Have you ever felt like you just didn't know how to act in recovery? Were you worried about the actions you took may raise red flags to those around you? That pretty much sums up my entire year after my first hospitalization. Thankfully, I've only had two of them. When I was a 9th grade student transitioning to 10th in May of 2000 I began showing signs of unusual behavior to my parents and those around me. I wasn't sleeping much. My thoughts were racing. I heard voices. My parents took me to the psychiatrist on the local Naval Base (dad was a sailor). He pretty much told my parents I was fine and it was just growing pains. They took what he said at face value and sent us on our way. I don't remember much from that manic break from reality, but I do remember that I wasn't being 100% honest with the doctor. I had never experienced anything like that before. Hearing voices? I thought things like that only happened in movies or in the Bible when casting out demons. I was terrified of what would happen if they knew. So the doctor sent me back to school that day. Later on that day after school let out I went to the football coach's office along with some of the other players and asked what he wanted us to train that day. I don't know what he said, because I can't remember. I do remember exiting his office, looking in the janitor closet to my left and seeing a ladder mounted to the wall. I think I heard a voice that said, "come on up." So I did, and spent the next hour on top of the school roaming around. After that I spend the next 15 days in an in-patient facility tackling my demons. When I got out and went back to school I felt like everyone was judging me. I felt like everyone knew what I did and just thought I was a delinquent or just nutts. Turned out no one thought either. No one knew, because patient records are confidential unless subpoenaed for court. I didn't know until many years later that it was all paranoia from the stigma of a psychological disorder. Many of us face the horror of stigma with this demon called bipolar disorder. What I want you all to take from this is that you don't have to live in fear. Do what your doctor says to the letter. Seek out support groups. Confide in your loved ones. I'm not saying go shout if from a mountain top that you are loud and proud for your disorder. Just be responsible. I know medicine is expensive for us. For years I paid almost full price. There are assistance programs out there for those of you without insurance, and most caring doctors will flood you with samples. People will still fear the symptoms we may potentially show. People may say hurtful things. So I leave you with this poem.
Paranoia will destroy ya
It’s true, friends what they say
No need to worry, what Tom or Judy
Under their breath, did say
Or behind your back,
The weakest attack.
Just be strong and press right on.
Keep calm my kindred
And do what I did
Just be you, you’ll do no wrong.
Treat the others, as you’d treat your grandmother.
A kindness that can surely kill.
When the tax is settled
You won’t be rattled
It’s them who pay the bill.
Fight strong friends. While there is no cure for this, the symptoms are not a life sentence. 5 years no episodes here.
Jeremy S. Cole
"The one the wind and waves obey, is strong enough to save you"
Strong Enough To Save - Tenth Avenue North