Today I came home after spending close to eight weeks in a Mother and Baby Unit where I was diagnosed with Bipolar Affective Disorder. Interestingly, the acronym for this particular disorder is “BAD”, which is actually quite appropriate because boy, it was BAD.
Now that I am actually home, actually unpacked, and actually lying on my own bed, I can’t help but think about the journey that I’ve been on. Where I’ve come from and where I plan to go. I can’t help but compare how I feel now to how I felt two months ago.
Now…I feel fantastic! I feel like a completely different person to the lost individual that I was eight weeks ago. I feel stronger, more hardy, and more equipped to deal with stressors. I don’t worry the way I used to. I’m not consumed with guilt. I very rarely feel anxious. Of course it is early days, and I know that any recovery is rarely smooth. I know, and I expect to have good days and bad days. The difference is that now I feel able to deal with the bad days.
Then…well that’s a different story. At my final doctor’s appointment this morning, my doctor reminded me just how unwell I had been. “You were just so damn sick Rachael”, she said to me “You were one of the most unwell patients we have had in this unit in the last 5 years. Most people who present with postnatal depression or anxiety are easy to deal with….but your depression was absolutely monstrous. It is so good to see you looking so well again, with a sparkle in your eyes!”
After I packed up my belongings it was time to say good-bye. I waved farewell to the other girls in the unit, the women who had become my friends. I said good bye to the nurses who had become such a big part of my life. I can’t begin to describe the gratitude I feel towards these individuals who sat with me, listened to me, and protected me. All the nurses came out of their station to wave us off, and my doctor came out of her office to give me a hug. As I walked out to the car with my bag, I looked behind me at the unit that had become my second home.
“The end of an era”, I remarked to my husband. And it really is.
Eight weeks seems such a long time while you are in the thick of it. But looking back now, it really isn’t. In eight weeks I have managed to get my life back together. In eight weeks I have managed to rebuild what had been broken down. Going into the unit was one of the hardest…but one of the BEST things I have ever done for myself.
Today I told someone my story and they told me I should write a book. Lord knows I tried while in hospital, walking around with my little blue notebook and pen. But words don’t come easily when you are depressed, and you don’t have the patience to sit and write when you are manic. But now I am stable, ideas are flowing, and I’m itching to do what I haven’t been able to for so long: write.
So this is my story, as honest and as true as I can recall. This is the story of finding my sunshine.