Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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It’s a beautiful, sunny day on Long Island. The tree is up and lit, the sun is streaming through the giant windows of my parents’ house, I’ve been awake since 5:30, and only my mother and the dogs are awake. We have been discussing random things, including where to move next year when our lease is up, my upcoming school program, and the blog.

It makes me think about where I was last year and how far I’ve come. This time last year I was sitting in the psych ward on the East side, complaining about being there for Christmas. I was well enough to go home by then but because of holiday schedules my doctors weren’t lined up to treat me immediately, which was a problem, and for some reason that remains beyond me they were hell bent on getting me into a Partial day program upon my release, which I was adamantly and thoroughly against.Yes, the benefits of a day program are routine, social interaction, groups, and structure, but for someone who hates groups there is little value. As we know, I didn’t end up going.

Christmas in a psych ward is a unique experience. They try to make it as festive as possible. There are extended visiting hours, concerts, food-centered parties, the groups are holiday focused (arts and crafts, for instance, is all holiday themed). Being hospitalized over the holidays is rough for so many reasons, not in the least because the groups all switch to chintzy holiday stuff and no real psychiatric work gets accomplished or even attempted. I felt bad for the people who were there just at the holidays and hadn’t been there for a while because they literally arrived and got no real treatment until the holiday was over. A huge waste of time.

I understand that they try. I understand that it’s not exactly the easiest environment to make festive. I actually would have appreciated having real groups through those days to talk about how shitty it was being in the hospital at Christmas. My family did visit, which ameliorated the boredom and themed suffering. By the same token, it was insanely depressing to have my family in the psych ward with me during Christmas, as it had been to have them in the recovery unit at Thanksgiving. I might have preferred to be alone so I didn’t have to be reminded that it was a holiday, that I was missing another one, that I had tried to kill myself, that I was stuck in a unit where I wasn’t being heard.

A year later, in my family home, with my Husband, parents, sister and brother in law, things are very different. I have been out of the hospital since January, slowly recovering physically, and progressing steadily psychologically. The ECT and the meds have really made a difference in my general outlook on life. I still have hard times, but they are not as dark as they used to be. I still have dark thoughts but they are not as obsessive and controlling as they used to be. My basic views on life are positive. I feel like I was lucky to survive myself last year. And I’m excited to go back to school and get started on a track towards being a nurse. It will be a lot of work but I’m so bored, finally, that I’m ready for it. It took me over a year but I’m finally bored. Really, existentially and offensively bored, which is great because boredom is motivating. It’s akin to “necessity is the mother of invention.” For me, “Boredom is the mother of action.” Husband is really happy that I’m bored. He said he’s being waiting for me to be bored. Honestly, I’ve been waiting too and I told people that I knew that’s what it would take and it would just take time, patience. I’m slow with these things but they happen eventually.

Today I plan to be grateful for what I have, how far I’ve come, and how much I have to look forward too. I have wonderful friends and family and I am insanely lucky.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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