The goal of this is to normalize and open up the conversation. I want to continue to use my experience to help others to have an understanding for their loved ones or to recognize that they are not alone. And lately my journey has included recognizing the need and being okay with asking for help.
I spent June 11-June 17th at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. I had never been inpatient before and it was an overwhelming experience. Regardless of how hard it was to admit I needed extra help, the uncertainty, and struggle of being disconnected fro the world, it was worth it. There will be more blogs to follow regarding this subject as I learned so much. I learned a lot about myself, about stigmas, and about others. It was hard to be honest when I knew that it would lead to a hospitalization and there was a lot of worry about what this would mean with work and school. But it was what I needed.
What had happened was I started taking birth control, yay for an upcoming wedding! However, the doctor did warn that it could interfere with my mood stabilizer. She said if that happens we just needed to increase the dose. Well, a couple of weeks after starting I began to go into a manic state. I reached about day 6 before I was able to accept something was wrong and ask for help. (I had noticed it before but was convinced I could handle it on my own.) By the time I recognized this the soonest I could be seen was 10 days out. I began to focus on making it one day at a time to make it to that appointment. Things continued to spiral and I reached day 11, where my average amount of sleep per night was 3 hours a night. I was consumed with some dark and scary thoughts and was in a mixed state of depression and mania. This can be a super challenging and scary place with bipolar. It means there are dark and hard thoughts and the energy and impulsivity to act on those thoughts. It was getting harder and harder to ignore or push past those thoughts and I get to a point where I was not sure I could keep myself safe.
It meant asking for help. It meant talking with a friend about taking me to the hospital to get help so that I was safe. And so that I could get my medicine adjusted. The nice part of being in the hospital was that I was under a doctor or nurse’s care at all times and any side effects that happened could be addressed right away. I also knew that I was safe. That I had people I could talk to at all hours of the day and night. I was able to work through the dark thoughts and get to where I was stable. We were able to work out the medicine. The first one did not work, the second seems to be working. And for that I am thankful.
There is a lot of stigma about going to the hospital. It was terrifying. Then while I was there my concern was what will people think? How will people respond? Will people think differently about me? Then I realized it is no different than going to the doctor for a heart condition, for an appendix, for an infection. The only difference is that it was my brain chemicals that were off balance and it was impacting my thoughts and my brain’s ability to function. Just like other medical conditions need a doctor so did my brain. I want to make this a conversation, I want to be able to break stigmas. I want to be able to share my story to help break down barriers. And right now it’s about creating a routine a new normal amidst the ups and downs of having bipolar. It means learning from the last couple of weeks and continuing to move forward. It means using the voice that I have found to break the stigmas, because God has given me the confidence and courage to speak out and share my story. And there is so much more to come and more for me to share. It isn’t always easy, and I still often worry about the judgment that may come from being so vulnerable. But it is worth the risk.