The Thing I Can’t Change

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Prompt 2. If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be? Why can’t it change?

If I could change anything about myself it would be my mental health. My problems began shortly after I had Tyler and since then I have never been able to get a grip on my brain.

On January 24th, 2012 I attempted suicide. While in the hospital I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. I was hospitalized for two weeks with Intensive Outpatient Therapy to follow. For months I remained depressed with Suicidal Ideation which is fantasizing about suicide.

I had a few months of feeling pretty well when we moved to Ohio and then I started cycling towards Mania. This was right around the time Grant and I split up, December of 2012. I credit my hypomanic state for giving me the courage to leave my marriage, but eventually I went Manic and had to be hospitalized.

Tyler stayed with Grant while I was in the hospital. Being paranoid is part of my mania and I thought Grant would use my mental illness to sue me for custody of Tyler. I felt like I was imprisoned during my hospitalization, I couldn’t wait to get my son back. I didn’t understand that the doctors were trying to make me better. Thank God I had my new boyfriend, Jacques, coming to visit me.

I stayed in the hospital for two weeks and felt better but the medication made me zombie-like and foggy and soon caused me to be depressed. I felt like I was moving through molasses. About a month after being released from the hospital for mania, I went in again for depression. Another two week stay and I was released feeling no better. Tyler was staying with Grant because I didn’t feel functional enough to take care of him.

I started to get better and went back to having partial custody of Tyler. I always felt depressed, although I was able to take care of Tyler. Jacques helped out by doing the cooking and cleaning for me.

This isn’t the post for me to write about what being in a psychiatric hospital is like but I will say that for me, they can be scary places. Rubber rooms, padded cells, straightjackets, shots to calm you down if you are out of control…they have them all, although I have never needed them. Seeing people worse off than you can be scary as well.

My last manic episode was this past May. I had been put on Ritalin in the hopes of clearing up my brain fog and mania is a possible side effect. I got off the drug pretty quickly because I started having symptoms. My paranoia was back and I had a huge fight with Jacques, accusing him of making me sick. One day I felt faint and was having chest pains. I couldn’t breathe so I called 9-1-1. I was alone and scared to death.

When I got to the hospital I had a full-on manic episode. I was hooked up to the heart monitor and I had an auditory hallucination that it had stopped beeping and made the steady sound like I was dead. But I was still moving around. In my delusion I felt that I had died and was a prophet, kind of like Jesus. (Damn, but I am a crazy bitch aren’t I?) Religious delusions are actually quite common in mania. I’m not quite sure what I said in the emergency room, what was real, what was in my head, but I told the doctors and nurses that I had died and death was painless.

I obviously got sent to the hospital. I was still very deluded and so this stay was a peaceful one. I saw signs of Jesus all around me, like in the graffiti. I thought all the patients, doctors and nurses around me were either angels or devils. I was smart enough to keep these thoughts to myself. I stayed in the hospital again for two weeks, but mostly to monitor my physical conditions because I had also been diagnosed with diabetes and asthma.

When I got released, Jacques picked me up and my delusion went away.

Since then I’ve been on the depressed side, not suicidal, not thinking about it in any way but just struggling.

Every time I get out of the hospital I say that this time will be my last but I can’t say that for sure. I don’t know if I will ever feel balanced again. I know that some people can live normal lives with bipolar but that hasn’t been my experience. In the meantime I just take my medicines, go to therapy and hope that there will be a better course of treatment for me.


Photo credit: anasoriano

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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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12 Responses to The Thing I Can’t Change

  1. I am so sorry to know of your struggles…thanks for sharing your story here. We can’t always change things about ourselves that we might like, but we sure can choose how we live with them.
    I also have RA and I’m fascinated by your doctor’s term “burnt out” of your system.
    Best to you!
    Lisa @ The Meaning of Me´s last blog post ..Sage Advice

    • mamasick says:

      It’s true, Lisa, every day I try the best I can with my son being my top priority. With newer, better medications, I think you will be hearing the term “burnt out” more often! The best of luck to you!

  2. carol says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your struggles. I agree with Lisa… sometimes we can’t change what life dishes out, but we can change how we live with them. Best of luck in finding your way out and back into the sunshine!

  3. Kimberly says:

    Thank you…Thank you for being so courageous for writing this. People don’t understand the hell that this illness is. I am right with you on the front lines of this bloody nightmare…
    …I’m bipolar and mine started after I had my son. It was actually diagnosed as postpartum depression and then it morphed into bipolar. Right now I’m one toe away from being put in the hospital for major depression with psychotic features (I have paranoia and this round I have olfactory hallucinations – I smell things that aren’t there). I’ve only been hospitalized once and that was a nightmare.
    Anyways, I just wanted to say that you’re not alone. I hope with all hopes that it gets easier for you, for me, for all of us struggling. xoxo
    Kimberly´s last blog post ..The Voice

    • mamasick says:

      I’m glad you stopped by, Kimberly. It is really hard to write about the horrors of mental illness but when I do I am usually rewarded with someone like you, with a similar experience. I hate the hospital too but sometimes it is necessary. The best of luck to you and I will check out your blog!

  4. Kat says:

    This is so hard to read. I remember when you first started participating in Writer’s Workshop years ago, I always looked forward to your writing. When you stopped contributing and sort of fell off the map of the Internet I worried that something might be wrong. I hate that you have to struggle with this and I always feel a little relief when you pop back up onto my radar.
    Kat´s last blog post ..National Hot Buttered Rum Day

  5. Hi. This is a very moving post to read, no doubt to write as well. It’s helped me understand the sort of things that someone with Bipolar Disorder has to cope with. Thank you so much for sharing your world, as hard and as difficult as it is, it’s a gift for us readers – your writing has brought a real insight. Blogger´s last blog post ..Women and MECFS: Response To ActionForME – How Monthly Cycle Affects Symptoms

    • mamasick says:

      It was a hard post to write but it is rewarding when I am able to show someone what having bipolar is like and when someone with bipolar sees themselves in my writing. I’m glad you stopped by.

  6. Sandra says:

    As Kimberly said, you’re not alone. Mental illness is debilitating, but the very fact that you can express it, share it, describe its nuances only shows how very strong you are. And your voice needs to be heard. I understand only too well how easily it is to sneak away in the dark of night, away from the writing, and the outlet that gives us some semblance of peace. But keep writing. You are brilliant.
    Sandra´s last blog post ..Life Lessons From a Dog

    • mamasick says:

      I’ve been going through a depressive period and when I am depressed find it very difficult to find inspiration. I’ve gone many months without blogging. Thank you for your wonderful compliment, you can’t imagine how much it means. Off to take a look at your blog!

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