I’m going to tell you a little secret.
I HATE being vulnerable.
I’ve always been an honours student.
My entire life I’ve aimed to get The Very Best possible marks.
I aim high for two reasons:
1. I want to impress the people around me.
2. I Hate failing.
I want people around me to think of me as smart, successful, wildly funny and also beautiful.
I want to be the Best version of myself all the time.
And then I was diagnosed with bipolar.
My stepmother suggested that I start this blog as a way to process all those feelings about having/being bipolar.
This blog was born as a way to channel those emotions.
Along the way, I made a promise to myself to be As vulnerable and As open as possible about my illness and what comes with it.
I promised myself many years ago when this blog began that I would be the voice I had wanted to read when I had my first episode of severe depression.
When my first depression hit me like a club in the back of the head, I searched the internet for people who were speaking openly about their mental health.
I found lots of discussion on forums from posters like me, but I wasn’t able to find an example of a writer who unabashedly described their experience of their illness, and also made the reader feel like it was Okay to feel that way. There was always shame around it.
I wanted to present a different view of it. That it was okay to have bipolar. That it could be hard and terrifying at times, but that many bipolar people live very successful and joyful lives.
In the years since I started writing this blog, I have become increasingly daring with what I post on here.
I used to be so worried about who would read my content.
I would add one of my Favorite student’s parents to my FB and then wonder- are They going to judge me for having bipolar?
Then I would post something about my experience with abortion on this blog and think- oh Shit- I have a coworker on here- are They going to judge me for this post?
Over time, I let more and more honesty out, and it was well-received.
I thought I had reached a point where I was fully comfortable with wearing my heart on my sleeve.
Today is the day I Want to hold back and not post a thing on this blog.
Today is the day where I want to say to myself- be Brave, be Open, be Vulnerable.
But a little voice at the end of that sentence says ‘… but not That vulnerable.’
But I have to do it. I have to be brave and uphold my standard to be 100% open- even if it scares me. Even if I think people are going to judge me for it.
My goal is to help end the stigma against bipolar, and mental illness in general. I didn’t pick this disease anymore than someone picks cancer, and bipolar is not ‘my fault’, nor is it my identity. It is a part of who I am, and a part that I don’t want to be ashamed of. I am a realist; being bipolar is part of my reality.
I want to be brave and powerful about all of these things- but I still get scared that people I know and love will read these posts and see me only as ‘that bipolar chick.’ Or that coworkers or people I respect will somehow see me as ‘less than’ them for being crazy.
So I want to hold back. I want to pretend I’m at home; being normal. Playing with my children. Making dinner for my family. Going to bed with my husband.
But I’m not.
I’m currently an inpatient on Unit 27 at Peter Lougheed Centre. For those that don’t know – unit 27 is the psych ward.
I’m not playing with my children.
I’m not making dinner for my family.
I’m not going to bed with my husband.
I’m on a locked unit, with a lot of other patients in various states of psychosis.
I’ve been on this unit before, back in 2014 when I ended up here on an involuntary hold due to mania.
I spent 30 days here back then and I swore to myself I would Never end up back here.
And two days ago, I Begged Ryan to drive me here so that I could get the help I needed.
I got admitted on Tuesday night.
I bawled my eyes out about it all day yesterday.
This is The Last Place I wanted to be; and it is Exactly the place I need to be.
I feel like a failure that I ended up back here.
I feel like a terrible mother that friends and family are taking care of my children instead of me.
I feel like a loser for being on a psych ward while everyone else is out in the world, living their summer lives, being normal, enjoying life.
And then I have to remind myself that I have chosen to be here Because I am a good mother.
I want to be a happy mother, not the depressed version my children have had for the past five months.
I want to be normal and enjoy my summer life too, but unfortunately for me, I have an illness that is preventing me from doing that.
I have to remind myself that it takes courage to beg to be admitted back to the very psych ward that I hate more than anything on the planet.
I’m doing this not because I Want to be here, but because being here as an inpatient is the quickest way for me to receive life-changing ECT.
I get my first treatment tomorrow morning. My second treatment is on Monday, my third on Wednesday and my fourth on Friday.
My psychiatrists have said that most people start to feel the positive effects by treatment number 5 or 6. I will receive 6-8 treatments in total, depending on how I respond to each one.
It is wild to me to envision a future as soon as June 27th where I feel like myself again.
If I hadn’t have checked myself into hospital, I still wouldn’t even have my first meeting about qualifying for outpatient ECT until the middle of next week.
I have been persevering through each terrible day since this started in February and two days ago, I just said ‘this is Enough. I need help Now. I can no longer fight this battle at home alone with a baby. Enough is enough and I need help.’
I spent all day yesterday feeling guilty about that. I still couldn’t figure out if it made me a weaker person for being here, or a stronger one.
My sister visited me here yesterday and I was bawling my eyes out and she said something along the lines of ‘you can keep resisting the psych ward as this place that you hate, or you can just accept that you’re here and Surrender to it. Take a shower if you want. Don’t take a shower if you want. Lay in your bed all day and cry. Read books. Don’t read books. Do Whatever it is you need to do now that you’ve finally stopped fighting so hard to pretend that everything’s fine and you can do this on your own.’
So yesterday, somewhere around 7 pm, I surrendered to it.
I’m here. I’m going to get treatment. This is the last place I want to be and the best possible place for me to be at this time.
I didn’t want to post anywhere publicly that I was here because I was ashamed.
But something happened today when I looked around at all the people in this place, struggling through their various illnesses.
Schizophrenia, bipolar, severe anxiety, severe depression- voluntary or involuntary admission- whatever it is that brought them here. I looked around and I don’t feel any ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than any of them.
I feel like we’re all just people, struggling to live our lives, just like everyone else.
I think in a few more decades, this might change, but unit 27 is not like other units.
When someone has a baby, or is in hospital with a broken leg, or is undergoing chemo, people know what to do. They go to hospital. They bring cards with well wishes. They bring flowers and teddy bears.
Unit 27 has no flowers or teddy bears. No get well soon cards.
People like me hide on this unit and hope to God no one finds out we’re here.
If I’m ashamed of being on this unit, what does that teach my daughters?
I didn’t ask for bipolar and this bout of severe depression any more than the cancer patient or or the Parkinson’s patient did. And yet I feel ashamed. Horrifically ashamed that I am on this unit and that I have this condition.
I hope that in the future, people like me will be able to freely and easily say ‘please come and visit me, I’m on the psych ward and I’m very sick’. I hope they’ll be able to say it without fear of judgment or shame. I hope the people in their lives will visit them without reservation. I hope they will send them flowers and teddy bears and get well soon cards.
But until we can get to that day- I need to start being the change I want to see in the world.
I need to be brave and open and vulnerable.
So here I am.
I am back in the loony bin.
I have bipolar and I have depression and I’m going to get treatment and I’m going to get better.
Tomorrow is my first treatment and I hope it goes well.