Receiving a diagnosis of manic-depression in 2019 has flipped my world upside down. Again. If it’s not one crisis, it’s another. My life is a continual cycle of moods rising up into uncontrollable energy, peaking in a fight or flight rampage, and then a hard crash into depression. I explored the layers of this cycle in the first post in this series. Now to address the hurt. The fight or flight impulses. The mean girl.
It’s during my manic/hypomanic peak, I become mean. Very mean. Don’t get in my path because, no matter how innocent or well-meaning you may be, I will tear you down. I hate it. I don’t want to do it. I don’t feel like a mean person, but just like a werewolf transforms under the full moon, my moods flip a switch from the real me to my evil twin.
The closer you are to me, the more likely you are to cross me. My patient and enduring husband has taken the brunt of my manic meanness. Friends, family, but also strangers minding their business can step into the crossfire of my mood if they catch me at just the right time.
I hate being mean. It feels like a different person entirely. In fact, in my most manic of episodes I lose all but a very hazy vague memory of what happened. What I did. What I said. It’s not who God made me to be, it is not the Holy Spirit reigning in my life, it is not who I truly am. But it’s there.
After my outbursts of mean, I fall apart. I go crawling to the person…or people…I hurt and with painful humility, I repent, confess, and ask for forgiveness. Like the boy who called wolf, after so many times, it’s hard to believe my sincerity. I kneel before the cross – mostly after someone who cares about me carried me there – and then cry my heart out to God.
“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”– Paul the Apostle, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
To whatever reason, when this was all beginning, I quit my therapist. Her rates got to be too much and it was just time to move on, anyway.
I started seeing a psychiatrist. I was put on a lot of medications to try to reduce my episodes, lighten my cycles. I liked the psychiatrist ok but the office processes were a mess. The waiting room felt like a dungeon with chairs packed together shoulder to shoulder. Among manic-depression and my other mental conditions, I suffer from agoraphobia – fear of crowds. I especially hate crowds in small spaces.
The waiting room is always packed. Sometimes with people standing up. There was one bathroom and it was always occupied. In addition, twice in my visits, there was an incessant beeping – probably the fire alarm suffering from a low battery. Did they not know that the people in that waiting room suffer from mental illnesses?! I usually spent my waiting time outside the entrance door. I just couldn’t handle the dungeon. It was common to wait an hour. Two hours. Sometimes more.
My husband made the effort to come with me to an appointment. He wanted to understand my illness and how to help me. We waited for close to 2 hours. I asked how much longer. There were 4 people ahead of me whose appointments could last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. It was looking like there was little chance I would be seen that day before they closed. I had to pick up my son from school and attend to some other errands. I couldn’t continue waiting, so they agreed to reschedule me. I asked if we could apply what I already paid to my next appointment. They agreed.
The following week, I arrived for my appointment, this time alone. They wanted to collect payment. I explained that I paid last week and was told it would be applied to this week.
“You walked out.”
“No, I rescheduled.”
“Well, you left.”
“Yes, after I rescheduled because the doctor wouldn’t be seeing me that day.”
Without reliving the gory details of my mental breakdown over this, let’s just say it was a mutual agreement that I never showed up there again. And they made it clear to my husband who was on the phone with me the entire time that they would call the cops if I set foot on property again. For crying and arguing with them. I said some inappropriate words, sure, but nothing violent or threatening. Just very very distraught. Because I have a mental illness for which I came to see a psychiatrist. I just wanted to get better.
So, there I am, in the worst mental health of my life (and it’s been bad in the past) and I’m without a doctor or a therapist. I’m scared to find another doctor because of the recent trauma but I seriously needed the help.
It took a few months but I finally found one who is great and whose office is run beautifully. The meds were reduced. The one I hated (Lithium – the most prescribed drug to treat manic-depression) was eliminated. I started feeling better. But I’m not better.
But I still haven’t found a therapist. Yet. And I don’t know how to stop escalating to the point of being mean. I don’t know how to stop hurting people. I still need help.
Lord, show me the way.