It's strange that today I was able to get out of bed and hit the gym like everything is back to normal, like I wasn't almost hospitalized a week ago for a psychotic break. I hate how hindsight is always 20/20. If I knew what was happening to me over the past few months maybe I would have been able to save myself. Maybe I would have been able to stop myself from saying the things I did to hurt my mom. Maybe I wouldn't have spent all that money. Maybe I wouldn't have terrified my husband.
I'll start with when I could feel my mood starting to shift slightly. December, we were home in New Jersey for the holidays and I felt something itching at the back of my mind. I ignored it. The holidays are around the same time as the anniversary of my suicide attempt so I chalked up the deep sadness I started to feel to the bad memories of two years ago. That was wrong of me. Suffering from a severe form of Bipolar 1 means I cannot ignore those kinds of feelings. It's work but I don't get to assume my feelings are just normal feelings. I don't always get to trust my brain. I noticed a mild feeling of depression only in the evenings and the mornings. Eventually our vacation was over and we headed back to Los Angeles.
I thought everything was fine.
I had been planning on looking for a new job as soon as we got home so that took up most of my days. By the second week of January I had found an amazing job and began working five days a week. Working so many hours at a new exciting place gave me little time to focus on myself. I experienced a switch from that mild depression to serious motivation. I started online college courses, began studying for sommelier certification. I felt like I could do anything I put my mind to. I know this sounds like a positive thing but you have to understand - I can't always trust my brain. Even if I seem to be on a productive high.
The past week or so is a blur. I came down from that productive mindset and would get very angry. I thought I had reasons to be angry. I completely forgot about school and sommelier studying. I was certain I wasn't having mood swings. Then as opposed to being angry or depressed or happy for an extended period of time - those moods would only last for a couple of hours. I would go to work severely depressed to the point I was dissociating. I had to bluntly tell people I couldn't hold a conversation because I wasn't all there. But in a couple hours I would be bubbling with energy, quickly taking care of everything and more at work with a wild smile on my face. Divulging information and starting conversations I normally don't. But I only got to hold onto that for a short amount of time. By the time I get home from work I'm furious. For whatever reason at the time I thought was justified - I was just angry.
This happened every day. Not a stable emotion. I started to notice this isn't me, this isn't normal. I would run to the bathroom in the morning to hide and cry as to not upset Zak. I could barely hold myself together at work one moment and feel on top of the world the next moment. Every morning I begged my mind to give me a solid day of peace.
But that's not how this disease works. Those couple hour increments turned to less. Minutes of depression. Then mania. Followed by anger. Back to depression. Back to mania. All within half an hour. I felt like a bomb. I felt like a pressure cooker. I knew I was going to explode but I didn't know when.
I started to feel like something was coming after me. I didn't know what but I had this unshakable feeling that something (plural, it was a feeling that a group of something) was after me. I was certain I wasn't safe. I SnapChatted frightening selfies with words such as "they're coming for me" and "help". I looked back at them after the fact of all of this - embarrassed and creeped out.
Sunday I worked again and when Zak picked me up I was riding a state of mania. We went to the mall and I shopped aggressively. I yelled. I was angry and manic and depressed all at once now. I threw clothes on him, tried on stuff in the middle of the store, I ran around spending money. I was scaring him. We fought in the car. I had reached the brink of my minds capability to handle all the emotions. I boiled over. My heart racing, I burned up, said horrible things, screamed, swung and yelled. And then instantly - I shut down. Everything shut off in my brain. I felt nothing.
I didn't speak for the rest of the ride home. I knew that feeling of nothingness. I looked at Zak like he was a stranger. I couldn't feel my body. As I drove us home I saw my hands on the wheel but it didn't feel like me. Every sense of who I was shrunk into nothing and there was only one thing I felt I had a purpose for: kill myself. Had Zak not been in the car I would have driven straight into a ditch. Out of my control.
We get home and I'm a zombie. The bomb had exploded. The pressure cooker reached it’s limit. I disappeared. He was so scared and confused. I had a thousand yard stare. I was dizzy. I tried to leave the house and he asked if I'm coming back.
“No. I'm not coming back.”
He knows what that means. I try to leave and he physically restrains me. I start babbling about having to leave and how there's no point to life anymore. I'm inconsolable but have no emotion behind my words. I sound possessed.
He calls my dad in absolute fear. No answer. He's asleep. Still holding me down. He calls my mother. She picks up. Zak is crying, holding me down and pushing the phone to my ear.
“TALK TO HER. PLEASE.”
I hear my moms voice on the other end, the love in her voice infuriates me because it's an emotion I cannot comprehend at the moment. I continue to babble and explain to her that I need to go. Then I switch and get angry again. I scream on the phone. I thrash under Zaks arms. I have completely lost control. They both try to console me. I switch again. Laughing maniacally. I start cracking up. All I can remember feeling when I started laughing was how hilarious it was that I had no idea who I am. I switch again. Panic.
“Wake my father up. WAKE HIM UP. WAKE MY DAD UP.”
I feel like I'm drowning, my last hope is to hear my fathers voice on the other end of the phone. Something is ripping my mind up from the inside. I try to croak out a desperate cry for help.
My dad gets on the phone and I'm depressed. Talking about all the lives I ruin. I'm a zombie again. He talks to me from a perspective no one else can because he knows the bad voices as well. He just keeps talking and talking. Something in what he says resonates with the last shred of sanity I had left. I eventually start to be able to feel again. His voice has a truth in it that slowly digs deep in my mind to grasp the real me and pull her up out of the psychosis.
Eventually I come to. It literally feels as if a demon leaves my physical and mental being. I was myself again. I could feel my body, I looked at Zak for the first time all night and felt love. I heard my parents voices on the other end and felt love. I was out of breath and confused.
Zak had almost called the hospital. That was the next step and he knew it. If the psychosis didn't break I would have had to be physically taken away somewhere safe. My dad pleaded for me to do what I had to to get help as soon as possible. I had gone four months without my normal psychedelic therapy and that's what keeps me regulated.
I had a work party that night that I still went to. I just wanted to feel normal for a night. I wanted to dress up and go out like normal people do. I was nowhere near 100% mentally but I couldn’t stay in that room where I had just lost my mind.
We went to the party and I enjoyed myself best I could but that same feeling of being a pressure cooker came back again. I felt guilty for what I had just put Zak through and I felt myself start cycling through emotions again.
We got home and by the time we did I was angrily yelling about something irrelevant. Zak checked me and I was able to realize I didn't want to repeat what had happened earlier. I took something to help me sleep.
We tripped the next day. There was no way I could put it off any longer. I was absolutely at my mind's end and my mental illness was about to eat me alive.
The thing about psychedelics is I have been doing them for about four years at about 1-2 times a month. I'm always in a safe environment and always with Zak. I'm experienced with different forms of the drug and very familiar with that particular altered state of reality. I would never recommend someone with a mental illness trip on a whim alone or with someone inexperienced. There is a deep understanding and healing of my disease that I discover each time I'm under the influence. I'm certain that not only does it help my mental state but that it physically regulates the chemicals in my brain. When dealing with something negative (like this episode) while tripping - I’m still given an introspection that promotes healing and recovery. An understanding, I believe, that is unattainable sober.
While we were tripping I had to face the guilt I felt for what I had been putting him through the past week. But that was a part of the healing. I meditated and focused on my wholeness. On myself as one, single being. Not as many emotions and personalities jammed into one human. Zak had to face the past week as well. He admitted how scared he was. He didn't know who he would be picking up from work every day. It got so bad that he began questioning if I had always been like that and he had never noticed. He thought he may have been losing his mind - trying to make sense of why I was acting the way I was. That's what hurt me the most. I was so unaware, so convinced I was okay up until he had me pinned on our bed, that I caused him immense amounts of fear and confusion.
We came out of the trip very different. I was put back together as one person. Whole and in tune with myself and the world around me. Zak was relieved that I was back and he was able to face the fear he had internalized all week. He solidified himself as my rock, no matter how dark the days may get.
This has been a lesson to never put off our psychedelic therapy together. It is mandatory to keep me regulated. We talked about my self maintenance. I'm back to normal now which is when I don't feel like seeing a doctor. But that's not the case, he made that clear. Seeing my doctor twice a month and taking a psychedelic at least once a month is what I have to continue to do despite whether I see symptoms or not. I have to work every day to never avoid my self care.
I do not want to lose my own mind again. Every time I have an episode I think it was the worst, but last week was the absolute worst. It put not only myself but everyone around me in danger. I think we're going to trip again this weekend to deal with some more internal stuff but the last trip has regulated me enough to be myself again.
I don't want anyone to think this means I'm against prescription medication for Bipolar 1. I'm not at all. But I've found psychedelics to work for me (if I stay strict to my tripping schedule) without the side effects of prescriptions. Will they become necessary one day? Quite possibly. But for now I know this works. I just cannot put it off for so long again.
I've seen a lot of people who deal with Bipolar have white boards with the different things they have to accomplish for the day such as shower, gym or clean. I know this seems what any normal functioning person would do - but sometimes even getting into the shower is difficult and that's a red flag I need to be aware of. There's so many signs I never knew. As much pain as this past couple weeks brought me and my loved ones, the only thing I can do with it is learn.
I've been reminded that this disease doesn't just go away. As much as I want and pray and beg to function normally - I do not. And I need to accept that. I can't do this alone. I can't do this without psychedelics as medication. I can't do this without my husband and my family all on board. I am not scared what people think. All I'm scared of is ever experiencing that again. But I think with the support of Zak, my family and this horrible learning lesson - it won't come to that.