Wasn’t sure how to start this. I thought of a million ways to not be too open or vulnerable. I am ashamed of many things as of late. I do feel like a failure in many ways. One being this failure of my mind. Which in turn has failed my body and my wife. I’ll just put it out there, I’m a liar, a fucking bull shitter, fucking liar. Lying by omission is still lying. The most hurtful was lying to myself. I try to put this person out there of this pillar of strength and this untouchable being against all that is bad. I am not perfect and I know that, but I strive my hardest to be and in doing so I forget to take those humbling steps back or those slow breaths to gain perspective.
I’ll just come out with it, I relapsed. It was a long way in the coming because I had ignored many of the warning signs leading me there. One being the descent from many hypomanic spells and rapid cycling that started to come more and more over the past four months. I think I did see the warning signs but chose to ignore them. For starters I stopped working out and made excuses to myself and even shared some with my wife. One being that I just wanted to take a break from the physical and strive to be more cerebral. But then I wasn’t really writing to where I enjoyed it but it became a job. It has never been a job and I would get anxious on days when I could not write, I wanted to be writing that much. I never try to forget just how lucky I am in many ways, to be doing what I love and to be my own boss at that. My new sobriety date is May 24th. I felt so guilty after that when I would tell people I don’t drink. Yes, it was only that one time so I had a partial remission but I was ashamed and the ultimate fraud to people.
I began to isolate. I also found an excuse for that. I just needed to be deep in my writing. To close the door and just commit to that. I wasn’t committing to shit except sitting in a cluttered office watching movies that aggravated my emotions and bursting into tears out of nowhere. I always made sure to be quiet in my agony because I didn’t want my wife to know just how much I was hurting. I usually don’t want anyone to know that. I’m good at torturing myself like being just as good at being an addict. I was alone in a cold room cause the heater doesn’t work but somehow it felt right. To hole myself within walls that suffocated with cold darkness. That was the crash. I didn’t see it coming. Denial is just as strong as anger. Here is an excerpt from a journal entry when I began to aggressively isolate:
May 22nd, 2016
I’ve been wanting to be alone for the past few days. Just hole myself up in my office. I just want to be in here. I wish I could be single again. Not because I don’t want to be with my wife. Because one of my biggest fears is letting her down. I know I’ve already done that. I can’t even look her in the eyes anymore.
The point when I recognized I needed to do something was when I became suicidal. My ideation at the time was of running my car head first as fast as I could into oncoming traffic. That was it, I needed help bad. I have only ever wanted to hurt myself and that thought made me realize that while I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone, driving yourself into traffic would do just that. The problem with our mental health system unfortunately is that while this subject is still taboo, the beds at hospitals and appointments to get seen for med management and counseling are full. So the need is there but we just don’t talk about it. To be seen by a civilian I would have to be on a ten month waiting list. I was with a VA (Veteran Administration) psychiatrist the week before the thought of hurting myself but it was an assessment and she was reluctant to prescribe meds. I understand that. I unfortunately would have to wait two weeks for any new meds to try and fix what had gone so miserably wrong. It was the VA who started my downward spiral. Four months prior I had met with a med management provider who was on his last leg at terrible burn out. He took me off one of my meds that was working and prescribed two new ones. I took them thinking well maybe this guy with the alphabet soup after his name knew what he is doing. Well, not so much. After four months and getting advice from my civilian doctor, I decided to check myself into inpatient treatment on the psych ward here in town. I was desperate. I need this to keep my relationship healthy but mostly myself. I went to the store and phoned my wife that I would be picking up bath products for my stay and heading home to pack my bags.
Finally, to the emergency room, I was very honest and told them everything. I wanted to hold nothing back regardless of how vulnerable it would make me. There was nothing more that I needed at this point than to save myself. My wife stayed by my side in the ER for six hours and after talking to several doctors. Finally, her eyes and my own glassy and red, we made our way to the psych ward haven. Fifth floor Hilton of fifteen minute bed checks and no shoelaces. I was nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect, anxiety made me nauseated and I could feel the veins in my neck pulsate. I checked in on June 1st.
The next day I kept to myself and really only stayed in my room. The place was much different than the military hospital where I did two stints involuntary for suicide attempts. There was actually more freedom which helped to loosen me up a bit. I was alone to myself in my room and even had my own shower. I had previously had a roommate the night before but she was having some sleep issues so they moved her closer to the nurses’ station. I didn’t have to go to group if I didn’t want to. Basically I didn’t have to do shit at all. Granted being proactive helps you to get out of there but I did just need the adjustment of doing nothing for the first day.
On was on edge and pissy to begin with. My day had started with major anxiety from the time I had gotten up. I went to the nurses’ station to get my meds. I have bad asthma. So I was a little tight in the chest in the morning. Sometimes that can lead to a bad asthma attack. I told the nurse I needed my inhaler and for whatever reason they did not have it in the computer. They are strict with doling out meds on the fifth floor. Unfortunately for me who has been hospitalized three times and intubated once for severe asthma attacks I didn’t get my fucking inhaler for one and a half frigon hours. So the whole time my anxiety grew from fear. That dictated how the rest of my day was going to go. And well it did not go.
Everything was pissing me off. I was actually irritated with the lack of structure in a sense. In the army hospital all things were mandatory and there was no such thing as your own room and shower and they could care less if the person in your room had night terrors and kept you up all night. Later that day however and something that just set me off edge was a group I actually did try to attend. It is called “Co-Occurring or Dual-Diagnosis” It is when you have a mental health issue with an addiction issue. I have never been officially diagnosed as such but I know I’m a recovering alcoholic and I do have bipolar disorder. Long story short before I could even sit down the nurse in charge of the group told me I had to leave because I wasn’t on some fucking list. I asked her what made me eligible to be considered an addict and she just told me to speak with a nurse outside. Bullshit and fuck you I thought. There I was after a shitty day trying to engage and be proactive in my treatment and I was fucking told to leave a group. I decided I didn’t like it there and would put in the paperwork to sign myself out. It’s called I. T.T. (Inpatient Termination of Treatment)
I called the wife basically telling her, “Fuck this shit, fuck these people, fucking bitches, blah, blah, blah.”
Yeah, the first day was not fun for me. I met with a nurse and filled out the paperwork. Med time came though and it would be the first day trying me out on my new drug. I took it and about thirty minutes later I could feel a difference. I was actually calm. I had actually not realized just how on edge I had been. Hell, even for that long, months even. I was not even sure at that point how I had held it “together” for so damn long. I consider myself lucky. They say the drug is supposed to take three days for most people but immediately I could feel the change. I was so grateful. God, so relieved. I even went and apologized to the nurses I balled out and revoked my decision to leave inpatient care. The next few days would be some of the best days of my life. Many may ask how that is. Well, I met some of the most real people you could ever meet. We were all in there for a reason, nothing to hide. It didn’t matter if you were involuntary or voluntary. There was no need to be that cool kid either. You’re not so cool walking around with velcro and zip ties for shoelaces. I actually had fun and enjoyed groups. I was quite engaged in the program and people could even tell that I had some sort of counseling back ground (I worked as a substance abuse counselor for a short period of time).
So there it is. It is out in the open and I am very ok with being imperfect and even being vulnerable. I tend to think that many people see me as this hard core being. In actuality I’m that person that will cry at happy animal videos and tear up in the greeting card section of stores. I am happy and safe and I feel confident this time. I am also more aware and have promised to myself to be open with my wife. She is in love with me as I am with her and she is the one person in my life that has been the most understanding and completely unconditional in that love. I’m not going to worry if I let her down in this way again, cause well, I just might. Maybe not a letdown per say but to me it will feel as such. I live with bipolar disorder. Let me say that again, I live with bipolar disorder. It is me, a part of me and I am so exhausted running from something that will always keep pace with me. So I shall embrace it and as I say, “Embrace what they told you is crazy.” I will, thank you, because it has made me the best of what I can be, a survivor and a humbled human being.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255