The Following Months

After I was released from the mental hospital, my life became a complete blur.  I started seeing Dr. Teeth at his private practice, where his red-headed assistant was ever present at each of our meetings.  It was frightening because he was treating other patients that I had been with in the hospital.  I was trying to distance myself from the people and memory of my week and a half stay, but their presence at my appointments was a constant reminder.

My paranoia about the cars and church bells was slowly edging its way into my psyche, making me a shell of the person that I used to be.  I was taking handfuls of medications which only made me a zombie. I didn’t feel like I was improving, just drugged.  I had been a voracious blogger prior to my break and I tried to continue writing, but my posts came out angry and delusional.  I was trying to hold things together but I was failing miserably.

I remember one particular appointment with Dr. Teeth.  His assistant was there, of course, and I had broken down crying.  He announced to her, “She needs a hug.  Give her a hug.”  She started to hug me and I backed away, claiming that I was okay.  It was such an odd experience having someone be ordered to hug me and provide comfort.  He was so clinical and didn’t offer any supportive words, only pills.  Saying he was not the right fit for me is an understatement.

The care of our home completely fell on my husband.  I didn’t have the wherewithal to do dishes, cook, or clean.  Here he was working his butt off and having to come home and work even harder to take care of me.  We were still hanging out with our “friends”.  They tried to cheer me up and be there for me, but I was so paranoid that something so simple as watching T.V. brought out the paranoia demons in me and I had to walk away and go into the other room.  I think it was frustrating for everyone involved.

I tried finding a new job, but that was not going well.  I had no business looking for another job.  There was no way that I would have been a productive employee if I couldn’t do something so simple as washing the dirty dishes at home.  My friends tried to put business connections together for me, but when I would meet with those people in a social setting, I would talk about religion – specifically about how the Catholic church was hypocritical and oppressive to women.  Not something you talk about ever, let alone when trying to get hired for a job.

Another paranoia that had arisen was the radio.  I thought the DJ’s were talking about me and to me.  I read into all popular songs that were on the radio, thinking they were written about me.  I thought all the rappers in New Orleans were gunning for my head.  I didn’t know any rappers in New Orleans.  I just thought they were after me because of a few interactions I had with those type people long before my break.

During my increasing paranoia, even my house wasn’t safe.  We had this old security system that had been installed prior to our moving in.  In our bedroom, there was a motion detector above one of the closets that would flash a red light when you walked down the hallway or into the bedroom.  I fixated on this and thought that someone was taking pictures of my movements in the house through this device.  It got so bad that I ended up hanging a scarf over this small motion detector so they couldn’t take pictures of me.  My husband tried to reassure me that it was nothing, but I wasn’t convinced.

I remember one night in particular.  My husband had gone out to get us some food for dinner and I was left in the apartment alone with the cats.  I paced up and down our hallway calling his name and one of our other friend’s names.  I don’t know why I did this – I knew that I was alone.  But I was lost.

My mother-in-law came to stay with us at one point.  She stayed for about a week.  I slept a whole lot and talked about the church bells.  I don’t remember much from her stay with us, all I know is that she was my babysitter because my husband couldn’t watch me 24/7.  He was desperate to make me better and I think he kept on waiting for me to show signs of improvement.  But, improvement never came.  She was here to help both of us, except no amount of help could calm the demons in my head.

I actually felt like I was getting worse.  Of course, I wasn’t conscious enough to really assess that situation, but nothing was making sense and my stay in the hospital hadn’t helped any.  I was a shell of a person and everyone surrounding me was very frustrated.  Dr. Teeth had promised me that if I went to his hospital, I would spend a little time and be better.  He lied.  I came out of there with more problems than what I went in with.  I’m not saying I didn’t need to go, it’s just that my medications weren’t working…weren’t healing my brain fast enough.

I was so paranoid and stuck that I didn’t really know which end was up.  My insecure feelings had lifted a bit, but then they got worse.  I had had my mental break and subsequent hospital stays in August.  I made it until the end of October and I’d had enough.  So, it was on my husband’s and my wedding anniversary that I said we needed to go back to the hospital.

We called one of our friends that is a health care professional and she came over and talked to me.  It didn’t take much convincing, but she said that maybe it was time to go back into the mental hospital.

So, we got in the car and went back to the emergency room and waited for Dr. Teeth to be paged and come assess me.  We were there for hours, maybe 5?  It didn’t feel like that long to me, but for my husband it was excruciating.  He finally showed up.  I said I wasn’t better and he offered me another a bed in his mental hospital.  I was going back in, a little wiser as to what was going to happen.  I didn’t know what was going to happen moving forward, I just knew that I couldn’t keep dealing with the demons in my head.  I was exhausted and something had to change.

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Could Be…

When I was in the emergency room with my sister, my mind was racing a million miles a minute.  During my intake where they took my vitals, I kept going on about how much I hated my dad and that I was going to “slit his throat for what he did to me”.  That is not something I am ready to talk about, nor am I proud of saying that out loud.  This has been on my mind, and I was out of my mind.  I believe repressed issues come to the surface when you are at your most vulnerable.

I digress…

I was sitting in the tiny room with my sister, Zaftig Zelot, and she was trying to keep me calm and make sense of what I was saying.  I talked a lot about the New World Order and 9/11 being an inside job.  I also talked about how people apply for jobs they want to do and they get paid to do them.  For some reason, this concept seemed beyond my grasp.  Oh, and I also thought the U.S. government aborted all male babies.  I have no idea where that idea came from.  Not one of my shining moments.  Hell, the whole experience was not a shining moment for me.

During this time in the little room, I voiced the idea that I was afraid I had hurt someone.  I wasn’t sure what was happening and I was speaking jibberish, but my sister honed in on my statement of hurting someone.  I think she knew in her heart of hearts that I wasn’t capable of hurting anyone, but given my current state, she wasn’t totally sure.  I scared myself.  I remember saying, “I think I may have hurt someone…”  My mind was racing, trying to figure out if I had hit someone with my car or had gotten into a physical altercation with someone and I was coming up with nothing.  She let the topic drop.  I let the topic drop.

Around that time, I tried to escape from that little room.  The security guard came after me and spoke reassuring words to me, but prior to her catching up to me, I had this extreme fear that I was going to be shot in the head and killed dead.  Everything was so scary.  That, of course, wasn’t the case, but it was a real fear for me.  I was in a busy hospital in the emergency room and it was chaotic.  Nothing seemed organized and having to wait on doctors to see me took an eternity and no time at all.

What I am trying to say is that everyone is capable of causing harm to other people.  Emotionally, physically,…whatever.  When you don’t know which end is up, it makes you question your own kindness toward others.  I was in that twilight state where certain things seemed like reality and nothing was actually reality.  I had been coasting along on adrenaline and mania for a while, I just didn’t realize it at the time.

My sister recently said to me that after she left me that night, she mourned her friend.  She felt very selfish, but she wanted her friend back.  I couldn’t agree more, I wanted to be back, if I knew where back was.  She shouldn’t feel selfish or bad for feeling that way, I was not myself and it was new and scary and no one knew what was going to happen moving forward.  She needed her friend and I was currently checked out into la-la land, with no map to get back to home.

I have to live with the fact that I said and did things that hurt a lot of people.  I never did hurt anyone physically (thank God), but my words and actions cut deep for a lot of people.  I went from being dynamic to the not-to-be-trusted list in a short matter of time.  I am not proud of this and I have spent a large time of my recovery making amends.  I guess it’s a little like when someone goes into a rehab program – you have to make amends for your actions.  Actions hurt people and I can’t undo the hurt I did, I can only apologize and try to be better moving forward.

I have been better moving forward, and I think that is one of my biggest accomplishments.  I hope I can continue to do my best for my loved ones in the future.

My Dream Reader

“I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In sort, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.
Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

I am currently participating in the Blogging101 course offered through WordPress.com.  We have been challenged with the assignment of writing a post to our dream reader and I must admit, I am having a bit of a difficult time.  However, I am going to try my best.

My dream reader would probably have to be Kay Redfield Jamison.  Her book, An Unquiet Mind, provided me with great solace when I was first diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.  Her book spoke to me on so many different levels.  She is a true professional and has taken her diagnosis in stride, going on to serve as a professor of psychology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

I don’t aspire to be her, given that I don’t have a PhD in psychology, however, I admire her for foraging on and not letting her diagnosis hamper her ability to live, work, and find success.  That is something with which I have been struggling–finding work and maintaining a professional career.

Perhaps my break was worse than hers, but I doubt it.  Everyone has his or her own struggles with this disorder.  I just happen to have a spotty resume, having been out of work for so long, only to have worked for a few months here and there.  I will have success eventually.  I believe this to be true.

If I can’t have Dr Jamison as my dream reader, I want my dream reader to be someone who finds solace in my words–to know that they are not alone with his or her experiences.  Someone has been there before, I have been there before.  Maybe not in the same capacity, but I know what it means to have a huge, life changing diagnosis fall into her lap.  I hope to help someone who struggles with life.

They don’t have to have Bipolar Disorder.  They don’t have to have a disorder at all.  Just someone, anyone, who can identify with my written word.  Starting a new blog has been a huge undertaking for me.  It is my platform for making sense of what actually happened to me.  Perhaps that is conceited and maybe I am writing for myself, but I am trying to keep others in mind as I write my story.  It feels good to put it out there…The response I have received in just the past week since I started Slippery Alligator Dream has been huge.

I’m glad you are here.  Whoever you are and from where ever you come.  Welcome.  And, if you are Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, I am truly humbled that you have found this small blog.  You made an impact on my recovery.