I don’t remember much.
I remember sitting on a park bench talking to a robin whilst near college. I had seen the mental health support team in college that morning, and it was established something wasn’t quite right because I remember her phoning my care coordinator. I don’t remember what exactly wasn’t quite right, but I just remember sitting in the cold and talking to a robin.
Then somehow I’m home. I’ve spoken to my partner briefly before walking off to eat some food because being invincible takes energy, and if I’m going to prove my invincibility I need energy. Before I know it, I’m walking across the top of the local car park and hands are on me, my hands are in cuffs; it’s the police. They’d been called by my partner, who believed otherwise about my invincibility powers and attempts to prove them.
I spent the next 4 hours in the back of a police van in cuffs waiting for a 136 suite (i.e. place of safety) to become available somewhere in london where I proceed to spend the next 24 hours locked in a room with soft padded furniture and 2 nurses watching me constantly before being sectioned and spending 2 weeks in hospital, against my will, against my beliefs, for my own safety.
I don’t remember much from the van, nor do I remember much from the 136 suite or my assessment there other than the woman was called Penny, like in Big Bang Theory because this was how I was thinking back then. I was a genius, an invincible genius. I loved big bang theory because I too was a science whizz kid who was going to win a Nobel Prize later in the year, and who despite being exceptionally gifted at science defied science itself, and nature, and logic by being special and invincible. I could do anything and I would survive, or so I believed.
I could take an overdose to kill an army: I would survive. I could walk in front of a car: I would survive. I could jump from a building, my chosen method of proving myself: and I would bounce, and ultimately, survive. It was for this reason that I was sectioned because after all, it turns out that I am just a human like everyone else. The realisation of this, when it eventually came was heartbreaking because how wonderful it felt to be special, invincible, different and exceptional. However, the realisation and shock that I could be, and had been so delusional hurt so much more. I never knew my brain could play such a nasty and heartbreaking trick on me. I was hurt, upset but most of all confused. How could this have happened? Was it even real? Were they even right? Who was right? It was from this episode of mania that I received my additional diagnosis of Bipolar II Disorder – the acceptance of which was a difficult process in it’s own right after the shock of my descent into madness and back.
After such an episode it is difficult not to question everything you believe about yourself and the world around you. Is it real? Is this real, and that, did that happen, is my head screwed on right at the moment because is this real. The other day for example, it was raining snow foam on Oxford Street. I was with my mum, and upon realising it was fake snow made from foam – something I’d not seen before, I had to ask her, “is this real? Am I seeing things again?”. No, believe it or not, it was real fake snow on Oxford street coming from nowhere to everywhere.
Accepting that your own reality may not be so, that your own beliefs are exactly that and nothing more, beliefs, and that in reality you are not special or exceptional but in fact unwell is a difficult process to undertake. Accepting the medication to stabilise a mood that is highly enjoyable, and intoxicating is difficult to manage whilst accepting that these episodes are episodes of a life long illness on top of your already existing illnesses is difficult. One illness, the previously diagnosed one, you can recover from. Bipolar, you manage and live with for the rest of your life. The disappointment in this realisation was a process of crying, depression and crying some more until eventually my emotions subsided and I could say to myself, “OK, so I have this diagnosis. We kind of already knew. It runs in the family. What is it that I need to do about it?”
I have since been referred to a specialist team who only have clients with severe personality, anxiety and mood illnesses. I am finally receiving the support I need in order to help manage this illness and these episodes to hopefully prevent further admissions, but have them when necessary. I don’t have any advice compiled yet on how to manage this illness, or these episodes as I’m still learning – but that is OK. I’m talking about it, here and in my poetry – and that I believe is an important first step towards managing my illness openly so that those around me understand. I’m merely starting a conversation and sharing my experience and once I’ve nailed it – or figured some of these challenges out I’ll share that with you all.