My Bipolar Diagnosis

August 24th, 2010

2007 I declared would be “Year of Beth”. I was feeling grrrrreat! I told my friends that this would be my year. My year to take my career to the next level. My year to take my relationship to the next level. My year to……well you get the picture. I know now that I was in a  hypomanic episode and as those diagnosed know what goes up must come down and boy did I go down.

By June, I was in a full blown major depression. I couldn’t “snap out of it”. Everything that worked in the past wasn’t working anymore. I had never felt this horrible. I was useless at work. The simplest reports I couldn’t do any more. All day I would just open and close files on my computer, but I couldn’t write anything.

By August I went to my GP. I remember being in the waiting room for about an hour and thinking everyone knew I was depressed. I didn’t do depression. I looked at it as a sign of weakness and I didn’t want to be weak. When my GP walked into the examination room I burst into tears. He was shocked. He always saw me as happy go lucky Beth; full of drive and a great sense of humor.  I was a blubbering mess. He is a great doctor and took the time to talk to me; then prescribed me a SSRI anti-depressant and scheduled another appointment the following week. I was already planning my exit from life, but I thought the anti-d’s would save me. It actually made things worse.

Throughout August I tried unsuccessfully to off myself. The last attempt would have worked, but I was found and was taken to the local Psychiatric Hospital. I was committed……I’ve saved the papers. I don’t know what to do with them, but I feel I needed to save them. Kinda like saving tickets to a great concert, but not. My Psychiatrist explained I would need to spend the night on the Emergency ward because there were no beds available on the “lock down” ward. It was an actual padded room and I was locked in. Security would accompany the nurses when they checked my vitals; gave me my meds etc. I should have been humiliated, but I was past that. The next afternoon I went to lock down. Not a fun ward and I hope I never have to go back. By my last day I was in a full blown mixed episode and felt like I had lost my mind. I sobbed to my Psychiatrist that I felt like I was an animal in a zoo with no enrichment. I was not well.

The following week on Monday, I had been on the open ward for 3 days. I woke up at 7 am and I felt GRRREAT! I signed out my hair dryer; straightening iron; did my hair and FULL face of make-up. Very necessary for a patient staying on a psychiatric ward. The nurses were all pleased. “How great Beth your doctor is going to be soooo happy.” I told my friends that I would be getting out by the end of the week.

I met with my Psychiatrist and told her how great I felt. She responded that this was good, but she wanted to keep an eye on it since there is bipolar in my family. I told her no problem, but I knew I didn’t have bipolar. Progressively through the week I started to get irritable. I chalked this up to me being better and I didn’t need to be locked up anymore. My natural character is to be very compassionate to others, but I started getting snappy with other patients. I told my friend that it was because I couldn’t be around THESE negative people.

By Friday I woke up at 6 am and signed out my cell phone. I was a volunteer with Big Brothers and Sisters and had missed my weekend with my “Little Sister”. That morning at 6 am felt like the perfect time to call my little sister’s social worker and leave her a message on why I didn’t show up. It was a horrible message. I rambled. One of the lines was “I’m in the hospital, but don’t worry I’m not dying”. Two hours later I had come back down to earth and I was mortified. My Psychiatrist was at the front desk on the ward and I walked up to her and said I felt “Coo Coo”. She asked what do you mean? All I could explain was that I felt “Coo Coo.”

That night I was taken off the anti-depressants and I was given the dreaded peach pill (Lithium). My mom has bipolar, so I knew what my Psychiatrist thought I had. My Psychiatric Hospital stay was 6 weeks. Do I see depression or any other mental illness as being weak? Definitely not. It takes a lot of courage to reach out for help and I just about died from trying to suffer in silence. I will not do that again.

Thanks for reading. Beth