I think the most unexpected thing about prolonged bedrest is the toll it takes on your mental health. I spend a good 70% of the day on my own, my husband and father in law go to work and my mother in law is busy downstairs. She is an octogenarian with a bad hip and so has her own issues with the stairs and physically can’t be coming up and down very often. So a lot of the early weeks were spent learning how to deal with the sudden loneliness and enforced confinement.
The pain is also intense. My EDS started to effect my hips so quickly that it feels like I blinked and suddenly lost the ability to walk unaided. The pain across my hips and pelvis varies due to a variety of factors; how much I have done through the day, whether or not I’ve been outside to the hospital, if I’ve had to encounter stairs at any point, the heat, how much sleep I managed to get the previous night etc. There is a constant baseline of pain that sometimes spikes to white hot flashes of pain that take my breath away. Constant pain also takes a toll on your mental health, so I’ve had to learn how to deal with this also. It feels like I’m being tortured, but I don’t know what the information is they’re trying to get out of me. Believe me I’d give it up if I could.
Lack of sleep is also a factor. In the beginning I found it hard to get any sleep at all. It got so bad that I started seeing things. Have you ever had those dreams that bleed through into real life? I would lie in bed at night and watch the curtains sword fighting. Or Queen singing Bohemian Rhapsody at me from my ceiling. (I’ve never done drugs, is this what they’re like?) So learning how to sleep through the pain was also a top priority.
Things That Helped:
- Technology: Skype is a godsend. Being able to chat and see someone at the same time was invaluable. My mum and I would Skype and I would just lie there trying to cope and would watch my mum cooking. It was soothing and really helped with he loneliness. Whatsapp too, being able to be in contact with friends, at my own speed was so important.
- Structure: Long, seemingly endless nights that bled into long seemingly endless days was all set to send me into a full blow existential crisis. I needed structure. This arrived in the form of enforced snacking. I am dealing with Gestational Diabetes with this pregnancy and am finding it very difficult to keep my blood sugar up, so have been having to eat six times a day. This meant I could split my day up in to small chunks. I could create a sort of schedule to help me get through the day. If you’d like to hear more about this let me know because I think I may create an entire post on this.
- Preparation: It may seem self evident, but gather everything you might possibly need throughout the day. First thing in the morning. That way as the day goes on and it got more difficult to move I knew I had everything I needed within reach. This includes any medication, books, laptop, phone, water bottle etc
- Sustenance: Speaking of water bottles, this is essential, again I may do a whole post on this point but make sure you get a really robust water bottle, and if you’re spending a lot of time lying down like I am a water bottle that can be drunk upside down is a godsend. Also make sure you have some snacks squirrelled away, nuts, trail mixes, small bags of popcorn are all brilliant for this.
- Meditations: Ok stop rolling your eyes, I was hesitant too. But I looked into hypnobirthing in preparation for labour and listening to the mediation tracks at night really helped me to finally, FINALLY, fall asleep at night. I’m still only getting a few hours but the difference this has made to my mental health is incredible. Sleep is so important. They also help with any points during the day that I start to feel panicky. Just tuning out and focusing on my breathing for twenty minutes can help bring me back into a better headspace.
- Windows: This is an odd one. But my bedroom has net curtains. (Not my choice, personally I’ve never been a fan.) Like full on nailed to the window frame net curtains. This intensified the claustrophobia. Nothing makes you feel more trapped like not being able to see the sky. One day I snapped and pulled them from the window. It was either that or I was going through the window. Now I can spend ages just staring at the trees and watching the birds. It has made such a difference to my headspace.
I hope you found some of these tips helpful. Let me know if you’d like me to expand on anything! Ten weeks and counting…