Nothing says “I’ve reached my breaking point” like a visit to the ER for a quasi-psychotic episode. It stopped my downward spiral dead in its tracks. I actually don’t think there was any further down to go–ok maybe heroin addiction or joining a biker gang–but I wasn’t motivated enough to do either of those things. I was looking in the abyss in a bright orange jumper that would have fit a Yeti, spreading margarine on a crappy bagel with a spoon because they wouldn’t trust me with any other utensils, and although it was slightly less intense than looking into the time vortex, it really put things in perspective. There was literally nothing in my life that even resembled balance.
Healthy bodies trend toward homeostasis also known in Yoga Journal, by Dr. Oz and Psychology Today as balance. The term tends to have a picture of a meditating Tibetan Buddha or stones stacked in a way that looks like they should fall down but don’t. But it’s not just a new age thing. It’s the way the body works. When the body is balanced (or close to balanced) organs function like they should, vitals are all good and systems are operable. It’s also known as being healthy. As someone with a disorder that’s with me for good the idea of being healthy is some sort of unattainable grail. Balance is something to move toward. It doesn’t require perfection because nothing is ever perfectly balanced.
I could go off on a tangent about the philosophy of chairs (also called ontology) but I will spare you. I’ll spare you the metaphysics. When I refer to balance I am not talking about the alignment of chakras or taking lavendar baths and drinking a lot of tea (not that there is anything wrong with any of those things.) I’m talking about thoughts, behavior and the things a body can do as a result of being out of whack.
At the time of my ER visit I had violent hormonal acne that seemed to have appeared overnight, I had gained a fairly significant amount of weight (although some of it was because I stopped smoking…go me!!!), my IBS was a-flaring and I was having the most extreme night-time akasthia I have experienced since being off Abilify (which gave me a horrid case of the kickies much to the displeasure of my husband and cat). My heart was racing all the time, or so it seemed, like a long-winded anxiety attack.
I was diagnosed as having a mixed episode, the most dangerous state of bipolar disorder. That’s when people are the most likely to do dangerous things to themselves and others. Fortunately I was able to get myself to the hospital before taking up arms. I joke but I had violent images flipping through my brain like the slide show of Freddie Kruger’s summer vacation.
The sum total of this is that instead of being admitted as an inpatient to the psychiatric ward I was referred to the Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic as a partial inpatient. I had no insurance, no hope of ever paying whatever the program would cost but I had to do it. It was either that or some version of oblivion. During my six weeks of care I was treated through CBT and psychotherapy along with my medicine and my own self-care.
This blog is a tactic of that self-care. If I do my job properly, I will find my people and they will help to keep me accountable. It is not going to be all about gazing at my lovely navel. I will share the things that have worked for me and the ones that haven’t and I invite you, my gentle reader, to do the same. That is all!