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“does bipolar go away?”

23 Feb

No. No, it doesn’t.

I don’t think that there ever was a time I didn’t have this disease in my brain. I think it was minimized, something I could control to some degree, something I could compensate for. But my extreme sensitivity as a child? My varying moods, my shyness-all things that could be normal in a child, but which seem, in hindsight, to be indicators, potentials.

Being molested by a neighbour, watching my mother slowly die over a number of years, only letting go when told there was no point anymore, trying to hold on to the splinters we called family-I can’t help but think these things, and puberty, forced the hand and took me from merely strange, to a little crazy.

I had a nasty habit of hitting things when angry. Things like thick wooden fences and concrete walls. I’d turn on friends in an instant, for no reason even I could discern. I’d shut myself off, blocking the world out for days.

I found lovely delicious drugs which liked me back.

I think most of my adolescence was spent in denial. Denying anything was wrong to any of the shrinks who saw me-pushing away anyone who might have wanted to help me.

What’s surprising is that Mogo was willing to be with the mess I was, and staying through all the late night accusations and needy MEMEME that involves so much of bipolar for me. Nothing was ever enough. I needed to be shown, I needed his love to be proved. As if staying with someone who’d sit in a bathtub running cold water when she was freaked out wasn’t proof enough.

Babies came. PPD came. My mind left.

There’s an awful sense of doom when you’re diagnosed and you realize that this is it. After years of not knowing what it was, years of Mogo saying “I think you might be manic-depressive” and me snapping “Fuck off-I’m not crazy”, years of pretending everything was ok and maintaining a life that was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, you suddenly think it will be ok. You have a reason.

But then you realize that that reason is a life sentence. You will never escape your disease. It IS you. It’s part of you, it’s formed you and in some ways, you’re at it’s mercy. You’ll take drugs for the rest of your life, and you’ll hope like hell they don’t stop working. You’re thankful that there are drugs that make you mostly normal.

Bipolar doesn’t go away. There’s no magic switch to turn on and off. There’s no secret formula to fix your brain. It just is. Cancer you can cure. You can get a new heart. Your brain? All you can do is drink a magic potion, and hope it works.

Do I wish there was a magic switch? Hells yes. I worry daily that the drugs won’t work-now that I’m on Lithium, and it works, and I can see the chaos I spawned and what the ultimate ending I was headed for I worry. Because my BPD, untreated, is a death sentence. If I was still untreated, it’s more than likely I would be dead by now. I could feel it building. It’s why the periodic feelings of “hey, swallow those pills/cut yourself” scare me so completely. Because they are still there, and I fear them. I fear that voice, and I fear, more than many things, returning to that state of living.

You don’t realize how bad those voices, those thoughts are, until they’re not there. Every day, for years, I thought of dying. Of taking my own life. Those thoughts became friends-bad friends, but friends nonetheless. They were always there.

Now, living without them is such clear bliss that I would have trouble going back to living with them in my head everyday.

I wish it would go away. I wish I didn’t have to take 4 pink pills every night. I wish I didn’t have to worry about my children, how I’m affecting them, if they’ve inherited it. I wish I didn’t have to worry about my husband, who has spent far too many days wondering where his wife went, and if she was going to survive. I wish I could say I’ll never be hospitalized ever again.

I wish, I wish….but at the end of the day, it’s not going away. So we pick ourselves up, and soldier on, hoping we stay strong, yet preparing daily for the worst.

The bubble of crazy

25 Aug

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my stay in the mental ward in July.

I haven’t talked about it as much as I likely should because I found it, in some ways, traumatic. Only REALLY crazy people go there, right? What was a girl like me doing trying to eat her lunch around a guy talking loudly on the communal phone about pre-cum, spitting as he spoke?

I feel alone in groups of people, much like we all do. (oh woe! our poor angsty existance! I’m so alone and special!) But the alone I felt in that hospital was so different. I was not like these people-I was not lying about my condition, I hadn’t been there for 6 months, and wasn’t riding it for all it was worth, taking up a bed. I didn’t need to be reminded to shower. I was scared of where I was, because at the end of the day, I didn’t feel that crazy.

I don’t know how to “act” crazy either-it’s a fine line between just crazy enough and too crazy, one that you don’t want to cross. If I was moderately happy, would they take that to mean I was ok like so many other people had? I don’t know how to honestly show my moods, since for so long, I’ve had to ignore them, cover them up, or make them something else entirely. It was hard-it was hard to open up and just be the person I really was, let the raw emotion take hold. To sit in my room, crying for no reason as I lay there, realizing that I used to do that all the time, when I had the time.

Realizing that most of our lives are an attempt to stay busy so we don’t really feel anything. I was confronted with the one thing I didn’t know how to handle. Me.

Trouble was, in many ways, I seemed like the most together one there, the one most able to compensate and handle real life. So what value is sitting in a room full of people who can’t stop talking, let alone live on their own? People who like being institutionalized. What value was this to me?

What value is there in learning to live in a bubble?


18 Jul

To tell you the truth, that initial Thursday is a blur of Diet Pepsi, corn twists and crossword puzzles. I hated leaving my room. I felt itchy and uncomfortable if made to walk down the halls to get something. I felt out of place, stared at.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone in my life. There is something so sterile and lonely about the mental ward. The pale peach peeling wallcovering, the carpet laid in tiles in case, well, just in case. The voices, grating or silent, that teeter and recover constantly in and out, looking for that one place they belong, that one place where it will all make sense.

Sitting with the knowledge that I had a bond to those very people was something difficult, almost impossible to swallow. I didn’t want to be like them! They’re NUTBARS! I’m not crazy I’m just….well, a little different, right? I could distance myself from them if I stayed in my room, if I became irritated with them. If I believed they were less than me, that their value was less than mine. I overhead one patient filling out a form and mentioning he only had grade nine-GRADE NINE!-and I felt superior. For a second, until I realized that I am very lucky to function as well as I do, that I am lucky to feel like a failure to have dropped out of university in my first year. Suddenly I realized that I was a LOT more like these people than I ever wanted to be.

I started to think about me, and who I was as I sat on that uncomfortable little spring mattress, made for midgets, with little tags to remind you what end should be where each quarter. (I moved the mattress on purpose to “screw the man over”, whatever that would mean. Sparse rebellion is my life) I realized that my life wasn’t anything I believed it to be. I constantly alienate people. I’m foul and mean. I’m bossy. I don’t like to listen to other people. I like to talk. A lot.

Everything about the people on the ward which irritated me, were things that I also do to others.

But I was also dirty, and smelly, and felt greasy from sleeping in the same clothes for 2 days, clothes which had been damp from waiting for the bus in the pouring rain on my way to the hospital, and had already begun to stink then. That ingrained dirt you worry you’ll never get off. The smell of other people and cleansers that likely won’t biodegrade.

I asked to go home as the doctor did her 20 minute probe for what was going on. “No, I don’t like other people” “Yes, I’m feeling better, and don’t want to hurt myself right now” “Yes, I’d like to go home”

I was allotted 2 hours. I took cabs so I wouldn’t waste time.

I was afraid of my children, and how they’d feel, and one look at their reaction reminded me why it was good that I went to the ER that one night instead of swallowing a bottle of pills. They were out of sorts with me, just off, in that way a parent knows, that mommy radar. They were obviously mad and confused with me, had missed me.

I took a shower and loved every bloody minute of it. I grabbed clothes, books, Alice Munroe and Octavia Butler, my journals. Pens. Underwear. Something to remind me of me. I smelled the house I called home, and didn’t want to leave.

But I did, and found on my way back to the hospital that I had been holding my breath it seemed the entire time I was at home. I had been holding something in so fiercely for so long, I hadn’t even noticed. Holding my truths in, my fear, my weakness. It builds up until there is no room for anything any longer, and your eyes can’t hold back the tides. Home wasn’t safe for me there, not yet.

I crawled back to my room, and felt like dying. I was betraying my family, and feared that one day, my leaving really would be permanent. It scared me so. And I’d look around and see all these men and women who had brought their family to ruin, chased them off, warded them away, cursed them. I could be them-I could succumb to my illness and relax into a world of hospitals and drugs and ativan and haldol and just float away.

Or, I could fight.

Wednesday the First

15 Jul

I was woken dazed and dopey Wednesday morning by someone demanding I wake up for medication. This followed a familiar pattern the entire week-me not knowing what time meds came, and them not really calling. They finally started announcing the meds later in the week.

I grabbed a breakfast tray. Cream of Wheat. I put the tray back and decided junk food would suffice for breakfast instead. Corn twists in hand, and headed straight back for my room, my need to hide, find a den, strong and overwhelming. I needed to be somewhere that I could keep my back against the wall.

The room was set up as a larger room with 4 “pods” radiating off it. I was 4d. Next to 4a was a long streak of blackened vomit. Only after I heard my shrink chastising another patient and saying ‘Well Chloe, this is what happens when you eat a handful of Seroquel” did I get it. Chloe was suicidal, rather butch looking, and seemed to be in and out of the lock down area. She was so very angry, which I could have handled. What I couldn’t handle was the bloody Eminem that blared from her headphones constantly, cheap headphones that let more sound out than it kept in.

4b held Eunice, a nervous looking woman who never really explained why she was there, and who left a day or so after I arrived. She was very much a mother. She sent herself a beautiful bouquet of flowers, but signed the name of a daughter who wouldn’t speak to her. I was jealous of the flowers.

In 4c was Jane. Jane had been in the ward since April, and seemed proud of that fact. She seemed to have no real desire for improvement, instead finding some sort of comfort within the never changing routines. She also had some sort of disability, MS or a palsy. She was very clingy and manipulative to people who would let her. I found her incredibly irritating-her manner of speech was clipped, and almost forced into sounding broken. She was constantly bumming cigarettes off someone. She sprayed oodles of hairspray, and whined constantly that she couldn’t do a thing with her hair. Cause we were all there to impress after all.

I stayed huddled in my pod, and imagined that this was a glimpse into what prisoners felt. Not the same, but very similar. I started feeling like a caged rabbit, hated knowing I was being watched. When I walked down any hall, I could feel the small black orbs staring at me. At night, I could feel the flashlights on my skin. There was no real privacy-even the bathroom was shared and was so absolutely echoey that any business taking place was shared with everyone in the larger area.

People didn’t flush. People left lights on. People talked. People did, well, people things.

Truth be told, Wednesday was a mad rush of doing nothing. There was nothing to do. Later in the day they had movie night, and the nurse kept urging me to go. After the 5th speech about not liking to be around people, she finally got the hint. I sat in my bed, solving nearly unsolvable crosswords puzzles, wondering what was so wrong with me that life had come to this.

I could no longer run from what was wrong. I had to stop and face that I was sick, period. Not a bit messed up, but sick, broken. I had gotten through life with a combination of charm, wit, will and pure stubbornness, luck really. I had become good at compensating for my issues, and had adjusted to my moods. I had become a woman apologizing for her abuser.

And I could not do this any longer.

That first Tuesday

13 Jul

Something about that day turned it into a bad one.

Nothing happened. No new stress. No problems. But a mess of a month-mania morphing to depression morphing to blinding rage and back to mania. I can barely remember June clearly.

But I remember the nervous bus ride to the hospital, the anxious flutter in my stomach, the voice telling me I could always run away. It poured rain as I waited for the bus, fittingly. At least if it rained, no one could see me crying.

In my head I reviewed what I would say when I got to the ER desk, the ways in which I could say it. My 15 year old self clamoured for attention and told me I was only looking for attention, normal people don’t say they want to kill themselves out loud. Normal people.

I need your help because I want to die.

I want someone to help me before I kill myself.

I will kill myself without help.

I don’t remember which one I actually used, but I was comforted by the fact that the nurse didn’t bat an eye, and continued to be friendly and soothing to me as my eyes filled up with unbidden tears at the terror, the fear, the ache I felt.

At first the triage nurse made it seem that there was nothing for me there, nowhere to put me, and I blubbered “I just didn’t know what else to do” and she figured out why I was confused, and clarified things-I just needed to wait, could I wait? I sat crocheting a baby blanket as my hands shook, not looking around. People would be able to tell that I wasn’t really sick, that I was just mental. They would know.

I got in quickly. And when that first doctor was kind to me, I fell apart into hysterical sobbing to the point that I couldn’t breathe. The Ativan came quickly then, and I fell into a lulled quiet as I waited for the shrink to see me.

Time passed, not long, not short. Just time. I lay on the bed thinking ‘I’m ok, really-I can go home”. But I knew I was past going home. I had committed to this course of action, and even in my weak drugged state, I knew this to be true. I stared at the rubber gloves, the tongue depressors, all the things to protect doctors from the germs their patients carried. Were they protected from me? Did they laugh later, thinking about the sad fat girl who snivelled her way through a conversation?

When the shrink came, and I had to recite the pertinent details of my life for the 400th time ever, I felt a tiredness roll over me. I nakedness I cared not about. She reminded me of someone I had worked with long ago, bossy, old, crinkled. Not for the first time, she mentioned how tight space was on the ward, the hidden message being that I should be grateful to be received.

Someone brought me to the psych ward. I don’t remember who. I remember they tried to make me laugh, and I couldn’t even play along. Coming into the ward, was just like many of the movies you’ve seen. A common area for eating and TV. Someone rocking back and forth, someone talking incessantly. Someone sad. I signed my life away, made some toast, and laid down in my room.

Victory is Mine! I’m home!

12 Jul

I asked, and looked healthy, sounded well, and here I am.

I won’t be writing much right now, but will later. I did want to answer one question though.

There wasn’t anything to do on that ward. You spoke for 15-20 minutes to your doctor, perhaps your nurse through the day. Once a week they had what was basically arts and crafts for an hour, and had hour long sessions about “healthy minds” for a hour 3 times weekly. Otherwise- you watched TV, you read, you ate, you stared at walls, you did what you could to avoid the boredom.

It’s one case where my illness isn’t talking.

As I said, I have notes and notes and thoughts that I’ll be wandering through later.

I want to go home

11 Jul

Now. I want to leave. Now.

It’s not bad enough that my doctor does “quick rounds” and somehow forgets to see me before leaving. It’s not bad enough that some gross little child sits on the communal phones ALL.DAY.LONG. and talks about sex, right down to things dripping while people try to eat (He’s the verbal equivilent of sex spam-and about as intelligent. How he gets any thing beyond a mole rat to go near him is beyond me). It’s not bad enough the girls on their period don’t flush the fucking toilet.

I’m bored. I’m bored as shit and I want to go home. I hate this. I sit there all day-where the fuck is the help in that? I sit, and stare at the wall, do a puzzle, crochet, read, get a coffee, stare some more. That is is. This is treatment? How is this helping me, except to make me feel more helpless and alone than I already did?

This isn’t a vacation-this is a short version of my personal hell, and I can’t figure out for the life of me what I did to deserve it. Not only am I surrounded by people, something I have difficulty with at the best of times, I’m surrounded by what must be the WORST most irritating people I’ve ever seen. Even trying to have a brief phone call home last night was interrupted by someone who could just sit the fuck down and wait. But I know if I bite back, it will bite ME in the ass since apparently, acting human isn’t something you should do. However, if I was annoying and inappropriate, things would likely be ok.

I just want to go home-I want out of here. I want out. They must be able to treat me as an outpatient or something cause honestly, just being here is making me depressed.

And to top it off, it feels like all the psychiatrists are the type of girls I hated in high school-rich little things who’ve never had a care in the world. What do they know about pain?

Bad Day

10 Jul

Today is a bad day.

Sometimes I feel like I’ll never get out of here-like I’ll be crazy forever and Mogo will be lost to me, the girls lost to me. I feel like I’ll never find a quiet place of my own ever again, that I’ll never find me again in all of this shit and dirt and mess.

Mogo brought the girls to see me, and I wish I had felt better about the visit. But I was already cycled into depressed and vulnerable, and for some reason, their visit only made it worse. I feel horribly guilty for leaving them in the lurch, for not getting better quicker, for doing this to them. It’s not fair. I’m doing what I can. But it doesn’t feel like I am. I feel like people think I’m on vacation, relaxing in my room.

I’m lonely. I’m desperately alone, and sad in there. I’m tired of the noise-the god-dammed racket! The shitty ass food. The people who won’t be quiet, who smell my hair, or just plain weird ME out (that is quite the accomplishment). I’m tired of being crazy, and feeling helpless to fix it.

Mostly, I’m terrified at what we’ll do if I have to be in here much longer. This needs to get fixed soon, or at least fixed enough so I can pretend to be better. The weight of real life and expectation sits heavy on my shoulders, and I can’t ignore it much longer.

So much for summer vacation huh? Not that it’s very summery out-it’s fucking rainy and grey and miserable. AGAIN.


9 Jul

So I had to refuse a drug today.

After returning from my weekend at home and mentioning that I had been low level, Eeyore like depressed all weekend, the doctor snuck something onto my chart.

The dreaded Celexa monster.

There is no way in hell I am taking that again. Do you have any idea what it’s like to have ZERO release for your self, to be unable to cry or orgasm or really let go in anyway?

It does not help me in the long run. It makes the people around me feel better, but it leaves me feeling like there’s a little girl trapped inside me screaming to be let out. It’s frustrating, and ultimately counterproductive. I will not take it. I will stamp my feet like a 2 year old if need be.

I’m bored again, but after the weekend, I felt that I was better off coming back here than staying home. I felt too troubled.

8 Jul

I have to go back today.

I don’t want to. Or I do. I’m not sure. I could be there another day, or another week.

It’s safe there, quiet, I have my own space where no one touches me, no one speaks to me, no one is on me constantly.

It’s tempting to want to stray there. But it’s not real.

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace

7 Jul

Amelia Earhart said that a long time ago. I’ve always admired that woman-her pluck, her drive, her sheer willfulness to fly. She just always seemed like an incredible individual, someone you’d love to just be around, just to absorb some of her energy by osmosis.

I am not brave. I show no courage. I crave life-the simple, primitive animal will to life. It is not bravery to be a stubborn bastard and refuse to lie down and let this illness take me.

I sat in group one day and listened to women talk about not being able to get out of bed they were so depressed. When my turn came, and they asked about what I did, I said

“I just get out of bed. I don’t have a choice.”

 I have never sat in bed moaning over my state. I’ve gotten up and done my thing, regardless of mood. But again, not bravery. Just life. We need to eat-I need to work. Looking at those women, I couldn’t help but judge and think that maybe they found it easier to succumb to their sickness, easier to believe that they really couldn’t get up and go. I couldn’t help but think less of them. They weren’t brave at all.

Maybe they can’t be, and that’s fine. But I realized sitting there-I am not one of them. I am pretending. I am willful and stubborn and strong, and I will never sit there wondering why I can’t get out of bed. I always get out of bed-I always get moving. Life always moves me forward.

I took my steps to hospitalization because I had to. It was that, or die. And I truly wanted to die the other day-it seemed so simple and painless. Just go-just disappear, and never cause anyone a lick of harm ever again. I took those steps because I do not want my premonition of not living past 30 to come true. I took those steps because having my kids grow up with the ghost of a crazy mother really isn’t an option.

It’s not courage, it’s not bravery. It’s life. It’s the capacity for adjustment and movement, the ability to let go when you need to. And something has changed in me now, a peace has come over parts of me, a calm gentle space where it’s warm and full of lavender.

I’m living my life-trying to live it instead of just watching it. I’m documenting all of this in case one person, even just one, is hurting and sad and finds it and realizes that it really isn’t that bad to stop and ask for help. We aren’t solitary animals-so why do we act the part?

What, me scared?

6 Jul

In the comments somewhere, Eden asked a question that has stuck with me for the past few days.

Why was I so scared to go into the hospital?

I really wasn’t sure myself-I’ve just always had this guttural fear of being considered crazy enough to be hospitalized, like it would leave a mark on me that would always be there, that it would break me, or turn me into an unthinking, unfeeling person. I’d rather feel too much than too little.

There’s also the matter that on a certain level, hospital=death. Nothing good has ever come from a hospital. My mother spent many, many days lying weak in her bed, skin yellow, with me sitting with her, not knowing what to say, but knowing not to make trouble, not to make too much noise. My mother came home to die, but we said our final goodbyes in a dingy hospital room one late April afternoon.

That smell is everywhere, in everything. I’m sitting at home and I can still feel it on my skin-it’s that greenish hue, the grey mint stench that I’ll need to wash off myself later. And it’s this smell that, more than anything, scares me. It’s everything in my childhood that terrified me and saddened me, everything that signified my time as a child coming to an end. It’s the big bad WRONG in my life.

And let’s face it. No one wants to be the crazy person. So long as I could pull of real life by myself, so long as I could continue my myth of “I don’t need no stinkin’ help”, I wasn’t crazy. A little bent, but not lost to the world. Admitting to myself that I needed more help than I could give myself was a sign of weakness, and for awhile, I couldn’t afford to be weak. Quite honestly, a lot of it was my need, my wish for someone to take the time to notice that I wasn’t as ok as I pretended to be, that having it together at 12 or 13 was a big fat smelly lie. I wanted someone to pay attention to me for once, and ask if I was ok, if I needed help. I grew tired of having to call out for attention so much.

All I’ve ever wanted in my life was for someone to play the role of my mother, and watch out for me, help me when I was sick, allow me the pleasure of weakness. But I haven’t had this in a very long time. Capitulating this need to someone else is one of the hardest things I’ve done in a very long while.

I was scared because at the heart of it all, I’m still just a scared little girl curled up in a ball in the corner. Allowing someone inside to help her out meant exposing her to the daylight, melting the broken wings that kept her so firmly anchored to the ground.

But it seems that finally, that little girl is being allowed to leave her cage, and move on. It couldn’t come at a better time.

oh, and my new med is…

6 Jul

Epival AKA Carbamazepine AKA Tegerol AKA Valproic Acid

Why the hell do these things have 4 million names? Jebbus….

A question…sorta

6 Jul

Are crazy people deaf? Cause I swear to CRAP the TV on the ward is at FULL volume all freaking day long. I had to eat breakfast to an Avril Lavigne remix this morning.

Needless to say, I did not enjoy said breakfast.

Hoping for a weekend pass so I can get out of here. At this point, being around people is making me irritable and annoyed, and not doing much for my headspace. I’m going to put on my best pouty girl face and hope for discharge. At least if I can get out for the weekend, I can get groceries and see the air show.

And for some bloody reason, all the chicks in my room seem obsessed with hairspray-what is that? Did I fall into a void and come out in 1987? I mean really-it’s the mental ward-there’s no one to impress.

On a good note, lots of time to crochet a friends baby blanket. So at least ONE of her babies will have one by August.

I’m ok, really. I’m bored, I’m full of thoughts and unable to articulate them right now, I’m frustrated but I’m not wanting to die. That’s a step up from lately.

And now, all I can think about is diarrhea and sex toys. Not the mental image I needed. Thanks Eden. 😛

Serenity Now

5 Jul


First, I’m more than overwhelmed at all of your support with this. As someone who doesn’t feel much of a need for people IRL, it surprised me to log on briefly last night at the hospital and see so much love and support.

Thank you. When I have more time, I’ll write a real post. Right now, I’m on a 2 hour pass to get some clothing and pit stick(not to mention shower and brush my teeth. Not a fan of communal bathrooms)

I’m….better. Not perfect, not quite well. But ages away from where I was on Tuesday. I’m still having my moments-but most of those are triggered by the other people in the ward (I mean really, is it necessary to slather yourself in the SMELLIEST creme you can find?) or by the inefficiencies on the ward. (Cause when you’re sick, you’re gonna remember to ask when meals are brought out)

I spend most of my time in my cell like room, reading, crocheting, doing puzzles. The nurses keep trying to convince me to hang out in the common area, but really, the last thing I need right now is the irritant of strangers, especially crazy one.

It’s the total stereotype of a psych ward, right down to the guy who thinks he talks to god (and stares at my chest). Most of these people NEVER.SHUT.THE.FUCK.UP. Which drives me nuts. Nothing like a 20 minute onrunning monologue about how someone is the amateur champion of judo to make you want to poke your eardrums out.

So I’ve retained my sense of humour and general irritation with the human race at the very least.

I’m writing stuff down in my room so I can actually post about the experience when I return, whenever that is. I hate interrupting lives as I have, mine, Mogo’s, my bosses. But for once, I realize I need to do this or I really won’t survive.

So thank you-all of you, even those of you who are a HUGE pain in the ass. (You know who you are *coughJenCough*) Much appreciated.

P.S. Ativan RULES.