Today marks 3 years after a day I didn’t think I’d live through, both metaphorically and literally. This day, 3 years ago, was Wednesday June 22, 2015. On this day, I admitted myself into an acute inpatient psychiatric hospital for what would be confirmed as Bipolar mania. I’ve never experienced that level of fear since. I saved myself that day, by insisting I allow the hospital to evaluate me. I came straight to the hospital from eating disorder treatment. I’d been discharged from 20 days of PHP not even 48 hours prior. I hadn’t even had a chance to figure out my IOP schedule yet.
It was 7 hours from the time I walked into the doors at the Seay Center until I finished signing the admissions paperwork and saying goodby to my parents. I was fortunate that I managed to snag one of the very last available beds they’d have open for a few more days.
I remember feeling that that was it, like I was signing my life away. My life felt doomed. All hell had officially broken loose and things would never be the same again. I remember feeling so, so broken. I remember feeling like such a disappointment to my parents. Shame enveloped me immediately.
I had my first official meeting with my inpatient psychiatrist on Thursday afternoon. She went over my symptoms and my medication list with me. Before I left the tiny office on the unit that they used for admissions and psych meetings…she gave me my new diagnosis. After being told for 8 years that I had “treatment resistant depression” the word “Bipolar” passed through her lips. I remember nodding my head and saying thank you, before proceeding to go sit myself on the cold, hard furniture of the unit to process what she’d just said.
“Bipolar. Wait…what? Really?” For the prior 8 years, I’d believed I’d been misdiagnosed. My outpatient psychiatrist & my parents had heard me protest the depression diagnosis a few hundred times. Though by that point, I’d more-or-less given up trying to fight the professionals about it. Never the less, sitting there on the (for all intents and purposes) concrete furniture of the unit, I was shocked. I never thought I’d hear the word “Bipolar” associated with my name. I never thought it all would make sense. It was terrifying. I had no idea what this would mean for my future. Heck, what would my parents say?! What would they think? A few minutes later, I called them on the unit’s telephone and told them. We were all kind of like “wow, okay”. Pretty sure I spent some more time crying after that phone call.
Father’s Day on the Unit
I spent Father’s Day 2015 hospitalized. I felt horrible about it and I had no idea when I would be discharged. The positive thing about weekends inpatient was that we got 2 visitation sessions per day, instead of just 1 like on Monday-Friday. So that Father’s Day, my dad came, surrendered this cell phone and his keys to the behavioral health techs, and spent his allotted Father’s Day visitations with me. I hope and pray that he never has to spend another Father’s Day like that. Though it was difficult, we both knew that I was exactly where I needed to be and I was grateful that he chose to be there with me.
I was discharged from the inpatient unit on Monday June 22, 2015. I’ve never been so happy to see my mom in my life! I still had 3 more weeks of the hospital’s PHP & IOP programs ahead of me. But for the time being, I was headed back home to my family, my food, my friends, my dog, my bed, and my new normal.
For the first year or so in particular, my meds were strictly monitored by my parents. I was given 2 weeks worth sorted out into weekly counter boxes for the first year I was at UNT, for safety purposes. Every 2 weeks, I’d go home and my mom would refill the boxes for me. I was still pretty unstable for (at least) the first year out of the hospital, so having my mom handle my meds for me and only giving me limited access to them was a safety precaution. Luckily, within about a year and a half, things finally settled down more.
What I Know Now: The Technicalities
What I know now is the difference between Mania, Hypomania, Mixed Episodes, and Depression. I know the difference between Bipolar 2 and Bipolar 1. The psychiatrist at the hospital originally diagnosed me with Bipolar 2, thinking that I was hypomanic while inpatient. Luckily, while my hypomanic episodes can be bad, they’re not that bad. My outpatient psychiatrist (who’s seen me since I was 12) decided after seeing me post-discharge, that the hospital got it wrong. She decided (and I agreed) that I was “full” manic when I was admitted. And I was still hypomanic for most of the year after I was discharged.
Long story short, my “official” diagnosis since then is: Bipolar Disorder type 1 with Rapid Cycling and Mixed Features. Which means I experience more than 3 mood episodes in a 12-month period and I also get mixed episodes, which are a combination of depression and mania/hypomania.
What I Know Now: Recovery and my Eating Disorder
Like I initially said, I was admitted inpatient straight from eating disorder treatment. I chose not to go back to ERC after Seay Center and instead finished trough SC’s programs instead of ERC’s. At that point, I’d just finished about 21 days of treatment with ERC and I wanted to try a different environment. One that wasn’t strictly eating disorder focused.
Anyway, on my way home the day I was discharged from the unit, I made a conscious decision. I made a conscious decision that I was going to give recovery my all. Despite Bipolar and the hypomania and the mood swings. Regardless of what challenges medications would throw my way. Despite still fighting my eating disorder every day. I decided that I wanted recovery. I talk about “recovery” mostly specifically in terms of my eating disorder. Because I feel that dealing with Bipolar will be a life-long endeavor. But I also believe that, one day, I will hopefully be fully recovered from my eating disorder.
Eating Disorder Recovery
The last 3 years in recovery from my eating disorder have been…challenging. Fine, they’ve been perfectly brutal plenty of the time. In fact, I’ll probably make an entirely separate blog post just focusing on updates about my eating disorder recovery. Because that’s probably a smart idea to finally do. I always forget how little I actually talk about my eating disorder and my recovery from it here on Zealous Zebra…
For real though, my ED recovery is still a challenge. I have my days and my weeks that fool me into thinking I’m seriously invincible. Then, life smacks me upside the head and reminds me that yes, I am still human. There are still more days than I’d like to admit where I struggle in terms using/not using behaviors. But every day that I don’t let a lapse turn into a relapse is a major success for me. One of my favorite lessons I learned in eating disorder treatment was “do the next right thing”. I strive to keep that in the forefront of my mind every day.
Overall, the last 3 years have been….a journey. They’ve been a journey. There’s been a whole lot of “good” and also a whole lot of “bad”. But there’s more good coming down the line and I know that. Some of which y’all will get to hear about very soon!!!