Wednesday, August 31st, 6 a.m.

It is strange the things that we find ourselves missing.

When I awoke on this eighth day away from my home, I found myself overcome by a sense of homesickness. This is not an emotion I am used to. I have spent a lot of time…well, maybe more than the average person…in my life traveling. And for the most part, have always enjoyed it.

Eating out. Hotels. Extra and/or extended time alone. Not a problem for me.

But today was different. Maybe it was the constriction of the walls of a psychiatric ward. Maybe it was the fact that I had not breathed in the outdoor air since being delivered to the Emergency Room by the police (with no idea at that time that I could possibly still be here at this time!). Maybe it was simply that I am a creature of habit and the loss of my routines and habits was starting to weigh on me.

In any event, I was homesick and took a few moments on my bed to mind map some of the big hitters…

No shocker my wife was at the top of the list. Talking with her. Spending time with her. And yes…of course, sex with her!

I missed the routine of life. Free access to my computer and the freedom it gave me to track and follow one of my life long addictions…sports! As summer was about to give way to fall, I missed being outdoors. Even for such things as lawn care, or a grueling bike ride for exercise sake. I missed one of my all time favorite forms of relaxation…television. Yes, we had access to some screens in the ward, but it was first-come-first and majority rules and our scheduled activities rarely allowed for the match up of a start and stop to a show. Plus, aren’t we all of the online streaming generation now anyway?

I missed work. I think I have always been a hard worker. Have never been able to vacation for very long, or survive an extended period of time without my mind wandering back to it. I have always found value, maybe even an unhealthy identity in my vocation. To take that away for a week was starting to leave a void of worth in my life.

Then there were two simple food items. Because to be honest, the food overall wasn’t bad. In fact, we had quite a bit of choice and freedom. But the coffee was awful and so I missed my Starbucks, and god how I missed soda!

They say “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. Maybe absence is how patients grow better. For me, the safety and security of the unit were falling out of balance with the reality that this probably was not how I was meant to live the rest of my life. There were yearnings in my heart for such basic things that attach themselves to normal living and make us want to return to where we are from. Things that have pulled me back other times when I have run.

As I contemplated the day ahead, I realized it was time for my thoughts to begin shifting stronger from what got me here, to what I was going to do differently when I got out. Because that day was likely not far away.

Present Day, February 26th, 2017

The Big Three: Medications. Sleep. Therapy.

I have heard it time and time again. These are not the ONLY secrets to managing Bipolar or just about any other mental illness. However, they are three CRITICAL ones. In other words, do these three things right…and you are heading down a good path. Neglect them…and just about all other efforts will not likely make up the difference.

There is a catch tough. Probably more than one. But the one I am thinking of today is that they each carry a degree of humiliation to them.

Medications? I take a disgusting amount of pills every day, am practically a zombie by 10 p.m. at night, and live my life in the position of having to be held accountable to the periodical question “Have you taken your meds?”

Sleep? I take naps like a toddler. I wear a Fitbit to make sure I average out the necessary amount to keep my sanity somewhat in check. Like a teenager with an early curfew, I rarely get to “stay up late” and often pay a price if I do.

Even therapy has its humiliation. And I am not even talking about the phrases that exist in my life referring to having my own personal “therapist” or having to get to a “doctor appointment” every other week or sharing how “therapy went today.”

I am talking about the cold realities that therapy can put you through during the best of times. Because it is a reminder. Sometimes a slap in the face, that I am fucked up between the ears, as well as somewhere extending down into my heart (or soul, or wherever you ascribe as the seat of our feelings).

That was especially the case this past week. My wife joins me for therapy roughly once a quarter. It is a chance to make sure everyone is on the same page, and for my therapist (who…let me be clear, I greatly appreciate and enjoy meeting with) to see if there are any hidden issues that should be addressed. This time around I knew we would be addressing the management and handling of my next crisis experience. That’s right, no matter how good I was going to be feeling walking into those doors, we were going to address the when…not the if…of me losing my shit again. Because we all know I will.

As is often the case, following the session my wife and I grabbed an early dinner. A chance to debrief. To unwind from the tension the session can create.

By that point, I had entered a rather sober, somewhat discouraged place. We had just spent an hour talking about how my keys would be taken from me and locked in a safe that I didn’t have the combination to in order to ensure that I didn’t run away or park my truck in the garage with the door closed and a hose in the window. We had talked about whether I had the ability to load any of the antique guns in the house and blow my own brains out. We had talked about how I was allowed to sequester myself in the bedroom, but if I walked out the door my wife would have an acceptable authority to call the police and notify them that I was a danger to myself…and possibly others.

I’m pretty sure that you aren’t normal (and truly are insane) if that type of a conversation doesn’t sober you up a bit. Was it necessary? You bet. But so is sleep and medication. Doesn’t keep any of them from being at least somewhat humiliating.

Present Day, February 9th, 2017

When your wife believes in you more than you believe in yourself…

A new one has been appearing each day.

May or may not be related to a pending holiday.

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