We have all heard them. Though assumptions are dangerous things, so let me just lay them out for us one more time. There are perceived to be Five Stages of Grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
As I completed my first ever day of inpatient hospitalization for my Bipolar II mental illness, I became a full-fledged believer in the Five Stages. While I think the process had begun earlier in the day, it fully settled in during a phone call with my wife. I’ll use quotes, though I cannot guarantee these were her exact words, the gist of it was, “They did tell me the average treatment and stay is five to seven days.”
Fun fact about me: I have always bounced back very quickly. Probably to my own detriment and lack of proper treatment. My Type A personality tends to force my mind to “snap out of it”, suck it up, and get back on track. Granted, no healing, therapy, processing, or actually dealing with any shit has taken place. But I’m right back at it!
Needless to say, if spending my day walking around a psych ward in a hospital gown and those little socks with the rubber anti-slide strips on them wasn’t enough to convince me this was for real this time…hearing my wife share that little tidbit of information came down on my shoulders like a load of bricks. Granted, I had been told the same thing. But that was last night when I came in with the police and really needed help. Or that was again this morning after a psychiatric evaluation by an actual psychiatrist (the second one to evaluate me) informed me of the same.
Here’s the thing: they did not really know me. The real me. They did not know what a difference 8 hours could make. They did not understand that I would be just fine. I was no longer a threat to myself or others. I could be released, lovingly pushed out the front door, and I would go back where I came from.
Though I had no intention of doing that if they actually bought my little con-job.
And so it had begun with Denial. There were about 18 people in this ward. And bless their hearts (no…seriously) some of them were much worse off than I was. Or so it seemed. Maybe external signs of damage does not mean the internal damage is any worse. (I should probably write that down somewhere and read it every day.) The psychotic symptoms and outbursts were all around me. About half of us suffered from psychosis, the other half not. Some had been here for weeks. Some had been in treatment before. It sounded like some were actually living most of their lives inpatient!
Not me. Had a little meltdown. Blew a fuse. Went off my rocker. Got a little crazy. Lost track of reality. Whatever you want to call it…just don’t call it a mental illness in need of extensive inpatient treatment. Because I don’t have that! Give me some pills. Write an action plan. Send me on my God Damn way!!!
It seemed like the Denial and Anger stages were merging pretty quickly…