I Will Never Be Trusted

I lost my mind.  It sucks.  I have been fighting for the past 4 years to regain my sanity.  It was bad.  I did bad things.  I’m not proud.  I said lots of crazy shit when I was dropping my basket.  No one knew what to do with me, other than take me to the crazy hospital.  I swallowed a handful of Tylenol PM meds in an effort to go to sleep.  Not the sleep of the dead, to actually go to sleep.  The doctors didn’t believe that I hadn’t tried to kill myself.  My husband believed me, but he was, at the time, clueless to how very far I was actually gone.

I was gone.  I flew the cuckoos nest.  I did bad things.  I am not proud.

You see, the problem is that I have regained my sanity.  I am sane.  I take my meds.  I visit my doctor.  I talk about what is going on with my doctor.  I don’t see a therapist right now because my last one was full of shit and made me do workbooks, rather than talk to me.  Maybe I should find someone better, but who has time when you are working full time in construction and you have a deadline and are already a month behind on completion.

If you have been following, I am still having a hard time sleeping.  I talked to my p-doc about it and he associates it with my anxiety.  I have been fired from every job I have had since I got sick.  I actually like my job.  I don’t want to get fired.  But, being extremely sleepy doesn’t make me a good employee.  I can’t sleep at night but I’m falling asleep at my desk in the mornings.  Something isn’t right.  I will get it figured out.  Things have been improving.

But, you see, I was talking to my husband tonight about being okay and being sick, and he pretty much admitted to me that I am not ever going to be trusted for my word.  If I make a joke about something, I will receive a raised eyebrow until I explain that I was making a joke or being sarcastic, or making an observation about something that might be a little out there.  I used to be allowed to be silly and make jokes – it was part of my charm.  But that has been stifled.  I cannot make jokes when it comes to my sanity because “what if she needs to go back to the hospital.”

I will be the first person who knows if things don’t feel right and because I don’t ever want to feel as bad as I did when I dropped my basket, I will announce it to the masses.  You guys will even know.  If my meds stop working, I will be the first person to admit that I am not feeling okay and need more help.  I will gladly go check myself back into that hell hole so that I don’t end up damaging everything that I have built up since my first break.  I simply do not want to ever feel as scared as I did.

My husband and I have been through the wringer.  I cheated on him.  He forgave me and treated me like shit for about 2 years.  This is my blog, I can say that.  It came to a point that I couldn’t apologize any more, and finally things have gotten better.  But, it hurts when he says to me that he will never fully trust what I am saying when I say something a little “out there”.  Even if it was my personality prior to having my break.  I am quirky, I am silly, I used to be funny.

I am not those things anymore because I have to watch everything that I say to all the people who are closest to me.  They will always have in the back of their minds that maybe I’m losing it.  So, it’s like a chip on my shoulder that I never put in place.  I will never, ever, ever, ever be the same person that I used to be because I cannot be trusted.  I might “lose my mind” again.  I am not to be trusted.  Because even if I feel firm in my recovery and how I am feeling, I will always be questioned.

It is stifling.  Trying to get back to the person that I used to be has been my goal.  But, I am met with resistance because, “WHAT IF”.  What if I drop my basket again?  What if I cheat again?  I’m sure it will probably happen again in my lifetime (not the cheating), but I’m not doing anything to help that along.  I take my meds.  I go see my doctor.  I’m fighting to get enough sleep.  I’ll get it figured out.  The sleep thing, that is.

I should be trusted.  I should be allowed to make a joke and my sanity not be questioned.  I am a human being.  I am better.  I should be trusted.  It is just very frustrating.  I am frustrated with this road block in my recovery.  I want to be trusted.  I haven’t done anything wrong since my trip back to Texas.  (More on that soon…)

The only person who has not questioned me, to my knowledge, has been my mom.  Perhaps it’s just her encouraging spirit and fighting for her daughter, but she has trusted me.  She gave me space when I needed it back in Texas.  She gives me space now.  Our dynamics have changed, but she is truly my #1 cheerleader.  Not that my “peeps” aren’t my cheerleaders, they are just very quick to not miss anything.

They say they were too close to see what was really going on.  I suppose that is true.  They don’t want to miss anything on my journey now, because they love me and they want to help.  Bottom line, they don’t want to miss what they missed before.  So, I forgive them of their questioning – to a certain degree.

But, when it stifles my continued improvement, I get a little angry.  A little resentful.  Don’t you know me?  Don’t you know that is how I used to be?  I’m coming back!  I’m fighting and I continue to fight!  I should be trusted, but I am not fully trusted.

That makes my heart hurt.

Looking Back

I’m sharing with you today a piece I wrote on my old blog just after my mental break.  I was still extremely manic and angry and confused.  This post doesn’t make much sense to someone just coming in from nowhere and picking up my story.  Reading this post now, 3+ years later, I am reminded of how truly out of my mind I was.  I’m simply offering this as evidence to my declined mental health.  In it, I say that I am a “whole person”.  That is the farthest thing from the truth given the point I was at when I wrote this.  Please be kind…

connect the cause and effect

one foot in front of the next

this is the start of a journey

– Gnarls Barkley, Going On

Dear NOLA,

It’s been a while since I’ve written you a love note, but please rest assured that I still love you more than the moon and the stars.  I love my peeps in LA and TX, and boy do I have peeps!  I never realized how my sparkles and sunshine put a smile on some peoples’ faces.  That really makes me feel loved, knowing that people are laughing at with me as I stumble my way through becoming a full fledged New Orleanian and honoring my strong, “Remember the ALAMO!” approach to life.  I wear my Fleur De Lis pin with pride, like a badge of honor.  I’ve earned those stripes now.  I’m a whole person and the “finishing school” that I was enrolled in for the past 6 weeks held up a gorgeous mirror and assisted me in my transition into who I want to be when I have finished cleaning out my house.  

I just thought I knew what it means to miss MY New Orleans.  MY New Orleans is EVERYONE’s New Orleans and that’s why I love you, NOLA.  You give everyone a gracious, southern hug and a hankie when he or she needs a good cry in the proverbial bubble bath.  You even feed your “chickens” filling comfort foods and tight squeezes of the hand. To top it off, every member of the restaurant/hotel/hospitality industry is kinetically infused into the pulse of this city.  Combined with the efforts of the N.O.P.D. and major shake-ups in city government, and I have a front row seat to a fascinating study in city planning. I am learning the world by observing your constant adjustments to your gumbo recipe.

Let me say this:  I’ve always been a bit of a Nervous Nelly.  I’m really shy and overcompensate with my loud, VIVA LE TEJAS! attitude.  I have also spent my life with the knowledge that the world IS my stage.  I just have a hard time differentiating between “front of house” and “back of house”.  I have a slightly better understanding of the pulse and mojo going on in Southeastern LA, but by no means do I claim to know anything except what my mom and dad, friends and family have told me and through my own experiences here.

Thank you, New Orleans, for giving me a TIME OUT! so I could tuck in my slip properly.  During my time out, I learned a lot about myself.  I really AM a Nervous Nancy and my doctors made me realize that a 5′ 9″ woman in her early 30s should weigh more than 115 lbs. Watching the movie BLACK SWAN stirred up some serious self-image issues that I had been mashing down in my Pandora’s box of troubles.

I now have my own label and it doesn’t feel good.  I am an anorexic former ballerina who really needs to eat a sandwich.  I’m working with my super-fab team of doctors and mi familia now to get back to MY TRUE strong, West-Texan tumbleweed roots, cross bred with your live oak trees, NOLA.

After all, I’ve always been a little bit Texan AND a little bit New Orleanian.

I hope you can continue to take me as I am, ’cause I’m not ready to throw in the towel.

With love,

Kel :6

 Peace Be With You . . .

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.

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.

The Emergency (Part 3)

falling coconutsHere are the links to read part one and part two.

I was awoken at 6 a.m. and told to get in line for the showers.  They had these little baskets with our names on them in the day room that contained shampoo/soap, as it was a dual acting cleanser, a comb and some lotion.  We were given a towel and waited our turns to get clean.  This was not the usual beauty regimen that I had grown accustomed to.  No conditioner was given and as I had long hair, I knew it was going to be a tangled mess. The shower/bathroom was very institutional.  It was big and cold and while I had privacy, there was an aide waiting just outside the door to the bathroom.  I tried to rush because I knew others still had to take their showers, but I was thankful for privacy, even if there wasn’t a lock on the door.

We were shuffled downstairs (as many were doing the Thorazine Shuffle) into the cafeteria to eat our breakfast.  I didn’t know where to sit, so I sat down at a table with people I recognized from my unit.  I was in the adult step down unit, but there was also a geriatric unit that was in the cafeteria eating with us.  There were moans and chatter and it was all overwhelming.  I tried choking down some powdered eggs and sausage, but soon gave up and gave my leftovers to one of my table mates.  The best part of that meal was the coffee–it wasn’t good coffee, but it was coffee and felt familiar.

After the meal, we were given 15 minutes in the courtyard for outside time/smoke break.  It was sinking in that my experience was going to be like someone who was in jail.  At least, my personal white, middle class self’s prison.  I stayed to myself and enjoyed the sunshine outside in the courtyard.  It was narrow and long and overlooked a nursing home that was also owned by Dr. Teeth (my new psychiatrist who owned the hospital in which I was currently imprisoned).  It was depressing.

Speaking of the smoke breaks/outside time, these were given four times a day.  Fifteen minutes after each meal and once after the evening wrap up.  You were given one cigarette (if you wanted it) by one of the aides – I think they handed out Dorals, and you were allowed to smoke and socialize with the other people on your unit.  I was a smoker, but I hadn’t had a single cigarette during my suicide/Tylenol watch and I was not going to give them any ammunition to count against me at this new place, so I didn’t partake in the cigarettes.  I was there for the fresh air.  No one was any the wiser.

I clearly remember four people that I was with me in this hospital.  Socks, Ben, Germaine, and Brutus.  (I have changed the names to protect their privacy.)  Each person was a character and enlightened me on different aspects of what I was facing being on the inside.  This was unlike anything I had ever experienced before and I felt guilty for all the privilege and opportunities I had been given/experienced in my life thus far.

Socks: She was a firecracker and I didn’t trust her.  She was volatile and loud and demanding and was not complying with anything that the staff was telling her to do.  I was afraid of her.  At this point, I was 5’9″ and weighed 112 pounds.  I was a skeleton and all my clothes were hanging off me.  Socks was busomy and heavier and a force to be reckoned with.  At one point, she wanted me to give her my bra.  Ummm…no.  I was going to be keeping my bra.  Plus, it wouldn’t have fit her and the aides told her so, but she was determined to have my bra.  I hid in my room away from her.  She kept on trying to claim my clothing as hers.  She would ask me for XYZ and I would tell her no.  Finally, she asked for a pair of my socks.  They were blue and had colorful stripes on them.  I gave them to her when no one was looking.  She left me alone after that.

Germaine:  He was a white guy who befriended me and kind of showed me the ropes.  I’m not sure if he had been in this type of situation before, but he seemed to know what was going to happen and what was actually going on.  He wore these boots that were lace up, but they had taken his shoe laces away for safety reasons and he shuffled around as best he could in his heavy boots.  I remember thinking that he must have been very uncomfortable in his shoes.  He taught me to keep to myself and not give away my diagnosis to others.  Also, he had an understanding of the dry erase board that had a list of all the people in the unit and where they were going after their stint in the mental hospital.  I don’t know how he knew, he just knew, and reassured me that once I got out, I was going home and not to jail.  I hadn’t done anything to put me in jail, but given my fractured mental state, I was worried that I had committed some heinous crime.  He was a constant friend and I trusted him.  We had a mutual friend outside the hospital and that kind of bonded us together.  We actually became Facebook friends after my stay in the hospital, but I ended up un-friending him due to my husband’s encouragement and my extreme paranoia.  I didn’t want to be connected to anyone who knew my secret.

Ben:  He was “special”.  I don’t know if he was drugged out of his mind or he had a developmental problem or both.  He was sweet and quiet and part of me wanted to help take care of him.  He seemed really lost, but I have no idea what he was like in real life.  I remember that he had very dry skin and I was playing “Mother Goose” and encouraged him to put lotion and Vaseline on his arms because they looked like they were about to crack.  I felt really bad for him, but his mom would come visit him and that was encouraging.

Brutus:  He was a force to be reckoned with.  He was powerful and appeared to know who he was in personality and psychosis.  I have absolutely no idea why he was in the hospital with us, but I do know he was on the list that was to be arrested by the state after his release.  I singled him out as my protection.  He had the potential to be violent, yet he never was.  I befriended him by giving him my left over food and bribing him with granola bars.  I think he started to want to sit by me during meal times because it meant he would get more food.  I’m not entirely sure, but I think he might have been homeless prior to his stint in the mental institution.  I do know that I liked talking to him.  It made me feel dangerous.

There were no other women on my unit with the exception of “Socks”, and she was scary violent, so I hung out with my band of misfits.  I had eased into being a part of their group, and I felt like I was buying my protection, but it was worth it and made me feel safe.

The food was terrible and was set on a four day rotation of what was available to eat.  I remember eating tuna salad (at least I think it was tuna) sandwiches, grilled fish with canned mushy mixed vegetables and rice, and some sort of goulash.  The food was miserable.  Because I was so underweight, I was given a serving of Ensure with every meal.  I would end up drinking that and not eat the meal that was presented to me, which meant more food for my posse, but the aides quickly caught on.  They stopped giving me the Ensure during meal times, instead saving for an after lunch snack in the day room.  They watched me closely when it came to my intake of food.

Group therapy was a joke.  We were forced to sit in a circle and talk about our feelings and how we could make our lives more positive and fulfilling.  I feigned participation because my goal was getting out.  I remember having to make a vision board out of pictures we clipped out of magazines – it was stupid.  But, I knew it was one of the keys to the puzzle of getting out.  We also had group therapy with a psychologist, but I don’t believe any progress was made there.  Therapy was kind of a blur to me.

Dr. Teeth met with us for a total of ten minutes each day.  He would ask us questions that I can’t remember and up our meds.  I always asked him when I would be sent home.  He continued to adjust my medication, leaving me in a zombie state after each meeting.  I was still quite manic, though.  Drugged and manic.  It took away my danger to others.

I felt safe with my band of brothers, but I wanted to go home.  I was trying desperately to figure out Dr. Teeth’s game so he would release me, but they seemed to keep adding days to my stay.  I was always met with a, “Let’s see how you feel tomorrow”.  To this day, I have no respect for Dr. Teeth.  He is there to make money and cares little about the care of his patients.

Visitation happened every day in the evening for about an hour and a half.  My husband, mother, and sister were religious about coming to see me.  I wasn’t always very nice to them, as I was angry at them for locking me away and I was still extremely confused about the diagnosis I had been given.  I was light years away from being able to say, “I have bipolar disorder”.  I wanted to see them, but when they arrived, the visits seemed pointless.  I often sent them away before visiting time was over.  I am certain this behavior stung, but I was angry and it was easier to just be around my band of misfits.  However, I would have been even angrier if they hadn’t come to visit me.  Looking back, I am glad they were fighting for me and came to visit.  I also feel major regret for how I treated them.

I spent a total of six days at this facility.  I was still manic and didn’t entirely understand the gravity of my diagnosis.  I wasn’t better, just drugged, but I wanted to resume the life I had with my husband in New Orleans.  I was released to the care of my husband and mother.  The first thing I did after I was released was take a bath and shave my legs, as there were no razors allowed, unless you wanted an aide watching you as you showered.  I never took them up on their offer to watch me, therefore I felt like a hairy beast.  After my bath, I went for an epic walk by myself, but I wasn’t getting the same kind of work-out high that I had received prior to me being taken to the hospital.

The real work was just beginning and my extreme paranoia had yet to set in.  I was glad to be home but I didn’t realize that things were just going to get harder from here…

The Emergency (Part 2)

costume-bags

After a 72 hour hold in the hospital, I was committed to a mental institution by my husband.  You can read part one here.

During my 72 hour hold, I was introduced to a psychiatrist who promptly diagnosed me as bipolar.  I called him Dr. Teeth, because he had the largest, whitest teeth I had ever seen up close.  Of course, me being psychotic wasn’t helping my visual self any.  He brought with him a red headed assistant who stayed silent and made sympathetic faces.  Then they left and I continued on my 24 hour a day suicide watch.

Finally, I was being released from the hospital!  Yay!  I still didn’t completely understand what had happened to me, but I was excited to go home.  Then, Dr. Teeth showed up.  My husband, my mother, and Dr. Teeth ganged up on me, saying I needed to go to his (Dr. Teeth) hospital to further my treatment.  I was upset.  I was pissed.  I started to cry.

Everyone reassured me that I was going to be okay.  “They will take good care of you, and you will be home in no time.”  So I thought, okay, rip another band aid off.  I’ll take a short ride over to his hospital, kiss my family good bye and get on with things.  That’s when a stretcher pulled up outside my hospital door.

They didn’t trust me to not jump out of the car on the way to the new hospital, so I was being transported by ambulance.  I was perfectly capable of walking, but they strapped me down on a stretcher and we started moving.  It was humiliating.  I thought, “Use this for someone who actually needs the ambulance, this is not an emergency!”  I am not an emergency.  Plus, I was too drugged up at that point to even THINK about escaping a car ride to the mental hospital.

In the ambulance, there was a lady EMT.  She had a clip board and she was talking to me.  Not taking notes, just talking.  She had 2 tickets to the New Orleans Saints game clipped to her clip board and we talked about football.  For a second, I thought she was going to give me those tickets if I was good and did what I was supposed to do at this new hospital.  Ummm…did I mention I was drugged?

We finally get to the mental hospital and they wheel me out of the ambulance into the lobby, then they unstrap me and I’m told to say goodbye to my family and follow an aide to this elevator.  The lobby was very small and there was an armed guard sitting at a desk.  I say goodbye, yet I don’t remember doing so.  I am not entirely sure that happened, but I’m told it did.  They wouldn’t just lock me away without saying goodbye, would they?  I believe my husband was left in the lobby to fill out the paperwork and sign my life away to the care of these new people.  He was officially having me committed.

Once I got upstairs to my unit, I was taken to the nurses station where they asked me a bunch of questions, weighed me, and took a picture.  I am curious to see that picture now, but I’m sure it wasn’t very flattering.  I was taken to a room in the corner of a wing that contained two twin sized cot beds, a desk, a toilet and sink, and a closet to put my things.  I was then told to go to the day room and join the rest of the patients, as they were having relaxation time.  I remember not knowing what to do with myself, but I had found a box of markers and some blank paper, so I sat down and started to draw.

Looking back, it feels like I was taken back to elementary school – the coloring.  When I sat down, no one was at the table.  After a few moments, a few of the patients came over, introduced themselves, and started coloring with me.  I was terrified that someone would get up in my face and start screaming.  That didn’t happen, but at that point, I had no idea what WAS going to happen.

Dinner had already been served at that point.  I hadn’t arrived in time to eat.  No big deal, I wasn’t eating at that point anyway.  We were taken downstairs to have a smoke break/outside time and were shuffled into a courtyard.  This lasted for about 15 minutes, then we were taken back upstairs where we had a little more downtime, medication was distributed and were sent to bed.

I was so thankful that I didn’t have a roommate.  I didn’t want to have to sleep with another person in the room with me.  I put on my pajamas and went to bed, after being informed that we were to be awoken at 6 and breakfast was at 8 a.m.

I had just scratched the surface of what was to be the longest week of my life…

El Diablo

Dancing Devil

After my break, I was sent back to Texas to recover.  I spent about 5 months recuperating in the comfort of my parents home.  During that time, I read tons of books and visited with one of my favorite people in the world, J.  J accepted what had happened and really took the time to talk to me and treat me like a normal person – I will forever be in his debt.

Recovery was proving a slow process…I was seeing a psychiatrist, in therapy, and was making major strides to regain my sanity.  Hard work, but I was conquering all the paranoia that had encompassed my mind in the months after the big B.

During my stay, I needed a haircut.  As I had lived in my hometown during my graduate studies, I already had a hairstylist who I trusted with my locks and I was excited to see her again.  In all the time I had known her, she had transformed from a rebel into a hardcore, born-again Catholic.  In her eyes, Jesus Christ was the only way to live and His Word was golden.  She loved to quote scripture and attempt to convert people to her church.  As I am not religious, I tolerated these invitations because she is very talented with a pair of scissors and I liked her as a person.

I was very selective about telling people of my break and why I had moved back to the area, but I trusted her and as gals do during “hairapy” sessions, I felt that I could trust her with my big secret.  I spilled the beans about my diagnosis, but held back little tidbits of the facts to protect myself.  She immediately decided to pray over me–in Spanish.  I had no idea what she was actually saying, but appreciated the sentiment.

Then, she informed me that I should move back to Texas and give up my evil ways in New Orleans.  She had the nerve to say that I wasn’t actually sick, I was “possessed by the devil” and needed Jesus in my life to rid myself of the demons in my mind.

Needless to say, I was taken aback and a little hurt by her words.  At that point, I had three doctors whom had confirmed my diagnosis.  I was in treatment, I was taking medication and fighting quite hard to be as close to my normal self as possible.  Her statement made me question a lot, as I was still paranoid about many things.

I told a few of my most precious supporters about what she said and they told me she was full of shit.  Granted, I had dabbled in Tarot leading up to my break, but, I still don’t think it is anything more than a fun card game.  However, her statement made me question things.  At that point in time, I questioned the possibility that me dabbling in Tarot had brought about bad luck and accelerated my break, but I didn’t believe I was possessed by the devil.

New Orleans is a very spiritually dynamic city.  It is old.  When you come into the city from away, the energy in the air is palpable.  I believe the devil exists and is alive and well in New Orleans, however, there is also a lot of “white light” positivity to be had as well.

Bottom line, people who are diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder are not possessed by the devil.  It is a scientifically proven chemical imbalance in your brain and 9 times out of 10, the only way to manage it is through medication, good doctors, and therapy.  In my opinion, to imply that someone else needs to find God is rude and unwarranted.  You don’t know their life.  I believe everyone is entitled to his or her own faith, however, involving the devil into your personal, ignorant diagnosis of another person is dismissive and makes you guilty of a “holier than thou” attitude.

Don’t impose your personal faith on someone who confides in you about his or her mental illness.  Prayers and support are nice, but mental conditions are not something you can simply “pray away”.  Needless to say, I haven’t seen her since that devil of a day.

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.

The Emergency (Part 1)

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As I mentioned in my previous post, I dropped my basket on a Saturday.  Not only did I drop it, I slammed it down, hard.  I called my brother in Austin and was talking to him about nothingness and I heard dogs barking.  I thought they were in our backyard here in New Orleans and I asked him if he was here.  He said, “No, I’m in Austin.”  That’s when he asked to speak to my husband and it was decided that I should be taken to the emergency room.

I stayed on the phone with my brother the whole drive to the hospital.  As soon as we arrived in the parking lot, I told my brother I had to go, dropped the phone, grabbed my wallet and made a bee-line to the emergency room.  I was really scared about what was going to happen to me, but I treated it like ripping off a band aid.  Rip it off quickly – that’s the best approach.

When I arrived inside, I walked up to the clerk’s window, handed her my wallet and said, “I need help”.  The helping gods were smiling down on me at that moment because she immediately recognized that I was not in my right mind.  After taking my insurance, I was rushed back to have my vitals checked and into a room.  I had to wait a while and my sister ended up coming to the hospital.  We joke that she busted in there like the Kool Aid Man and wasn’t going to take anything from anyone.  My husband was busy with the doctors, so she stayed in the private room with me and tried to help calm me down.

I kept talking about the New World Order and how 9/11 was an inside job – all those strange conspiracy theory documentaries I had been watching had seriously warped my sense of reality.  She soothed me but did not agree with the jibber-jabber I was spewing.  At one point, I tried to run.  I was so anxious and paranoid that I thought the hospital staff was going to perform science experiments on me and I would get in trouble.  When I ran, a very nice security guard came after me.  She said, “It’s okay, baby.  They are going to take good care of you.”  I started to cry.

You see, what had happened was, I had taken Tylenol PM in an effort to sleep.  I was so very out of my mind that I have no idea how many doses I had taken prior to ending up in the emergency room.  They did blood tests – my Tylenol levels were through the roof and could have seriously damaged my liver.  Because I had taken so much Tylenol, the doctors thought I had tried to kill myself.  I was to receive medicine intravenously to counter act the damage I had done.  But first, they had to calm me down and put in the I.V.  That was an ordeal and I fought them hard for access to my veins.   The phlebotomist who inserted my line was awesome and patient.  That’s when I passed out and didn’t wake up until I was in an actual hospital room.

BOOM!  Mandatory 72 hour hold in the hospital with an attending nurse monitoring me 24/7.  I hadn’t tried to kill myself, merely sleep, but from the outside it looked that way.  People can lie.  I wasn’t lying, but I also wasn’t the best person to trust at that moment.  I had to give up control and was having a hard time doing so.

My mom showed up.  From Texas.  I woke up one of the mornings and my husband said, “You have a visitor”. My mom walked in and for a moment I smiled.  Then I got mad.  I was so angry she was there.  I was mad at her, mad at my husband, confused, drugged, and still not sleeping or eating.

When I was finally released from the regular hospital, I felt relieved.  Then I was informed that I was being checked into a mental hospital.

My husband had committed me….

You can read part two here.

Friends

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We had friends, my husband and I.  We moved to New Orleans from Texas–we always loved the city and after I had completed my master’s degree, we decided to leave everything behind in that West Texas town and move to the Big Easy.  We had an ongoing love affair with all things New Orleans from the moment we set foot in this place.  Things were jovial and we were ready for whatever life had to throw at us.  It was exhilarating and scary at the same time.  We were able to make a few friends when we first moved here and that provided great comfort and a social life for both of us.

We visited and partied with our friends constantly.  After all, New Orleans always has a party going on, even in the most dire of times.  Is it Wednesday?  Let’s celebrate!  A hurricane is coming?  I’ll grab some supplies and we can hunker down together.  We were taking this city by storm and having a fabulous time doing so.

Then, things were becoming stressful.  My husband was working the over-night shift at one of the hospitals here, so I would only see him in passing.  We still hung out with our friends, but I was quickly becoming stressed by not seeing my husband and was having a difficult time keeping a job.  I have been fired from more jobs than seems possible in the time we have lived here.  I used to chalk it up to my big Texan attitude, but have since realized it is something more.  Yet, we still maintained our friendships.  They didn’t judge–at least to our faces.

Little did I know, my mind was spiraling out of control.  I had just gotten a new job and was attacking it full force.  I was so proud of my new position and was dedicating all my time to learning more about the industry I was working in and trying to be the most creative, best employee they had ever hired.  I was also not sleeping.  I would work and do research and then stay up late watching ridiculous documentaries that would warp my mind.  Did you know that people with bipolar have a hard time sleeping?  (I think that sleep is also evasive for those who experience anxiety in general.)

That’s when I had my break.  I hadn’t been sleeping or eating and I was working out constantly in an effort to calm myself.  I was becoming a waif of a person and while I still thought I was fat, I looked like a skeleton.  I thought I was doing an excellent job for my new employer, but I had started to slip.  I wasn’t making sense and everything was running together.  I didn’t know if it was day or night, other than the sunlight or moonlight.  I wonder what I was really like looking in from the outside…

Our friends were trying to stick by me.  At this point, they fired me from my job for inconsistent behavior and that was within their right because I was still within the 90 day introductory period.  I didn’t realize I had been fired.  That was a Thursday.  I really lost my shit on Saturday.

I melted down and thought I might be dying.  That’s when my husband took me to the emergency room.  I was hospitalized.  Our friends stood beside us.  I got out of the hospital with a handful of medications to take.  Our friends stood by me, but I think they had started to question their involvement with us.  More drama happened.  I was sent back to Texas for about 5 months to recover.

When I came back, our friends were gone.  They had stayed in contact with my husband while I was on my sabbatical, but when I tried to contact them, they told me they didn’t have time to be bothered with me.  Even a couple of friends back in Texas walked away.  It was too uncomfortable for them, I suppose.

Long story short, I believe that the cream rises to the top.  If a friend can’t handle you at your worst, they have no business seeing you at your best.  So, it’s just my husband and myself living our life in the Big Easy.  It’s not so easy, but we have each other and I for one am a lot more hesitant when it comes to opening up to someone in real life.  I have to be.  I’ve worked too hard trying to regain my sanity to have fair-weather friends and my husband deserves a gold medal for sticking by my side as well.

We will make new friends.  It is just hard to make friends as an adult.  Hopefully, true friends are still out there to be had.  If not, I have the small few that have stuck around and have come to terms with the fact that those individuals that we called friends prior were never really our friends.  It hurts, but I have managed to move past those situations.

Have you ever lost a friend over a life changing event?  Have your friends stayed by your side through thick and thin?  Tell me in the comments!

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