I should, I suppose, give credit where credit is due. I'm actually more than a bit of a coward, more often than not giving in to the stigma that people with mental illnesses are omg a threat to society. The credit goes to happyduck1979, who has shamelessly and extremely bravely been blogging her experiences and feelings following the loss of her daughter at Empty Cradle, Empty Heart, including all the depression that goes along with this kind of loss. Rachel, you've got more guts than I will ever have in blogging what's going on in that head of yours.
Kudos as well goes to those who have been blogging, openly or otherwise, their descent into madness, be it depression or bipolar disorder. It has given me the strength to talk more openly about what goes on in programs like mine, about the psychiatric system in general, and the nature of mental illness.
Above all else, I want to thank my wife for being understanding and supportive of my being open to anyone and everyone who asks about how I'm doing. I'm well aware the strain that my illness has put on her and our relationship and our family, and I truly hope to find some solutions this time, so that we can just live as a normal family for once. (Or whatever would pass for normal, given our family members.)
Now, to be more to the point.
The program has been, thus far, uneventful. On Sunday, we had Occupational Therapy, which seemed mostly to consist of ways to get our brains working again. Mildly disastrous for me as I was frustrated to the core with being unable to do even the most basic Shape by Shape puzzles, something that I used to be quite good at. Most solo mind games like that - Rush Hour being the best-known one - I used to be really good at. But along with depression comes a steep decrease in cognitive ability. To someone like me, who prides themselves on their quick cognition, this is quite a beating.
I've been set up with my therapist, who seems to be a combination of ADHD and Tourette's Syndrome all wrapped up into a difficult-to-understand and unable-to-sit-still package. But I suppose that after two sessions, I'm probably jumping to conclusions - something that needed work well before any of the current depression took hold.
The head psychiatrist seems to be a decent guy, though he's spread a little thin. I think there's something like 20 patients, which, when split up over a week, is a little overwhelming considering the field's necessity of taking plenty of time with each patient.
Also on Sunday, I was on kitchen duty. Something I really like about this program is that every day, one patient makes breakfast for everyone, and two patients make lunch for everyone. I'm used to a much more professional environment, both at work and at home, so using such primitive food preparation tools drove me nuts ("Whaddya mean there's no whisk?! I can't use a fork for this amount of techina!"). But it was nice to be able to prepare food for the rest of the patients and staff, if a little stressful. I enjoyed working with the patient that I was paired with, and the woman in charge of the kitchen tolerated my endless kvetching about lacking the proper tools, plus my enthusiastic endless questioning of making it an ecological kitchen ("Composting is easy and good for the environment." / "This garlic clove has a green sprout, let's plant it!")
One of the oddest things I'm dealing with in this program is that of medication distribution. I'm very used to popping my own pills, and I feel a little uneasy about giving the responsibility of dispensation to someone else. But so the program works, so I should work with it.
Today I undertook the extremely wet and messy task of cleaning the fish tank. I've got this mild obsession with tropical fish tanks. It's partially because it's something other than genetics that I inherited from my father, and also in part because the father of a good friend of mine during high school was a marine biologist with a massively impressive 100-gallon tank (think doctor's office, only four times the size). I find fish tanks very calming, even if it is somewhat cruel to the fish. So when I got to the program the first day, of course the first thing I'll notice in the common room is the fish tank. Noticing how deeply filthy the tank is, with at least an inches of fish poop on the bottom, I told the nurse that I am hereby putting myself in charge of cleaning the tank, since it looks like nobody else has done it in months. And so today I did, only to realize how elbow-deep in foul water I was required to be in order to clean the tank. The worst part is that even after I refilled the tank, it looked cloudy and gross. I told everyone that asked (and of course everyone asked) that I would be back tomorrow to finish the cleaning. Truth be told, the tank was so disgusting, I think it required a two-day cleaning wherein as much crap would be removed from the water as possible, then cloudy water let sit until the particles settle, then another cleaning the next day. I hope the fish are fine, though. If possible, maybe they'll let me introduce another cleaner fish or two.
So far, other than my meetings with the staff, the psychiatrist added me on Perphenazine, commonly known as Trilafon in the States or Perphenam in Israel. It's a typical antipsychotic, in my case to help treat anxiety and panic attacks. No word yet as to whether or not it's working, though I have already been feeling a little tired on it.
These are my current notes from bedlam. More to follow as I work up the energy to post.