After my release from the psychiatric unit following my suicide attempt described in Darkness Descends,
I realized I needed to make some changes to improve my life and make it worth living again.
I also had to get ahead of mounting financial pressures.
We downsized and down graded our living arrangements by moving into low income housing.
Tony and I began working with four different attorneys. The first to help me file for bankruptcy. I found a firm and walked in to inquire if they practiced this type of law. They took my payment and gave me a receipt.
Over the next few weeks I shared my financial statements and answered questions. When the time came to meet with them again, they offered me a debt consolidation plan with a payment I couldn’t afford.
When I asked again about bankruptcy, the attorney said she didn’t handle bankruptcy for any of her clients. I asked why she took my money and had to produce the receipt showing it was for bankruptcy services. She was surprised to see that notation on a receipt from her practice and asked me how she could make it right.
I told her I wanted a full refund and her help finding the best bankruptcy lawyer in the city and making an appointment to see them that week. Too much time had passed and I needed to make progress getting out of this hole. Her referral led me to the right professional to help me.
He explained how to handle my car surrender. What bills to immediately stop paying and how the entire process would work. Including how long it would be a detriment on my credit report. We agreed bankruptcy was a good option in my situation. He also explained I never should have cashed out my 401K in an attempt to avoid filing for bankruptcy.
We needed two additional firms to help with two ridiculous lawsuits pending against us. Both were dropped quickly after retaining the right lawyers for several thousand dollars.
When you own a business at a young age, we learned it puts a giant target on you. People perceive financial success and try to take what they can from you. This reality was disgusting and heart breaking.
Completely disillusioned and struggling every step of the way, we finally decided to sell the business we had been operating and worked with another contract lawyer to finalize that transaction.
After several months, we were free!
Ever so slowly I climbed my way out of the darkness.
I came to peace with the dark thoughts that still haunted my mind.
I perceived my dark thoughts more as unwelcome visitors I could acknowledge then dismiss.
I no longer allowed them to demand my attention or control my actions.
Tony found a job to sustain us while I continued to heal and we contemplated our next step.
In mid 2008, the sleepless nights returned. I did everything I could think of to force myself to sleep.
I sipped Sleepytime tea.
I slowed my mind with quiet meditation.
I took relaxing hot baths.
I avoided caffeine.
I exercised early in the day.
I went to the doctor and tried prescription sleeping pills.
I still could not sleep.
My ability to focus and control my emotions dwindled.
The paranoia crept back in.
I wept at the loss of my mind for a second time.
I was terrified.
One night, when I was home alone, I called the police in desperate terror. I was so afraid. I didn’t know what else to do.
They came to the door while I was still on the phone with the 911 operator and she assured me they were official officers.
I was afraid to open the door. I did not trust they were there to help me.
The kind officers looked around at our home, viewed our happy photos on the wall and showed me some compassion. They offered to take me to the local hospital for assistance.
For their protection and mine, they placed me in cuffs and put me in the back of their police cruiser.
They did not help me think through leaving a note for Tony. They did not leave a business card.
When he came home after working his shift, I had simply vanished.
It took several phone calls and another lawyer to find out where I had been taken!
The hospital was similar to the psychiatric facility in Pennsylvania, exactly like a prison.
I was admitted after normal business hours and kept in a padded room all night.
The next morning I was allowed to make only one local phone call. I didn’t know who to call in this crisis. My loved ones all had long distance numbers.
I was in the hospital for about a week. I later learned I took my clothes off a lot during this hospitalization. I was also heavily sedated most of the time.
At this point, Tony and I decided to relocate closer to our family for support. This roller coaster I had been on for two years overwhelmed us. Financially I was bankrupt, my 401K had been cashed out, all of our savings were gone. Emotionally we were tired, frightened, unable to continue on our own.
Our relationship might not survive, if I didn’t heal.
Once we returned to the Washington, DC Metro area we stayed with family. My dad drove from Pennsylvania to get me and try to help me one more time.
I don’t remember the days leading up to the ambulance picking me up at the front door of my childhood home.
During the ride to the hospital, I remember chatting politely with the EMTs.
Again, thinking it was ridiculous to take me to the hospital for insomnia.
I spent another two weeks in the psychiatric unit. One afternoon, during the meeting and evaluation with the doctors who barely spoke to me or treated me, the session closed with this warning:
I must quickly become medically compliant, or I would be committed to a psychiatric facility for three years!
Terror facilitated my response.
I ran to the nurses station and demanded the poison they wanted to give me. I asked what it was and how it would work.
That was in November of 2008.
I was released from the hospital the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I have not returned since.
In a follow up appointment in early 2009, the psychiatrist informed me I would never have children.
She advised me to apply for disability and promised to support my application. She gave the strong recommendation to never work again.
I could not stomach that guidance.
I understood I should avoid stress.
I understood I was on a slow path to recovery.
I went to the library and found every book I could about bipolar disorder.
I wanted to read about success stories.
I wanted to read about the comeback.
The medical community did not give me hope. I had to fight to find hope on my own.
Now working in close coordination with my third psychiatrist, I have maintained my medication regimen for 13 years with occasional slight adjustments to the dosing only, not the treatments themselves.
I have worked my way back to a high paying position after starting over at the very bottom and earning six promotions in 12 years with the same employer.
I was able to work full time while completing my bachelor degree. Then I earned a professional certification.
In contradiction to the psychiatrist in 2009, now my psychiatrist and a maternal and fetal specialist both agree I can carry a child with minimal risk. If I decide to have a baby, while staying on my bipolar medications.
Life in 2021 is completely different from the dark place I lived from 2006 to 2008. It wasn’t always easy.
I have the courage to write these words now. To share my journey. I write to inspire bipolar patients, the newly diagnosed and their families to fight like hell. Find the medical professionals and counselors who will be your allies in your journey.
Find your advocates.
We are all more than our diagnosis.
It can take years to get a bipolar diagnosis and it can also be a struggle to accept the new diagnosis and find effective treatments. HelpGuide.org is a good place for patients and their loved ones to start.
Read the next post, Nervous Nellie.