Thursday, August 25th, 5 p.m.

I sign both forms. One is an “Application for Voluntary Admission.” The other a “Rights of Individuals Receiving Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Services” for the state of Illinois. I do not read either of them. I am way too out of it. Too exhausted.

After roughly 24 hours on the run, preceded by another day more or less ‘off the grid’, followed by being taken into ‘protective custody’ almost seven hours earlier and now heading towards 36 plus hours without negligible sleep, I’ve got nothing left.

On the first form, I am able to designate my wife as someone to be notified of my admission, and whenever my rights are restricted. Someone has indicated that I am a “threat to harm self” on this same form.

The ‘voluntary’ nature of the form is somewhat interesting. I was brought in by Chicago police officers. I submitted to them ‘voluntarily’ at the Amtrak station. Primarily because I was not sure where things were going if I did not. As they walked me from the train platform to their office, I wondered if I could have reached for a gun that did not exist and been put out of my pain. I wondered if I might have put up a fight and found myself face down and being handcuffed. When they opened the door for me to exit the police cruiser at the hospital I wondered if I faced the other direction and began running down the street if they would have given chase or shrugged their shoulders and said, “Eh. His call.”

They stayed with me until hospital security took over. Hospital security had me in their eyes and was never more than a few feet away until I found myself on this restricted access floor of the hospital. A floor still populated by security, and as I would later find out…with plenty more at their beck and call. Security brought me food. Security took my possessions. Security escorted me to the restroom. Security monitored my moves even as I signed this form.

In a day or two I will read the back side of this “voluntary” form. The side that indicates that I have the right to “request” discharge. In writing. After which I may be discharged. within 5 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays). I am arriving on a Thursday. The Thursday roughly 10 days before Labor Day. A holiday. The days immediately begin to count off in my head. If I am deemed to still pose a risk to myself, I must file a “petition and 2 certificates with the court.” What kind of certificate? What kind of court?

In a day or two I will read the back side of this “voluntary” form and realize that while my signature indicates that my getting in was of my own choosing…getting out, well, that is just a whole ‘nother story!

The second form gets even scarier. Talk of labor. Talk of seclusion. Talk of restraints.

None of this carries some shock factor of not realizing my behavior of the past 48 hours was not worthy of serious consequences. Rather, it carries the shock factor of realizing how far gone my behavior of the past 48 hours reflects I have gone. How far from sanity my journey has taken me. How badly I need to be here.

And the reality that whether I voluntarily wanted to be or not…this was where I was going to be.

Present Day, March 29th, 2017

Last week I did not do well. Had a few really rough days. Less than 5 out of 10s on the “How the hell are you doing?” scale.

As is often the case, it was a little thing that set it off. But somewhat unusually, it wasn’t the little thing that plunged me down or kept me there. In fact, I would ascribe…oh, let’s say 5% to the event and 95% to my feelings that followed the event.

Let me see if I can find a way to describe this. Much like every other human being in the world, I experienced a mildly hurtful moment. I simply wasn’t quite thought of as much as I would have like to have been. A request came, I didn’t think it was filtered through my needs, and that frustrated me. It really was no big deal. Not a major slip up by a loved one. It just happened.

But what followed was the reality of how much my neediness requires such requests to be filtered, or even rejected. The request would have potentially impacted my sleep schedule. It might have thrown off my “night before work” rhythm. It could impact my routines that I tend to hold quite dear.

Now, I get that not everyone reading this is going to get this. However, there are those of you out there who are totally going to understand the power of those three words: schedule, rhythm, and routine. You not only understand them, you see them as lifelines. You see them as foundational to keeping your shit together. Like me, you know that the break in any one of or more of those three can be the snowflake that starts the avalanche or the pebble that initiates the rock slide. Both of which cause great messes, significant damage, and possibly loss of life.

Yes, that sounds very dramatic. And yes, if you knew the request I was presented with, you would think it is way overly dramatic. But here is the thing…we never know. We never know when that little thing that we pass off as a little thing because we don’t think it will be a big thing ends up being. (Yeah, you might have to read that one again.) I could have rolled with the request, and everything may have gone fine. Or I could have rolled with the request, and a few days later been in real trouble.

Which gets me back to the 95%. The part that plunged me into a fairly dark hole for a couple of days. It was the reality once again that I am Bipolar. The reality once again that I have a mental illness. The reality, right in the middle of life chugging along fairly reasonably, that such small things can become big things and big things can become life and death things.

It was a reality that cranked up ideation and thoughts. Yeah…that kind of ideation and thoughts. A reality that caused an overwhelming pain at the reality of never getting better. A reality that we aren’t just waiting for my insurance company to approve the treatment that is going to “fix” me.

No, the reality is that more times than not these simple requests will have to be met with “No. I can’t.” answers. And the fact that someone actually asking will probably hurt less and less, while the reality that I had to say “no” will probably just keep hurting more and more.