This blog is not FDA approved
Last winter, I found myself in a lock down situation in a hospital. It wasn’t my first visit to a psychiatric ward–it won’t be my last. It was one of my longer stays–almost three weeks–because I was suicidal when I went in and they don’t like to release you after a short period of time when you are suicidal.
I find one of the more amusing things they ask when you are doing your intake and later, as they check on you, is the question, “How do you plan on taking your life?”. “Well, if I tell you, you’ll find a way to stop me. Silly doctors! That’s my little secret!!” For some reason, they don’t find that answer as witty as I do. Go figure.
Having bipolar disorder is a defining chunk of my personality, of my life. It runs how I live each day…will I be chipper and ready to take on the world or will I lie in bed, unable to think of words much less type them. Eric asked me two weeks ago to write this piece, and here I sit, the day before it’s due, trying to make sense of the thoughts careening in my head, trying to describe what it is that I have, what I feel, how I survive.
I have a disease that I share with around 2.6% of the population of the United States. I have Type I, or, classic Manic Depression. My highs are HIGH–I can’t sleep, I overspend (thank you, my beloved money manager, for controlling that part of my life), I don’t eat, I suck the energy out of a room as I bounce around, being witty and bright. Then, I crash. Hard. I lie in bed for days or weeks or, in one bad spell after my divorce, for months. I’m unable to think, to move, to do anything but cry and eat and sleep. I’d wake up, get my kids off to school and collapse onto the floor some days. I’d lie there all day until the timer went off, telling me the kids were on their way home. At that point, I’d force myself up, greet them, fix snacks, oversee homework, then let them play while I stayed on the sofa, alternately sleeping and crying.
I survived that bout. My children survived it, too. Name Redacted (my ex) was never understanding of BPD. He would say in an exasperated voice, “Can’t they DO something, I mean, it’s all in your head!!” Really? I had no idea. My stints in hospital were met with anger and eventually, while I was having my many meds readjusted, he had his girlfriend (who’d been a friend of mine) call to tell me they were now a couple. Oh, and good luck. Thankfully, I was in the safest place I could have been at the moment…at the nurses station in the psych ward.
I continue to survive, day by day. My children stand next to me, ready to support me in good times and bad. I hate they have to be in that position. To have your babies holding your hand and stroking your head while you sit on a table in a hospital gown sobbing so hard you can’t breathe–it’s not fair to them. My disorder has been complicated by the type of cancer I had a few years ago. Dealing with cancer on your own and trying to manage BPD almost killed me.
My son, who has Asperger’s, really had a difficult time on occasion when I was at the peak of a swing, and his Asperger’s was still undiagnosed and we both struggled to live with the other. One morning, he climbed a tree (he was 10) to avoid going to school. I was tired of arguing, tired of begging, tired of being responsible for two children when I couldn’t be responsible for myself, so, I did was seemed a logical way to deal with this situation: I got the hose out (it was September) and I hosed him out of the tree. Soaked him thoroughly until he climbed gingerly down and continued to spray him until he ran into the house yelling he’d get ready. The whole time, I had the hose in one hand and a cup of coffee that I sipped out of in the other.
I honestly believe I was insane that morning. Although we laugh about it now, my laugh is tinged with sadness and shame. I am fortunate he forgave me.
My bathroom cabinet is full of medication that I take at certain times. I can’t list the number of meds I’ve had in the last 25 years since I was diagnosed. The ones that worked best I continue to take and I worry about the day I grow complacent and think I don’t need them anymore because I’m well!! The ones that didn’t work could fill a 33 gallon trash can. The worst offender? Lithium. Oh, it worked, it worked beautifully. Controlled my moods, kept me in check. It also made me feel as if I was living in a bowl of cold oatmeal–heavy, grey, listless. That feeling actually spoiled my love of real oatmeal. I went off, had an episode and new meds were introduced.
My journal is full of ramblings, rants, meaningless babble and intense pieces of fiction that I do not show to anyone. It reflects my ups and downs and the times where I have a brief lull, where I catch my breath and ready myself for the next bout. Unfortunately, the lulls are too short and too far apart from each other.
Do I have a suicide plan? Yes, I do. Will I follow that plan? I can’t say I won’t. I certainly hope I continue to move along not wanting to go to that place where I don’t care if I die or not. Where my attachments to this place and the people here don’t matter. Where all I want is peace, just a wee bit of peace.
Fingers crossed I continue to be able to become depressed and not go to that place. If I don’t, well, I can only help I’ll be forgiven. Thing is, when I’m in that spiritual void, I don’t care if anyone forgives me or approves or anything else. That’s what drives the plan–not a wish to die, it is simply I don’t give a shit if I live. So far, I’ve asked for help in time. I’ve avoided death and I’ve avoided EST. I’m grateful for those miracles.
Thank you, Eric, for allowing me to open up on this subject. There is so much more to say, so much more to try and explain. The best thing you can do for someone with BPD is try and understand, be supportive, and make sure you control the money. Understand that most of us are very bright and can be extremely creative. Cling to the fact we do love you, even as we rant at you during a fight. Be kind. Please.