After four days of being hospitalized and pumped full of medicines, the powers that be felt I wasn’t a threat to myself and ready to go home. They sent me home with instructions to see a psychiatrist to regulate my medication, a therapist to talk to and a two-week outpatient program at another hospital. My Mom took a week off of work to be home with me as I adjusted to all the change. I went home in a fog of confusion. They gave me medications so it would quiet my mind and keep my moods stable. I guess you could say that it worked because I felt nothing and I had no motivation to do anything. It’s like walking around as a zombie with no real purpose or feelings. I’m not sure what is worse, battling myself or feeling empty inside. At first I did what was instructed and even completed the outpatient program that was basically like the inpatient ward except we came for the day and went home to sleep. Because I felt so little inside, I didn’t do much. I would sleep all day, stay in my pajamas and only leave my room to eat, use the bathroom and smoke.
At some point I couldn’t handle being a zombie, I HAD to feel something, so I did what most Bipolar patients do, I stopped taking my medicine from time to time. I was still in denial that I had this terrible disorder after all. This sent me on a manic phase of euphoria. I felt unstoppable and free. I started to get into some risky business. Because the pain inside me was caused by some men in my life I was ready to try to fill the hole in my heart by hanging out at bars. Looking for trouble. More than once I found myself in unsafe situations but I didn’t care. I kept going. Trying to fill the hole, trying to be loved. My promiscuous behavior was scary for most but I was on a high and this was filling me, maybe with negative and false hopes but it was something I could hold on to and FEEL. I reached out to a couple of guys I met at the hospital and we would meet at random hotels. At times I would stay up for days because I refused to take my insomnia medicine. It amazes me, looking back, that I didn’t end up dead on the side of the road.
For 4 years I played chicken with my life by either following the rules and staying on my treatment plan or taking myself off my medicine and going on a manic bender. At the time I didn’t realize it but I was Bipolar, I was going through the highs and lows, the depression and the mania. My parents watched this train wreck for years. My Mom trying to be understanding but pushing me to live and get out of bed, and my Dad was confused and couldn’t understand why I didn’t just snap out of it.
I just can’t believe that I lost more years of my life. I remember some things but most of it is a blur. I wasn’t ready to admit that I was sick and that it was OK to admit it because it’s the same as a physical disorder, mine was just in my brain. But I was worried that people would see me differently, because I would see me differently. I may not have admitted to The Other Side of Me but for some reason after this roller coaster ride for 4 years I tried to turn things around. I found a doctor that wasn’t so heavy-handed on the drugs which allowed me to function, so I started working and I started living again. I was the receptionist for Cardiac Consultants, was employee of the quarter and worked my way up to the billing department. I was proud of myself for the first time in years. It would be years until I finally admitted to myself and the people who loved me the most that I was living with Bipolar but I wouldn’t dare tell others. This was my dirty little secret.