Today makes 1 year of me not being in a psych hospital. Technically yesterday, if you consider that this was a leap year. After having ~15 hospitalizations in 5 years, this seems somewhat implausible, and yet here I am. I have been reflecting on how I got through this year so much more smoothly, and have a few thoughts:
* I am no longer a student. I completed my BA in May 2019, and withdrew from my master’s program after only a couple of months, so I’ve been free from the pressures of school for over a year.
* Although I did try working again this year, I recognized that the job (which sounded like a dream initially) was not a good fit, the complications of working were not worth it, and that given all relevant factors I would be better off doing what I love as a volunteer rather than what I only sometimes liked as a staff member.
* On the subject of volunteering, my brief employment got my foot in the door for two different volunteer opportunities in line with one of my lifelong passions. I have had moments where I nearly threw up from excitement over things I’ve had the chance to do, and it feels amazing that there are a few people in my life who think I’m a rockstar at something that’s just plain fun for me.
* I moved into my own home. I won’t lie and say I haven’t had total breakdowns from the stress of it, but most of the time it is an improvement over having to share a space 24/7.
* I am free of toxic relationships. After 2 solid years of 2 back-to-back negative friendships, I have no contact with the first, and have had only minimal phone and online contact with the other over the past 11 months.
* Animal Crossing. I had no interest when it was released (I joked with my therapist that when GameStop only received 20 copies I considered buying one only so someone else couldn’t have it). Now I’m close to 700 hours in, and still learn something new constantly. I remember the first few days of play when it seemed like catching a fish was impossible. The next thing I knew I’d flattened my whole island and rebuilt it from scratch. That seemed impossible. Now I’m starting to use custom designs to add details…seems pretty impossible. Taking cute photos for Instagram…not totally impossible, but definitely needs improvement in my skill level. Taking cute photos for Instagram at Harv’s Island? Hahahaha, I don’t think I’m going to master that one.
This year has, of course, not been entirely smooth. My beloved psychiatrist left her position abruptly in January, and I spent countless bedtimes crying over how much I missed her. My therapy appointments have been mostly by phone, aside from a few weeks this summer when there was lovely weather for meeting outdoors. I can’t say I enjoy phone appointments by any means, but it’s definitely not bad to have therapy while lying in bed with my cat. My therapist took a new job, but in a rare stroke of good luck I am among a tiny handful of clients she still gets to work with. (If I were not, I would probably not being writing the same post at this moment.)
My health has spiraled horribly, starting in April. After many instances of being told that my sudden, severe, and unfamiliar symptoms were “just anxiety” (despite not happening when I was having full-on panic attacks) or “[my] bipolar depression” (despite not being depressed at all), I worked up the courage to seek a new doctor. I naturally feared she would not believe me or would make those same statements, but that did not occur. Tomorrow I have a brain MRI and a cardiology appointment. I feel like I should be super depressed about how lousy I feel physically, yet it’s almost a relief that it’s different from feeling lousy mentally.
This is also rather ironic, yet quarantine and social distancing have improved my mental health. I’m naturally a little lonely at times. I also usually don’t have to deal with the people I don’t enjoy dealing with, and where avoiding people at the grocery used to make me feel guilty, now it’s socially appropriate and I don’t beat myself up for the rest of the day.