The day was Monday, January 15th 2018. The alarm was a punch in the gut after a long night of tossing and turning. I struggled to get my eyes open as I reached for the phone. My husband was already gone for work and I could hear the kids rummaging about. Austin's heavy cough broke the dull pattern of movement. He had been sick since Christmas. This was a new one though, since Saturday. But I knew he couldn't stay home today.
One foot in front of the other, I slowly walked to the bathroom to pee. I didn't bother looking in the mirror and I didn't bother combing my hair. It had been three days since I had done that, why start now? I threw on my baggy jeans, a t-shirt that went to my knees and the sweater that's three sizes too big. Levi knew something was up, he was being extra helpful. Austin was just sick and spent the morning begging to stay home. It killed me. I made two lunches and in an autopiloted haze, I drove the kids to school and walked them to their class. Austin begged again to be home with me. But between the teacher and I, we convinced him that he would miss out on so much fun if he left. He gave me one last hug and walked away. I took a breath, turned around and walked what felt like six blocks to my car. I feel like such an asshole for leaving him at school. But I had to do this. Another deep breath. Turn key. Shift gear. Go. "Today is the day you check yourself in."
I don't remember many of the details on the drive... or any. My advice, get someone to drive you if you suspect you might be crazy. I was so terrified. "Are they going to keep me?" Or "What if you ARE crazy?". What if its nothing but a panic attack and I am sent home with the realization that this is the way my brain works... its just life baby! This was my biggest fear. Anxiety has tricked me and ruin my day thousands of times, was this just a repeat? I walked in and sat down. I cried before I could even open my mouth. And I chocked out the words. "Can I see someone in mental health, please?" Words I never thought I would say. I never thought my mental health would ever get this bad. The first thing I said to the nurse, was "I cant stop the chatter." I was living my life three days before this. I was dancing, I was happy, I was excited. Then one day, I wasn't. It was like someone had died. And that voice that's always been there, it was getting louder. I cried for three days. Sobbing. Not only can I not stop crying, that voice is yelling at me to do shit. Not like kill my family shit, but shit none the less. I couldn't turn off the noise. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had never been able to.
The first doctor I was nice and all, but simply suggested an Ativan and I'll be me on my way. Thankfully the mental health nurse was there and able to talk to me. She asked me a pile of questions. When she asked me if anyone in my family had ever been diagnosed with bi-polar, it confirmed my own suspicions. I had only recently thought it might be bi-polar, but not actually. I never thought I believed it. Less than fifteen minutes after speaking with the second nurse, I got to see a second doctor. It didn't take long. "The bad news is, its bi-polar disorder. The good news is, its treatable." I cant even describe this feeling. Relief maybe. It was surreal. To me, bi-polar was right up there with the real kind of crazy that no one talks about. (And this is the main reason I feel like I need to talk about it and normalize it. I am sure I'm not the only one who went, "Whoa, she is actually a crazy person." when they found out about my diagnosis.) He gave me a prescription for lithium and set me up with an appointment to see a professional.
Bi-polar disorder for me means not being able to regulate my mood. It doesn't matter how much I eat right, exercise, be vegan, be awesome, be fearless, do more, take naps, do less, meditate, go to yoga... I can do everything right and still feel like I want to kill myself. It got to the point where I was wishing to get cancer to that I could just not have to deal with my brain anymore. Its too much. Its too hard.
And then there were days where I feel ignited! I can do anything! I can choreography two songs, sew a ball gown, clean the kitchen, cook dinner, dance, workout, and stay up late to sew corsets. I feel electric and I believe that nothing will get in my way because whatever it is, I am destined to do it. Its magic and exhausting. I feel like a superhero and its become part of me.
Now that I am happily medicated, I can "live a normal life". I don't feel as much as I used to and I will have to work at keeping my meds regulated for the rest of my life. If I do a workout twice in one day, my meds are thrown off and I will spend the night crying. I need to drink a ton of water, which means I pee a ton. My creativity, while still there, has been moved to another part of my brain, like the basement. Its harder to access and that sucks. But I am mostly ok with it. Is there a possibility of me falling off the wagon and start believing the purple elephants are coming for me? Sure. But really that's possible for most of you reading this.
I am sharing this for two reasons. One, is that if you think you might have a mental health problem, are too depressed to shake it off, or whatever the issue may be, go in and get it looked at. Get help. Its not that scary. Now that I have a diagnosis and medication, I feel like a normal person and I no longer picture myself drowning in a rushing waterfall. Reason number two, bi-polar is not that scary. Its hard. It will always be with me not many people understand what its like. So lets just keep talking about and seriously, ask me anything.