Note: This post was written while I was in a hypomanic state of mind. There is no doubt there will be run on sentences, passive voice, other grammatical errors, and disorganized thoughts.
A few things I need to release in order to reorganize my mind…
I have drafted over five blog posts on paper and probably over 15 in my head over the last 24 hours. This causes me to feel overwhelmed, manic, irritable, and like I have to do something with all of these words immediately. These symtoms generate a sense of urgency within me. Writing is the only thing I can do right here, right now in this moment to cope with these feelings.
I’ve been like this for a long time, but I have always written about it in private, never showing this side of myself to most of the world. I’ve hidden behind secret journals and endless word documents with haphazard thoughts that, in my mind, I want to harness into some long-form essays or a novel. I am yet to make this happen for myself.
For the first time, I am going to write freely as much as I want for as long as I can and then I am going to publish it and throw it to the internet lovers and haters and see what happens. Maybe nothing. But at least I will be free.
In some ways, this mood and these thoughts scare me, but in more ways they make me want to DO SOMETHING POSITIVE with them. I know it sounds silly, but change the world. Mental health professionals might call these thoughts delusions of grandeur. Some of them are, I agree, but the dreamer/believer within me knows I have the power to touch the world, even if only for a small audience with my own two hands. But I need to start by being honest with myself.
As much as I have hid my mental illness, I had two very real reminders that I’ll never be able to completely hide from it. Three months after my son was born I had postpartum psychosis and was involuntarily hospitalized. I went nuts. I became hypomanic… then delusional, paranoid, and other unglamorous words that I cannot think of off the top of my head. As my mania escalated my husband called an ambulance. After the EMT’s checked my vitals, I told them to go away. And not very politely, I am sure. I wasn’t dying, so in my mind I didn’t need medical attention. I could not have been more wrong.
After more time passed he and a neighbor called the ambulance again. They convinced me to go this time… and I did. I left my house, my husband, my three-month old baby and all sense of control. After that, it’s funny, despite how crazy I went I still remember many of the details. The other crazy thing is that I filled several dozen notebooks with my thoughts. I am a writer. That’s what I do.
Part of why I haven’t been able to go public with this is because I don’t want it to impact my children’s lives. They are little. There will be a time and a place for me to let them in on who their mother really is. But that time is not now. They wouldn’t understand it. But my oldest will start Kindergarten in the fall and I don’t want to be known as the mentally ill mom because I’ve blabbed my story all over the internet.
But I need to share it. So I am. With some anonymity. Mostly to protect my family, but if I am being honest with myself it is also a mask for my shame. I want to confront it, and I am ready to deal with it. This is the best way I know how to right now. I am stigma free about mental health when it comes to other people, but I am realizing I have to be stigma free toward myself, too.
I am sitting here in my bathrobe pounding away at the keyboard. I just got out of the shower, towel on head and sweating profusely. In thirty minutes I have to go pick up my kids from preschool. That means I have to make a decision right now. Do I write for five more minutes, give this post one read (because I want to make as much sense as possible) and then publish it so I can frantically get dressed and be out the door? Or do I walk away and let it all fester like every other time this has happened to me?
I choose the latter. Five minutes starts now.
Back to my story… When I got to the hospital I was uncooperative and my symptoms grew worse and no one was tending to me, or so it seemed. The more I felt ignored, anger escalated. I ended up leaving the hospital, but not before scrawling my words and stories in my head all over a banner in a private area of the hospital. How I got there or that no one found me, I’ll never know?
After that I went on a tirade in the neighborhood surrounding the hospital. From what I can remember, I went to a park and had a movie star euphoric feeling. Then I defaced public property, I sang, I ran and ran and ran, I somehow ended up at a nursing home, I defaced more public property, I banged on a few residential homes and woke people up screaming with rage at them. Eventually I smoked a cigarette with a cop who was trying to track me down (guess someone at the hospital was paying attention after all). He took me back to the hospital. They handcuffed me to the bed.
I have to stop here for today, but I will note, I experienced psychosis two years later with my daughter and had the exact same symptoms, but I and my support system handled it differently. We knew what psychosis was. So much power in that.
After both episodes I recovered, but I’ve brushed a lot of my shame and pain under the carpet and only shared some of it with close friends. Partly because I don’t want to give away my words. I want a writing career and I don’t want to just throw away my story. Seems pretty selfish now that I think about it. In order to receive, I have to give. This is my gift to myself and to anyone who can relate.
So I am going to hit publish, all shaky and scared to death, and see what happens.
And then… since I am a high-functioning person, I am going to wipe the sweat out of my armpits, put on some clothes, comb my hair, put on makeup, calmly drive to preschool while listening to the radio. And then I am going to walk into preschool and smile to all the other parents I encounter, greet my kids with hugs and smiles. I’ll drive them back to our house, make them lunch, and then mother them for the rest of the day.
I did call my husband a few minutes ago to see if he could pick them up. Told him I was working on a story, which in part is shaky ground for us because of all the writing I did in the past when I was manic. Turns out he was totally cool about the writing (smiles), but he has a meeting so he can’t do it. In the past, I easily might have flipped out, but instead, I realize I have to roll with it on my own and hit publish.
Did I say I have to hit publish?