Christmas is coming up in just a few short days. I feel less excited for it than I have in a long time. Due to last year's breakdown, which resulted in a raw roast chicken being thrown across the kitchen and an ambulance nearly being called, I am no longer permitted to cook a Christmas roast. After some six years of cooking everything for Christmas, spending a week planning and preparing and baking and cooking, I feel somewhat lost.
Part of it means less stress, which is a good thing, both with cooking and eating. Mum's never been one to really cook Christmas roasts, anyway. But for me, it's taken a lot of the magic out of Christmas. It's back to being just another day.
I've started learning how to drive this week. Since Sunday, I've had four lessons with mum supervising, all close to an hour each. As I'm over 21, I no longer need the 120 hours of practice before I can sit for my P plates, allowing me to drive solo. Instead, I can take the test whenever I feel ready.
However, there are a fear big fears, the reasons why I've put off learning how to drive, all related to my mental health.
The one that's playing on my mind the most? Once I know how to operate a car, even if I can't legally drive without a supervisor, there's a nagging fear that if I'm on the edge – whether it be feeling trapped at home, if we're arguing, if I want to barricade myself in a room, if there's a threat of calling an ambulance – I feel like I might jump in the car and run. Just to get away, especially if I'm manic or unstable.
You see, the car has always been a 'safe' way of going out into the world. It's like an extension of the house in my mind, and it doesn't threaten my agoraphobia in the same way as it does to be out in the world on my own two feet. Up until about a year ago, mum would take me on meandering drives daily to distract me or calm me down, and it always felt safe.
I talked to my GP about it on Wednesday. I explained the fear of running. There's also a fear that I could use a car as a means of suicide, driving off a cliff or speeding into a solid barricade. Much to my surprise (and my mother's horror), her advice was to make a plan, and find somewhere safe I can go to hide out and calm down. Somewhere I won't overdose or go over a cliff.
I'd expressed this fear to mum after my first drive. But when I told her of my GP's response, she was furious.
“But it's illegal!”
“But the danger!”
“But you won't be covered by insurance!”
Don't get me wrong – it's not something I'm actively planning to do, nor is my GP encouraging an illegal and dangerous situation. It's making a plan to stay as safe as possible in case it does happen. Just as we make plans for how to deal with other crises such as self-harm or overdosing, this is making a plan for if I lose control and find myself behind the wheel. It doesn't work to just say “Don't do that thing”. You still need a plan for if it does happen.
Keeping an eye on my medication is going to be a challenge over the next couple of weeks. As the pharmacy is closing for a few days here and there, they're delivering an entire week's worth of meds, instead of just three or four days. The more pills I have access to, the more likely I am to take them.
It's sad to see how far I've fallen. About two years ago, before I went to Webster packs, mum still had charge of my meds and put them in weekly containers. I remember trying to gain more independence over them, starting with the least dangerous one, which at the time was mirtazapine, one of the many antidepressants I've been on.
I was allowed to keep them in the medicine cabinet in the kitchen instead of them being hidden. I still remember, after popping the first week's dosage into the containers, I called out to mum, jokingly,
“Look! I just put out my antidepressants and didn't overdose!”
Now, I'm given a few day's worth at a time, already in their little package for each dose.
Finally, I would like to wish all of my lovely blogger friends a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I know it's not an easy time for a lot of us, and I'm always here to lend an ear if you need support, I'll help out as much as I can. Unfortunately, amongst the chaos of the past few months, I did not get around to doing my Christmas cards this year. But I would not have made it through were it not for the support of this wonderful community, which means more to me than I can ever express.