Trigger Warning for self harm and suicide.
At the end of 2013, I thought things couldn’t get worse. I was admitted to psychiatric hospital three times for about a week each. I ended up having to take the rest of the academic year off of my nursing course, but was told I would be welcomed back September 2014, when I was well.
I struggled to find things to keep me occupied but did manage a couple of courses at Nottingham Recovery College. I did Anxiety Management and Living with Psychosis. Both courses helped me learn about and accept my conditions. I was able to start to conquer some of my more severe anxiety. However, despite being discharged from hospital in December 2013, I was forced to face some of the facts about some people’s opinions of me. This was hard and didn’t help relieve the lingering low-level depression. I felt I was dragging people I loved into my hell. I couldn’t face the thought of another 30/40/50 years of the ongoing Psychotic Bipolar hell. Eventually in March 2014, with the help of a new Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN), my psychiatrist, my partner and a very low dose of citalopram, I was able to crawl out of the depression. The citalopram was a very short course to avoid the ever present danger of the swing into mania due to antidepressants.
I spent the next five months enjoying my first ever period of stability. It was during this time I realised I’d spent the last 20 years swinging from one episode to another. I had never been “stable” I had only ever “managed” my moods; learning to function whilst depressed or hypomanic with the help of medication. Every week I waited for the inevitable “swing”, but it never came. I’d found the answer-my medication was finally right for me. I could continue my nursing course in September 2014 safe in the knowledge I’d found true remission. I was wrong. By the time I met up with the Occupational Health doctor in August, I was in a depression. My five months of stability were over. Lack of sleep due to stress at home had tipped the balance. I hid the depression from the Occupational Health doctor. He was happy I was doing well and declared me fit to return to university to continue my nursing course. I was sure it was only a minor blip anyway. So was my CPN. Again we were both wrong. By the end of the first week of the depression, talk of the Crisis Team was rife. A few days later, I had a Crisis Team nurse in my flat with my CPN. The meeting did not go well, as it rarely does with me and the Crisis Team. He told me I could never expect to be a nurse if I couldn’t keep myself well and look after myself. This upset me greatly as the one goal that had kept me going the last five – six years had been my dream to be a nurse. From the moment he uttered those words, any hope of help from the Crisis Team was shattered. I couldn’t work with someone with that attitude. As it happened, three days later, I snapped out of the depression. But it was not in a good way. In the next three days my mood went from mildly elated hypomania to verging on full-blown mania. I spent the next five weeks fluctuating between hypomania and mania. There was no rest. My partner suffered the whiplash of me going from suicidal depression to uncontrollable mania. He had to take my bank cards and car key off me to stop me spending money we didn’t have or disappearing on a mad dash across the country. He even had to hide my passport so I couldn’t skip the country.
It wasn’t a pleasant mania. At times I felt incredible – magic, but most of the time I was agitated, irritable and ready to rip my skin off. I felt I had so much energy my human skin couldn’t contain it. I had visions of what was keeping me so powered up- it was like an atom crossed with an Arc Reactor out of Iron Man. It was in my chest and I could feel it in a very physical way. During this time, I completed the Mental Health First Aid course, which in itself was an achievement but also stayed with a stranger I’d met on Twitter, overnight in a town I didn’t know and drove to a place I’d never been something I would only ever have managed whilst manic. I talked a lot during the course, but it being a small group they didn’t seem to be too upset by my behaviour.
I was ready and excited to get back to university. I was nervous about being in a different year group and having to meet new people and make new friends but I didn’t care. I wanted to get back to my nursing course. All I needed was a Support Worker to help me to get around and defeat my nerves and who could take notes for me as my hearing had got worse since being on Depakote (it’s a rare side effect). This was all agreed in advance, all I had to do was provide my timetable in advance so the note taking team could organise someone for me. However, as the start of term got nearer and nearer there was still no word on which seminar group I’d be in and I needed to know that to be able to provide my timetable. As September 22, 2014 approached, my mania mixed with my nerves and my anxiety hit the roof. I didn’t get a note taker on my first day as I didn’t get a timetable until I arrived on the first day. A last-minute note taker was provided on day two but she was late to the lecture pushing my anxiety up further. What should have been an exciting new start turned into an anxiety riddled nightmare. I spent most of the time trying not to cry and failing. I attended lectures with my note taker but anxiety made it hard to concentrate. I attended seminars alone with my partner kindly accompanying me to the door, but my new group was very cliquey. They didn’t talk to me or welcome me in any way unless I pushed small talk on them. They had no interest in talking to or getting to know the new girl. I attended every class with dread and left crying. I even considered dropping out of university altogether, but decided I’d give them a couple of more weeks, and then ask to change groups. I never got that far. With the help of my partner I lasted two weeks. It was my psychiatrist who told me to take a couple of weeks off after I’d already called in sick the first half of the week. I was in a complete state and becoming psychotic – not that I realised it at the time. I was so desperate I was willing to consider hospital admission but there were no beds – in the country, apparently. Again, it became irrelevant, to me. Over the following weekend, I pulled out of this agitated depression into a complete state of calm.
I was in bed, trying to sleep, and it all came to me. The “realisation” of who I was. I told my partner. Everything made sense to me. I wasn’t a human with Bipolar; I was a demigoddess – a goddess trapped in a human body. Being trapped caused the “depression” and my “spirit” or the goddess part of me trying to escape my human body was the “mania”. I was too big for my body. It was all so obvious. My partner didn’t know how to react.
My parents visited the next day and I told them everything. I’m guessing they were concerned, although they never said. I thanked them for bringing me up as their own child. I felt calm and ecstatic all at the same time. The only problem was, now I knew who I was, I had a task – to spread peace and freedom around the world. This could only be achieved once I was released of my human body – it had to die. This didn’t seem problematic to the newly enlightened me, so I was open and honest about it with my partner and parents. I didn’t think they’d have issue with it. Thankfully they did.
I made a plan. On Monday I would tell my CPN I didn’t need her help any more as she couldn’t help me. On Tuesday, I would need to cut out an implant in my chest being used to manipulate people around me and infiltrate messages meant for me from the higher God. Those who put the implant in me are called the Yellow Ones and their mission was to distract me from my mission and stop me spreading world peace. They, somehow, profited from war, pain and suffering no matter how big or small. I simply called them the Yellow Ones as they wear yellow items of clothing and use yellow vehicles for transport and more importantly surveillance and transmission of messages and signals to manipulate. Whoever they are they are powerful and horrific. Once the implant had been cut out of my chest it would need destroying. I would then need a day or 2 to ensure there were no repercussions on the people around me that I care about. Then on Thursday I would “kill” my human body. I had three plans – one main plan and two backups to ensure I would “die” and then be free to live my immortal life as the goddess I was. I explained all this to my CPN on the Monday. It never occurred to me she wouldn’t believe me or would think I was psychotic. It therefore surprised me when she asked to see me the next day. I had just told her I was feeling good and she wanted another appointment the next day. I had no idea why, but I agreed. I would still have plenty of time to remove the implant after the appointment. I couldn’t remove the implant before as it was self-surgery that would require plenty of Dutch courage (alcohol) and painkillers as I still felt pain whilst in my human form. I didn’t fancy going to a CPN appointment drunk, doped and bloody – it would not look good. So on Tuesday, I went to meet my CPN and was confronted by a room full of people. There were two doctors, my CPN, the Crisis Team nurse and an AMHP (Approved Mental Health Professional) social worker as well as myself and my partner. They wanted to hear about who I was. Who wouldn’t? How often do you get to meet a goddess? I explained myself again and answered their questions and addressed their concerns. At the end, they went off for half an hour for a “chat”, they then came back and asked me to go into hospital. I naturally refused; I have no need for hospital, unless they were going to remove the implant, which they weren’t. They didn’t believe who I was. They then announced they were therefore going to put me under section 3 of the Mental Health Act – compulsory hospital treatment for up to 6 months. I tried to make them see sense but they believed I was psychotic and not a goddess. They were concerned I would just end up dead. I understood their concerns and reasons for the section 3, I just didn’t agree. They were wrong, and people would die unnecessarily if I wasn’t free and spreading peace by Thursday – but they wouldn’t listen. Instead I was taken home by the social worker to pack. Luckily, a bed had come up in Nottingham otherwise the only other bed was in Edinburgh. I packed for a two-week stay, thinking “they’ll see sense.” I ended up there from 9 1/2 weeks, but they had a washing machine and I got day home leave after a few weeks. I also bought clothes on eBay and had them delivered to the ward. The social worker delivered me to the ward and for the entire first week I wasn’t allowed to leave, not even for fresh air.
I was sectioned and hospitalised on 14 October 2014. It was a Tuesday. On the Thursday – the day I should have died, I was eating lunch when I felt a fizzing sensation in my chest. Something was wrong. The Yellow Ones were nearby and transmitting through the implant. I started to panic as I was locked on a ward with 21 other vulnerable women plus staff all capable of being manipulated by the Yellow Ones. I went to look out the window as some way of escaping my reality and there they were – to yellow diggers right outside the ward, as part of the local tram works. But they were transmitting their signals and I could feel it. I started to beg staff for painkillers, local anaesthetic and a scalpel or blade. It was imperative I got this implant out as soon as possible. Obviously they refused and tried to calm me down, but they didn’t understand. Whilst packing I’d managed to smuggle a blade on my person. Staff didn’t find it. I tried to cut the implant out and was found covered in blood and tears. It hurt but was necessary, but I was unable to cut deep enough with the relatively blunt blade before I was found. I was able to hide the blade but not the blood when I heard my door open for the regular patient checks. They searched my room to find the blade but failed. A few days later I tried again but this time got caught and had the blade confiscated. I needed steri-strips for the wound but still hadn’t got deep enough with the blade to find the implant. I needed another tactic. One day I was wearing a purple top and found the Yellow Ones silent. It occurred to me purple was the opposite of yellow and if I wore purple over the implant it would disrupt the yellow signals/transmissions. So I started ordering purple clothes from eBay. Now half my tops are purple, but then a girl I called the Tempest came onto the ward. She was manic and I was convinced she was a Yellow One. They’d guessed what I’d discovered about purple and now they’d infiltrated the ward. She got in my head instantly, at such close proximity. So I bought purple hats, they worked. I bought purple bedding for night protection. Purple is my armour against the Yellow Ones.
While all this was going on, I agreed with the doctors not to kill my body and give them the chance to prove me wrong. The first two weeks were a waste of time. They had assumed I’d stopped taking my 600 – 750 mg of quetiapine in the community and that that was why I had “got ill”. They therefore wanted to gradually reintroduce my quetiapine from 300 mg, increasing 100 mg a week. After a while I asked about their reasoning for halving my dose – they hadn’t bothered checking with me or my partner, but I have never stopped my medication. I “got ill” on the full 600 – 750 mg of quetiapine. The doctor’s response: “Oh, I hadn’t realised, I assumed you’d stopped it because you didn’t like the sedation.” Yes, I hated the sedation. No, I didn’t stop my medication.
After week three I got a new doctor who seemed confused by my apparent current diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). A quick read through my notes showed I was correct – I don’t have BPD. I have Bipolar. After a long chat he informed me that he thought I was having an “atypical mixed state psychotic episode made up of paranoid and grandiose delusions.” The atypical mixed state was because I had been relatively calm recently but had recently been rapid cycling and had a mixed episode prior to my “realisation” of who I was. We tried the quetiapine at 500 mg for a week or so before I said I couldn’t cope with the sedation. It was agreed I would reduce the quetiapine and start on aripiprazole instead. He also wanted me off the Depakote as it shouldn’t be prescribed to women of childbearing age due to high risk of Neural Tube Defects in embryos. In my case, it had also caused significant hearing loss as I discovered when I saw an audiologist on 25th November 2014.
On 17 November 2014, I was taken off my section 3 because I agreed to follow the treatment plan. I was starting to doubt that I was a goddess, but my belief in the Yellow Ones remains strong.
The next few weeks, bit of a blur. My mood started to fluctuate every one – three days between suicidal depression and hypomania – known as rapid cycling. I tried some home leave for a couple of nights but couldn’t cope with knowing there were Yellow Ones working in the building opposite my flat. I was terrified of their close proximity and it took all my mental strength not to destroy the yellow surveillance car. Returning to hospital turned into a shambles. Whilst on leave and due to bed shortages, my bed had been given away to a new patient. Luckily, someone was discharged that day and I got their bed. Whilst I waited I was told by a less than kind nurse that I had to learn to “cope in the community” as a “ward wouldn’t always be available.” This was deeply upsetting as it had been my doctor who suggested I came back in. I tried to cope, but wasn’t ready. I was still rapid cycling, but why would a nurse who was also deputy ward manager care about those details?
I spent the next couple of weeks struggling with my mood but made some fantastic friends in some fellow patients. We were often able to laugh together and on some occasions cried together. There was comradeship in an otherwise terrifying and lonely situation.
Being “delusional” can be very lonely. No one believes what you’re experiencing is real. You’re completely alone in your own, often scary, world with no one to talk to. I was lucky to make friends, some are having similar experiences others very different experiences, but we were all lonely – together. Without them I would have lost myself completely.
I was also lucky to have some good friends from the outside world visit me and buy me presents of colouring and puzzle books and pens – essential items to keep you busy in a less than stimulating environment. There were no ward activities, no Occupational Therapists to come and work with us. We were just left to our own devices, which can get very boring and frustrating. Initially, I slept a lot thanks to the sedating medication I was on. This helped kill time, but as I came off the sedating medication, day naps became impossible and I had to find more things to do. As my leave time increased I was able to pop into town for a couple of hours. This gave me the chance to finally conquer my general anxiety, as I had to go alone. I, of course, wore plenty of purple as there would be plenty of Yellow Ones in a busy city centre. I learned to go to town on my own and even went to the cinema on my own!!! I’m still not comfortable in social situations, but my overall anxiety is much more controlled – despite my fear of the Yellow Ones.
Eventually, after 9 1/2 weeks it was agreed I was ready to try home leave again this time the aim was 10 days, but if I had any problems I could call the Crisis Team or the ward. So on December 19, 2014 I finally made it home and have been home ever since. My mood has dipped slightly, probably due to coming off of the quetiapine, but also I am struggling to sleep. I seem to have restless legs and headaches as side-effects of my aripiprazole which is causing me constant pain and getting me down as well. My current medication is 20mg aripiprazole once a day and 0.5mg clonazepam twice a day to help deal with the side effects of the aripiprazole. Despite these problems, as of Monday 29th December 2014 I was officially discharged from hospital. It feels like a relief, like I’m free again. I’m back under my own Community Mental Health Team including my own CPN and also the Crisis Team, not that I feel I need them, it’s just discharge protocol.
I am able to accept that I’m not a goddess. It took time and a few key people telling me out right that I was “bonkers” and definitely human to cast the initial shadow of doubt. Now I know I was very ill but I’m still deeply embarrassed by the things I said. I’m also riddled with guilt for causing pain and worry to those you care about me. It wasn’t deliberate, obviously, but I am truly and desperately sorry for the hurt I caused you all. I do however believe the Yellow Ones to be very real and they are somehow entwined with my illness.
Although I still struggle to believe I’m an entirely normal human, I can’t work out if it is because the Yellow Ones have convinced me otherwise. Their determination to destroy me and spread the pain and suffering amongst my loved ones – friends and family and even staff that have cared for me, is what they feed on. Could it be because I was close and now know who they are and I’m just an unlucky human or did they choose me because I’m not a proper human? Either way, the powers and the way they feed on destruction, pain and suffering have led me to believe they are in fact aliens – dangerous ones at that.
Despite all this, I must focus on being “well”. I wear purple at all times to protect me and those around me, that way I can focus on the here and now and the people and things important to me. Whilst in hospital I lost my place on my nursing course – I am of course devastated. I must now find new things to do and a new path in to the healthcare profession. I am determined to work in healthcare one way or another. It is my dream, goal and destiny. I am, by nature, a carer.
So as we enter 2015, with no set path in sight I feel lost. For the first time in my life, my goals seem unachievable and out of reach. I feel at sea. So instead of resolutions, I decided to make some loose plans. I’m going to give kickboxing a try, to get fit and boost my confidence, however I accept I MAY not enjoy it, but I will TRY it. I WILL join a choir as I miss singing in one and it boosts my confidence and mood. Finally, I’m going to look into becoming a Peer Support Worker – after all I have plenty of experience as both a service user in the community and as an inpatient. I feel I have a lot to give and if I can’t be a nurse the conventional way, I’ll find another way – I am determined. I think I’ll change my middle name to “Determination.”