“CATCH ME IF YOU CAN” THE BIPOLAR EDITION

When mania was setting in there were warning signs. It started in January 2019. I wrote an entire 180 pages for a new self-help book in one week. I think I did a great job, but when I looked at it after the mania subsided, I realized that I constantly was using the word “I.” It was as if I was the end all be all of self-help. I proclaimed to people that this was going to be my legacy and that I was going to give my gift free of charge to the world. A little bit egotistical, don’t you think? Believing you’re Jesus is the ultimate ego boost as you believe that no one is above you. That you are the Almighty. That was the path that I was on.

People should have questioned how I wrote a book in a week, but no one did. Maybe they all just believed in my abilities as a writer. There were other questionable things going on that many people took into account, but no one took action.

I was waking up at 5 AM every morning. I slept in my boxers and I had a 2000 mL urinary drainage bag that I had hanging on the side of my wheelchair attached to my catheter. I would put on a t-shirt every morning and go out in my boxers with this giant pee bag attached to me. Then I’d go to the convenience store down the street to get an energy drink.

If I was stable, I never would have been caught dead outside in my boxers. Especially not in a convenience store. There was a courtyard where I lived at Creative Living that was monitored by cameras. The resident assistants that helped people like myself and the 16 residents there monitored the cameras. They would see me leave every morning and return and it raised questions and a conversation, but no one took action. Maybe it just wasn’t enough for people to see that the worst was coming.

This activity continued well into my manic episode. I’d go for extremely potent energy drinks and caffeine was something that fueled my manic episode more and more so I couldn’t get enough of it. I loved the jolt of energy that I got from it and I was consuming an unhealthy amount to keep me going. Mania already gives you so much energy and combining it with the caffeine was giving me extraordinary amount of energy.

Once my mind was so far gone from mania people took action. So I can’t say that no one held me accountable. I have to be thankful for these people because they did realize that as a resident there and from coming in and out of my apartment all the time, they noticed the newspaper articles, the magazine articles, and the book cover on my wall that all showed that I suffered from bipolar. In less than two weeks, I had the cops called on me four times. They were trying to send me to the psych ward for help.

Somehow I was able to turn the mania on and off as if it was at the push of a button. This was at least for the time being. I could only hide it for a short period of time, but every time the police showed up I went around and showed them the articles on my wall and explained how I was a mental health advocate and just how proud I was of my stability. It worked nearly every time until I got pink slipped.

I had a meeting with my psychiatrist and I don’t remember the details, but obviously I was acting off enough for me to get issued a pink slip. For those of you who do not know, a pink slip is something that is issued to someone who needs psychiatric help and then has a mandatory stay of at least three days in a psychiatric hospital under the care of professionals. When the police showed up at my door and told me this, I thought I was done for and that my manic adventure was over. Even though to me I would never call it mania at the time. I don’t think anybody that is manic would call their mania, mania.

The police officers escorted me down the street because I could not get in the back of a police car and the hospital was at the end of my road. I went into the emergency department and the first thing I did was request to see a copy of the pink slip. I read what was on it and I knew what I was up against. I never mentioned anything about the delusions to my psychiatrist so nothing like that was on there. I didn’t think there was enough to hold me if I’ve presented myself as stable.

It took 11 hours in the emergency room and many visits with the psychiatrists for them to finally believe that I was stable enough to go home against the doctors orders. When I got home, I texted my psychiatrist and explained to her that she would regret doing what she did. I sent her a copy of the music video “Nightmare“ by Halsey, which for anybody to receive would be terrifying. Just look it up. I feel so bad and ashamed of myself for what I did and I later apologized to her even though I wish I got to apologize to her in person. I’m sure she understands the state of mind that I was in but if you’re reading this, I offer you the sincerest apology.

Since I stayed quiet about what I believed no one really knew for sure what was going on other than the fact that I was acting strange and extremely hyper. I was talking rapidly, spending too much money, giving money and items away to homeless people, and barely sleeping. Other than talking rapidly, the other things I did on my own and in secret. I didn’t want people to notice this unusual behavior.

It wasn’t until I told one person that I knew that I was Jesus that my mom would get word and the act was over. It was so dangerous for me to stay quiet for a month. They assumed I was off of my medications. I was still taking my medication which is the unusual part. I had stayed stable for nearly a decade but now out of nowhere everything changed.

For me the doctors explained that as you grow older your metabolism changes and you may be due for a medication change. That was in fact the case for me and I also believe stress had something to do with it. I also believe that not having a plan or routine after quitting speaking caused me to go on a downhill spiral and gave my mind too much time to think. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly one thing but I believe it was a combination of many things.

Manic episodes are not predictable but you can be seeing somebody in a hypomanic episode leading up to the full-blown manic episode and early intervention can take place to avoid the manic episode. The warning signs were there and the people were in place. I was being watched, but it just wasn’t enough until it was too late to sound the alarm.

Today I live at home with Emily and we live close to family and all of these people make sure my mental health is under control. They make sure I’m following up with my psychologist, my counselor, my psychiatrist, that I’m getting my antipsychotic injection, that I’m taking my medication, and that I’m being open about my thoughts. I’m constantly asked questions about what’s on my mind relating to my mental health, which gets me out of my head and keeps me safe from harm. I’m in such a good place now and the support that I have is extraordinary.

I do not fear another manic episode as I have all the supports in place to ensure my mental and emotional well-being. Peace of mind is very important to me and that is something that I have these days. The supports that I have are a blessing and they are something that people need more of. I never saw a third manic episode coming my way, but I was also living alone and the supports were not close by. Today I’m thankful for everyone that has been a part of my life to get me mentally stable and get me to this point.

With bipolar there are always going to be struggles in my life but that’s no different from anyone else. Adversity only makes you stronger and going through what I’ve gone through has taught me many valuable lessons. In every moment of stability it’s a chance to help others and teach others about mental illness and how to fight the hard ongoing battle that is bipolar.

Thank you for letting me be one of the many voices of mental illness and continuing to follow my story. I promise to be there for you as you’ve been for me.

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