Staying in the emergency room for a day and a half did nothing to ease my anxiety, not only about relinquishing control over my life but also admitting that I really need help. It allowed for a lot of contemplation, and a lot of worry. Going into the hospital last year really tested everything that I had inside me.
When I finally arrived – after an hour-long ride strapped in an ambulance – I was surrounded by an environment that I didn’t understand. My instincts went into overdrive, and I don’t think that my panic has ever been stronger. I sat there just thinking of how I could get out of there to go back and go through the mundane steps of my life. But there I was, and I had no choice but to look forward.
Something that people don’t tell you when you go into the hospital, even willingly, is that you don’t control when they deem you are ready to get out.
The activities with the strange people that I met made me feel extremely disassociated from reality. We worked on different therapy techniques and were allowed the freedom to practice fun activities like drawing, or writing. The greatest gift that was bestowed upon me was a notebook so that I could start distracting myself from my surrounding.
I will say that the best part of being there was sharing my experiences and learning from the experiences of others. There was a wide array of different people there, all with their own baggage. While at first, I was stand-offish to the experience and the people, I started to open up in group, and started sharing during our free time.
After two days I started to feel the fog lift. The seriousness of what I had been through started to seep in, and my brain started thinking of everything I needed to do once I got home. I spent my time there learning about myself with others and working on my first book. I hand-wrote 100 pages, or more, and it was so therapeutic.
When I finally got the okay to go home, my whole body buzzed with excitement. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to start my life once I got out, but I think that getting acclimated to my meds and taking a pause from the every day life that pushed me over the edge got me to a turning point in my recovery.
Being diagnosed bipolar was something that I really didn’t expect, and totally took me by surprise. I didn’t think of myself as someone who was out of control, and never really thought that there was something in my brain working against me. But I guess that’s how it can work right?
The fact that I saw other’s around me have unsuccessful relationships with doctors and attempts with medications in terms of mental illnesses, on top of the stigma I already had in my mind that there just couldn’t be something that wrong with me, I had a difficult time accepting this conclusion.
On top of that, I had already jumped head first into treatment with the psychiatrist that my doctor had referred me to – and here was I was with a conclusion that I hadn’t expected and wasn’t all that thrilled about. I had two options. I could tell the doctor to fuck off, that there was no way her diagnosis was accurate. Or, I could follow through with the plan that I had set myself on to see where it would take me.
I guess the thought that really pushed me towards getting help was the realization that I had been going through my life with no assistance thus far, and I was still feeling so terrible every day, and things were still falling apart. Seeking medical help seemed to be the one avenue that I hadn’t tried out, and it honestly made sense for me to give it a try. So, I gritted my teeth, and went forward with it.
Something that every medical professional will warn you about, or should warn you about, is that a lot of medications meant to treat depression, or the antipsychotic medicine they can prescribe you to treat bipolar disorder, can make your sense of depression or hopelessness worse before it actually does its job and makes you feel better. Oh, and my favorite, it can make you more suicidal. Appropriate, right?
It was probably a week or so into the new medication when my mind snapped. I had come home from work for two nights straight and sat with a kitchen knife staring at my arm, just thinking about how easy it would be to get it over with. There was still a small voice breaking through telling me how stupid that was, though.
It was the night that I finally cut into my arm that I called my mom and told her that I needed to go to the hospital because I couldn’t trust myself while I was getting acclimated to this new medication. I was lucky enough to not do any damage; the best way that I can explain it is that I cut into my arm to try and feel something. And, as faint as it was, the alarm went off in the back of my mind to reach out for help. I am lucky that I did so. It was then that I would commit myself into the hospital for a little under a week, and give myself a chance to get used to the medication as well as press pause on everything that was causing my mind undue stress.
Time to fast forward a bit so I can give you guys a picture of what I have been living with all these years, and so you can see the culmination of almost ten years of up-and-down chaos come to a stop. All I can say is that now, looking back on everything and understanding myself and the circumstances, I can make a more concerted effort to be a better, more appreciative version of myself than before. That’s how I want to live and have been trying to push to live my life, in the past year and a half or so.
Back in 2016, I was in the throws of a deep depression. Well, correction, it was more of an up-and-down rollercoaster. This was a pattern I was familiar with, or I guess that the people closest to me were familiar with. Since my vision was so clouded by the thoughts that my mind convinced me were real and important, I thought that I was a self-realized person. And, in comparison to a lot of cases, I was. Unfortunately, my ability to convince myself that I was smart enough to know everything that was going on and keep an eye on it myself had kept me away from doctor’s and away from anyone who could have potentially helped me any sooner.
Anyways, the erratic behavior that my family and friends had seemingly grown accustomed to had started to resurface in a volatile manner. I chopped my hair even shorter. I dyed it blonde…again. Then it was blue. Then, it was purple. I was chain smoking. I spent a couple nights drinking by myself. I started spending money, recklessly. These were all just external examples of the way I was trying to control my body because I felt like everything was spinning out of control.
I spent everyday on the up-up-up to get through work. Logistics is a tough industry and requires a lot of energy and attention to detail to get through it. I was able to throw energy into it to get through the day. For the most part, the hysteria or the complete empty feelings that gnawed at my insides were kept at bay while I was at work and had to focus on these tasks.
But as soon as I left, the distraction was gone, and the feelings settled in. And I was in for a long night. I had finally sought out the help from my general doctor to start getting to the bottom of whatever was going on with me. I figured it was a minor case of depression, perhaps with a side of anxiety. I figured that’s all it could be, and I knew so many other people who were affected with variations of the same.
The process with medication started off slow, but I was open-minded to it. You’ll have to keep in mind that I had already spent ten years neglecting that anything was wrong. By this time, I had reached out for help, I was ready to accept what they had to offer.
So – as I said, the process started off slow with the medication specifically geared towards depression and anxiety. It took weeks of testing out different medicines and their side effects, and then moving over to a psychiatrist to start narrowing down that it wasn’t just depression and anxiety, there was something else at work.