So, when I decided to start this blog, I was in a lot of pain, which was probably not the best reason for “coming out” as bi-polar. Looking back though, it was as good a reason as any. I had been carrying this as a secret for years and was determined that no one was going to find out about it.
Why? Because I was so ashamed that I had this illness (like I had any say in the matter?). But there is this stigma associated with a mental illness and I was terrified of what people would say and do (especially the people that have “known” me for most of my life). I have always tried to be everything to everyone so that I would be accepted and this diagnosis definitely meant that there would be those that would no longer see me as Michelle or Mush. They would just see my diagnosis.
This made the last few years very hard for me. I tried to “manage” my condition on my own without any medication, or at least without any prescribed medication. I was self medicating on a daily basis just so that I could just get through one more day, sleep for one more night. That was actually making it so much worse for me but I couldn’t see that until I finally got away from it. I was actually slowly killing myself and, the worst part is now I realize that I knew exactly what I was doing. I wanted to get as far away from this diagnosis as I could get and if that meant all the way to the end of my life, so be it. I had even convinced myself that I wasn’t really bi-polar. The doctor got it wrong. I was even able to convince my husband that the diagnosis was wrong. I only had depression and anxiety (and anger issues and impulse control problems, etc. etc.) and that was something I should definitely be able to handle on my own without having to take a slew of medications everyday for the rest of my life. But it kept getting harder and harder and my “medication” of choice was doing less and less to help me. Finally, we got to last month and I was in a full blown manic episode mixed with debilitating suicidal depression otherwise known as a mixed state. This is apparently the most dangerous type of episode because not only was I suicidally depressed, I had the agitation and energy that it would take to take this to “the end” so to speak. The rational side of my brain knew that I needed to do something. I just wasn’t sane enough to actually figure out how to do it and I did not under any circumstance want to go back to the hospital again.
So I started hunting for someone or something that would help me. Like I said, I was not, under any circumstance, going to go back to the hospital. If I did that, they were just going to throw a ton of medication at me that was not actually going to keep me functional but would sedate me to the point that I could not actually hurt myself. Helpful for the short term but unsustainable for the long term because I like my brain and I like being able to use it. I knew I had to do something different. I just had no idea what that was going to be. I started looking on the internet and low and behold, I came across a place that seemed completely different than anything I had tried before. It was an “all inclusive” type of treatment center where they not only worked with you to get you on medications that would keep you functional and yet well treated but they helped you in all aspects of your life so that medication was not the sole source of management option that you had. They included things like nutrition and exercise, meditation, energy work, massage, acupuncture, therapeutic sailing, equine therapy, dolphin therapy, etc. It seemed like a dream come true. So I called them immediately and got into contact with this woman named Stacy. I completely came apart on the phone. This wonderful wonderful woman then made it her personal mission to get me to their facility, which was a serious feat. We had to negotiate my health insurance company who initially did not want to pay for any of it because they were in Florida. Then we had to negotiate payment for my stay because it is a costly facility (but worth every penny) and we just didn’t have the money in cash up front. It ultimately took roughly a week between my first phone call to Stacy and the time I arrived at the facility.
When I arrived at the facility I was a huge mess. My anxiety was so bad that I would pace the room like a caged lion and wring my hands constantly. My brain was running so fast I couldn’t keep thoughts straight in my head. I had no hope left in me and felt that there was no reason for me to continue in this life. I cried constantly and spent a couple of evenings in the nurses station holding the hand of one of the many amazing people that work there. It was horrible and on more than one occasion I just wanted to go home and quit. But I stayed and for the last thirty days, I have worked very hard to start to get back to who I really am, who I really want to be. For the next week or so, I am going to be writing about my experiences at Lucida treatment center and about all of the things that I have learned and/or remembered about myself and the world around me. I hope you will join me and maybe you can pick up on some things that can help you in your life (bipolar, depressed, anxious or none of the above) and with that information you can hopefully implement change that will help you to Change Your World.
Today’s “shout out”, for obvious reasons, is the Lucida treatment center . I cannot say enough good things about this place or the people that work there. They treat mood disorders and addiction and mood disorders with drug addiction. The staff psychiatrist, Dr. Christopher La Riche, is wonderful, caring man, who truly listens to his clients. The staff therapists (mine was Dr. Dina Macaluso) take the time (as much as you need) to help you move through the obstacles that are keeping you from your best life. The tech’s (who you spend a lot of time with) are loving, understanding people and many have traveled the road that their clients are now on. The nutritionist and chef’s spend a lot of time making sure that you are getting not only the food that you like but the food that will make you feel your best (which is a fundamental step to getting to be your best you). The group leaders are willing to take the group wherever it needs to go regardless of their agenda for the day. I can go on and on but I will wrap this up by saying I love these people and their facility. I have already told them this but I will share this with you as well. When asked what I felt about this facility the day before I was to leave to come home, I told them all of the above and this: If it was not for this facility and these people I probably would not be here right now. They truly saved my life and for that I love them endlessly!