I have put off writing about my manic episode for a while. For starters my mania, I find, is very hard to write about. How can I begin to describe an experience that was so fast and loud and bright? It’s hard to remember, let alone describe, in what order events occurred. And can I even rely on my recollection of events anyway? I’m not sure. Hubster and I joke a lot about this particular manic episode. But in no way do I mean to make light of manic episodes. I was in hospital, safe and protected from any kind of danger. In other words, I was lucky. Manic episodes can be extremely dangerous. Indeed I fear mania far more than I fear depression. This was not my first manic episode, but it was the most extreme episode I have experienced. It all started one morning when I woke up with a ZING! The first thought in my head was “I’m cured!”
I felt good. Better than good. Brilliant! For the first time in months I had energy. The blackness had gone! I had ideas and plans racing around in my head so quickly that I could barely keep up with them. I called Hubster at the uncivilized time of 5:50am to tell him that I wanted to go to a restaurant and bake a cake. Afterwards I bounced out of bed and raced in to tell the nurses that I had been cured. I then informed them that I wouldn’t be attending meditation that morning, because I didn’t want to sit still. I had decided to go for a walk instead. My nurse that morning wasn’t terribly impressed warning “don’t get me into trouble Rachael!” as I waltzed out the doors.
I got no further than the park next to the hospital. The trees, the leaves…everything was so beautiful. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before! I lay down in the grass under a tree marvelling at the beauty that was surrounding me. The feel of the breeze on my face, the grass under my skin, the sun…the beauty was literally overwhelming. Finally I stood up and made my way back to the unit. I was so focused on the beauty around me that I very nearly got hit by a car.
Back at the unit I started to tell a student nurse about my experience. Well. ‘Tell’ is a nice way of putting it. The clinical term for it is ‘pressured speech’. I myself prefer ‘verbal diarrhea’. I talked and talked and talked, not pausing for a breath. I told her about the trees, and the leaves, and how I wanted to write a book, and where I wanted to travel..and…and..and…and! I’m sure she was cursing the moment she had initiated a conversation with me. But she was far too polite to tell me to shut up.
It was then time to see the doctor. I sat down on the sofa and waited until I had the attention of both doctors and my nurse before dramatically proclaiming “I’m cured!”. Then I talked and I talked. I remember at the time watching all three of the staff looking at each other, raising their eyebrows. But I didn’t care. I was having a fabulous time holding court. And man, I had some interesting stuff to say!
When my doctor was finally able to interject, she told me that I seemed to be ‘high’. I agreed and told her it was fantastic, before launching on a rather random tirade about how I should have never been put on ‘special’ supervision. I think after a while the staff realised that it was absolutely pointless to try and have a sane conversation with me. It was at that point that my doctor snapped my file shut and turned to the second doctor. “I’m canceling leave”. She said firmly. I was devastated, I had been supposed to go home that weekend for leave. I burst into tears, I pleaded and begged, but no amount of tears were going to change my doctors mind.
After the appointment I decided to call Hubster to tell him the tragic news. What I wasn’t expecting was:
“GOOD! I’m glad they cancelled leave. I’m not saying you have Bipolar, Rachael, but there is something not right about you at the moment.”
Yeah, that pissed me off. From that moment on I started waging a war. A war of ‘us’ against ‘them’. And in my opinion Hubster had very firmly planted himself with ‘them’.
At this point I must say that the nursing staff in that unit must have the absolute patience of a saint. From this point on I became, for lack of a better term, a thundering pain in the neck. Someone who can’t sit still, can’t concentrate on any activities, doesn’t sleep and won’t shut up is annoying enough. But someone who does all of this in addition to making it her mission to antagonise as many people as possible must have been a complete nightmare to deal with.
I went to group and attempted to derail the topic of conversation with inane questions and comments. I interrupted private conversations between staff and patients to have my say. I concluded that some flowers that were delivered to the hospital were evil, and asserted this to everyone who commented on how nice they were. And Hubster, poor Hubster, I took my frustration out on him the most. I’m not surprised that he was glad that I was not coming home that weekend!
As the days went on I just seemed to get higher. I didn’t seem to need to sleep, I didn’t feel hungry. I felt sexy, and confident, powerful and in control. Given my lack of need for sleep I started to suspect that I was, in fact, superhuman.
I was allowed home for an hour or so and I selected a short little dress to wear (I hadn’t thought to bring cocktail attire to the hospital). While at home I put on some music, took off all my clothes and danced around the house. Unsatisfied with this I decided I should go out to the street and dance naked in the rain. Surprisingly, I felt, Hubster was less than impressed with this idea and decided it was time for me to go back to the unit. I then refused to put my clothes on until Hubster started dialing my doctors phone number. Beaten, I put my little dress back on again.
But what goes up must come down, and come crashing down it did. Back at the unit I held my crying baby, trying my best to comfort him. Tears ran down my cheeks as I watched him cry, all I wanted to do was help him. Steven saw that I was getting upset and offered to take Master D from me. Something flipped inside me and I became angry, telling him that “I was his mother, I should know what to do”.
Sensing that things were escalating Hubster left then returned with two nurses. I shouted at them to stay away, they tried to take Master D away, but I held onto him. Finally the nurses grabbed my arms, physically restrained me and took my little boy away. I know that I was aggressive and out of control, I know that the nurses did the right thing, but I will never ever forget the feeling of my baby boy being ripped from my arms. My heart shattered into pieces.
I was then, quite literally, frogmarched into my room to be shouted at. Finally I was left alone and I cried and cried and curled up in a ball on my bed. After a while the nurse came back and invited me to come out of my room, I declined. She came back again and again, trying to tempt me with hot drinks, movie’s on the telly and coming to see what my baby was doing. But I was terrified of leaving my room. I was so embarrassed, so humiliated of all the silly things I had said and done. I didn’t feel powerful anymore, I felt tiny.
But eventually I tiptoed to my door and looked down the hall. Hubster was standing there holding Master D, he grinned at me and beckoned for me to come and join him. Taking a deep breath I left my room and slowly walked towards him.
“I’m so sorry” I said, both to him and to Master D. He could have embarrassed me, or told me off, said he was ashamed of me, he would have the perfect right to have done any of this, considering the way I had treated him. But instead he just said the three words that I desperately needed to hear.
I love you.