My 1st through 10th painful psychiatric incarcerations (Part 1 of 4)

psychiatrist

***Some content in this post may be very triggering***
Before I start this post series, please note that I do not remember all of my 10 psychiatric hospitalizations. Many are mostly lost from my memory, so I will use hospital records to assist me in writing about them. This first installment is actually a part of this story series that I do remember in some detail. My bipolar disorder was not at its very worst at this point. My episodes worsened over the four years that followed. In this post I was 33 & 34 years old.
This series is being written in preparation for a chapter in my working memoir.

I remember sitting in Dr. Rosen’s waiting room nervously leafing through the little pamphlets on a side table. I found one for bipolar disorder. I had come to know that that was another name for manic depression. I probably read that same pamphlet when I left his office almost one year before, after he diagnosed me with it. At that time he wanted to put me on a mood stabilizer, but I told him I was just fine and no thank you. I left, and didn’t come back until this precise day.

My legs were bobbing up and down and I felt an extreme feeling of desperate agitation. Though my mind was racing I did have some hope shining through that the doctor would have a solution, and put an end to what seemed a peaking misery. I was willing to try that mood stabilizer now. I learned what bipolar disorder is. Believe it or not, I had no clue what manic depression or bipolar disorder was one year earlier, even though I probably had it since I was 14 years old.

Dr. Rosen invited me into his office and it took all of about a few seconds before I burst out in hysterics and gave a disjointed account of what was going on. I remember almost screaming that I was drinking too much and that I had turned into a monster, verbally abusing people at work, punching my keyboard and workstation without a care for who heard. I had recurring fantasies of driving my car into trees. I had even taken to roughly slapping my own face, as if doing so would snap me out of my state. I told him that the day before Human Resources called me into their office with a stand-in boss (my actual boss was the CEO). There they threatened to fire me. They said a total of six people in the office waged formal complaints against me. An army of people? It was a final warning. I couldn’t believe that they would do that to me. My mother had suddenly died only a few months before of cancer. How could they be so cruel? I was furious, frustrated, beside myself.

I told Dr. Rosen that after the Human Resource warning I went straight to my desk and wrote a letter of resignation in fury. They can’t threaten to fire me after over eight years? I’ll quit instead! So I left the letter on the stand-in boss’s desk and went home, and had a drink. Or who knows how many.  I called my husband and basically horrified him. It was my husband that had me call Dr. Rosen. I was desperate and I counted on him to provide some kind of solution. In a really big way I didn’t want to resign, and I dreaded begging them to give me another try.

At the end of the session, a session where his nurse surely heard my screaming cries, Dr. Rosen told me he’d like to put me in the hospital. He said that I needed to stop the drinking completely and finally start receiving proper medication treatment for the bipolar disorder. Hospital? Yes! That is what I needed. Some kind of safe haven. An escape. I thought that that would give me a break and help me figure out how to get back what I lost and feel better again.

When I got home and told my husband the news, he seemed to agree with the plans. I was to enter the hospital’s dual diagnosis program the next day when a bed opened up. Strangely, Dr. Rosen told me to try not to drink too much, but at the same time not stop entirely. I didn’t really realize it then, but I was going to detox from alcohol. I was totally clueless about that.

The next day hubby took me to the local psychiatric hospital for the intake. I was voluntarily checked in. Hubby and I had prepared correctly for the intake, packing the appropriate clothes (no belts, no shoe laces, things like that) and I left any toiletries home that contained alcohol. Within a short while I was escorted into a locked ward and stared at a diverse group of patients. They checked my bag, told me to pee in a cup, I took a breathalyzer test, vital signs and blood were taken, and almost immediately after ended up in my first of what would be many AA meetings in the near future. I was in a state of shock almost, feeling mazed. Am I an alcoholic? People were going around the room saying “I am so-and-so, I am an alcoholic.” Then another person said “I am Jane. I am a drug addict.” They eventually got to me, and I was like “I am Cindy. I am…an alcoholic?”

Soon after the AA meeting I was sitting by myself with the world on my shoulders and thoughts shooting through my mind looking down in distress, and up walked a man. A very very tall imposing middle-aged man. I was sort of stunned by his presence. Something about him struck me like a giant angel in a mild fog. He introduced himself as Dr. Ripley. He asked me to come with him and I followed obediently in continued strange awe. He led me to what was probably the smallest windowless office I had ever seen. The contrast between his size and the office made it seem like it was a closet. After I sat down he asked me to describe my situation.

My explanation came out at what seemed like 100 mph in a completely disjointed manner, scattered with loud cries and frustrated grunts. But he was patient and listened and I looked at his eyes at times and they seemed so reassuring. At the end I remember him pulling out a piece of paper and a pen and drawing a graph. He drew two points on the graph. One in a section called depression, and another in a section called mania. Both seemed to be somewhere three quarters up or below the two sections. He said that I was in a “mixed episode” of depression and mania. That totally perplexed me and I just stared for a few moments. But he seemed to have figured out exactly what my situation was. He told me I was being put on Lithium and he described this medication briefly. It seemed like the answer to my problem was found. He told me to gather any questions I have for the next time I see him. That excited me, partly because I knew I’d have dozens to ask, and I knew I wanted to see him again soon.

My time on the ward gradually became more and more painful. I paced around the whole time with thoughts racing. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t concentrate in the group therapy or the AA meetings. I felt more distraught. Though the nurses were nice, the therapists seemed like army sergeants. I felt myself starting to shake more and more violently. They gave me a medication for the alcohol withdrawals, but it wasn’t completely effective. At one point I was shaking so much that the nurse came to me and put her arm around my shoulders. I remember screaming “What is happening to me!?!?” I don’t remember what she said, but she was sweet. I think her name was Consuela.

Dr. Ripley had given me another medication to help me sleep. It was a small dose of Seroquel. I did manage to sleep a little on that medication, but started having drunk dreams. I was quite surprised. I had never had such a dream before. I felt guilty for having it. I was so confused about this “alcoholic” thing. I told both Dr. Rosen and Dr. Ripley that I drank too much, but didn’t think I was addicted. I rather thought it was more self-medication. It would take over four years of AA meetings, trials of drinking again, and finally getting stable before I would find the real answer to that question.

The hospitalization was about 14 days long, I think, then they sent me to a Partial hospital program basically down the road. I would stay in that Partial hospital program, and then Intensive Outpatient Program for a total of six months. There I again attended the dual diagnosis program. I liked the therapist (Mary Jane), but hated the process groups. All any of the patients ever talked about was addiction, addiction, addiction. I didn’t think that was my main problem, but it was as if they were trying to brainwash me into thinking it was. They basically forced me to attend AA every single day, too. I wished that I could address my mental health issues more, and maybe get some help dealing with the recent death of my mother. It wasn’t to be even over that six month period. Then, believe it or not, I decided to go back to my job. My husband had called my CEO boss on the first day of my hospitalization, and told him I was sick. He also asked that they ignore my resignation.

This story is continued in Part 2 of this series.

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36 thoughts on “My 1st through 10th painful psychiatric incarcerations (Part 1 of 4)

  1. Dena Hoffman May 10, 2017 / 7:48 pm

    You strength is in be honest in telling your story. It’s a difficult and obviously painful period of your life, but you have sat down and done what you do beautifully: taken something personal, scary, and difficult and turned it into a shared experience so others can learn they are not alone. Sharing your journey takes courage and I applaud you for that. It’s an honor to call you a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 10, 2017 / 7:55 pm

      My dear friend, Dena. I miss you very much. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. You know exactly why I posted this. Actually, I’m not entirely sure hubby will like that I did, but this is my blog and I do hope several of my followers and other readers will appreciate it.

      As I wrote at the beginning of the post, this represents my first step in tackling the more traumatic parts of my working memoir. I’m very unsure of how my parts 2 and 3 will work out, but I will go there.

      Hubby was the only person who ever visited me during my 10 hospitalizations, and he did so on every possible visiting day. Though I don’t know if any of my other family members will read the posts of this series, I do hope they will. I think it is about time that they learn a bit more about what I went through.

      Like

      • Dena Hoffman May 11, 2017 / 12:05 pm

        Oh Cindy, how sweet! As I said,your strength and courage are amazing. Continue down this journey. Your husband has supported you and he will continue to support you as he truly loves you. Your journey is difficult, but shedding light on your illness will help others. I can tell by the other comments made here. Please know you have my love and support.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 11, 2017 / 12:37 pm

        Thank you, Dena. It has meant a lot to me to receive your supportive comments.

        Like

  2. Hussein Allam May 10, 2017 / 8:06 pm

    I am so amazed of your story, little bit affected as you are now the spirit of this blog🌹

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 10, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      It has been about 12 years since my first hospitalization, Hussein Allam. There was a lot of healing to be done. I won’t lie and say the healing is over, but I have made great progress.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hussein Allam May 10, 2017 / 8:19 pm

        Good to hear that , God bless you always , I believe you suffer a lot , but sometimes life goes against, as a result we have to fight, we should not give, fortunately, you did not give up, you resisted until you overcame the struggle, God be with you🌹❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 10, 2017 / 8:29 pm

        Thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, we must keep fighting. And things do eventually get better.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hussein Allam May 10, 2017 / 8:33 pm

    Can not wait to read the other posts to see what happened next, are you going to take time for writing it, updiwnflight?!🙂

    Like

    • updownflight May 10, 2017 / 8:42 pm

      Hello Hussein. I may need some time before I write the final parts of this series. The final parts will be more difficult to write and more taxing psychologically. Also, I do want to fit in some lighter posts in between.

      When I post the upcoming parts I will include links to the previous and following posts. That way if someone misses a part they can find the others easily.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hussein Allam May 10, 2017 / 10:01 pm

        I understand how difficult it is!
        Good Luck with your coming series, warm regards👍

        Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 10, 2017 / 8:43 pm

      Yes, I will try to write more parts. I’m not sure how many there will be. My guess is around three, but I might write more depending on their length.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kira May 10, 2017 / 9:14 pm

    I’ve had a total of 6 psychiatric hospitalizations but there a lot of details about them that are lost from my memory. I’ve been writing a blog series called Adventures in Mental Illness. I laugh because I originally planned to make it all one blog. Now I’ve written 8 blogs about it and I know I have at least 2 more to go before I’m finished.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 10, 2017 / 9:48 pm

      Hi Kira. Thanks for sharing. I’ll check out your blog sometime tomorrow.

      Like

  5. Sharon2011 May 11, 2017 / 4:18 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I will be sure to read the other parts of your story. I am sad to hear that you had no other visitors other than your husband. I am glad that your husband was there for you, but I am disappointed other family members did not support you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 11, 2017 / 10:45 am

      Hi Sharon. I have even told my other family members that I wished they had visited me, and there were no apologies. Thank you for your support of my blog.

      Like

  6. michellesmultifariousmusings May 11, 2017 / 10:17 am

    Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you found the strength to make it to here, out of the darkness, and are willing to enlighten others to what they may not fully understand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 11, 2017 / 10:46 am

      Thank you, Michelle. This series will be a journey for me. I imagine there are many people who don’t understand mixed bipolar episodes. They are so painful.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. gregoryjosephs May 12, 2017 / 7:40 pm

    I am stunned and inspired by the honesty in this post. It is real and painful, and a valuable glimpse into a world I don’t know much about. Thanks for your courage putting this out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 12, 2017 / 8:22 pm

      Thank you, gregoryjosephs. I appreciate your words. I’m happy to know that you wish to learn more about bipolar disorder (or other types of mental illness). Please be sure to read part 2, as well, if you’re interested. Part 3 will likely be posted in a few days at the latest.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. bipolarsojourner May 16, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    i find it peculiar that i thought i had heard the name dr. rosen before. ends up i have. have you seen the movie beautiful mind? it’s about a psychotic man who goes on to win a noble prize. his doctor’s name is also dr. rosen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • updownflight May 16, 2017 / 9:36 pm

      That’s so interesting. I have seen the movie “Beautiful Mind”, but forgot what John Nash’s doctor’s name was in the movie. What makes it even funnier is that John Nash used to live very nearby to me. I saw him many times. He even hitched a ride from my husband once. Unfortunately he and his wife died in a car accident about a year ago.

      I don’t know of any Dr. Rosen in the area. I have to confess that I modified the doctor’s name slightly just for this story. The doctor’s name did begin with an “R”, though, and was similar in other ways. My own doctor that I call Dr. Ripley in my story also has a name that begins with an “R”, and is also an English derived name. I call my current psychiatrist Dr. Ripley after Matt Damon’s character in “The Talented Mr. Ripley”. I like Matt Damon 🙂 Actually, my husband calls my psychiatrist Dr. Ripley because of that fact. My psychiatrist is very tall and handsome, even at 70 something years old.

      Like

      • bipolarsojourner May 16, 2017 / 9:54 pm

        maybe you where subliminally coerced to pick the name dr. rosen since you had see beautiful mind. 😉

        i’m guessing you you live in the princeton area. dr. rosen was his doctor before princeton.

        john nash was a great man, great mind and great mathematician. what i would have given to take him to work if even one day. at least i could have said i gave him a ride.

        your husband deserves a great deal of gratitude. with all you’ve been through, he still gives you rides and so much more.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 16, 2017 / 10:15 pm

        Maybe that was why I chose “Rosen”. Not sure. I was also trying to pick a name with a similar background.

        It was sad when we heard of John Nash and his wife’s crash. They weren’t wearing their seat belts. That might have saved them. I don’t know what happened to their son. Their son lived with them. He had severe schizophrenia, too.

        My hubby gives me all kinds of wonderful. I am very lucky!

        Liked by 1 person

      • bipolarsojourner May 16, 2017 / 10:25 pm

        found this thanks to the oracle that is the internet:

        John Charles Nash continues to live independently in his parents’ home. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton’s Program of Assertive Community Treatment, which has helped care for him for 10 years, is continuing to help him. Their care team, which includes psychiatric nurses and counselors, visits him at home, sometimes daily.

        Liked by 1 person

      • updownflight May 17, 2017 / 12:00 am

        That’s nice to know about John Charles Nash. I’m glad he’s able to live at home instead of a mental health residence. Thanks for sharing that!

        Like

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