It started out as any other day. I got in my car and headed off to run an errand. A few short seconds later, my steering went out and I found myself face to face with a fire hydrant, my car totaled. Luckily for me, or so I thought, I had minor injuries, two concussions (head and eye) and a feeling of being out of it. The last thing I remember is being placed in an ambulance. Then it all went black.
A short time later, something else was wrong, but I didn’t know what it was. I wound up back in the hospital and suddenly, or so I was told, I had a psychotic break and discovered, much to my surprise that I was now diagnosed as being BiPolar (due to a chemical imbalance I suffered as a result of the shaking up of my brain). I had the worst three days of my life being involuntarily confined to the hospital mental ward until I was sufficiently medicated to be able to be discharged. With proper medication, I was now under control.
Nothing is more frightening than that mandatory 72-hour hold in a hospital in the mental ward. People come in and out all day asking you all sorts of things, like whether you would like to participate in group therapy or have breakfast with the other holdees. It is just an uncomfortable and frightening feeling. Even as I write this my eyes are tearing up as the memory remains just as fresh as it was three years ago. I thought I might never go home ever again. And then what would happen to me, my family, my home?
My children didn’t really get what this physical aberration meant. They just thought I had lost it. To this day, I don’t think they truly get it. I have no more control over my mood swings. Even though I am on medication, they don’t understand that BiPolarism has no rules. It strikes when you least expect it. It strikes when something triggers it, like not feeling well, feeling tired, someone yelling at you, someone in some way upsetting you. And the worst part is that when it is set off, it takes an undetermined amount of time for you to get back to normal, whatever that is.
What is truly hurtful though is when your children insist you get over it, suck it up, ride it out or whatever other euphemisms they ply at you because they don’t know how to deal with you when you are having an episode. My psychiatrist compares my episodes to seizures, they come, they last a while, they go away. But my children want them away within minutes, maximum hours or heaven forbid a couple of days. They still don’t understand I have no control over this ailment, nor can I prevent it, nor can I dispense with it once I know I am in it.
My doctor says I am one of his luckier patients in that I am wise enough to either see it coming, or know when I have it and then try to deal with it as best I can. My family has no idea what it is like to be now. My life is sometimes not my own.
I go through stages where I don’t want to talk to anyone, go anyplace, go to the store – I will cancel appointments made weeks in advance because suddenly I am afraid to go out of my house…and my children don’t understand how this can be. “What are you afraid of?” is what I hear from them. And I have no answer. I’m just afraid.
“Why can’t you just do it?” “It” being the operative word here and which can refer to anything I just can’t seem to want to do. I often find myself in my house for days at a time, not even wanting to go get the mail, afraid someone might see me or want to talk to me. Being BiPolar has so many different parts to it that even the doctors don’t know all of them.
So, what is there to do? Nothing, but take the medications and take one day at a time, Pray that somehow those around you can find the patience to deal with your mood swings and truly realize that these swings are out of your control. After all, wouldn’t a person be happy go lucky all the time if they could. I would, I just can’t.
So I say to you others, who are like me, persevere with yourselves – take one day at a time and if there are those who can’t deal with it, just bite your tongue and move on to another day. Tomorrow might be better and maybe those around you will come around.