So I went on holiday and I had a fabulous time and I came home and three days later I was readmitted to hospital.
And that’s how fast it all felt. See, I was still ‘elated’ when I was discharged. When I arrived back on the ward the nurses told me this, that I had been really pushing for discharge, that I shouldn’t have been allowed out for the bloody holiday at all. I was a lot more ‘settled’, sure, but I still didn’t understand why dancing on the tables singing Frozen was ‘inappropriate’ and I still believed (and still do) that the problem was everyone else’s and not mine. But I took the pills to get out and said nothing when each time they lowered the haloperidol I felt myself creep a little higher. And I got on holiday.
The frustration I’d felt in hospital surrounding taking my meds hadn’t left, and one morning I cried angry tears at the injustice of it all- all these fuckers trying to slow me down, take away the buzz- it was them who had an issue with my mood, not me! After one particularly good day something shifted and I went from being reluctant to take my medication to being unable to. But having been out of hospital only a handful of days I still had the warnings from doctors and nurses that it was Imperative that I take them fresh in my mind and rang the ward. I spoke to a nurse I didn’t really know, crunching through snow and sliding down a hill and breathing in crisp Alpine air. After hanging up I made my way back to the apartment feeling much the same about it all. Half an hour or so later I got a call from an unknown number and the person on the other side simply said ‘who is your favourite nurse that is going to kill you if you don’t take your medication’. I was instructed to get a glass, and she stayed on the phone with me until I had them swallowed. The nurse told me she wanted me to check in with the ward when I got back from holiday to let them know I’d taken my meds.
But things didn’t slow down. Mum was saying things like I’d come out too soon, she thought I needed to go back to come down again, that I was as high as the chairlifts. So I spent nights wide awake panicking, going for 3am walks in the snow to try stop the buzzing in my head. Mum didn’t know if I was being serious when I tried to lift the safety bar on the chairlifts or when I asked if the pilot would let me fly the plane home or could I climb out the window onto the foot wide ledge or up the crane that was on the site of the half finished apartment building nearby, or if I was winding her up. On the second last day I had a bad fall, as in, I fell 50 metres down a mogul field and the instructor I was with said it was the worst he’d seen in his life. But I escaped with a few measly bruises and a sore knee and knew this meant I was magic after all.
Magic Alice fully restored, by the time I got home and checked in with the ward I was convinced the doctor I was seeing for my discharge review would take me off the lithium because he’d see I didn’t need it. My favourite nurse told me I was a wee bit high, borderline dangerously high, in fact. Ha! She told me to please trust her- and that’s when that tiny little rational part of my brain knew I was fucked: I didn’t believe a word she was saying.
So I saw the doctor three days later (who didn’t know I’d been in hospital, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or was on lithium and he, according to my discharge notes, was to increase it). I don’t remember much of the appointment, just that he said he didn’t know me so he didn’t know if this was ‘normal’ for me so he rang my mum and she came round and they talk without me and I am called in and they ask if I will go back into hospital or take the lithium and I am crying and howling and then my mum says ‘will I take her over to the ward now?’ and that’s that. Great.
So I’ve been back in hospital for 11 days now. And it’s been horrible. I struggled A LOT the first few days- each meds time met with screams and tears and pleading nurses and harsh nurses and threats and every.single.thing. in my brain telling me they are all wrong, this is all a big conspiracy to take away the magic. I am told I am lacking insight and in the same sentence told to take responsibility and everyone is telling me to just take the bloody pills and if it were that fucking easy I would but it’s not so I can’t! So I feel very alone. I pace pace pace. Legs jig jig jig. I sit in the fishbowl and cry. I stand on the chairs and sing and am told to get down, that for someone who is claiming to be ‘perfectly calm’, this is not appropriate behaviour. And everything in my head is spin spin spinning out of control and I am given leave and I plot and plan and pack a bag and steal the car keys and sit, then stand, on the ledge and I think ‘if I am here and I am going to do this, I don’t think I am perfectly fine’. So I climb down, close my laptop screen, get drunk and go back to the ward, tail between my legs. That night I take my meds, full doses, no complaints. I ask the nurses if they can give me a new brain. They tell me I should try Ebay or amazon- but amazon has quicker delivery. They make me smile. I do what my favourite nurse said to do- throw them back without thinking about it.
The next morning I try to explain myself to the ward sister. I tell her everything was just going too fast, too fast, and I thought ‘if there is an issue I don’t want to have it, so I have two options. Run or stop it all.’ She asks me why would things be going fast, why would I have racing thoughts if I wasn’t bipolar and didn’t need lithium. She tells me maybe that night needed to happen for me to realise that actually, I’m unwell.
So here I am. I’m still struggling to accept this diagnosis, still doubt that it’s true, still find it really fucking difficult to swallow my lithium at night. But I’m trying. There was one day on the ward last week when I sat in with the nurses during their break and talk talk talked, and I told them my theory about bipolar disorder- that really, the system is just intimated by my intellect and so they are trying to suppress me by saying I’m sick and pumping me with pills so I can’t challenge them anymore. And one of the nurses just sat there with her legs crossed and her arms folded and her head crooked to one side and said ‘I can predict every word that is gonna come out of your mouth because I’ve heard it from every bipolar person ever’, and I haven’t been able to get that out of my head.
It’s been difficult- it still is difficult. I’m out on leave at the minute and I’m struggling. I kind of really want to just disappear. I feel like I don’t belong anywhere, like no one gets it. The whole hospital is so unsettled right now- all week it’s been alarm after alarm and patients in distress and police being called and understaffed nurses running off their feet and hiding in the nurses station doing paperwork and not getting their breaks and being a lil grumpy and unapproachable. So I’ve been plodding along, occasionally joking that I would like a magic wand to make this go away, but too afraid to say much more than that. Because I’m not sure what I would say to them anyway, or what they would say back that would make this easier, because I kind of feel like nothing CAN make this easier. I’m just so scared of this becoming my life- up and down, in and out. They are telling me it’s possible to be bipolar and be stable. They tell me if I don’t want this to be my life then I need to control my illness and refuse to let it control me. They tell me this is chemical, it isn’t something I can control myself- I need the lithium to do that for me. My consultant says we just need to reboot my brain. They make sense, when I can listen- but that’s exactly the problem, I’m having a hard time trying to wrap my head around this all.
And it’s grating. I just want it to stop. I just want it to be still. Mania isn’t fun when it’s like this- I don’t even feel fucking good right now…I just need to switch my brain off.
Do you ever feel like you just want to go home, even if you’re AT home? That’s how I feel right now.