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Bipolar and hospitalization: my experience

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How hospitalization helped me cope with bipolar disorder

I’m a normal seventeen-year-old girl, much like most other seventeen-year old girls you meet, but so many people forget that when they meet me. I have a mental illness called bipolar disorder (once known as manic depression). Bipolar is a mental illness that affects my mood swings; I have an extreme range of moods from severe depression, which leads to suicidal state of mind to mania where I am so hyperactive I lose touch with reality.

My experience of bipolar disorder

I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was 11, but most people who know me say I was one of the few who probably had it since birth. Having a mental illness doesn’t have to affect you living a normal life, and I’ve learned many tools to cope with my mood swings now, as well as taking medication to help control the symptoms.

As part of having a mental illness like bipolar, I have to spend time in hospitals. Those old freaky movies with people tied up in straight jackets in rotting cells with electric currents running through their brains really didn’t help me with the image of hospitals. The first time I was hospitalized I had been in such mess that I had actually climbed onto my school roof and stood arms spread ready to fly off the roof.

My school called 911. One of my teachers climbed onto the roof and with the help of two ambulance drivers I was carried kicking and screaming into the ambulance. My whole school watched as the ambulance pulled away.

Once in hospital, my psychiatrist came to visit me a few times a day to talk about how I was doing, and what I needed. He put me on medication, which he told me would help me stabilize my moods and help me to lead a more balanced life.

The first few days I was confined to my bed and was only allowed to walk around the ward if a doctor or nurse was with me. When the medication kicked in I was allowed to wander the ward freely. A psychologist came to visit me daily and work out a plan of how to deal with things like school, eating habits, drug problems, relationships etc. She worked with me using a technique called cognitive behavioral techniques, which basically helped me overcome my negative thinking and get back my self-confidence.

She also introduced to me the concept of keeping a diary of how I feel each day, and when I was released from the hospital I kept up the diary, and still do. I found it a huge help to be able to get everything off my chest and writing it down helped me to understand what was going on. Pretty soon I began to recognize patterns in my moods so I could very loosely predict my swings.

After a few months of being in and out of the hospital I realized that it’s really not that bad. If you have the flu you see a doctor, if you have cancer a surgeon operates on it, if you twist a muscle a physical therapist will manipulate it. If you have an unhealthy mind, you see a specialist in the same way and if it means being in hospital then that’s ok. And I’m not ashamed to say that years later I’m still in hospitals once a month at least.

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