It’s been such a long while since I’ve written in here. I don’t know if it’s avoidance or forgetfulness at this point. What I do know is that I’ve backslid and I’m slithering around on my belly like a tongueless snake.
I had the surgery and I’ve lost about 50 pounds. I honestly think, for once, I’m returning to my baseline physical self. I never saw myself as this fat, huge overweight thing. Body dysmorphia is quite common for people after the surgery; my mother struggles with it daily. I wasn’t always fat – I was a skinny kid. I see myself losing weight and – don’t tell anyone – but I feel fucking awesome. I think I look fucking hot. Aside from the loose skin I’ve acquired, I feel my confidence going up. People at work keep commenting on how great I look, and while I don’t particularly enjoy that, I do like the looks I give myself. Pretty narcissistic sounding, huh? It’s not like that, though. I used to look at myself and glare. I’d give myself a once-over in the mirror, gazing at each body part with hatred and disgust. Each body part was subject to ridicule and hazing by me, every day. There were some days I couldn’t bear to look at myself at all. I’m fucking done with that. I look at myself – loose skin and all – and see someone who struggled with a lot of shit, but won’t give up. I see a woman who is not just a fighter, but gorgeous inside and out. Not just because she has a sexy husband that wants to fuck her every minute of every day (God he’s seriously relentless), but because she believes it now. She doesn’t need his validation or anyone else’s. Who knew it would only take a $40,000 surgery to get to this point? Oy vey.
So I just got out of the psych ward. Ha! Didn’t see that coming, did you? Alice: always full of surprises. It had been over a decade since I last graced their halls with my presence. The staff remembered me. I’m still trying to decide if that’s good or bad. My schedule affected my medication schedule and then I stopped taking it all together. Then I slipped into a manic phase. I told my family that I wasn’t taking that “poison” anymore, I was “normal” without it. I was also unable to concentrate on anything, I was the best at everything ever in life, I was getting 4 hours of sleep at night, and couldn’t sit still worth a damn.
Then I fell. Hard.
I couldn’t get out of bed. I wouldn’t shower for days. I would cry at nothing. Or something, anything. I’d get frustrated at little things. I just couldn’t function worth shit. So I called my psychiatrist. He told me he was having me admitted to the psych ward. I was there for a week. He put me on FMLA and here I sit, at home, taking my meds… ish.
I told him I’m fucking trained. I know better than to not take them. I know that the incidence of bipolar patients not taking their meds is higher than any other mental illness because we think we’re getting better, stop taking them and fall on our faces. I said I know the stats, I’ve read the studies, I know this shit and did it anyway.
He said, “That’s how you know it’s the disease, Alice. Not you.”
Being in the psych ward as a mental health professional was a nightmare. You think they treat you any better? Nope. Still just a fucking nut in a ward full o’ nuts. I didn’t expect to be treated better than anyone else but I think I’ve become more aware of the stigma than I had in years past. I never remember the staff being so dismissive and cold. Even the social workers, who claim to help even the playing field between the professionals and the patients were at times condescending and patronizing. I reminded them that we shared the same credentials, same degree and performed the same functions in our profession as a way of humanizing myself however I doubt it did much good as I was still cast aside when asking for simple things like respect. During a group session, one social worker stated part of their job is to educate the other staff members, including the doctors, about mental health. I actually fell out laughing. I said that, as noble as that may be, the worst stigma against mental illness I have ever seen has been in the medical community. I explained that I am terrified my co-workers will find out that I am in the psych ward, as I was in my own employer’s medical system and in our computer system it will show that I was there. I further explained that none of the doctors I work with have any interest or desire to work with psych patients; they actually express disdain for the entire population. The nurses at my hospital are mostly impatient and rude when treating a psych patient and want nothing more than for my department to hurry up and get them out of the hospital. I have social workers who actually said to me they hate working with “bipolars” because they are constantly going off their meds and have wild mood swings. So, excuse my skepticism when discussing “educating” the medical staff – I’m sure it’s going well.
The nurses and nurse’s aides were a fucking nightmare. It didn’t help that they’d rather surf Facebook and Instagram than do their fucking jobs. Aside for a select few, they treated me like I didn’t know my own body. And, not to sound like a dick, but like they knew more about psych than I did. As someone who’s been on both sides – a patient and a professional – I can safely say that’s bullshit. And as an employee at that hospital I knew corporate policy, so they couldn’t fuck me around when it came to that either. Plus, this isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been hospitalized about 7 times. Go fuck yourself; I know how this goes. I wasn’t in the mood to be fucked with. Not to mention the fact that my psychiatrist is on staff and we’ve been working together for over a decade. I know that he always has my best interests at heart and will go to bat for me (and did) when I need him to.
So. You’re caught up. Time for my meds.