This Time Around

Thursday July 28th 2022

I am 21 days sober today! It’s a huge milestone for me, I’m proud of myself because I can’t recall the last time I hadn’t had a drink for such a long period. 3 weeks ago I was trying to get through my 1st day at rehab. I had my last beer that morning before leaving. That following Tuesday I ended up at the ER at a nearby hospital because I was experiencing a severe manic episode. It wasn’t just a manic episode I was experiencing psychosis. I was not making sense when I spoke, I had racing thoughts and I was just spiraling along, what I thought was not reality and I was just in a foggy daze. I remember I kept shouting I’m Bipolar and I kept shouting Lety. One of my sisters is named Lety as well as my best friend. The intake nurse couldn’t get a full sentence out of me so I could tell her what was going on with me. I couldn’t give her my medical history or tell her what medications I was taking all she knew was the woman in front of her had lost her grasp with reality.

What is psychosis? “The word psychosis is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality. When someone becomes ill in this way it is called a psychotic episode. During a period of psychosis, a person’s thoughts and perceptions are disturbed and the individual may have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not.  Symptoms of psychosis include delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear). Other symptoms include incoherent or nonsense speech, and behavior that is inappropriate for the situation. A person in a psychotic episode may also experience depression, anxiety, sleep problems, social withdrawal, lack of motivation, and difficulty functioning overall.”

I remember the intake nurse was Black with her hair back in a bun, she sat me at a table in a small room with just a table and 2 chairs, the walls were a Salmon color. I remember at one point she was having some cookies and I must have said something as to wanting some so she gave me a package as well as some water when I saw her water bottle. The counselor from the rehab facility I was at sat with me initially helping me fill out the paperwork, I only got as far as writing my name and date of birth I think and then I handed her the form because I couldn’t focus or write anything else.

I’m so disappointed at the lack of communication from the staff at the rehab because she didn’t call the doctor or nurse at the facility to learn what medications I was on. She should have gotten in touch with the psychiatrist who ordered the change with my mood stabilizer. I’m upset that this psychiatrist just saw me once and after me telling her that I was a bit manic with racing thoughts and bouts of energy she increased the dosage on the 1 medication that has been working for me for over 10 years. How are you going to make such huge change to a person’s medication the first time you see this patient? She could have increased it slowly also instead of going from 80 milligrams to 120 milligrams. I have yet to call the rehab but I plan to call to let them know they messed up twice in my care. So not only was my medication changed overnight, the substance abuse facility also failed to give my list of medications AND to follow up with the hospital about my care. It’s like they just dropped me off at the hospital and said peace. The hospital told me when I was getting ready to discharge that the rehab was suppose to have contacted them to see about getting me back to the facility after I was discharged.

While at the hospital that evening in the waiting room there was at one point 3 of us. I should mention this hospital is only for behavioral health. There was a young white guy in his early to mid 20’s and a young Latino man with glasses. I remember yelling repeatedly I have to pee, I have to pee, I’m going to pee myself right here. Next thing I know the white dude went from my left side to the farthest corner of the room he could find. I remember the television was on and it was one of those Chicago Med or Chicago PD shows and while looking at the screen trying to focus on the scene I thought the show was live and that everyone was performing for my benefit. I thought somehow they were talking about how I should write my book about having bipolar and even days later this kept happening in that I would be watching a show and every plot was something I could relate to. I ended up waiting to go to the bathroom until they let me use it. Although I don’t know if I even took my shorts off or just ended up peeing on myself while sitting on the toilet, it’s a blur.

Something I ask myself now is will my manic episodes and bouts of psychosis get worse with age? This was an awful psychosis it was so bad that I had a number of staff surrounding me at one point when I fell. I remember faces of a black woman eating chips in front of me while I was restrained to a seat of sorts. Yes I was so out of it that they restrained me, this is the first time that has happened to me. I was yelling so loudly help me help me, I want to go home. I screamed so much and so loudly that my throat hurt the next few days. They took turns watching over me that 1st night upstairs in the unit I would be at for the rest of the week. I remember saying something along the lines of please let me go home over and over. I recall them telling me I couldn’t go home because it was the middle of the night. I basically spent the night restrained unable to move my arms more than a few inches. I’m not sure if at this point they had undressed me and put a hospital gown on me, but they weren’t letting me get up so I peed myself more than once. I didn’t eat anything that night and I just recall a staff member giving me sips of water at one point.

Those first few days at the hospital I was so out of it. I was all drugged up on I don’t know what and was walking around like those zombies from the Walking Dead. I don’t recall anything from the next day Wednesday, don’t recall eating or what I did. The only thing I remember was talking to one of my sisters and her accusing me of not taking my medication and that being why I was in the hospital. I got upset with her telling her I was taking my meds and hung up on her so upset. I didn’t call her the rest of the time I was there.

That first night I saw my hospital wristband with my name, my date of birth and the date I was being admitted and I honestly thought that I had died. I thought that was the date of my passing. I was so scared thinking I had somehow died from an overdose of sorts and what I was experiencing was my personal hell. I was so fucking scared! I thought I had died, that I died realizing that me having Bipolar and writing about it was my purpose in life and now I was dead surrounded by others who had figured that out too. I felt I was reliving over and over the same moments. I remember looking around and seeing a small window to my right where I just saw the ceiling on the other side and to my left a small window where faces would randomly just peek in during the night but those were just the nurse and staff checking in on me.

The worse part of being restrained while in a severe psychosis is that I felt like it was my personal hell after dying. Obviously I was so disconnected from reality because how would I have killed myself without any kind of drugs or access to anything. But that’s what I thought that I had died that I was in my personal hell in some kind of limbo of in between heaven and hell or maybe this was my hell because I was alone, devastated and unable to move. I continued screaming most of the night not sure if I slept much at all. They had injected me with a sedative that even 3 weeks later now my arm still hurts in that spot. A few days later when I was more myself I would discover bruises all over my arms and legs. I even had a bruise on my chin from when I fell.

While I was surrounded by the staff I thought I had discovered that I was dead and that I had found my purpose. I was meant to be Bipolar and those around me were bipolar too. I felt like they were welcoming me to this after life gathering. I remember I kept saying I’m Bipolar still and for some reason kept yelling the name of a guy friend I had a crush on for many years because I thought if I were to go back to that time when we were still friends we were meant to be together here. At one point I thought I was back at the first psych ward I was ever a patient at when I was 19 in California. I thought then I had gone back in time to make better decisions in life beginning with my first hospitalization. At one point I fell to the floor because it was all too much and part of me wanted to really see if I was alive or if I was just imagining everything and everyone around me so that’s how I got the bruise on my chin.

This psychosis was awfully scary. At one point the female staff helped me take a shower. Someone came in after me and he experienced the same. They had this “seclusion room” where they had the person sitting and probably restrained on our floor steps away from us, so we could hear him yelling and screaming like I had. I don’t understand why they would have him on the same floor, like couldn’t they try to sedate us somewhere separately from the rest of the patients so we couldn’t hear the agony they were in.

For the next few days after this I felt more like myself with the new mood stabilizer they had me which I was taking 3xs a day as well as medicine for my anxiety and to help me sleep. In that week at the hospital I swear I had the best naps ever because I can’t nap at home for the life of me even if I’m exhausted. As this was the 4th time I had been hospitalized for my mental health I knew that the coffee was decaf so I feel bad I busted another patient’s bubble when I was talking with him and this slipped out.

Due to the fact that I was restrained I was put in the unit with those that were a threat to themselves and others. There were only a few of us. Besides me there were 2 other young Black women and 4-5 other men. I didn’t mind being in this unit because I didn’t have a roommate and could sleep better instead of someone snoring at my ear. The last day before I was being discharged I was moved to another unit with more people because new patients were being admitted. I didn’t like this unit because there were a lot more people and the nurse was so busy I had a hard time trying to get my medication at times plus when I told her my blood pressure had been high for 2 days she said that was normal being in the hospital and that I was fine. They really should have had 2 nurses on that side for the amount of people they had. Also the techs on that side of the floor didn’t really have group therapy sessions. They just had quiet time for patients to get their medication and make their calls. The staff member had no control over the group of people, I honestly don’t think he was qualified because he didn’t facilitate any positive group sessions while I was on that side the day and a half.

I realize that as much I would like this to be my last hospitalization that is wishful thinking for someone with an addiction and mental illness. Before I stopped drinking people would ask how are you drinking and taking medication? I’ll be on medication for the rest of my life for Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety and my Thyroid condition. Once I have some time of sobriety under my belt I would like to go back to having a drink socially at family gatherings but for the time being I’m choosing not to drink because I want a healthy more positive lifestyle for myself.

I may relapse at one point, have cravings or really think I need a drink because I have triggers or may just have a stressful day. If I do decide to drink in the next year or 2, I have no one to blame but myself. This is my recovery, no one should be lecturing me like a child or giving me any advice in regards to how I should do things unless it’s something positive because they haven’t been where I am.

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