I’d like to call this little rant which follows When The Doctors Don’t Listen—and Nobody Cares, because this past week was one of the hardest I’ve faced in six years and I haven’t been this off my rocker since they placed me on medication eleven years ago. For those of you who don’t know what bipolar disorder is, or think it is something that we 5.7 million Americans with this disorder use as an excuse to not just, ‘pull ourselves up by our bootstraps’ and just ‘get over it’ you could be on the receiving end of a really nasty confrontation if or when the meds don’t work, we’re taken off the meds, or because of the stigma surrounding our illness choose not to take them at all.
For the last ten years I have been on Depakote ER(for those who are not studied in the field ER does not stand for emergency room, although ironically it could, but in this case it stands for extended release. The medicine slowly releases itself over a long period allowing for one dose to be taken at one time.) what is the point of me telling you this? I was recently weaned off of it and it resulted in six years of stabilization being undone in a seven DAY period. It was something I was not necessarily prepared for and neither was my roommate and best friend of fourteen years.
One of the terms they use for a symptom of bipolar disorder is ‘irritability’. Such a benign little word for the actually fucking result of being manic. I think the word should be ‘volatile’ or the phrase ‘disturb at your own risk’. Because when I am unstable I can go from zero to rage in under sixty seconds and even the term ‘rain all over your parade’ will feel more like a severe thunderstorm capable of producing high winds up to fucking fast for you to deal with.
So my first real test came in line at Kroger’s Pharmacy Drive-Thru. Now, I’d been told by my doctor my medicines would all be between four and five dollars. I was getting Verapamil, a high blood pressure medication (anyone else see the irony in this?) which also could be used as a mood stabilizing agent. And I wanted desperately to get my what would soon become my very manic hands on it. Then, the trigger, the match head dropping into the waiting gasoline, sticker shock. The cost for my medications--$63 and change. Then the ‘irritability’, and that poor pharamcy assistant, she became the target of my ‘irritability’. How much would the Verapamil be? $36. Well fuck me. Thank God Missy was in the car driving. I could have caused a wreck. I spent a lion’s share of the very little money I had earmarked for bills on that medicine.
We pulled off I opened the bag, and the WRONG FUCKING MEDICINE WAS IN THERE. I growled, the demon was loose, “Turn the fucking car around.” We loop around and go back through the drive thru. By this point I’m on the phone with my mother and and every other word out of my mouth was fuck this stupid bitch, that stupid bitch of a doctor. My mother, god bless her, she was trying to reason with me, but I wasn’t hearing a goddamn word coming out of her mouth. It all made sense, but when I’m like that I just can’t be reasoned with.
I get home. I take my medicine. And I decide. I’m calling the doctor in the morning. My psychiatrist, Dr. Rebeck, he’s a wonderful doctor. Unfortunately when I called, he wasn’t there. I got the ‘on-call therapist’. Now, there’s a different ‘on-call therapist’ depending on who the therapist on vacation is. It just so happened, my therapist, a wonderful lady was ON VACATION. So I was presented with someone who couldn’t find her ass with both hands and told me I would just have to hang on until Monday. Just hang on? Just hang on? Hang on what? That rope I was hoping I didn’t come to the end of? The rope that was pulled so taught and was fraying so badly that it snap at any moment? Then she had the nerve to ask, you don’t feel like I’m abandoning you do you? WTF? That’s exactly how I felt.
Three more days of this shit and I was either going to hurt someone or hurt myself. I was swinging high which meant a blow-up was coming. I hung up with that incompetent bitch and proceeded to get into a long, drawn out, vicious, nasty, cutting argument with my roommate right before she went to work.
Which climaxed with her saying something incredibly hurtful and untrue and me screaming incoherently and out of control at her until I was a sobbing mess and she had to leave, leaving me ALONE to deal with this shit. Yeah, bipolar disorder, the gift that keeps on giving.
I tried to call my case manager. She wasn’t in. I called my sister Brandy. Who was concerned enough to call Mom, but who was too busy with her boyfriend to bother calling me back. Sara eventually made me cry all over again (to her credit she helped make it possible for me to get out of the house and Missy let me use her car to go have lunch and meet with another friend and go writing). Pam, another writer and friend of mine really came through for me on Friday. I managed to cope through Satuday and finally Saturday night I broke down and took two depakote er 500 milligram tablets and was able to limp to sleep. I took two more Sunday night and that was only after Missy and I had another argument, which twenty-four hours later I’m still getting worked up over. See that ‘by your bootstraps’ bullshit doesn’t work where it comes to bipolar disorder. It just doesn’t.
By Sunday night I was so messed up again I called the Crisis hotline and that fucking genius told me I needed to just ‘get through it’ and blew me off. I’m telling you the mental health resources in this state basically suck a big donkey penis.
Another wonderful symptom of what I live through is paranoia. I was getting out of bed five, six times a night convinced someone was in my apartment and trying to get me and Missy. So what’s that tell you?
Finally, this morning, blissful wonderful, Monday morning I get Sara on the phone at Seven Counties and they get me into see Dr. Rebeck, he puts me back on Depakote ER. Finally maybe I can get some peace of mind and get back to do what I do best. Write. Write. Write. And write some more.