The Emergency (Part 2)

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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.

All About Moi

Hi.  My name is Kel and I have bipolar disorder (This is the part of the meeting where you  answer back, “Hi, Kel”.)  Anyway, I fell down the rabbit hole about 3 1/2 years ago, having been hospitalized from an extreme manic episode that turned into psychosis.  I had no idea that I had this condition.  I just thought I was Super Kel and I was the smartest, funniest, and most attractive person to ever have existed.  I loved that feeling – I could conquer the world with my energy and my wit.  Little did I know that I didn’t really make much sense.  I think I had really great ideas during that time, it was just the mechanics of bringing those ideas to fruition that didn’t work out so well. More on that in due time.

I’m starting this blog to talk about all things bipolar and work through some of the happenings of my break and my recovery after.  I want this blog to be about the reality of what it means to exist with this chemical imbalance and hopefully provide some inspiration for those who suffer from the condition, as well as loved ones of those suffering in addition to anyone who is interested in learning more about bipolar disorder and perhaps my personal journey with it.

I want to help be a voice that isn’t afraid of talking about what it means to live with a mental disorder. I believe that you must talk about these issues in order to bring them to light and start to heal. It shouldn’t be a dirty secret, but so often it is looked upon as such. It’s probably cliche to say this to those who suffer, but if you had cancer or diabetes, you wouldn’t be told to just get over it. To lighten up, put it out of your mind. You would arm yourself with the best doctors and treatment options and fight the good fight. That has been my approach since I was diagnosed, and while it has been an uphill battle, I can say I’m in a really good place. I still have my struggles, as anyone else (even those who don’t suffer with this condition), but I am proactive. I take my meds. I check in with my doctors. I fight for my sanity because I never want to be as frightened as I was when the psychosis set in 3 1/2 years ago.

Here’s to the good fight and being proactive about your health and mental well being. I hope you will continue on this blogging journey with me.

Cheers!