Preparing for Psychiatric Treatment – How I manage my environment to make it bearable.

Being somewhat reclusive and agoraphobic, and of course depressed and anxious, the prospect of leaving home tomorrow to go to the big smoke for a further five weeks of electroconvulsive therapy is very overwhelming.  This is made worse by the prospect of my husband not being with me the whole time as he has to come back home to work.  So what am I doing to prepare myself for this ‘out of home’ experience?

Firstly, I am staying with my in-laws.  This is far more comforting than being an inpatient at the hospital.  I am very lucky that I have this option.  They are so loving and kind, so nurturing and supportive that half of my recovery is just being around them.  Their home is also very familiar to me, which is comforting when you have memory loss and they allow me to bring my pets with me.  I am an avid animal lover and would feel very stressed being separated from my ‘babies’, especially my dog ‘Karma’.  Karma is not a trained care animal, but she certainly has all the characteristics of one.  She is acutely aware of my mood state and she comforts me when I most need it, she even gets my husbands (or parents in laws) attention when I am having a panic attack, as an example.

One of my In-Laws will also accompany me to hospital for each treatment.  This is necessary of course because I am not allowed to drive, but it is also very helpful from the perspective of my discomfort around strangers.  It is also of benefit that the hospital staff rarely change (and in my opinion a testament to the hospital), so there are familiar faces there, to ease my stress.

Memory loss is not definite but likely in my experience.  In order to prepare myself for this I keep a detailed diary, calendar and to do list, with audible alarms.  This is a new system I have put in place since last time, so it will be interesting to see how useful it is and whether I can remember to actually check the diary, calendar and to do lists (LOL), the alarms will hopefully prompt me.  I also pre-warn anyone I make plans with that I may not remember what we have organised and ask them to ring the day before to remind me and/or my in-laws.  I ask one of my parents in law to take responsibility for my medications for the duration of my stay.  This way I cannot forget to take them or forget that I took them and take them again.  And for the same reason my mother in law takes care of feeding my pets for me too, which is lovely of her.

Making myself feel ‘at home’ – as I will be spending a considerable amount of time in my room, in bed, I ensure that I make that room as much like home as I can.  I take my own pillows and special weighted blanket (great for anxiety and insomnia).  I take episodes of my favourite television show (Friends) to watch when I need a pick me up.  I keep my two birds in my room with me and my dog ‘Karma’ who basically won’t leave my side after I’ve had ECT.  And I keep my computer close by so that when I feel up to it I can read my social media pages, message friends and family and generally keep somewhat ‘connected’ to the outside world.  I am also hoping to be able to write a few blogs during the 5 weeks too!

All of these things help reduce my anxiety and reduce the likelihood of my depression deepening.  Furthermore they minimise the impact of my agoraphobic and reclusive tendencies during depression.  I hope some of these ideas (many of which I have gleaned from other people) may work for you too if you are in a similar scenario.

I am grateful for my In-Laws, I love them so much and I am so blessed that they love me too.  Their generosity, with their home, their time and their energy is deeply appreciated.  When they are elderly I am going to make sure they are so well cared for they’ll think they’re already in heaven 🙂