2008 Breakdown, Hospitalization, ECT and Recovery

I went back to college in 2007, after a devastating year of psychosis, anorexia, multiple hospitalizations and an over-the-top manic episode. The first semester, fall semester, went pretty well, but as 2008 came and winter set in, I began to get more depressed. My first sign I was going down was when I bought several scales to watch my weight. The depression set in and I tried MAOI’s, which was hell, withdrawaing from SSRI’s for 14 days, then taking the MAOI, trying to follow the diet. I dropped to 90lbs.

I was failing all but one class. I couldn’t concentrate. The winter was hard on me. It was an especially snowy winter, and I lived up north. I broke down when I saw my mid-semester grades. All Fails except for one Pass. I dropped 2 classes and changed my graduation year from 2010 to 2011. I regretted that and tried to get back into the classes but they wouldn’t allow it, for some reason. It’s done differently at other colleges.

I had to go. I saw my counselor on an emergency appointment one morning and starting crying. I had to withdraw, I had to go home. My mother was upset. She made me get on the first bus back to Niagara Falls, and don’t drive to the bus station, for the love of g0d. My car was snowed in every day, so it wasn’t like I could get out.

After I signed the forms I hopped a bus to the terminal. I bought diet pops to get me home. I listened to my iPod and cried. My mom picked me up. I couldn’t look at her. I had a psychiatrists appointment the next day. I was put on a list to be hospitalized in the GNGH psychiatric ward and then a wait list for an opening at a psychiatric hospital in Hamilton.

The next Tuesday a bed was ready for me. I had no privileges. I could only go out for smokes supervised, usually in a group, and I was weak from not eating. I was given Ensure 4 times a day and never drank it and kept purging. They would force me to eat, and I would purge. They spent weeks going back and forth with a schizophrenia or schizoaffective diagnosis. They decided to sent me to an assessment ward at St Joe’s in Hamilton. The wait began.

I was put on Zyprexa, a terrific antipsychotic if you don’t mind being hungry out of your mind 24/7. I started eating again, not necessarily by choice. I HAD to eat, the Zyprexa made me. I was 100 pounds and not allowed to exercise and still had to chug the Ensure. I started giving it away. It tastes terrible.

I was granted a few hours to go home with my parents daily. Random drug tests caught me using diet pills, they showed up as opiates for some stupid reason. I had to admit to using diet pills and I was fucked from every angle. It sucked. They drug tested me every single time I came back on the unit. I got accused of painkiller (opiate) abuse. I’ve never abused a painkiller, not even when I shattered my shoulder in 2011 and was prescribed Percocets. I took those in half doses and was still knocked loopy. I don’t like what painkillers do to me, so I have no desire to abuse them

Finally when I was reaching my last straw, so sick of that hospital but unable to leave, even as a voluntary patient, because it would drop me to the bottom of the list for a transfer, on a Sunday night after returning from my parents, I was to be transferred the next morning. My parents were allowed to drive me, as I was a voluntary patient. I packed my stuff and smoked a lot of cigarettes in the washroom. I took showers, lit my smokes, and puffed in there.

I went to St Joe’s and was nervous as hell. I had a soft spoken doctor named Dr. B who was very nice to me. I had a social worker at appointments as a patients advocate. After I turned myself in a month later for cutting my wrists I decided that ECT was the answer. It wasn’t the first time it was brought up. I had been put on Clozapine and several other medications I can’t remember.

We had a lot to do at St Joe’s. My first day I wasn’t allowed off the ward, even though it was an unlocked ward. They trusted people more there. My nurse was very nice. He gave me nicotine replacement for the day and allowed me to sleep, waking me for meals. My roommates, I was in a 4 bedroom, comfortable ward with a nice bed with electronic adjustments! it didn’t look like a hospital room.

The nurses were young and nice. I didn’t have a bad nurse when I was there. My doctor was very nice and never got angry with me, not even when I slashed up my arm. He simply said if I was to leave the ward, I had to be with someone for the rest of the day, that I had punished myself enough. He LISTENED.

I gained weight, but I didn’t care. Food was buffet style and nobody forced me to eat or to drink supplements. I just ate what I felt like eating and gained weight. A rec therapist took us shopping, bowling, to movies and whatnot. It was nice. We had a schedule every day. I was assessed for personality disorders, mood (affective) disorders and psychotic disorders.

When we decided on ECT I had a physical, a Holter monitor and an echocardiogram of my heart. I was cleared and met the ECT doctor, a nice man whose name I forgot. He diagnosed me as being bipolar, not schizophrenic. The ECT nurse came to talk to me, and there were to be 12 treatments, 2 a week. ECT patients were allowed to sleep all day after the treatment, because of the potential headache and tiredness from general anesthetic. 

My first treatment I was very nervous. Dr. ECT and the nurse came in and covered my in heated blankets and the anesthesiologist knocked me out while I was being reassured by the medical team. I woke up with the IV out, a slight headache I took 2 regular strength tylenol for (I had never had a headache before) and allowed to sleep all day.

My roommate was going through ECT and she went from never leaving her bed, eating or anything, to coming to groups, going on outings, seeing her family and hanging out with some other women and I in the art room and painting or doing other crafts.

After 6 ECT sessions, being switched from bi-lateral (both sides of the head) to uni-lateral, I brought up stopping, as I was feeling much better. My social worker and Dr B agreed, and my assessment was finished, I was re-diagnosed as being bipolar, type 1, rapid cycling with schizotypal personality disorder.It has been changed to bipolar type 1, rapid cycling with psychosis in the past few years.

ECT upped my lows and shot down my highs. I don’t get full out psychotic manic anymore. I don’t take 10+ different medications a day. I take 4, plus one for a physical ailment called diabetes insipidus. I haven’t had a true, bipolar depressive episode since 2008. I’ve had circumstantial episodes, such as when my grandma and grandpa passed away.

I was discharged August 1, 2008, taking 3 medications. Seroquel, Effexor and Valium. I now take Seroquel, Epival (aka Depakote), Cipralex (aka Lexapro) and Xanax, but much lower doses. It hasn’t been easy. I moved to Burlington with friends and everything fell apart. I went back to college, and had to retake a class before graduating in 2012 with a degree in computer engineering. I don’t currently work due to a physical injury that might require surgery. I do freelance jobs online, though, for extra money.

I have a boyfriend. My psychiatrist, who is new, Dr. N, is always questioning my social life: most of my  friends are male, and I have very few close friends. I was diagnosed with the possibility of mild to moderate AD(H)D, inattentive type. I have flashbacks from the times I did drugs, and when I was at my worst.

I still get angry, sometimes out of control. I can get scary. I am devastated that one night I was out of control angry and took it out on my mom. I can’t forgive myself for that. But the next day she called me and asked me if I wanted to go to Canada’s Wonderland in the next couple weeks, she’ll book a day off of work so we can go ride coasters together.

My boyfriend is supportive. He’s great. He unfortunately has a brain tumor and has complex partial seizures every couple of weeks. We’re waiting for an expensive medication to be approved by the government to stop the seizures. I don’t know how he deals knowing he’s going to have a seizure, that he has a tumor. So far the news has been the best we can get: it’s small, probably benign, and it hasn’t changed at all.

I have a small support group, but I love them. My boyfriend is so supportive. He’s always there for me and I can’t thank him enough. I will always be bipolar, but treatments are getting better, and i honestly owe my life to St Joe’s, Dr. B and ECT.