Question everything. Labels useless. Anger. Sadness. Madness. I still surround myself with reminders of my mental health status in spring 2013. I volunteer at a mental health housing facility. Today I had to complete some training and there was information about involuntary holds and mandatory medications. It almost made me cry reading the words on the screen. I remembered my forced hospitalization. I remembered the hospital staff drugging me – injecting mind altering drugs into my ass. It hurt. I cried and screamed. I remember being drug off a toilet midstream and being taken to the bed and held down while someone stuck a needle in my ass. Humiliating. Degrading. And somehow – totally legal in 2013. This happened in Boulder, of all places. So much for patient rights and a progressive society. I know something wasn’t right with me – but my god – there has to be a better way to treat people. It’s hard for me to comprehend what my life was less than two years ago. Today I sit in a cubicle at a fairly respectable job I hate. I make $70k a year. I’m interviewing for jobs that pay $80k a year. I’m interviewing at “good jobs” in fancy offices. I’m educated, smart, and for the most part – well spoken. Most people would never guess I spent a month in a mental hospital, crying and screaming with drool running down my face. Running the halls naked and threatening to kill police. I was diagnosed as bipolar, but I can’t accept that. I tried to play along for a while and learn what I could, but it just doesn’t fit. I don’t take any medication these days, and I’m perfectly fine. If I did what I was told and what was recommended I would probably be a fat zombie by now. I probably wouldn’t have a full time job and I’d be depressed by the weight gain and foggy thoughts the medication causes. I’m becoming more and more skeptical of mental health diagnosis criteria and the drugs they force upon us. Do they really help? Do they cause more harm than good? I’m not sure – but I know for me, drugs were not the answer. I had an experience – marijuana induced psychosis and mania. It’s gone now and I don’t need drugs to keep it in check. I am just me. Drug fee.
Done with the label
Some sort of fable
I’ll never know what it was
Psychosis, violence, an endless buzz
It’s in the past
It didn’t last
A month of confusion
A long road to recovery
A period of discovery
I understand my mind
So much anger and trauma, left behind
Entering a new phase
The last year, a bit of a daze
One foot in front of the other
Taking care of myself
Like I’m my own mother
Judging every smile
Looking at you – wondering when you’ll turn wild
I’ve never been one to be mild
I prefer to behave like a child
Carefree, a bit of a goof, slightly aloof
Dancing in my underwear
Feeling free, without a care
I’ve always been a little odd
Then I came to believe I was god
Now everyone questions my every move
It’s hard to get back into my groove
My words are under a microscope
Don’t sound too strange – that’s what they hope
Stay in line, return to being blind
Pretend like you never saw the light
Don’t let your brain take flight
Stay in your lane
This isn’t a game
No more laughter
Is that what they’re after?
If I seem slightly manic
They get in a panic
I’m just having a good time
It’s fun to lose your mind
Just a little bit – still able to press rewind
It’s hard to believe it’s already May. This year is going by so fast. I love the spring time, and I’m so thankful to be out in the real world to experience it. This time last year, I was trapped behind the hospital walls, in the psych ward. Last year, on this day, I believed the world was renewed. It was the beginning of a new world. I wrote about this day before, but wanted to repost it now.
On May 1st I watched the sunrise while sitting on the ledge of the window in my new stark-white room. I sat on the wide windowsill, my legs perched upon it. The sky looked different, like a bluish purple color. Indigo. It reminded me of book I came across years ago, about indigo children – a new generation of children with amazing powers and abilities. Was this the Indigo sky? Are we the Indigo children? But, I’m not a child. I pondered these thought as I looked out at the sky. I returned to my bed and sat in the same upright position with my knees to the sky. I buried myself in the blanket. Like a frightened child I sat with the blanket completely over me. I wasn’t afraid of the dark; I found the cocoon comforting. Inside the blanket that earthy, organic smell enveloped me. It was as if I was in a chrysalis and I would emerge a beautiful butterfly – or at least a beautiful and compassionate human-being.
I felt like that day was the first day of the new world. A more loving and compassionate world existed just outside the hospital walls, if only I could escape. Can we call this “one” I asked aloud. I nodded yes to my own question. I thought it was day 1 of the new world. It was a fresh start. All day long I asked everyone I encountered, nurses, patients, and doctors – “did you see the sunrise?” It was breathtaking. “Out of this world,” I proclaimed.
Then, looking out on the neighborhood behind the hospital I saw a house. It was a grand house, filled with many windows and rooms. It was a modern design, something I’d always admired. It was the grandest house in the neighborhood. It towered over the houses on either side. It was the house I had always dreamed of, “Is that my house? Do I live there?” My intuition told me yes, and so I believed that was my home. Or, at least, it could be and it would be in another reality plane.
I felt so much love for everyone and everything. Well, everyone but the people who were trying to get me to take medication. I thought they were trying to silence me and change the course of history. I believed they wished to harm me, and I feared for my life. I already believed Doctors had killed me in the ER when my heart stopped beating. I didn’t trust them at all. Each time they tried to give me medication I refused. I thought the Doctors were not real Doctors, they were simply projections I had imagined, with names that sounded like Charlton and bed-wetter. “These are not real Doctors,” I openly proclaimed.
The Doctors wanted to make it easy, to make me sleep, to make me stable, but I wanted none of it. I felt I had been enlightened, surely they wouldn’t understand. They could not see the world through my lens, and they weren’t interested in trying. I had been violent and aggressive and they needed to sedate me. I didn’t think I needed drugs, all I needed was some time. I would wail in the night, screaming and crying. I was fighting for my reality, for my vision of a less material world and a less medicated society. I wanted to create something new. A world where people helped one and other, where jobs were no longer needed. I was dreaming of a commune – a place where friends and family helped each other, where everyone enjoyed meals together. We would sing and dance and celebrate life each and every day. This was not the reality the Doctors had in mind.
All night long I looked at the limited number of vehicles in the parking lot. Some of them seemed familiar. I thought they were my rescue crew, waiting for the cloak of darkness to move me to someplace new. I thought the problem was that I looked dead. I thought they needed to move me at night, so I would go unnoticed by the government, or by other people. I looked like a monster, or a zombie, I thought. Would they be frightened of me? I believed I could not be resurrected again until I could leave the hospital. I was patient all night long. Eventually I clothed myself in the blanket and began singing an REM song in my head, “it’s the end of the world as we know….I feel fine….I feel fine.” I was in so much pain and had such fear that I was rotting, of dying. Shadows of darkness crept into my mind and I had a long night of singing and praying before the sun rose again.
It’s been a year
I think I’m in the clear
I’m tired of living in fear
Fear of myself
Fear of my health
I’m ready for something new
I want to see it through
I’m better than I used to be
That’s easy for me to see
But issues still linger
Like I need to pull out a stinger
But it’s a part of me now
The trauma, the horror, the things I allow
I’m integrating various parts
It’s like a fine art
All the moving pieces, sliding about
Some move in, some move out
What’s left is my bare soul
I’m being made whole
These days seem so significant. It’s that time – it’s been a year since I lost my mind. On this day last year I was fully insane, unable to comprehend what was happening to me. I thought I died on this day and was resurrected. I was scared of what was happening to my body. I was outside of my body. Outside of my mind. Floating in thoughts and daydreams. Chanting, convulsing, cold sweats and vomit.
It seems like a day for celebration. Certainly a time for contemplation. I’ve survived the most horrific time of my life. I’ve come out of it. I’m here. I’m sane. I’m relatively fine. I’m outside – in the real world. I even have a job. I have people who love me. I love me.
It’s funny though – despite all the horror of what happened to me, I don’t see it as a bad thing. My husband tells me to stop glorifying it. He has a point. I do see it as something special, a blessing of some sort. Something like that doesn’t just happen for no reason. There has to be some good to come out of it. The days leading up to my breaking point were pure bliss. I felt like I had attained enlightenment. I felt privileged and special. Chosen, even. Just because I lost my mind, that doesn’t negate all of those feelings, that experience. Still, I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone go through what I went through. It was frightening. It was like I imagine death to be. In fact, I thought I died three times during the early stages of my episode. That is an intense experience. Yet, it is strangely comforting – peaceful even. See – I’m all over the place, the horror – the beauty. It was both things. It was a complicated event.
I guess I always thought bipolar was simply a mood disorder, an inability to regulate feelings. I never imagined that it could lead to hallucinations and complete disassociation. Utter insanity. I always thought those things were relegated to some other disorder – schizophrenia maybe. I had no idea. Who knew that an elevated mood could lead to an inability to live in this world – a complete break from reality. I thought the nurses and doctors were people I knew, only they were in different bodies, on a different reality plane. I couldn’t comprehend that I didn’t know these people – I kept calling them names of people I did know, people they slightly resembled, or just “felt” like. That was just one small piece of the confusion going on in my mind.
Some people don’t believe anyone can ever recover from something like that. They can’t accept that healing is possible. They are afraid of mental illness and they don’t want to believe it can happen to a “regular” person. Well, it can. It does happen. You can overcome it. I think I just have more depth now, I’m more complicated. My soul has been carved with some deep lines and ridges. I’m more beautiful. I’m more complete.
I want to feel the magic again. The feeling you get when you sit outside, with a cool breeze blowing, the trees swaying back and forth. The feeling of pure bliss, with the sun shining and the birds singing in your ears. The smile that spreads across my face as the squirrels run up and down the fence and bunnies hop about – chasing each other and fleeing from my adorable dachshund. The beauty of the moment. The joy I feel as I let go of myself completely – when I dance wildly, limbs flailing, eyes closed, hips gyrating. The emotions that overwhelm me – the joy that brings tears running down my face. The love I feel in my heart as I thank the universe for giving me the opportunity to experience so much happiness in my life. I want to feel it again. The complete surrender to some force greater than myself. The loss of control. The loss of fear. No more anxiety. No more worries. Complete bliss.
The thing that breaks my heart is that once you are labeled bipolar you are told you cannot feel these things again – that is mania, and mania is bad. Fuck that! I refuse to give up on pure bliss and love. I WILL feel it again. I have no desire to lose my mind again – hallucinating, hearing voices – that is not fun. But, the magic, the love – I know I can find it again. Before I ever had my episode, I felt these feelings. I have always had moments of bliss, of feeling at one with nature – of feeling in complete control of my destiny, of feeling powerful in my own life. Call it mania if you like, but I am determined to experience it again…and again…and again. It’s how I want to feel. It’s how I’m meant to feel. It’s who I’m meant to be. I will be happy again, I will continue to seek enlightenment and I will find my bliss.