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Leslie's Story

“It’s time to take your vitals.”  “110 over 72.”  “It’s time for your meds.”  “100mg Lamictal, 450mg Trileptal, 40mg Ritalin, 10mg Lexipro, and 150mg Wellbutrin, here’s a cup of water.”  “Breakfast.”  “Lunch time.”  “Time for dinner.”  “Group in five minutes, meeting in the first dayroom.”  “The doctor is ready to see you.”  These are a few of the statements I heard during my first 5-day hospitalization, Saturday, June 14 – Wednesday, June 18, 2003.  I was a voluntary admit.

For the past few months, I’ve been ‘spinning my wheels,’ ‘spacey,’ disorganized and confused, ‘not myself,’ not eating, lacking concentration and focus.  If you were to ask me what I had done at the end of the day, I couldn’t tell you, I’d forgotten, my mind was blank.  My two common responses to all questions were, “I don’t know,” and “I don’t remember.”  In hopes to aid this ‘problem’, Lynne, my boss, gave me one of her day planners and a quick tutorial as to how to use it.  I used it.  I was still spinning and going nowhere.  Next, I was typing my completed and pending work tasks, phone calls, etc. on a daily activity sheet.  Still spinning, blank, and spacey.  I was de-compensating, ‘relapsing’.  However, I did not know this.  I did not recognize the signs and symptoms of relapse.

My mom, sister, Lynne, and my colleague and friend, Leah threw red flags up in the air and shouted out their alerting concerns of “you need help”, “you are not well”, “we care about you”, “we love you”, and “we are here to support you”.  I was not ‘seeing’ what they were seeing.  They were seeing that I was losing weight, extremely fatigued and easily agitated, somewhat isolated, having a difficult time meeting deadlines and following up on various tasks and activities, forgetful, and most importantly, they all noticed I was ‘NOT MYSELF.’  Though the flags were continually being thrown up in the air and in my face, and visits to my psychiatrist were becoming more frequent, I did not ‘see’ what they were seeing.  I honestly didn’t know that I was really not doing well, nor did I realize how long I’d been in such a depressed state.  Was I in DENIAL?

“You should check yourself into the hospital.”  Leah spoke these words to me over the phone.  I immediately shot that one down.  No way was I going to admit myself into the hospital!  I shared that suggestion with my mom and her response was, “Leslie, if that’s what you need to do to get well, then do it.  I’ll support you.  I want you happy and healthy.”  Another response I heard, “What do you think you need to do?  Maybe you should seriously consider it.  You have a mental illness, a brain disorder, a disease and you need treatment.  Remember what you tell others, ‘a mental illness is a disease just like any other disease; cancer, diabetes.  Cancer patients and diabetics sometimes need hospitalization.’”

I finally came to the realization that I was not well and I needed to seek treatment.  I needed to admit myself into the hospital.  I called my mom, Lynne, sister, Leah, Cole, and a few others to state my decision.  Here are some of their responses:  “Ok honey, I’ll make arrangements with Bill and the kids and drive over.”  “Thank god, I’m so tired.”  “Ok, Les, that sounds good.”  “I’m so glad.  What’s your mailing address?”  “What can I do to help you?  Just let me know.  I feel helpless.”

Saturday, June 14, 2003 I voluntarily admitted myself into the hospital, both my mom and sister by my side.  Admission diagnoses: Bipolar II Disorder and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).  Wednesday, June 18, 2003 I was discharged with the diagnoses of Major Depression, an eating disorder (NOS – Not otherwise specified) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

By the time this article has been read I will have met with my new psychiatrist and therapist twice and spoken with a dietitian.  My medication ‘cocktail’ has since been altered; eating habits improved and I’ve been faithfully keeping a ‘mood/food diary’, and am running again and soaking up some of the sunshine.  I continually check in with my family and friends and ask for feedback as to how they think I’m doing.

The medications listed are the ‘ingredients’ for my own personal ‘cocktail.’  Please remember these three things:

1. What works for one person may not work for another.  Everyone’s body chemistry is different. 

2. It is muy importante (very important) to know your medications, the dosages and times to be taken. 

3. Keep track of how you are feeling while taking the medications. 

One suggestion would be to keep a ‘mood diary.’  By doing this, it not only helps your psychiatrist ‘see’ the effectiveness of the medications, but it will help you to ‘see’ any patterns of mood fluctuations, and better recognize your signs and symptoms of relapse. 

All easier said than done, I know, but if these three things will keep me (and you) happy and healthy, then I think it’s worth the extra effort!

I know this phrase might seem cliché for some of you, but it holds extreme and crucial truth: If you or someone you know needs help, please seek the necessary treatment.  Everyone deserves a happy and healthy life.  Don’t be ashamed, embarrassed, or afraid to ask for help.  Asking for help is actually a sign of COURAGE.

p.s. Words can’t express my deepest appreciation and thanks for the much needed love and support you all have given me.  Hugs and kisses to my mom, JulieAnn, sister, Rachel (dee dee), Lynne (LM-H), Leah, J. Munroe, and Becky (Ma’ Hotrod).