Dealing with Grief in a Bipolar World: Part 3

TRIGGER WARNING!

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.

The Third and Final Part

Being as manic as I was, I had no problems making friends while I was in hospital. For the first two weeks, I continued in this highly manic state. To assist in bringing me back down, I recall having two injections of what I think was Haloperidol. Both occasions induced a massive sleep of 18 hours plus, and left me extremely groggy until the effects of the injection had worn off. Once the mania had ceased, there was a major crash in my mood and only then, did I begin to realize the level of destruction that had occurred. I became withdrawn from just about everybody. Internally I was riddled with guilt and shame about everything I had done. I was also terrified because I had no place to go beyond hospital. I vaguely remember being told I was Bipolar and there was some relief to finally have an explanation for everything that couldn’t be explained prior. But the mess that had been made was far greater than anything that had happened in the past, and I had serious difficulty getting my head around everything that transpired. The worst was yet to come and I couldn’t have been more ill equipped and less prepared for any of it.

Being of no fixed address, the hospital provided me with an outreach service to assist in finding accommodation. By the time I was ready for discharge, I was placed into a boarding house which was terrifying to say the least. I was also extremely depressed and no longer on an anti-depressant for fear that I would become manic again. I was in a very poor state, but  at the same time, I was also keen to leave the hospital. So off I went. I lasted two nights at the boarding house before I packed up everything and went to stay with my Mother. I felt like there was no other option at the time, but due to the state I was in, I also had no idea what to do beyond that. With a high dose of mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics, I slept for approximately 15-18 hours a day. Mum lived in a one bedroom flat and within time, the environment became toxic for both us. Mum was full of care at first, but over time, she became increasingly aggressive towards me and in then end I was forced to leave. Four months had passed and I was still in very poor shape.

*TRIGGER WARNING – THERE IS TALK OF SUICIDE DURING THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS. READER DISCRETION IS STRONGLY ADVISED*

During that time, I made an attempt to commit suicide. Had my mother not found me and called an ambulance, I’m fairly sure I would have died. When I got back the following day, my chest was very sore, and I came to the assumption that resuscitation attempts had been made. Looking back, why the hospital would discharge me, despite giving me the option of being transferred to psych, is beyond me. I had spent weeks crying out for help, only to be turned away on multiple occasions. There is a lot to be said about the public mental health system in this country. And most of it is not very kind whatsoever.

Despite a reluctance to have me there, my brother took me in after I was forced to leave my mothers place. He facilitated the rental of a caravan which I stayed in for approximately six weeks before ending up back in hospital for the third time in six months. Despite being in a depressed state, my brother was putting  pressure on me to find another place to live. I took another overdose and he had no hesitation in saying that I was not welcome back after I had done so. It was the day before New Years Eve. This time I wanted to be in hospital. I knew I wasn’t well. I also knew that nobody knew how to deal with me. The pain of not receiving adequate support during this time still cuts deep to this very day.

I have no contact with my family today. Having no family in my life hurts deeply. But the reality is, I am much safer this way.

During the third hospital admission, I was placed on an anti-depressant and began to improve. An offer of stable accommodation with a retired gentleman was offered to me and after three weeks, I was once again discharged. I continued to sleep for more hours than I was awake. Thankfully, the guy that I was living with put no pressure on me whatsoever. He lived in the front half of the house, whilst I had the back half all to my myself. I called a close friend one night simply said that I needed someone. That phone call would start a chain of events that would, by the end of that year, see me well and truly back on my feet. I was accepted into a nursing course, and I was determined to start rebuilding my life.

It was a time full of hope and positive things started happening once again.

Looking back, from the time I was first hospitalized, right through to starting the course in nursing some twenty months later, things were about coming to terms with what had happened. I didn’t realize I was grieving. Grieving over a life that was a ultimately a lie. Grieving over events that had happened that were ultimately influenced by having a mental illness. It is difficult to describe how your whole sense of identity is compromised and brought into question. A fair chunk of 2007 was spent rationalizing everything and finding some peace within it all.

Whilst the damage was done, at least now there were some answers.

I thought I had the necessary tools to overcome having Bipolar and make it work to my advantage. I couldn’t have been more wrong and while I am proud of myself for making a good go of things, I am still to this very day, haunted by a life that is so dominated by this illness. Much to my resentment, it has shaped my life in every facet and continues to do so.

More than six years later, I am still at war with myself. With every fiber of my being, I hope that I can one day find a level of peace and contentment which is able to bring me out of the darkness and establish a true identity within myself. Fluctuating between anger, depression and acceptance is draining. It accomplishes nothing more than sucking the life out of oneself and leaves in it’s wake, feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.

All that is left is hope. Hope that one day, this will all feel like a bad dream. Hope that the sun will shine on more days than it doesn’t. Hope that I can still overcome this illness and be the type person that lays dormant amongst the pain and misery.

There has to be hope, for without it, continuing to exist, is nothing but an exercise in futility.

2 comments on “Dealing with Grief in a Bipolar World: Part 3

  1. Wow. Thank you for your honesty in writing about such a painful time in your life. You’ve come through so much. Your posts about grieving after getting a diagnosis of Bipolar totally makes sense to me and helps me. I still resent it and how it has shaped my life and is restricting my life at the moment. I hope you are feeling well? Love Karen x

    • Hi Karen, once again, I am really happy that you got something positive out of these posts. I feel very similar when it comes to ongoing resentment, how it shapes my life, and total frustration with the restricting nature of this illness. I get it, totally. Thanks so much for your comment. Look after yourself. Anthony.

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