Autobiography · Mental Health

Dance

"Bubbles" © Steffen Ramsaier, 2010. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
Bubbles” © Steffen Ramsaier, 2010. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
“I don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on diagnosis,” she said. She lowered her pen back to her clipboard and locked eyes with me. It was something I’d heard from every medical professional I’d ever liked. The people who understood they couldn’t put me in a box and go through the corresponding motions. But you still have to have something to submit to insurance. Diagnostic codes: 309.28, 305.00, 309.81, 296.33, 296.53. Each had its own set of symptoms and accepted treatment options. Each meant something, even if what it meant wasn’t the end of the conversation.

She took another breath and changed the cross of her legs. “That being said, we need to start talking about medication. You have some options, but I’m not comfortable leaving this where it’s at.” Because all those diagnoses have very real, tangible symptoms attached to them. And bipolar disorder is one of those.

Bipolar disorder–for me–is like depression with a scheming side. I get miserable for a couple months, but then I feel pretty good for a few weeks. Just long enough that I start to think maybe my depression isn’t going to come back with force. But right when I’ve gotten comfortable, it sneaks in. Like a friend you were just starting to trust breaking your heart again.

My mania gives me just enough confidence to be dangerous. I sign up for things I won’t be able to follow through with when the depression comes back. It makes me just optimistic enough to line me up for a solid let down. Swings wide enough to make me feel like I’m never getting my feet under me. Narrow enough I can sometimes convince myself nothing is wrong.

We’ve known I have this illness since I was sixteen. It wasn’t extreme then, either. Since it wasn’t getting me in trouble it was left untreated. But over the last few years it’s been getting more violent. It’s been growing teeth. And so a couple weeks ago I made the call.

“Do you talk to your husband about how you’ve been feeling?” the woman from the psychiatric outpatient program at the Bellevue hospital asked me.

“Yeah, I do. He’s great. He doesn’t like those conversations much, though.”

“No, of course he doesn’t. You’re trying to kill his wife.”

I slid down the wall, landed slow on the ground and pulled my knees up to my chest. “It’s time to get help, isn’t it?”

So we doubled up the therapy. We added medication and adjusted doses. Took time off work and wrote for hours every day.

And today I woke up and I felt… Okay.

For the first time in a long time I feel safe.

34 thoughts on “Dance

  1. Ruby, as a mother of a daughter diagnosed with Bi-polar – you break things open in explaining her to me. The beauty of this is , I am so emotionally charged and involved with her that sometimes it gets hard to not listen fully when she talks about her illness. I thank you because I can ” hear” her in your posts and truly truly listen and understand her even more through you. Does this make any sense? LOL Anyway, I wrote a blog about my side as a Mother of a daughter diagnosed with Bi-polar – called Birds and Tortoises. Someday I would love for you to read it. Until then, or if ever – Thank you for your courage and strength to bring understanding and compassion to that of which so many of us struggle with. I admire you.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You have no idea how much I love reading your comments. It means so much to me that you’re able to take my stories and use them to better understand things that happen in your own life. It’s so inspiring and motivating!

      I couldn’t find your Birds and Tortoises blog. Is it the same as your A Parody of Life?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ruby, yes the blog name is A parody of life, the post was one of my first ones named: Of birds and tortoises- a mothers description of her daughters Bi-Polar. Ooops, sorry about that.

        I share your posts often with my daughter in private messages to her and tell her how much more I understand her through you and your writing.

        You have created a stronger bond between us and understanding each other, trust me it is me that needs to Thank you.
        With much adoration and respect from me to you. You have touched my soul.
        Kristin

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  2. Awesome post 🎉🎉I work in the mental health field and admire your vulnerability and courage with writing this post👏👏I hope just writing this gives you some therapeutic value and that you can have more okay days

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    1. Thank you so much. Writing helps me sort out a lot of things. Posting terrifies me, but also helps. I hope that the more I’m willing to talk about it, the more light will be shed on these topics and the more people will realize they’re not alone.

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  3. Oh Ruby…. Yayyyy!!! Feeling safe, while it sounds so simple (it’s not), it’s SO important! I am so happy for you that you are getting the help you need, and proud of you because I know how hard it is. When you mentioned the part about your husband I had to smile, because that’s exactly what I would say about mine 🙂 we are lucky to have them by our sides. Sending love & hugs your way girlfriend, hang in there… xoxo {A}

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    1. Thanks so much, A! It does sound simple, doesn’t it?! My gawd. So many things that feel impossible sound like they should be so easy. Hah! And I’m so glad you are fortunate enough to have a partner like mine. ❤

      xoxox

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  4. Your works are always so memorable. I know one of the lines that will forever stay with me is “Yeah, I do. He’s great. He doesn’t like those conversations much, though. No, of course he doesn’t. You’re trying to kill his wife.” The struggle is painful and the journey is long, but I hope you continue to remain strong and safe! And for now, the words you spill out are my fuel and alot of others too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First, I just love the way you give information up in creative ways, like your DSM codes. I like to say that I have half the alphabet in DSM acronyms.

    Second, the line about killing his wife just slayed me. I’ve watched bipolar in people very close to me and yes, that’s it exactly.

    Sending you love. Please keep writing.

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  6. I just got out of inpatient at the hospital. Spent four days. I’ve just completed one week of outpatient. From what I’ve read so far, our symptoms seem somewhat similar.
    I am having computer trouble, hopefully today I can get post about my experience at the hospital. It changed me in many ways.
    Hopefully our journeys will have more ups than downs. Good luck with yours 🍀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Recently read “An Unquiet Mind”. An honest and insightful book about a Manic-Depressive Disorder sufferer. Definitely recommend a read. It’s the most honest thing I’ve encountered after your blog Ruby. Keep it up.

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  8. I recently came across your blog and I truly admire your openness… I wasn’t exactly diagnosed but I remember going through a period of numbness and caring for my newborn baby was the only thing that kept me going – you see I have a really bubbly personality and never thought I could have problems with my mental health so I felt too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it. There were so many things I had planned to do with my baby during maternity leave but when the time came I could barely get out of bed…

    I did eventually open up to my husband but alot of people who know me have no clue about that period, they only remember that having a baby ‘changed me’ (according to the friends I’ve shared with).

    You are not only creating awareness but also encouragement for people like me to reach out to others about our experiences, one day I might just be brave enough to write a post about it.

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. The fear of postpartum depression plays a big role in my hesitation to have children. I can’t imagine how isolating it must feel. Especially because so many people go on and on about how it is “the happiest time of your life” and don’t leave room for other feelings.

      I am so glad you were able to talk to people close to you about it and get your feet back under you. And I’m so thankful for you sharing your story here.

      Like

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