This post is based on personal experience. There are references to suicide.
Reader caution is strongly advised.
If you are suicidal, please contact your local suicide hotline for support and advice.
2006 was by far the worst year of my life. It was the year I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, battled homelessness and almost lost my life in the process. In a follow up to Part One of Dealing with Grief in a Bipolar World, the following is my personal experience of being diagnosed with Bipolar, the events that lead to this point and everything that transpired following.
The downward spiral that led to being diagnosed can be traced back to August 2005. I lost a very close friend to a heart attack and at the same time, the five year engagement to my fiance also came to end. I had taken a job interstate during the middle of that year. I knew in my heart of hearts that would spell the end of the relationship, but I had hoped my partner would follow me and we would continue. When she made it clear that she didn’t want this, our relationship was over. It was something that should’ve been over after two years, not five, but the lesson I learned through this break-up, was that it takes courage to leave a bad relationship. Moving interstate was the catalyst in doing what should’ve been done a long time earlier. We rarely fought, but we weren’t compatible. It really was as simple as that. We remain friends, although have minimal contact with one another.
A few months into my new life, I received a phone call around 10pm. I was already asleep, so the message that resulted from the phone call wasn’t retrieved until the following morning. I knew what had happened even before I made the call back.
J.J. had a heart condition. The fact that he even got to 29 was an achievement in itself. Still, it didn’t take away the initial shock that he was gone. I still miss him to this very day and occasionally he pops up in my dreams. I like it when he does and he damn well better be waiting for me when it’s my time to go. We have so much to talk about.
Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. These two life changing events were delayed in terms of their destructive impact on me personally. However the signs were there early when I started to smoke pot as a means of escaping the pain. I worked and when I came home, I smoked. I did this for a period of four months which included my trip back home for the Christmas/New Year period. When I arrived back to work, I stopped smoking and I wasn’t in a good way. I was having frequent panic attacks, both at home and at work, which, with the benefit of hindsight, was due to withdrawals from smoking pot. A no brainer one would say, but at the time I simply didn’t realize it. All I wanted to do at the time was get back to my home state, so I threw in the towel at work, and a few weeks later, barely one month into the new year, I was back home.
During the drive back, I recall that over the last 100km’s, I had this horrible feeling come over me that something bad was going to happen. I was relieved to be going back home again, but I was lost and wasn’t completely sure what I was going to do next.
I stayed with a friend when I got back. The same friend, whose family had taken me in when I left home at 15 years of age. It felt like a safe option, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The boys there were still smoking pot, years after it was just a teenage thing. I fell into it again with open arms. It was a stupid thing to do and I still kick myself for allowing this to happen. The only blessing that came from this period, was getting a diagnosis that explained years of certain behavior that was otherwise not justified, despite several attempts to seek some answers. Unfortunately, the shit would have to seriously hit the fan before I even got to this point.
I ended up finding work as I continued to smoke with the boys during the evenings. On weekends, taking ecstasy also came into the mix as I went to nightclubs and partied like it was 1999. Within a couple of months, I was on top of the world. I became so manic and was so psychotic in the process, again, with the benefit of hindsight, it was only a matter of time before everything would come crashing down. So erratic was my behavior, that I went out and got a new phone on contract and racked up almost a thousand dollars in phone calls before I was hospitalized. I also got a new laptop and signed a contract for a premium internet service. In this psychotic manic state, I was about to start a company that would take the world by storm. I was also going to start an online radio station. High profile business and media identities were going to want a piece of me. I had no insight about the state I was in, although through all of this, there were signs I was crying out for help. I contacted family members who didn’t want much to do with me. This all came to head one weekend when my father refused to pay for flights and accommodation to an interstate location where I was to meet a reporter from a television show (I actually did call and speak to this reporter the day before in a psychotic rage).
By Saturday night of that weekend, I was being interview by police over threats I had made towards my father. On a rational level, my Dad is not nice guy. There is a reason why I left home at 15 years of age. But that situation remains sensitive, as does what I’m presently describing, so I won’t go off track.
By Monday morning, having had very little sleep over the past two weeks or so due to being so manic, things were at breaking point. I had no money and no place to live (having well and truly worn out my welcome where I was staying due to my behavior). I was so outraged over what had occurred over the weekend, I was desperate to engage a lawyer. Instead, by mid afternoon, I was again detained by police and was on my way to a psychiatric ward and admitted as an involuntarily patient. I would remain there for the next five weeks and in that time, I would go from being completely manic, to crashing back down to earth with a huge bang.
*I didn’t think this post would be as long it is. So as a result, part three will be written and published in the next couple of days. Please bear with me as this continues to be a difficult time to recall and write about*