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.

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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.

Excerpt of 9 Ways to Normal

I have decided to post an excerpt of my book to give all of you a sample of what is to come with this story and to whet your appetite for the rest.

Session 1

            Doctor Jasper Embry wrote on his clipboard, glancing occasionally to the corner where Zacharias Adams stood. The large man would have appeared menacing to anybody who didn’t know him, but the doctor knew better. They were distracted from their own thoughts as a tall, thin man walked in, his blue eyes distant and slightly hostile.

“Dr. Embry,” he said, his British accent clipped and neat around the edges. “I hope I am not too early.”

“Not at all, David!” Dr. Embry said, shaking his head. “Just go and settle wherever you like. I brought a few books for you to read. They’re over on that table.”

David strode over to the books, perusing his options, then picked one up in his pale hands that took a PhD in psychology to understand. Before David had arrived, Zacharias had looked over the books, and he’d mentioned that the words had scrunched together, stringing letters around in unpredictable patterns, all while in neat little rows that scolded him.

“You should be able to read! You’re old enough to read, stupid!” he’d muttered to himself with a pained expression.

Dr. Embry had listened sadly when Zacharias growled that it hurt his head, placing his hand on the broad shoulder to comfort him. The large man shrugged him off then meticulously arranged the books as they were before retreating to his corner. The dark-skinned male always did best when he could watch first, just as he had been taught.

“Analyze the situation first, Zach. See if you can figure out where you are in their ranks before going forward and saying ‘hi,’” his best friend, Joshua, had told him during one of their sessions.

Jasper Embry was preoccupied watching Zacharias slowly puzzle through his thoughts, so he didn’t notice the teenager with fiery hair and freckled, honey-toned skin walk in until she was in the middle of the room looking around with pursed lips. Her green eyes seemed to skip right over the large man in the corner. Which is good, Dr. Embry thought. Gives him a chance to see who he’s going to meet.

When Zacharias shook his head slightly, Dr. Embry turned to greet her. “Flora, how are you?”

The girl shrugged, and the doctor scanned her almost too thin, yet well-muscled frame, her face guarded. The psychologist focused on his large, silent patient again as she walked off into a corner and began to do some of her martial arts stances, her katas flowing effortlessly. The doctor noted that Zacharias watched in interest before he turned back to the door at the sound of more footsteps.

The large man perked as he looked for his friend, but Dr. Embry could see that he was disappointed as a man with wild black hair walked in, regarding the room suspiciously as he muttered to himself. The man had a smooth, coffee-with-cream-colored skin tone with grey eyes that dashed about. He was very twitchy and gave a surprised cry when the psychologist touched him.

“Shh, easy, Zeb. Easy. It’s only me,” Dr. Embry said. “How are you feeling today?”

The man spoke in a low, frantic voice. “Ting says he’s going to kill me, and Zee Zee thinks I should kill you, Marti is trying to mediate, and you look like you’re going to hurt me!”

“You know you’re hallucinating?” the doctor asked.

“Somewhere in my mind. It’s hard to tell what’s real, but I’m trying to be calm,” was the shaky reply.

“I can tell, and you’re doing well. Just go curl up in that chair over there, listen to your music, and breathe. We’re waiting for a few more people, then we’ll get to introductions.”

While they had been talking, two more teenagers walked in, a male and a female. The pudgy, almond-eyed girl yelped as she hit a table, rubbing her sore leg while her equally pudgy twin laughed.

“Lyle! Lilly!” Dr. Embry exclaimed, sending the muttering man away to a chair. “Good to see that you’ve made it.”

“Mother said to tell you that pickup’s at seven this evening,” Lilly said, refusing to meet the man’s eyes. “She’s going to take us to the horse ranch tomorrow and we have to get enough sleep. I get to see Shadow and Starlight and Frenchie again! Frenchie was so little the last time I saw her, but Mr. Marvin says she’s grown a lot! I’ll get to feed her and ride her around the yard! She’s a blue roan with such a pretty coat, and I’m bringing a carrot just for her!”

“Sounds like fun,” Dr. Embry said with a nod. “And you, Lyle? Learn anything new?”

Lyle kept his eyes on the floor, just as his sister had. “I saw thirty-two new license plates today,” he said, then began listing the details.

The doctor nodded politely, his attention focused on the door even as he tried to be interested in the string of letters, numbers, and states. A young man appeared, and he seemed reluctant to interrupt the conversation. He was a little overweight but had a healthy enough glow to his bronzed skin. Silently, he slunk by the doctor and the twins, hiding his face behind a book when he was looked at by David, who promptly ignored him again.

Dr. Embry finally sent the twins to the table, and they pulled out paper and pencils before losing themselves in their own work. He then went over and patted the man who’d snuck in on the shoulders, leaning down to whisper to him for a moment.

“Thanks for coming, Daniel. You okay?”

A nervous smile was all the psychologist got in return before another man strode in. He was clearly older than most of the others, besides David. He was lean and naturally tan with deep, soul-piercing blue eyes. Dark rings surrounded them, and he looked exhausted.

“Jonathan!” Dr. Embry cried out, hurrying over. “I’m so glad you made it! Did you work last night?”

“Got about four hours of sleep between the end of my shift and when I needed to leave to get here,” the man replied with a yawn. “I’m here, though.”

“Excellent! Go lay on the couch, try to rest. We’re only waiting for one more person.”

Five minutes later, the doctor was talking about the contents of the book David was reading with the older man, glancing up occasionally to check on Zacharias. As far as he knew, nobody had seen him, and he was considering going over to bring him out when more footsteps rang out.

The large man announced himself loudly to the skinny, amber-hued male that walked in, and the rest of the room started and stared at him.

“Josh! You made it here!” he stuttered, dashing out of his corner.

“Yeah, Zach, I made it. Had to finish my shift at the restaurant then ran home to change. I see you made it all right. Take the bus?”

Zacharias nodded emphatically, struggling to produce the words he needed to say that would convey his jumbled mess of thoughts.

“Seventy-two had a tire lateness-thing but three-seventeen came and took us off to Poppin’s, where God cried, but I didn’t dry too slow, and…and…”

The man faltered when he realized how everybody else was staring at him. His dark face darkened further in embarrassment, and he looked away, anger etching into his sharp features.

The new arrival glared at everybody else as he spoke carefully. “So, your bus was late because of a flat tire, so another was scheduled to come and pick you up?”

“Yeah,” Zacharias muttered, glancing over at his friend. Dr. Embry observed the group, reaching for his clipboard.

“The bus dropped you off Popinjay Park, where you got rained on, but not too badly?”

“I’m dry now. Short walk here, and the red man made me sign something. I couldn’t…you know.” Zacharias gestured in front of him in a vague manner, but Joshua understood.

“Red man?” Daniel asked.

“That would be Reggie, wouldn’t it?” Lyle asked, his tone absent.

“He is wearing red today,” Lilly agreed. “Red hat with a stiff brim, long red coat to keep out the wind with two sets of fourteen buttons, one column fake. Dark slacks with a stain on the left knee, probably from coffee, and dress shoes buffed to perfection.”

“He was in a rush this morning and he forgot to send in that pair of pants for dry cleaning, so he had to make do,” Dr. Embry replied as he took notes, barely glancing up.

“He made me sign something, too,” the half-crazed man said, his fingers drumming on his thigh. “I couldn’t concentrate over the voices, so I didn’t read it.”

“It was a statement saying that you consent to this study,” David said, looking over all of them with distaste clear in his eyes. “It was a release of information to the group, and it listed the days that we’re to come in and interact as a group, the days we’re to have our brains scanned, and the days where we come in one on one and talk about our group experiences.”

“Brain scan?” Flora demanded.

“Yes, Flora, you signed permission for brain scans,” Dr. Embry said. “You will do activities while being scanned that will show us where your brains light up so we can know how it’s different than other people’s.”

“But I have a normal brain!”

“Then why are you here?” David asked, his expression cold.

 

This is the end of the excerpt. What do you think so far? Eager for more?

If you are, and you would like to support getting this book edited and published, please donate to my GoFundMe. You can give here.

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?

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.

Sinking

I had a good few days. Then yesterday everything started to go downhill. I had a blank fit in the morning and another at my EEG. Today I’ve felt off since I woke up. Now I’m depressed.

I feel so low right now. I’m lying down and don’t want to move. I’m tired and just want to sleep forever. I’m still feeling off, and I don’t know what to do.

On another note, I had my EEG and should get the results soon. The test was weird. They flashed a light in my face, among other things. The stuff they attached the electrodes with came out easily with shampoo, so that’s good.

I just want to fall asleep now. I can’t stand my bipolar disorder. 😦