And They’re Coming to Take Me Away Now: A Rant

opened door

“When you are mad, mad like this, you don’t know it. Reality is what you see. When what you see shifts, departing from anyone else’s reality, it’s still reality to you.”

– Marya Hornbacher, Madness: A Bipolar Life

As someone with bipolar disorder, I have a lot of experience in feeling awkward or out of place because of my condition, when said condition is known. It’s nothing new, and although it never “gets easier” you learn to go along with it. Sometimes you got to get ahead of the charade before you become the charade.

That being said, I think it’s a well-known fact that there are major flaws in the modern American healthcare system, especially on the mental healthcare side. In a world where you’re supposed to feel accepted and are taught to “treat everyone blah, blah, blah”……even in a world where I’m taught that I’m no different because of my illness, I STILL have had to jump through hoops, still have had to play the game to just get by. I have been extremely fortunate for the most part, I must say. One instance (that ironically ended up happening on several more occasions), however, was centered around a time I was in just enough control to try and take the reins before something really bad happened.

I was about as manic as one can get without being totally “gone” yet was aware and knew I was going to end up in jail or worse at the rate I was going. It was a type of mania where the amount of clarity provided was too much; I was on the brink, and I knew it. It was like a bad trip, but without the total loss of one’s basic faculties. I was more aware of what was going on than I ever had been, and that was not necessarily a good thing.

So, before things got any worse, I called my psych doctor. I pleaded with her to get me into the short-term facility at the hospital where most of my medical treatment was based out of. She agreed that I was going to end up in jail at the rate of things, and would end up being involuntarily committed. So, this was my dilemma: I needed to become legally adjudicated to “need” a stay in a short-term facility. So, that meant I needed to engage in odd and/or criminal behavior – which was exactly what I was trying to avoid – just to get me a bed at the Mulberry Center.

It was then explained to me that hospitalizations of this repute were generally geared towards the “depressed” and those on that end of the spectrum. I was then told that if I wanted a bed, I knew what I had to do.

Yes. Yes, I guess I did, but I didn’t think that it would come to that. In the end, I was given the ultimatum of entry by being a “threat” to myself based on the level of my “depression”. That or go on my merry way.

So, out of fear for myself and those closest to me, I feigned having “suicidal ideations” due to “depression” – the only way I could get the help I needed (or at least to get away from the general public).

I came out seven days later (this particular go-around, that is) with a stack of color sheets and lists of coping skills and positive affirmations. I was no longer dangerously manic, but only because of yet another med change.

This is just one instance where bipolar disorder has made me feel like an outsider (even in a clinical setting where I was supposed to be receiving treatment, I was an outsider). The whole of it is just a microcosm of a bigger issue. Just another crack in the healthcare system that I, as a member of the “bipolar community”, so depend on.

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