Hospitals

Going to a hospital is an interesting experience. When the world seems overwhelming, you want to escape. When your mental illness isn’t being curbed by your actions or medications, going to an inpatient facility might be your best option, But what happens there?

Well, the inpatient facility that I went into was, first of all, peaceful. Though there were others there with mental illness, schizophrenics and bipolars, I felt understood. The nursing staff was kind and listened when something went wrong.

After asking me questions about why I was there, they took the answers and believed me. They checked me in, made me take a shower, washed all my clothes, then led me in to the main area. They showed me my bed, and while it wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, it was nice, and the blanket was warm.

Each morning, I got to talk to a nurse practitioner who helped me with my medications. She listened when I told her what I thought wasn’t working and was concerned about the side effects. There, my medications were adjusted with input from me.

Twice a day, my vitals were taken to make sure the medications didn’t have any physical side effects that were dangerous, If I wanted to talk to a therapist, I could.

Above all, they believed me and listened to my concerns at a time when I needed it. Asking for help can seem daunting, but if you need it, don’t be afraid to ask.

Advertisements

Reality of Bipolar Disorder

Cities are such dynamic things. I live in one! It’s a dysfunctional city in a lot of ways, but it’s still there. In my city, there are entrepreneurs, construction projects, and, of course, people! Some people live in the bright part of the city. Some people live in the dark side. I’m kind of a nomad. I move from one end to the other. Sometimes, I live in the middle of the city, where what everybody else calls ‘normal’ days occur.

I sort of like the bright part of the city, where light is everywhere, and there’s so much energy. The world seems to be better over there. Anything is possible! Life is yours to live! Nothing can go wrong! But if you go far enough, the light starts to play tricks on you. You think you see something, but it’s just a mirage, but you don’t know it is.

Then there’s the dark part. Darkness can be nice and beautiful in a way until you get far enough in, and there is a fine line between far enough and too far. Then the ground gets all sticky and muddy, and the world starts to dim as you slide deeper. The light seems to get farther and farther away, and eventually it is as far away as the stars in the sky, and the brightness and the energy is just a memory. You want the brightness and energy, but you have none left, so you sink farther and farther into the pit, and you can’t even struggle anywhere as you get pulled under.

Some people don’t come back from the dark. Some people go too far in the light, too, so they don’t come back either. When I’m in the ‘normal’ days, it’s scary to think I might not come back, but when you start to go one way or the other, or even get pulled both ways at once sometimes, it gets harder to care.

In the light, when you go one way, the way with all the energy, there’s positives. The brighter it gets, the more positives there are, and the less you can see the negatives. A lot of the ‘normals’ think that’s a good thing. But if all you see is positives, everything is safe. That’s not the way it is. Things can still hurt you, but you don’t think of that, so you do stupid things. That’s why some people don’t come back from the light.

On the other hand, in the dark, when you go one way, there is no energy, and there are negatives. The darker it gets, the bigger the negatives are. Eventually, the negatives can’t get any bigger without damaging you. That’s why a lot of people don’t come back from the dark. Even if you do get out, it leaves marks, like inky splotches on a background. You can’t just take away the ink. You can try to paint over it, but it’ll always be there, even if you can match the colors perfectly. And you can’t just get a new background. That’s not how it works.

Sometimes, though, the light and the dark try to coexist. It’s not like the brightness of day, or the darkness of night. It’s more like an eclipse. There’s ideas and brightness there, but it’s overshadowed by something dark and sticky, and because the light isn’t there, there’s no energy.

A lot of people who live in this shadowy, dimly lit place don’t talk about it. People can see you when you’re in the light, but the light isn’t there. People can find you in the dark because they’ve seen you in the light. But this place, this façade of light, this veneer of darkness, can look normal. There’s light around the edges. It looks like day, even if it’s dim. Maybe it’s just cloudy? But it’s not. It’s torture, just as bad as the mirages and just as deep as the pit.

Then, if you can get out of the muck before you sink, if you can orient yourself in the light before you soar away, you can travel back to ‘normal.’ And once you’re there, people don’t think about it anymore. And you try to do that, too. But somewhere deep in your mind, you know that you’ll wander too far again, not willingly, but because you have to.

And where is this? Is this a place in the world? Sort of, but it’s more a place in the mind. Physically, things can be explained. Chemically, something’s wrong. But emotionally, mentally, it’s a rollercoaster.

What is this city I spoke of? It’s the city I live in every day of my life. This is a city that seems invisible most of the time, that people speak of in whispers, and that rumors spread about it are exaggerated or completely false. So few talk about it honestly, and those that do are crazy.

This is the reality of bipolar disorder.

Faith and Mental Illness

Faith is funny. For different people, it means different things. Something that can make one person lose faith can make another gain it. It can decrease in somebody and increase in somebody else, all from the same incident.

One of my favorite characters to write in 9 Ways to Normal was Zebulon. He’s a Schizophrenic, but he firmly believes in God. Some people may call his belief a delusion, but even when he’s not having an episode, his faith is there. His faith conflicts with most of the other characters in some way or another.

Lyle, a teenager with Asperger’s Syndrome, tries to refute everything with facts of modern science, a common way many fight faith. Lilly, Lyle’s twin, who also has Asperger’s, doesn’t pay much mind to religion. She’s neither for nor against it, but she’s fascinated by the discussion.

David, a Schizoid with a broken past, likes to think he doesn’t have any religious beliefs, though he grew up in the Catholic church. Some of the teachings have stuck with him, despite his firmest statements that he is above it all.

Jonathan, diagnosed with Chronic Depression, was raised in a Christian home where mental illness wasn’t acceptable, and he displays a very stony, and slightly hostile, attitude toward the whole subject. His Alcoholic friend Daniel is more open, but still doesn’t like to talk about it, as it makes him uncomfortable.

Flora, a Bulimic, doesn’t have an opinion on the subject, and she listens to the discussion without participating.

Joshua, who has severe Bipolar disorder, isn’t on speaking terms with God, but he desperately wants to know more, while his Savant friend Zacharias is quite firm in his own belief of God. He might not understand everything, but his simple faith hasn’t ever left him from his childhood.

My own experience with mental illness is Joshua’s Bipolar Disorder, and the twins’ Asperger’s syndrome. But, more importantly, my faith is like that of Zebulon’s. Through the highs and lows, I still believe in God.

Faith is unique to each person. In Romans 12:3 in the New Testament, Paul states that each is given a “measure of faith.” Does that mean not everybody gets the same thing? Yes and no.

Faith is the first gift that God gives to us when we come to Him. All Christians get the gift of faith. But it does not say that each measure is the same. Why is that? Well, we’re all different, and we need different levels of faith to use the gifts that God has given us.

I need a lot of faith, I think, because of my mental illness. And God has given it to me. Even when I’m suicidal, I think of God and going home to Him. I don’t know if I’ve never not believed in God in my illness (I came to faith when I was young) despite everything that’s happened to me.

Everybody’s struggles are different, but if you’re a Christian, they’re all building you up to be like Christ. God is preparing a place for you as he prepares you for that place. It’s hard to see sometimes, but it’s always there.

Even when I want to end it all, I know it won’t be the end. Sometimes I don’t care about the damage it would do here on Earth. I don’t care that I wouldn’t be able to publish my book. I don’t think right when I’m Depressed.

It’s comforting to think that God won’t let me go even if I do kill myself. No, it’s not right, but in the moment, you don’t care. That’s what a lot of people don’t get. You aren’t in your right mind. And I’m not in it a lot these days. But still, I’m here. And I still have faith.

Faith sure is funny, isn’t it?

Subjective

David Trent Jennings, a character from my novella ‘9 Ways To Normal’ has Schizoid Personality Disorder. Something telling that he states at one point is that he doesn’t notice that he’s ‘off’ most of the time because it’s a part of his personality. That got me thinking about how most people don’t notice the quirks of their own selves most of the time. To them, it’s just normal.

But that word is so subjective, isn’t it? Normal. What is normal?

Well, what’s normal to one person might seem strange to another. But normal is how we see ourselves most of the time. Even if we consider ourselves strange, when we’re by ourselves we’re “normal.”

My book is aimed toward those who don’t understand this, as well as those who do. Seeing through the eyes of somebody else, somebody who has been diagnosed with, say, Depression or Schizophrenia is something that I haven’t seen a lot of in fiction, and I think that should change.

Normal is such a subjective experience, and I think that such experiences should be shared. Who knows? Maybe it’s closer to your “normal” than you think. You won’t know until you look into it.

Wrong

Have you ever felt like there’s something wrong, but nobody could tell you what it was? That’s been my life for a while now. I previously posted about these weird fits I get? Well, they’re not going away, and they seem to be holding steady, if not getting worse. My bipolar disorder is racing along at high speed, and, to top that off, the vision in my left eye is getting worse, both far away and close up.

My psychologist and psychiatrist think they’re seizures, but my primary’s not sure. I see a neurologist at the end of this month, and hopefully he can help me find out what’s wrong. I’m so sick of being sick, but knowing what’s wrong will help. I just hope we can get an answer soon.

Suicide

I’ve been close. Closer than I’d like. And a big problem is that I think about it almost every day. Sometimes it’s more positive: “I can’t wait to get to Heaven!” More than half the time, it’s more negative: “I can’t do this anymore.”

With my Bipolar Disorder and Aspergers and now possibly seizures, it seems like too much most of the time. I’m so sick sometimes, with blank fits and laughing fits, then my mental illness raises its head, with mania, depression, and mixed episodes that drain me emotionally. The stress has even come into my sleep, with dreams where I scream and cry the whole time. I wake up from those almost-nightmares exhausted.

I want to kill myself a lot. It’s hard to admit this to so many people. It’s hard to say, and it’s hard to hear, I know. I’m so tired. I just want to go home to be with my Lord and my God. I want to see my grandfather again. I want to meet my other family members. I want this pain to stop.

Sometimes it gets really, really dark. Sometimes I consider self-harming, though I don’t like pain and it’s hard for me to even think about it. I haven’t yet, but the darkness isn’t going away. It only gets stronger and stronger, deeper and deeper. Mania doesn’t lift the darkness, it only distorts it. I’m so tired. So very tired.

And most people don’t understand. One of my friends continuously tells me to read the Psalms when I’m depressed. Reading the Bible does help sometimes, but other times I just can’t bring myself to pick it up. I’m so tired of living sometimes. I want to go home. Everything is just so exhausting.

Sometimes I”m happy. Sometimes I can’t imagine ending it all. Most of the time, I just can’t stand it. I have reasons to live, and I realize that most of the time. But as I wrote in my book on mental illness: There’s lots of reasons to want to die while your down there. But when you are down there, you don’t just think of reasons you want to die. You also fail to see a reason to live.

Sometimes, I’ll admit now, I fail to see those reasons. I usually reach out for help, but I might not one time, and one time might be all it takes.

If you’re suffering from suicidal thoughts, please reach out for help. I know it’s hard, but the Suicide Prevention Hotline is reachable at 1-800-273-8255. I just hope that I can keep reaching out. Sometimes, I’m just not sure anymore. 😦

The School Story

One of the things that inspired me to become a writer was a book I read as a child. That book was ‘The School Story’ by popular children’s author Andrew Clements.

The book is about a sixth grade girl named Natalie whose mother is an editor at a publishing company in New York. After a conversation several months prior, Natalie has almost completed her first novel. When her best friend Zoë states that the book should be published, they set off on a mission to get the book in print with the help of one of their teachers.

The part that stuck in my mind was the description of the publishing process. The industry has since changed drastically, but I always remembered the book. A few years ago, I searched for the book and found it easily, thanks to my memory of the title.

Though I wasn’t a writer back then, the thought of publishing a book was intriguing, and this book made it sound popular. ‘The School Story’ is still one of my favorite books, even if it is considered a children’s book. And the ending is so good I still occasionally tear up listening to it.