Guys...I'm in the hole. For people who know me, they know that the hole is a BAD place to be. Being in the hole makes me crazy. It makes me think horrible things. It makes me mean and hard to talk to. It's just...bad.
I think I'm in the hole because of my back. My back is messed up. They thought it was a herniated disc, so they fixed it. This made my pain worse. MUCH worse. I am currently confined to my bed which is why I think the hole chose this time to come along and swallow me.
A little backstory. I have bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder. I've been living with it for years, been hospitalized several times, seen many paychiatrists and have tried several treatments. The first time I was put on a treatment plan, it wasn't the best...it helped a little, but it didn't quite ever even me out. In a manic state, I decided I was fine and didn't need all of this medication anymore. Slowly but surely, I turned crazy again. I was so depressed, I could barely get out of bed in the morning. It annihilated my life. I lost my job, my boyfriend broke up with me and I was forced to move back in with my parents. I stopped sleeping and eating and took up drinking as my main hobby. I got in knock down, drag out, SCREAMING fights with my family. One fight with my sister even came to blows when she said something very hurtful to me. What she said was awful and it still haunts me, but it didn't deserve me trying to beat the crap out of her. I was out of control. Finally, one night during a fight which I don't remember clearly, (sometimes when my brain breaks, I black out and wake up sobbing on my bed wondering what the hell happened). I pulled out a knife and tried to slit my wrists. Back to the hospital I went.
Let me tell you about the hospital. It's the second worst place on earth (the first worst place on earth is jail, but we'll get to that). Don't get me wrong, there are some nice people that work there. People that genuinely care, but then there are the others. The others that waste no time reminding you of where you are and that the reason you are there is because you are crazy. They watch you with judgemental eyes and I assume they are spending their day thanking God that they aren't crazy while simultaneously hating God for making them work there. They take away everything you own. The shower door doesn't actually close and pretty much anyone can walk in and watch you shower. I get the concept, but it's absolutely humiliating. Group therapy is a requirement if you ever want to see the outside world again and it is a joke. I don't see how stringing beads and playing board games makes me a mentally stable, ready for the world, individual. But the key to getting out is to do everything they say; so even though I really wanted to stay in that horribly uncomfortable bed and catch up on the sleep I had been missing for close to a month, I went, I participated, I tried to put on the face that I was all better.
The doctors are condescending and rude. They kept asking me WHY I stopped my medication and when I explained that I felt better so I stopped, they looked at me like I had 3 heads. Like they've never read the research that this is actually very common. Eventually though, I got started on a new regime of meds and was released back into my family's care. I walked out of there swearing that I would never, ever go back to that horrible place. I was wrong.
I got started with a new psychiatrist and things got a little better. I got a part time job in retail and was trucking along nicely...except...the meds weren't working so well. I went to my doc and he upped my dosage. That didn't help so he upped my dosage again and gave me something new. Suddenly, my mania was over and I plunged headfirst into the hole just in time for me to finally get a full time job in my field. I went to my doc and explained the hole as best I could and he added a NEW medication. It didn't work but every time I told him that, he said I needed to give it time. I started my new job but I just couldn't do it. I couldn't concentrate. Things that used to come easily to me became impossible tasks. I told my doc and he told me to just keep trying. And I WAS trying. I was busting my ass, but suddenly, I was a complete moron. I couldn't do anything right. I was so overwhelmed and depressed that I started partying again (only on weekends) like a college girl. Sure enough, one night, I was pulled over. I tried to convince the officer that I was fine, but the truth is, I took a shot of whiskey directly before leaving the bar. I was not fine. I was unable to talk him into letting me go home, but I WAS at least able to convince him to let my parents come get my car because, being unemployed, I would have been able to get my car out of impound in about a decade. Then I went to jail.
Jail IS the worst place on earth. I get that I was now officially a criminal, but I could never have imagined how incredibly awful it was. I thought the staff at the hospital was mean?? The officers in the jail made them look like angels. They herded us from one cell to another I'm pretty sure just for their amusement. They scream and curse at you. They taunt you and call you names. If you miss a beat responding to them, they yell some snide remark about how brainless you must be to not understand what they said to you. They are generally just HORRIBLE people. Again, I understand that what I did was wrong, but you'd think they would save that kind of humiliation for the murderers. Not the drunk drivers and petty thieves. Of course it was labor day weekend so bondsmen were at home relaxing, not working. Luckily, since I've never even had a traffic ticket, they let me out on some kind of special bond. I was in there for almost 24 hours and in that 24 hours, my worst nightmare changed from whatever it was before to being in jail. It was THAT horrible.
Going to jail fucked me up. My depression started to spiral out of control. I decided my psychiatrist was a quack and totally not worth the $125 fee for 15 minutes of his time and prescription refills. I was taking high doses of 6 different medications at this point and none of them were working. I went back to doc one final time and he upped my meds again and told me to relax. RELAX?? I had a criminal charge hanging over my head. My lawyer was going to cost $5,000. But luckily I had a job...I could make those payments (you see where this is going right?). Two weeks later, I lost my job. I wasn't exactly surprised, because I knew I was a shit employee. I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't get anything right. Everything was so hard for me. It had never been this hard for me before. I don't want to brag, but I'm a smart girl. I'm intelligent and creative and used to be able to knock work assignments out of the park. I came up with new ideas and taught training, and I could talk an irate customer down in minutes. Now, I was one of those useless employees that no one really knows why they are there, but they are. And the irony of all ironies, the supervisor who let me go told me he was supposed to wait until the end of the day, but didn't so I could go to the bar and have a few drinks...yeah, about that.
It was at this time I was so close to snapping, I decided my medication wasn't worth shit and were probably just sugar pills anyway so...I stopped taking them. Another example of how the intellect part of my brain had taken a hard hit.
The next few months, I tried to juggle the stress of being unemployed and being a criminal but I just couldn't. I fell in the hole and this time, it was deeper and full of lions ready to eat my face off. Being in the hole and being home all day while everyone works and my son is in school is not good. It gives you too much time to think. By this time in my life as a mental patient, I had experimented with enough medication that I had tons stored up. One day, just for fun, I counted them. 150. After that, I moved on with my day, watching "Friends" (LOVE this show, have all 10 seasons on DVD, watch all the time. Especially when I'm depressed). But the thought had wormed itself in my head. 150...was that enough to do the job or would I just wake up covered in charcoal and vomit? Would it be worth it? I wanted the pain to stop. I wanted the stress to go away. I didn't want to go back to jail. I had recently become obsessed with watching tv shows about people in prison and I was scared out of my mind. My friends had stopped speaking to me and totally shut me out of their lives, I just wanted the overwhelming feeling that I was a waste of oxygen on this planet to go away. I wanted to live, but I didn't want to live THIS life anymore and the logical conclusion I reached from all of these thoughts was to end my life. But I wasn't SURE. I was too scared to actually do it. Scared because the thought of never seeing the people I love again was terrifying and also scared that I would do it and I wouldn't succeed. I think there's no bigger failure than failing at killing yourself. How are you ever supposed to feel better about yourself if you can't even kill yourself right? So I called my mom at work and simply said "I have 150 pills. I think I'm going to take them all, but I'm too scared to do it and I'm too scared not to do it". Hospital 2.0. As soon as I got there, I wanted to leave. They started me off on everything I had been taking before I stopped taking them and even though it wasn't working, I put on my happy face and LIED my ass off so I could go home.
I have had back problems for YEARS. Suddenly, my back exploded and I thought I was going to die. I had landed a part time job at a State Farm office which required minimal effort and less interaction with irate customers. While I still had to deal with them, I was just the assistant so after a few minutes of yelling, I got to pass them off to someone else. I had obtained some really crappy medical care through the marketplace and was slowly trying to creep my way up the ladder to see a doctor who could tell me what the hell was wrong with me. Fun fact: it never happened. So I spent a lot of time in urgent care clinics getting shots and medication to hold me over until I could see a real specialist. The back pain mixed with my bipolar disorder was unbearable. I was an absolute WRECK but as far as I knew, I was doing a pretty good job at hiding it. My new plan didn't cover mental health and I didn't have the money to see a doctor because I was too busy paying the neverending fees that come with drunk driving (PSA: DO NOT drink and drive. It is bad. It will RUIN your life. And even if you feel fine, If you've been drinking, you are NOT fine. I was less than 5 miles from my house, I didn't even want to drive all the way home at first, I was headed less than a mile down the street to sit in a restaurant for awhile, eat something, and THEN drive home. According to the police report, I was following somebody too closely. That's ALL IT TAKES. Seriously, DON'T DO IT!!)
So I was bopping along, pretending to be fine, quietly dying inside when one day I got a call from a recruiter. She wanted me to interview for a full time job. Even though I liked my State Farm job because I could DO IT. I really needed some extra money to pay off the huge mess I got myself into. From the time I stepped into the office for the interview, something felt...off. The owner spent most of the interview talking trash about people who used to work there. I felt really uncomfortable but when he offered me the job, I took it against my better judgement because...money.
This job is by far the WORST job I ever had. My boss talked shit about everyone who worked there to me and I later found out he was talking shit about me to everyone else. And once again, I was faced with the fact that I just couldn't do the job. Partially because of the environment I was working in (my boss began an affair with a girl who worked there, his wife, who also worked with us caught them so naturally, she quit and divorced him and now (I hope) has all his money because he's mean and unethical and totally deserved to be taken to the cleaners for cheating on his wife with a girl 2 years older than his oldest son. All of this caused an UPROAR in the office, the accountant quit because she was his wife's best friend. He had always had anger issues, but after "the incident" they went into overdrive. He spent most of the day screaming at people and throwing things around his office. He even broke his computer. My back problems were getting worse and worse and I started being out of the office more and more. In the interest of trying EVERYTHING, I started reading things about natural medicine which led to articles about how medication is designed to keep you sick. This led me to get rid of every last pill I had, including what was left of my mental illness meds. My boss assured me that my job was safe because he HATED the other girl who worked the same position as me. Sidebar: this girl was dating his son. I'm telling you. Worst.Job.Ever. It was like being at some strange family reunion when you aren't a part of the family. He went out of town for a week with his new girlfriend and while he was gone, it was a VERY stressful week. It seemed like everyone I talked to was angry about something and they wanted to talk to my boss (they weren't angry about stuff I did, just angry in general) but naturally, he wasn't taking calls so I was left dealing with people who swore up and down their anger couldn't wait until next week. The day he got back, he called the other girl who works the same position as me into his office to tell her he was firing me (totally awesome, telling her first). Then he broke the news to me. And while it sucks not having a job, I was relieved to get out of that situation. I sometimes hear of things going on there and am just so thankful I don't work there anymore. I wish it had been on my own terms but it's ok.
So I was out of a job again, my back was killing me and oddly enough, I wasn't in the hole...I was MANIC. I was convinced that this time I was going to change the world. I stopped sleeping again...sometimes for 4 or 5 days at a time. You would think that would make me tired, but no...I was WIDE AWAKE. I had DREAMS!!! I started filling out applications for jobs I might actually like...not realizing that while the fact that I hated my job contributed to my unwillingness to be there and my determination to leave EXACTLY at 5:00, the reason I couldn't do my job was because I'm sick.
Unfortunately, because I have 10 years experience in my field, I'm kind of pigeon holed job wise. I managed to land another job. Good money, slightly more interesting...I actually thought I could be good at it. I finally got some good insurance and saw a specialist about my back. They started cortisone and nerve block injections and I was missing some work. But I thought it was all good because I could work from home. Then, when I was there, my mind just wouldn't let me do my job. Once again, I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't deal with people anymore. The thought of calling someone I didn't know paralyzed me with fear. I had gone from successful businesswoman to completely incompetent. And adding to my fear of the phone, my boss chose to let me go over the phone after a nerve block injection. And yes, it was as humiliating as it sounds, meaning I mailed back my office keys and left my favorite coffee mug I got in San Francisco 16 years ago there because I was too embarrassed to go get it.
By this point, I had put my bipolar and anxiety on the back burner because the pain in my back was so overwhelming, I couldn't handle anything else. As I said before, I had surgery which as far as I can tell was unsuccessful because I daily contemplate whether my back would hurt less if I jumped out the window thereby hurting my arms and legs instead of my back. But I'm not sold that the idea would work.
Now my bipolar and anxiety is sick of being ignored and has pushed its way off the back burner and into center stage. I'm in the hole. It's dark in the hole. Sometimes nice things happen. My dad will bring me a s'mores frappuccino...my mom will bring me a cookie from the mall, and it's like lighting a match in the hole. But sadly, the match burns out and then it's dark again. Being bedridden because of my back has given me a lot of time to think. This time, I'm not thinking about how many pills I have and whether they will kill me, instead, I am going over every single mistake I've made in my life and reliving every traumatic thing that has ever happened to me. Welcome back PTSD!! You were so missed!! There is so much more going on in my life right now besides having horrible back pain, a mental illness and no job therefore, no money to pay the many, many, many bills I have. It is AMAZING how much shit I am muddling through right now.
Sometimes though, the sun shines directly over the hole and I get a BURST of energy. I get a new outlook on life. I decide what I'm going to do when they finally fix me and I can get out of bed again. I research my new career choice to death, I start planning amazing parties and weddings on Pinterest and then I get the idea to ask Dr. Google what is wrong with my back, I convince myself I have back cancer (which is a real thing...I kind of googled it as a joke) and the sun is gone. I'm back in the hole...alone. And that's where it gets really bad. I am a DISASTER. I am so overwhelmingly sad. I am losing so much right now (stuff I can't talk about). My Pinterest feed changes to quotes about depression, bipolar and anxiety. I think about everything hanging over my head and worry that it is going to collapse and crush me. I wonder if they'll ever be able to fix my back or if I'll be in pain forever. I wonder if anyone will ever even LOOK at a resume that lists 5 jobs that lasted less than 4 months. I wonder if I'll ever be able to work efficiently like I used to. And I think that all of this thinking and stewing and worrying and crying has fractured my brain. I think about suicide every hour of every day, but the counter thought is that maybe, just maybe, there's still a sliver of hope that I can pull together some kind of life again and if it is possible, I don't want to ruin that.
I try to watch "Friends" but I can't even pay attention to that, I've started re-reading funny books and that helps a little, but there's strange stuff happening...sometimes when I close my eyes I see fish...beautiful fish just swimming around. Sometimes when I close my eyes I can see people saying the lines of the "Friends" episode I'm watching...but it's not Monica, Chandler, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe and Joey, it's different people; and they're saying the lines but somehow it means something else and in my mind I understand it but when I open my eyes I can barely remember it and it makes no sense anymore. It's really bizarre. I can't sleep either...eventually my body just gives out. Usually mid-sentence in a book, sometimes I wake up 30 minutes later, sometimes I get a good 4-5 hours in. That is not enough sleep...especially considering we're talking that much sleep to last 2 or 3 days. I cry for no reason at all. I'll just be washing my hands and burst into tears. Am I delusional? Has my brain split open and I've gone psychotic? Am I about to shave my head and beat someone with an umbrella?? I just can't figure it out and I'm afraid to ask Dr. Google because I'm afraid he's going to tell me I'm an incurable psychopath.
I am trying to overcome my fear of the telephone and talking to strangers and I've been trying to find a psychiatrist but so far, the really good ones don't take insurance, and the good ones that do take insurance don't have appointments for MONTHS. I found a mental health urgent care center and I almost cried I was so happy...until I saw the price to be seen $250. My heart broke. I'm in desperate need to see somebody or I'm going to end up back in the hospital where I will be humiliated and mocked and made to feel like a grade A moron so I'll slap a smile on my face and pretend to be better just so I can get the hell out of there. Then I'll be right back here with my broken brain trying to figure out what to do and holding onto that sliver of hope that one day I'll be out of pain and feel normal. Unfortunately for me, the more my brain breaks down, the smaller the sliver gets...so I need to get in before it's gone.