First Week of PHP: Done — Well, Sort of

Photo credit: FamilyTravelCK on VisualHunt / CC BY

I hadn’t realized how much PHP would deplete my energy. First of all, I’m not used to being anywhere by 9:30 AM. Usually, I’m still debating whether or not to take a shower. And PHP, to me, is a long day: 9:30 AM – 2:00 PM. Sure, when I’m home, I use that time to check my social media, read blogs, and write a blog post. That usually takes me to approximately noon, when I eat lunch. After that, I lie on the sofa where I alternately read and nap. Granted, my PHP days are broken into segments. We have about three 10-minute breaks, and an hour for lunch.

On Thursday and Friday, I had to get myself there because my husband had to go into the office early. I was terrified. I’ve mentioned before that I hate taking Uber and stuff like that because I don’t like getting into cars with strangers — especially something like Uber, where anybody can become a driver, even if they don’t know their way around the city! And could attack you, as well!

Fortunately, my sister told me about this app called Curb, which uses actual taxi drivers in actual taxis — not in a plain old car with an Uber or Lyft sign in the window. The fact that Curb uses real cab drivers was a relief to me. But it was still terrifying to have to use it.

Well, I scheduled a ride for Thursday morning, and waited outside for the driver. Of course I was busy on my phone, so I was startled when he honked. We drove to PHP, and he was paid, including tip, through my app. That was such a relief because I always fumble with the cash when paying and can never figure out how much to tip. Easy peasy!

I’m proud of myself for having taken that huge step and using exposure therapy to complete the task. Now I feel confident using Curb, and especially because I had to use it again right away to go home!

I thought my IBS-D flared up, so I went upstairs and told the receptionist that, and that I needed to go home. She said that was fine, so I requested another Curb, which again, went smoothly.

Turns out, it wasn’t IBS-D — I had food poisoning! At least my case manager and PHP psychiatrist both called to see how I was doing. I told the doctor that I had food poisoning, and he gave me some advice on how to treat it.

So I didn’t make it to PHP on Thursday and Friday. Oh, well. There’s always next week. I’m just glad I was able to get there on my own!

What do you think of ride apps, like Uber and Lyft? Have you ever used them?

Daily Prompt: Deplete

First Day of PHP #4

Photo provided by author

Don’t worry — I’m not going to write about how my day went at PHP every day for the duration of time I’m there. I only thought I’d discuss it today, since it was my first day, though I’ll probably write a post about my first week. I’m not going to talk about other patients for legal reasons, but may mention them in generalizations (doubtful).

So. This picture was taken this morning, as I was waiting to leave for PHP 4. Don’t I look thrilled? In truth, I was excited at the prospect of getting the help I need, but there were things that made me anxious: it was a LOT like going to school. Except for my last 2 years of high school, I had a miserable time in school.

At any rate, at least I showered today lol! I did tell the in-take coordinator that I struggle to shower every day, but that I showered daily since I was discharged. There was no way I was getting rejected from this program.

I packed my backpack since I don’t have any other appropriate bag that would fit all my stuff: wallet, phone, keys, lip balm, mints, pen, and one of those nylon, insulated lunch boxes. Turns out it was a good thing I used the backpack because they gave me a 3-ring binder with some information in it (not exactly looking forward to reading it). It has a slip cover in front and I’m going to finish a really cool project we did in art therapy at Behavioral Hospital and slip it right in there. I’ll post a pic on Instagram when I’m done. You should be able to catch it on my Instagram feed in the sidebar, but it displays only 3 pics at a time. Anyway . . . .

Oh. Mah. Gawd. It was SO boring. It was like being in school. The 3 groups we had were like classes where the therapist wrote down stuff we called out, on the board, and we copied them onto corresponding sheets. There was no processing of feelings, discussing one another’s issues, or anything like that. I will have a trauma group once a week, and depending on how that and the rest of this week goes, I may switch to the trauma track. Right now I’m not in a specialized track.

Thankfully, my husband was in the parking lot waiting for me when it was “dismissal time.” I couldn’t wait to rush right out of there! Now if only I had an after school snack lol!

UPDATE, 4/10/18: Turns out, this particular program is a skills-based group rather than a process-based group. As I mentioned, I learned a little today, so maybe this will be a good thing.

Daily Prompt: Rush

IOP/PHP In-Take Interview

Photo on VisualHunt

This morning, I had my in-take interview for an intensive outpatient/partial hospitalization program (IOP and PHP). My husband drove me. We hadn’t been there before and didn’t realize we had to park about half a block away. I wish I had known that  because then I wouldn’t have worn leggings — it was frigid, and my legs froze. I even wore knee-high boots!

Long story short, the interview took about TWO hours, with most of that time spent completing paperwork! I can’t remember ever filling out that much! The actual interview with the Associate Director took about 15 minutes, and another 10 or 15 with the person in charge of insurance.

I was accepted to their PHP, henceforth known as PHP 4 because I’ve never been to this program; and I start on Monday. I’m actually looking forward to it so I can really get the help I need transitioning from being an inpatient to being back on the “outside.” Plus, it isn’t like my problems have disappeared just because I’m no longer in the hospital.

The hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 AM — 2:00 PM. I’ve had to rearrange my next few salon appointments lol! Anyway, I’ll be in PHP for 2 – 3 weeks depending on my progress, and then I’ll step down to the intensive outpatient program (IOP), which only goes to 12:30 PM for 3 – 5 weeks.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR BIPOLAR BARB: Nothing, other than the fact that I’ll be posting later in the day — late afternoon/early evening as opposed to late morning/early afternoon. 🙂

Have you ever attended an IOP or PHP? What was your experience like?

Daily Prompt: Frigid


Thank you all for your support, love, and encouragement during what has been a difficult time. Much love to you all. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Being admitted to Behavioral Hospital. Photo provided by author

As some of you know, I was in the emergency room on Friday, March 23, because I couldn’t stop self-harming. I was there from 4:00 PM until about 6:30AM the next day, when I was transferred to, I’ll call it, Behavioral Hospital. It’s a mental institution, but calling it that would be self-stigmatizing.

I was transferred because they didn’t have any beds at ECT Hospital, which devastated me. I like the psych ward at ECT Hospital, and know what to expect, especially because I was just there in the beginning of March. I was scared when the ambulance arrived at Behavioral Hospital.

Just got home. Photo provided by author

But I ended up loving many of my fellow patients because I was admitted to the Women’s Unit. No, the facilities weren’t as nice nor the food as good as ECT Hospital, but the various group therapies were so. Much. Better.

They made a few changes to my medications, which my psychiatrist planned to do, anyway. I’ll see him on Friday, my therapist on Monday, and this Thursday, I have an in-take interview with an Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization Program (IOP/PHP). I describe this type of treatment in My Experience with Partial Hospitalization Programs. I’m actually looking forward to it, and should have done it after my last hospitalization earlier in March. But we had travel plans. Also, I don’t think ECT Hospital recommended that I go to IOP/PHP, so I didn’t explore that type of treatment.

First meal after discharge: Candy Apple French Toast from Over Easy. Photo provided by author

Well, it’s part of my aftercare this time around, and I think it’ll help me transition from being an inpatient back to being on the “outside.”

Have you gone to an IOP/PHP after being hospitalized, or even without having been hospitalized?

Daily Prompt: Explore

Marriage, Mental Illness & Blowups

Daily Prompt: Entertain via The Daily Post

5580809734_657f1a0622_zFrom Facebook’s On This Day Feature:

January 13, 2012
Near the end of our lunch time phone call.
Me: Are you mad?
My husband: No, it’s just, sometimes I feel like you don’t listen to me.
Me: Well…sometimes I don’t.

My husband and I met in grad school in the fall of 1999. We began dating that November, and one of the first things I told him is that I’m bipolar. I was stable when I started school, but once winter hit, I became depressed, which was no surprise, as that’s a tough season for me. (It also could have been “grad school depression”.) I wasn’t expecting the episode. My husband (then-boyfriend) was supportive.

We moved to Chicago in 2001, after he graduated. I had a year left to complete my thesis (I had finished my coursework), which I could do from home. Our first few years were rocky because we didn’t have much money; my husband just started a job with a stressful commute to the suburbs; and I was experiencing the highs and lows of bipolar, despite being in treatment.

My antics, mainly hurling accusations, were difficult for him to deal with. When we fought, I’d entertain the idea of self-harm as a way of coping (inappropriately), and often went through with it. This was difficult for him, as well.

At one point, I was hospitalized, though I can’t remember what for. After I was discharged, I ended up in a partial hospitalization program (PHP) at a hospital near my husband’s office, rather than in the city, where we lived. This was because left to my own devices, I probably wouldn’t have gone. So I had to drive to the suburbs with my husband every morning to go to PHP. The fights continued.

A non-profit organization called National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI, who did not ask me to mention them) in the US offers a free workshop for family members and friends of someone who has a mental illness. It’s called NAMI Family-to-Family. Around the time I finished PHP, my husband attended the workshop, and gained a deep understanding of what I was going through.

But I continually picked fights. Everything was his fault. My moods were his fault. That I couldn’t sleep was his fault. That I could no longer work (teaching) was his fault. You name it. Unfortunately, he would engage in my accusations, and my unfounded arguments would escalate into blowups. He would shut himself in the bedroom or hang up on me when I called him at work. His reactions made me angrier.

We didn’t want to split up, so we went to couples counseling. There, we learned how to use “I” language instead of “you” language. “I” language is used when there’s a conflict, and doesn’t put the other person on the defensive. “You” language is basically pointing your finger at the other person using words. Learning this and other communication techniques didn’t happen overnight, and we were in counseling for many years. I learned (and continue to learn) how to listen. We also both matured; and in individual therapy, I learned how to accept responsibility for my actions and my moods. I’m still learning.

I’m better at identifying my moods, and not blaming them on my husband. Instead, I tell him how I feel, and that the particular mood may cause me to become argumentative. We don’t have knock-down, drag-out fights anymore, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have disagreements. We discuss them calmly, and rarely do they escalate. No shouting. No doors slamming. No blowups.

I was afraid that when I told my husband that I’m bipolar, that he would dump me. Instead, he stuck by me for 18 years and counting, through all the ups and downs, highs and lows. Ours is the first stable relationship I’ve ever had. It isn’t perfect — do those even exist? — but couples counseling saved us. He is my rock. (To my husband: I love you.)

Have you been in a romantic relationship with someone who’s mentally ill? What was it like? If you have a mental illness, what have your relationships been like, or do you avoid them altogether?

Photo by PoppetCloset on / CC BY-NC-ND