waiting Game.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

After stressing out about getting the referral, turns out that was much ado about nothing compared to the limbo that followed.

Usually what happens is the referral gets triaged and paced in line based on need.  The line moves based on discharges, or you may be moved forward if they think your need increases which I’ll provide an example of later.

So when you’re next in line and there’s a discharge planned for the next day, you get a call informing you of there being a room free and could you be there the next day at a certain time?  However, patients do discharge themselves before their program is complete – being a private clinic, we are all supposed to be there of our own free will, after all – and I’ve be called in on the day with two hours’ notice one time.  By then the staff knew me well enough to know that I lived close enough to make it there in that time, and I have people who would take me.

You need lifts because patients are not allowed to drive to and from the hospital.  I would organise that as soon as the referral is sent because you never know when the call is going to come – previously I’ve gotten it the day after, or a week after.  This took two and a half weeks, which is the longest I’ve ever waited.

Turns out, everyone wants to go to rehab over Christmas.  Funny that.  I believe that the clinic was also trying to slow down their intake leading up to the closing of the ward three days before Christmas to reduce the strain on the staff who operate at half strength this time of year.

This doesn’t stop a lot of people looking for a convenient cover to get away from their families – and after some interactions with the residents I can’t help but wonder if some of the families were overly supportive of the idea.  This isn’t speculation, we’ve had whole group therapy sessions on the topic and I couldn’t get a word in edgeways for all the venting.

I’m not looking to get away from family, we certainly don’t have the type of dysfunction that the other patients are dealing with.  I need help.  That’s the long and short of it.

So I waited a week.  A week and a half.  I called the triage nurse (I really didn’t want to do that because we can’t stand each other, but luckily I only ever spoke to her minions) to check the referral had gone through.  It had.  Alrighty then, I’ll wait some more.

I called again two days later, because I was suddenly anxious about the wards closing.  I knew it happened, I just couldn’t remember when and I was convinced it was going to be in like three days before the line got to me.  The nurse assured me that no, it was more like three weeks.  Crisis averted.

Then the next day, the nurse unit manager called me.  And yes, he’d been notified of my calls and was concerned that my need had increased. He had a spare bed for me if I wanted to come in…only problem was, it was a shared room.  I’d had some bad experiences with shared rooms so I knew I had to decline.  He said he thought so but just thought he’d check.  More waiting.

While this was going on I was staying at mum and dads, my hospital bag, doona and pillows perched in a neat pile in the hall way, ready to go.  Mum started asking with concern if they could have forgotten me.  I told her about my calls and assured her that was not the case.  All I could do was wait some more.

And then, two and a half weeks later, it finally came.

There was a room, ready for me.  The time had come.

My boyfriend wanted to be the one that drove me, so we said goodbye to my parents and headed out.

And so began my stay…which you will be hearing more about in the next instalment of the rehab diaries.

Mac

VENT INCOMING

I just really hate everything and everyone right now.  Suddenly I understand why people choose retreat to a life of solitude in mountain caves.

I spent my first week in hospital being depressed.  I spent the second week being manic.  I will have the rehab diaries detailing both up soon, I promise.  But now things have come full circle and I seem to be the way I was when I came in.  Really.  Fucking.  Shitty.

I just hate humans.  Can’t stand them.  Don’t want to be around them.  Don’t want to see them.  Don’t want to hear or talk to or see any evidence of us sharing oxygen.

Oh I’m sorry, does that sound unreasonable?  Well I regret to inform you that this is a vent and if you have a problem with me sharing my pent up emotions on the internet I can’t help but wonder what the fuck you think people do on the internet between porn vids?

I have no tolerance.  None.  Can’t seem to open my mouth without effs and cees pouring out.  (Or type apparently…) The ward is closed over Christmas, they haven’t been admitting any new patients so you would think an easily socially exhausted person like me would be loving it.  A maximum 65 patient facility only housing 19 patients.  Actually I’m the only one on this side of the ward.  But am I grateful?

Ha.  Ha.  Is Pepsi a superior form of cola?

I’m hiding in my room all day because every time I see or hear people I get so annoyed I have an anxiety attack.

Think very, very hard about the implications of what I just said.

Not because I’m scared of them.  Because I’m scared of myself.  They annoy me SO.  FUCKING.  MUCH.  I just want to scream at them detailing all the ways they’ve failed at life that I’ve inferred from overheard conversations and them sharing at group therapy  (which I stopped going to because every time I try sharing these fuckers talk over me) and why it is totally their fault so stop blaming everyone else.  I’d do it too.   I’m smart, educated and much better at using these privileges for evil rather than good.

And yes, I do get the odd violent intrusive thought that I’m not detailing here just because my therapist may or may not be stalking this blog.

(If you are reading this, no I’m not going to act on them.  I am perfectly clear on what happens if I do.  But I am getting the thoughts.)

People with personality disorders are intrusive.  They have no boundaries.  They think they can just come up to their next victim you and start telling you about their lives.  I also have a personality disorder, plus I am on the spectrum which means that I have ALL THE BOUNDARIES.  I don’t give a flying fuck about your life and prefer to do as much interaction on the internet as possible, thankyouverymuch.

But apparently my Resting Bitch Face, which I got so much grief from the staff about on previous admissions has resolved itself and something about me says “I am a pleasant, non judgemental human being!  Please tell me all about your problems and why it’s everyone else’s fault but yours!”

THE FUCK??

I can’t deal, ok?  I can’t pretend to be annoyed because it’s nine and the nurses usually give you your meds at eight and don’t they know you’ve got places to be.  Well you’re still in your fucking nightie so those places can clearly wait.  My meds are late too, but I’m trying busy myself until they arrive by showing some compassion to the understaffed nurses who are fighting an uphill battle to satisfy both management and 19 dickhead patients who all think their needs are above the other 18.

I can’t pretend to appreciate being looked to as the diagnostic authority on autistic spectrum disorders, which as an adult with Aspergers comes up way more often than you’d think it does.  Even when you haven’t told anyone that you have it, apparently them opening that conversation is still ok Oh you think your four year old has Aspersgers, why is that…?  Because he’s, like, super into aliens.

…WUT.  That it?  Really?  He’s making friends at preschool ok?  His co-ordination and eye contact is good?  It’s just the alien thing?  Yes I suppose if all the other mums at play group are being asked for Ben 10 action figures for Christmas and you’re being asked for alien crystals that is embarrassing but hardly grounds for a behavioural diagnosis.

I can’t take any more stupid right now

No I don’t want to hear you bitch about your dopey husband, who is the saddest looking person I’ve ever seen by the way.  The whole hospital has had to listen to you bitch about your husband this morning, every morning actually.  Every part of every day you’re shouting, sorry talking about something because that’s just the way you talk.

Yeah, the way you talk?  Is shouting.  And jarring.  And the reason you clear the room faster than a fart in a crowded elevator.

The latter delightful human singled me out as her prey buddy this morning when I decided that I wanted to do a puzzle but was told I had to do it in the dining hall because SOCIAL INTERRACTION.  It didn’t matter that I was clearly absorbed in this task, that I had headphones in, unfortunately I was sitting on my own when she decided to come in and shout about her life for the next hour.

She does this every day at precisely 10.30 am until lunch time, shouting into the air, looking for someone to hook into and talk directly to while everyone pointedly avoids her eye line.  I pointedly ignored her when she sat at my table and let the shouting commence, answered her phone, shouted into it then shouted about the call afterwards.

After about ten minutes of this I could take no more and left my puzzle, asking a nearby nurse if it was time for my blood pressure to be taken.  Luckily she was so on the same page and whisked me away to safety.  My puzzle lies abandoned on the table hours later because I am not putting myself in that position again.

Now, more on noise.  I don’t know what it is with people in private clinics finding so fucking difficult to use headphones but it needs to change or some people are getting smothered in their sleep (Dear therapist, I’m exaggerating, obvi!) Currently I find myself exerting some serious self-control about some selfish fucking bitch who thinks it’s acceptable to wander the halls playing her terrible Jessie J music on her phone full blast and sing full blast, off key of course.  At first I thought she was having an episode but it’s become clear that she just doesn’t give a fuck.

Fuck her.  I intend to keep putting in noise complaints until that stops

I wanted out of the circus to clear my head, before I did or said something regrettable – like, say, any of the above – and so I went on leave for a bit.  My parents came to pick me up and on the ride home the conversation turned to my recovery over the last few years.  Well, at least I think that’s how my mother would remember it.

What I remember is being blithely reminded how the whole family’s lives sucked five years ago and it was 100% all my fault.  When I tried to point out that yes, while behavioural therapy has done a lot for me, the family has also made headway in being understanding of me and my boundaries, I was told NUP.  Definitely you.  All you.  You were the problem, you’ve been mostly fixed.  As usual, my dad was notably silent.

These talks happen regularly and I do believe she thinks she is doing me a favour.  She keeps asking “remember when you used to tell me there’s something wrong with me?” one day I’m going to snap and go “well there is, it’s called a victim complex.  YOU NEED THERAPY”

But there’s no fucking point.  I’m the one with the personality disorder, I’m the one that likes to blame everyone else for my problems.  I don’t deny that I was a miserable piece of shit as a young adult but them admitting that there was at least a 95/5 percent contribution ratio to household drama between me and the rest of the family would be supremely validating.

Oh who am I kidding, I’m still a miserable piece of shit.

Are the drugs not working?  Do I need more therapy?  Is this just my personality?  My current tactic is still avoid, avoid, avoid.  I’m wearing noise control headphones to shut everyone out.  I stopped wearing bright colours because people were using my clothes as an excuse to talk to me.

I can just avoid people forever right?

RIGHT???
Are those crickets?  Am I hearing crickets?

Damn, that’s what I thought.

 

Mac

Should I accept that I will never be ok?

It’s one of those nights. It’s midnight, I’m cradling a jar of Nutella, bawling my eyes out because my life has gone nowhere.

And wow, people love to point out that my life if going nowhere. Just in case I never noticed.

It does cause people pleasure to see someone that was once so high functioning being unable to get it together.

My life story in a nutshell was that, despite being a mixed bag of issues from birth, I was a fairly high achiever until my late teens, when I cracked. All the horses and men of every monarchy in the world could not put me back together.

I’ve never worked full time. Never been able to live independently without some form of government assistance.   And despite working on my health consistently for years, none of that seems likely to change soon.

Reading that back makes me cry. It’s just so fucking sad looking at it.

It makes me wonder if all my therapy has been worth it. What’s the point of spending all that money if life just doesn’t get better? If I don’t get better? Is it a waste? My family will quickly point out that it is. I’ve wasted their money, my money, wasted their time visiting me in hospital because I ‘refuse’ to get better.

My sisters both have jobs, I am reminded. One of them is looking for a house with her boyfriend, a house for them, not one with housemates.

They say they like to remind me of my shortcomings so I don’t become complacent. Because I’m always thinking how fucking wonderful sharing a house with other students in a shitty area where people have knife fights in the streets is. How great it is that my friends go shopping for furniture at brick and mortar stores, while I’m scavenging it from the side of the road. How despite my private health insurance, I can’t go to hospital when I need it because I can’t afford the gap.

I could ask my parents for it I guess. But I just can’t give them the satisfaction.

It doesn’t matter how well I’m doing, the conversation always comes back to that. I continue to be defined by my failures.

They say it gets better. But I’m just too smart for my own morbidly low-functioning good. I know that it’s a completely hollow statement.

Sometimes it doesn’t. People just don’t ever manage to get it together. I’ve seen them, in my family, in my boyfriend’s family. People I met in hospital. It just never works out.

After six years of no improvement, it looks like I’m headed the same way and it’s devastating me. Should I just give up, accept my lot, be one of those people on the DSP in the housing estates, compliant enough on their meds to not cause anyone trouble but not benefiting anyone either. It’s a miserable existence. Fifty or so more years with nothing to show for it except being a handy tool for my family to boost their self-esteem whenever they feel like they might not be getting anywhere in life.

I could be a cautionary tale but against what? I never abused drugs or alcohol, or skipped school or hung out with miscreants. My problems are largely genetic which points to the uncomfortable idea that having this relative who is getting so far behind in life is actually no one’s fault. She can’t be fixed, but she couldn’t have been prevented. Where’s the closure in that? Blaming me is so much easier.

I can tell them to stop but, ya know, what right do I have? Do I not realise how hard their lives are because of my illness? The embarrassment of having a partially employed daughter in her mid twenties who is apparently so bright? Of having to deal with the embarrassment of her being in hospital? What would the neighbours say. And bailing me out of debt. No that wasn’t pleasant at all but how could I appreciate that. I was the one having fun spending.

And let’s not forget, I’m on the autistic spectrum. If we’re having a disagreement, obviously I’m the one in the wrong, and I don’t admit out loud that I’m a shitty human being I’m going to end up living in mum and dad’s basement like my unemployed uncle, now that would be embarrassing.

I just need to talk to someone to tell me that I’m not a failure. That I will get there one day. That I won’t end up living in mum and dad’s basement. I texted my boyfriend and told him that I’m struggling but the fucker fell asleep.

Just tell me it will get better.

I don’t even care if it’s not true. Not right now.

Mac

I just broke up with twelve people

Oh my lawd that was a tough decision. After all we had been through together.

I never meant to hurt anyone but it was time to face up to the fact that I had taken on a commitment I was incapable of seeing through.

I spent all day crying, shaking, questioning my decision, fearing their reaction. I considered sending a text message to get it out of the way, but no. That would be the coward’s way out. This is a conversation that has to happen face to face to give them the closure that they need.

I felt sick on the drive over to our usual meeting spot. My hands shake as I approach the group. It’s time.

I tried to soften the blow by saying “It’s not you, it’s me…” and I abruptly burst into tears.

Because what I actually meant was:

“Um, actually it is you. Mostly…yeah. Screw you guys, good luck finding another defenseman/back up goalie/anything else I did that the rest of you are too high-and-mighty to do.”

Oh I’m sorry, did you think I was in some kind of crazy polyamorous network? Nah. I was playing a contact sport at the representative level for a few years but somewhere along the way the relationship between my team and I became dysfunctional. I was hurting, losing sleep, losing motivation for life in general. Something had to give.

I was injured a lot during the season. I had gained weight during the summer and was trying to lose it slowly but in a contact sport like ours, weight gain without improved fitness has significant impact on your game and your ability to keep yourself safe. So I was getting hurt a lot.

I didn’t want to play injured. Fair enough, right? I’m paying to play, not playing to be paid. Those pro footballers you see get their faces smashed in then come back ten minutes later with stitched? They’re not trying to be heroic, they’re trying to keep their jobs!

Well not fair enough, was what I was told. I showed up to match to support my team after lacerating my fingers to the bone the night before, my tortured stitched fingers balled up in mittens and was told that a) I’m a disappointment because I won’t play injured (“So fucking what? I played with a broken hand!”) and b) to go away because my jumper was too gross to look at. Noice.

Naturally, I left those bitches to stew in their own juice. And lose.

The next day a post appeared on the team facebook group thanking another girl who was too inured to play who had kept score for the game (which she did REALLY BADLY. I don’t think the correct score was up during any point of the game.) The post ended with something like “it’s nice to see that some people show dedication to their team even though they’re injured.”

FUCK. THAT. SHIT. If you want my dedication, don’t insult my taste in knitwear!

So, you want to talk dedication? Ok teammies, where was your dedication when we needed a goalie and you all refused, yes you looked Coach in the eye and REFUSED! to step up. I, with all my co-ordination problems, was left to pick up the slack. When our regular goalie came back, you thought our problems were over. Except, we didn’t have a back up. There was no other goalie in the entire state that could fill in for her if she got hurt. So I kept up with my goalie training because I knew a back up would be needed at some point. How many of you have been joining me at goalie class so you could step up when it was needed, ah that’s right…NONE OF YOU.

Luckily she never missed a game and I stuck to playing defence. Wait, how did I come to do that again? There was this one game were we needed someone to drop to defence. Coach asked all of you forwards that were there…and what did you do?

Oh yeah…YOU REFUSED.

When he asked me, what did I do?

I fucking stepped up that’s what. I don’t mind trying new things, I don’t think I’m so bloody fantastic that the world will stop turning if I’m seen doing something I’m not good at. Actually I became rather competent at it, but more on that later.

A dedicated player is dedicated to being game ready outside training as well. As I said, this is something I dropped the ball on during off season. But I tried to regain game fitness and when the men’s team coach offered to take us for conditioning as well, I jumped at the chance.

It was a fantastic experience but it was a bit of a sausage fest…why weren’t all the other women there too?

Oh yeah…stop me if this is getting repetitive…YOU REFUSED.

I’m too busy (but not for women’s training) I’m too injured (but not for women’s training) I’m too cold (but not for women’s training.) All of these things said by my teammates.

I felt like the question of “but what have you REALLY done for this team?” was hanging over my head a lot this season, bit explicitly and implicitly. I kind of get it – I’m easily one of the weakest players on the team. How can I possibly doing so much hard work if a) no-one’s around to see it and b) my production during the game isn’t the greatest?

It was painfully obvious because of the contrast in skill level on our team. Because we were low on numbers, some national rep players came down to play with us. They came, did wonderful things in game, and everyone was so excited, because of their production we were coming first, we were just so lucky to have them.

We were so lucky. We were reminded often, in case we forgot. In case we started entertaining the idea that because we were wearing the same colours that we were actually equal. These girls were on our team, but they aren’t our teammates. They only passed to each other. They would score, I’d go up to congratulate them and get ignored while they stood there in their exclusive little huddle. Eventually I gave up. Our team scored, I put my head down and moved back into position as it if were an own goal.

They talked only amongst themselves and the girls on our team who had played with them previously, but were willing to make an exception for any of the rest of us plebs willing to fawn over them. I can’t say I’m the fawning type so I went ignored. Screaming for passes, constantly ignored, just conditioning when I should have been playing.

So I settled into a stay at home defenseman role. I got rather good at it, if I say so myself. While our national players got too ambitious, went up too high, when the game turned around I stayed back to take on breakaways as they frantically scampered to fall back. But no one noticed. I shouldn’t care, I know. But no one noticed. Even experienced athletes never give thoughts to what defence is doing unless they score goals, and I didn’t score goals.

I didn’t get player of the match once all season. Not once. I even started voting for myself because there were a few games where I FUCKING DESERVED IT. I don’t care if that makes me look conceited, it’s still true. But yeah. I don’t score goals.

There was this one girl that got it twice. And she’s terrible. She’s been playing for a few years with no improvement. Yeah, I’m terrible too. And yet I’ve never scored a hat trick of own goals. She is the only player I’ve seen do that at any level for God’s sake. And then was prancing about the locker room boasting about how she, like, totally knocked the other team’s star forward over. She couldn’t do her job and actually fucking stop her, hell she way as well be on her line for all she was helping her score, but at least she put her on her arse that one time. What an idiot.

Ok, so she didn’t win the player of the match that day but that’s beside the point! She’s useless. She’s the same ‘dedicated’ player who will score keep when she’s injured even though she can’t score keep.

I felt unappreciated. Because I didn’t only do my work out in the open, where everyone could see me. It did what I could in my own time as well as in team training. I didn’t just cheerlead my team on Facebook where everyone could see me doing it. I can’t say what I don’t mean. If someone was doing remarkably well I told them privately. If I was worried about someone I asked them if they were ok privately.

It shouldn’t matter to me that no one appreciates that. I know I’ve done the right thing. Character is defined by what you do when people aren’t around, after all. I guess my wishing that people were paying attention means that mine still needs work.

But I wasn’t just unappreciated, I wasn’t accepted. Tolerated, but not accepted. I was being pointed to other members of the team. Why aren’t you like her, she volunteers at junior games. Why aren’t you like her, she helps out with coaching. Why aren’t you like her, she never criticises anyone.

I can’t be someone I’m not. I can’t give time I don’t have. I can’t force myself into a role I’m not capable of fulfilling just for approval (already far too common in our sport) and I just can’t bullshit people. I can’t conform to this image of female niceness, which as far as I can tell consists of smiling and lying to someone’s face, telling them that they’re right then bitching furiously behind their backs once they leave.

Being on the spectrum in a women’s locker room is hard. I would much rather sit with a team of men than a team of women. It felt like me and the rest of them. And I am an educated, intelligent – articulate, outspoken (ok, abrupt) female. Let’s face it. Competitive sport isn’t dominated by intelligent, educated, articulate, assertive females, neurotypical or not. I was never going to fit in totally.

There are intelligent girls on my team but they dumb themselves down, present a convincing tough as nails, rough as sandpaper façade to fit in. I feel like that’s what they want and while I want you to think that I won’t be like that, the truth is that I can’t.

Well, if a partner puts you down, belittles you, tries to change you, doesn’t appreciate you, refuses to accept your shortcomings, what do you do? You cut your losses and you leave.

So that’s what I did.

As I drove to practice to confront my coach I was incensed, fuelled by the vitriol I’ve been spewing above. I’m leaving and I’m telling their dopey asses exactly what I think of them when I do!

And yet, I got there. I asked to speak with him, he stood there expectantly with his clipboard with the miniature field drawn on it. And my script went blank.

“I’m done…my season…it’s done.”

He looked sad, asked me if it was the team and my anger evaporated. I burst into tears.

“It’s not them, it’s me.”

He wasn’t angry. He was disappointed. No, shocked he said. But he understood that I had to look after myself.

I agreed to talk again in a few days for closure. Because we were both getting upset, and the parents of the juniors were circling closer and closer, drawn in by the pungent scent of juicy club gossip.

I thanked him and left, flicking tears over my shoulder theatrically as I raced to my car. My anger was gone. It’s still gone. I’m second guessing myself. Because even after everything that happened, it wasn’t them. It really, truly wasn’t.

It was me.

Sure all those incidents were unpleasant but the main reason that I opted out of the rest of the season wasn’t to avoid my team mates, it was my anxiety.

Anxiety driven by a lot of things. Fear of getting injured yet again, fear of being put down by my teammates, fear of trying so hard and going unnoticed yet again None of those things happened in a vacuum but there will always be shitty politics in sport. It you really want to be there you will suck it up and get on with it.

I couldn’t suck it up. Not this time. I would sit on the bench at games, trembling, stomach clenching, one thought on repeat in my head – I DON’T WANT TO BE HERE. I couldn’t concentrate on the game in that state of mind obviously, so I would get in a bad spot and get hurt again. I was losing sleep. I was self-medicating with food and alcohol. I would go to training praying to get injured just so I didn’t have to play. Just thinking about the upcoming game in two weeks was driving me to tears.

I feel like a failure by admitting defeat but I’ve been on teams where people who didn’t want to be there kept forcing themselves, or were being forced to come. There’s a couple on my team now, apart from me. Those people brought the whole team down. I know I’ve been doing that and I don’t want to be that person any more.

I thought I was at peace with my decision until I called BF. He asked me where I was playing this summer, and got an anguished wail down the phone as a response. Thinking about other teams is just too painful!

I need to get over this team before I find a new one. Or we might reconcile next season, I don’t know yet. It’s all still so raw.

And I was just reminded by Facebook that I agreed to go out drinking with them next week! I’d better start preparing my outfit…just to show them what they’re missing out on.

Or will they just drown me in questions? Probably. Ugggggggghhhhh!

I can’t deal. I’m heartbroken.

Excuse me while I go look though team pictures while listening to All Saints’ ‘Never Ever’ on repeat.

Mac