Hi, my name is Bobbi.
And more than likely, I’m not bipolar.
Mmmm. Deep exhale.
While institutionalized at Winnebago Mental Health, I did not have a doctor, let alone a psychiatrist, assigned as part of my care team. The bipolar diagnosis came from two court-appointed evaluators who sat down with me for forty minutes and drew their conclusions.
Dr. Bales, who should’ve retired fifteen years ago, looked at my file the entire time, barely listened to me speak, vaguely pointed at the list of potential medications, and said, “You need mental health help.”
Okay, bro. I’ll tell that to my therapist and outside psychiatric care provider I willingly sought out on my own for a psychiatric evaluation before being chapterized.
Dr. Thuman, a psychologist, at least listened to my story. I believe she drew the same conclusion of bipolar disorder, but she wasn’t called to speak in court and I’ve yet to see her notes.
Two forty minute conversations.
One nervous breakdown.
That’s all it takes for the court to seal your fate with a chronic diagnosis and an order to take medication that’s been making me sick.
When I started the Abilify, I began on a 5mg dose for three days before being bumped up to 10mg. Aside from sleeping better, I didn’t notice any other differences in my thinking, mood, or behavior.
Upon discharge at Winnebago Mental Health Institute, a locked facility with some of the most severe mental health cases in the state, I wound up at the Winnebago County Crisis Center where I started experiencing some concerning side effects with the medication.
I have a restless feeling in my limbs, particularly in my fingertips and feet. I can’t sit still long enough to watch TV or read. I’m experiencing unspecified anxiety, a tightness in my chest that no amount of breathing or yoga can dissipate. I’m waking up with headaches consistent with interrupted breathing in my sleep.
The county psychiatrist took me up as a patient and is currently titrating me down on the Abilify. My 10mg dose was reduced to 5mg for a week, and now I’m down to 2mg. He prescribed medication to abate the restless feeling.
I’m getting help.
I’m feeling heard.
I’m supported and will be long after discharge tomorrow as I continue to meet with Dr. Vicente.
So, if it’s not bipolar disorder, then what is it? That’s the magic question.
I can say nothing conclusive has been decided. According to my psychiatrist, my symptoms are consistent with a nervous breakdown followed by four days of major insomnia and extremely limited sleep while on vacation with my family over spring break and that the behaviors mimic C-PTSD.
This feels much more nuanced considering this is my first breakdown. I haven’t experienced highs and lows consistent with a bipolar diagnosis, so I’ve been hesitant to own it as mine.
Signing off from the messy middle.
Love and Light,