First Hypomanic/Depressive Episode

Blue Houston
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC

I moved to Houston, Texas a year after high school (I took a year off). I was going to be a music performance major, and I was thrilled to live in a different city, far away from my parents. For about 6 months, my boyfriend and I lived with his mother. Then he broke up with me.

His new girlfriend, I’d heard, was Filipino like me. I was devastated. And a little weirded out. I certainly wasn’t going to continue living with his family, even though I didn’t know how to look for an apartment.  So his mother (bless her) helped me find a nearby apartment, co-signed on the lease, and I moved out.

I had no furniture. No couch or futon to sit on, no bed to sleep on. I didn’t mind, though, because the place was mine. I spent an awful lot of time listening to Melissa Etheridge’s self-titled album. I played the song, “Similar Features,” over and over again so much, I thought the needle on the record player would be damaged from its constant use. And boy, did I ugly cry!

On campus I always ate alone, not that anyone ever invited me. I didn’t socialize with the other students in the percussion department. Most of them were older guys, or at least they seemed a lot older than my age, 19-20. I felt fear, fear, fear. I didn’t have any techniques for getting past the fear, so I turned to drugs and alcohol.

At the end of spring semester, a good friend moved back to Houston, where he was born. We got a place together. It was paaaaarty central. To me, anyway. My friend had a real job. Two of my co-workers unofficially lived with us. People were in and out of our place: my new, older (over 21) boyfriend; two couples who lived in our building.

This was, I believe, when I first experienced my first hypomanic episode. Life had become an all-day/all-night party. I hardly slept. Several months later, I went the other way. I felt suicidal for the first time in my life. I just felt awful, and I didn’t know why.

I talked to my parents over the phone, and I told them I wanted to kill myself. My mom said they would get me help back home. They came down to Houston and helped me move.

But I never got the help I needed until 1995. I don’t know why. Could be stigma in the Filipino-American community. Could be denial. Could be both.

Do you remember the circumstances surrounding you first manic episode? Or depressive episode?

The Psych ER – March 2018

In the psych ER – March 2, 2018. Photo provided by author

On my post last week, Downshift, I talked about how I didn’t feel safe in terms of suicidal thoughts. I managed not to hurt myself and went to bed that Thursday night. When I woke up Friday morning, I wasn’t sure whether or not I felt safe. Because of these doubts, my husband and I decided to go to the emergency room (ER) at ECT Hospital, where I undergo outpatient ECT when necessary, and is also the place I was last hospitalized in October 2014.

I left the house in my pajamas, but as you can see in the photo, they had me change into a hospital gown. We arrived around 11:00 AM and it took about an hour to process whatever they needed to process. By noon, they moved me (in a wheelchair) to the psych ER because I didn’t have physically medical issues.

This ER is removed from the hustle and bustle of the medical ER, so it’s quiet. It consists of 3 side-by-side rooms divided by walls, and with curtains on the front. These were left open so the nurse and security guard could keep us under observation.

I was moved there around lunch time, and there was a stack of food containers on the counter. I didn’t have to wonder if any of them were vegetarian because I just knew that they weren’t; I was right.

An ER resident saw me and asked me why I was there. He also asked what meds I was on, and told me I’d be meeting with a psychiatrist, which I already knew.

My husband and I sat there for hours, and eventually, I met with a crisis intervention team, which I believe consisted of a nurse, a social worker who did all the talking and asking of questions, and a psychiatrist who typed my answers into a computer.

Again, we talked about why I was there, and discussed what seemed like my entire mental health history. They asked me what I saw in my future, and at that point, I figured I needed outpatient ECT, which my psychiatrist strongly recommended a few weeks ago. Although I felt safe by the time I talked to them, they felt that I needed to be admitted. I figured that I would be, but was still hoping they’d let me go home, and pursue ECT on an outpatient basis.

A nurse talked to me about the process of being admitted, confidentiality issues, the ins and outs of the psych ward, and had me sign a bunch of paperwork. She said they had a bed for me, but I had to wait for a few more hours.

I was concerned whether they had a vegetarian menu, and she assured me they did. *phew* But my biggest concern was whether I’d have a roommate, and she said that I wouldn’t. At this particular hospital, there are 2 rooms that fit 2 beds; the rest are singles, though if necessary, they can add a bed. Thankfully, they didn’t during my stay.

I was still in the ER at dinner time, which is at 5:00 PM, and fortunately, the admitting nurse was able to get me a vegetarian dinner of fruit and a vegetable hummus wrap. It was surprisingly good. (!)

A little after 6:00 PM, I was admitted to the psych ward. Six hours is a relatively short time spent in the ER. Other patients have had to wait over a day to get a bed.

My next post will be about my stay and my reflections on that.

If you’re willing to share, have you ever been to the ER for psychiatric reasons? What was your experience like? If you’d rather discuss it privately, feel free to use the Contact form.

via Daily Prompt: Wonder