Inpatient Treatment · Mania

Swinging from the chandeliers

Quick update. I was hospitalised on Valentine’s day and was diagnosed as having a ‘manic’ episode as part of bipolar disorder. The past week or two feel hazy, surreal, and I’m only now starting to come down after being pumped full of haloperidol and lorazepam. I’m due to start lithium tonight.

It’s all scary…I mean, it’s not like bipolar disorder hasn’t been mentioned before- two weeks ago I was told my highs weren’t quite high enough and they were looking at a cyclothymia diagnosis, the illness has been mentioned a handful of times in my notes as an underlying possibility and myself and my mum have suspected some sort of mood disorder, particularly since a hypomanic episode last summer. But here I am. And it’s difficult hearing those words out loud, scary hearing the same nurses that have seen me at rock bottom tell me how ‘manic’ I have been, that if there were chandeliers on the ward, I’d be swinging from them, referring to ‘my’ ‘manic depression’, handing me leaflets on lithium and depakote.

Last night I had a bit of a wobble- like everything just kind of hit me? That this is it, after six years of being in mental health services and 7.5 years of struggling, there is a name for it- and a hugely terrifying one at that. That as well managed as it might be, it is something I have for life. And so for the first time, I began to understand a little (teeny tiny bit) where they are all coming from, just how out of my ‘normal’ realm I’ve been.

For now I am still in hospital. My consultant told me today I am ‘cutting it fine’ to go on holiday in a few weeks and that I am not able to drive for 3 months. I’m finding both those things hard pills to swallow. There’s still a little trickle of mania left- my thoughts are still racing a bit and I am slightly doubting my insistence today that the consultant lower my haloperidol as I’m starting to feel a little restless again after this afternoon’s lower dose. The worms. And I am failing to see why I still need to be in hospital- surely now I am more ‘settled’ I am taking up a bed for someone who really needs it? Surely now the worst of the mania has passed I don’t need to remain in hospital for another few weeks to get stabilised on lithium?

But as always the nurses on the ward are brilliant and endlessly patient and compassionate with me. They will get me well, they will get me stable and sorted and I will go on to begin my nursing course in September, and I will be back to take over their jobs when they retire. That, they are assuring me of. I’m petrified, I’m desperately wishing I had a normal brain. One of my favourite nurses said to me that day I arrived on the ward, handing me a dixie cup full of sedatives ‘trust me, how many times have you trusted me before?’ I do trust them, I will get well.

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