Those who know me well, I am certain, would not think to describe as reckless, rash or one who would act without care of consequences but at times that is exactly the person I become and because these actions generally disturb and embarrass me I have become wonderfully adept at hiding them. However; every now and then a magnificently large episode of mania will strike culminating in actions so out of character that even I have a hard time reconciling them with my personality.
An example of one of these massive episodes would be the time I moved myself and my one and half-year old daughter all the way to Belgium to live with a man whom I had come into contact with online whilst in a very damaging relationship with my daughters father, I only met him once before I made the terribly reckless decision to move to Belgium to be with him… Even now, this shames me beyond what I could ever convey with mere words. Before I realised that this was a manic episode I tried to reason that it had been desperation that drove me to such a measure, desperation to get myself and my daughter out of a terrible life that had us trapped and in a sense that is true – but logic can argue that I could have been moving us into a far worse situation, I left myself and my daughter in the precarious hands of the unknown and that, to my mind, is unforgivable.
Luckily my foolish decision did not lead to dire consequences and though my mental health plummeted to levels akin to insanity while I was there it was not for lack of support from the man who ended up becoming my husband.
So far gone was I that those three years in Belgium are mostly lost to me, a murky pool of memories and no perception of what is fact and what is pure delusion.
After having my son I sank into depression and mania, further than I had ever been before (or ever intend to go again) and there were times in those hellish days that I was not the only person that believed I would never come back… My husband was the first person to tell me he believed I had post-natal depression and after some persuasion I agreed to see the doctor who prescribed me a mild anti-depressant – my doctor spoke fairly competent English but obviously prefered to speak in Dutch and so I felt painfully out of the loop when it came to my diagnosis, my husband told me I had been diagnosed with Psychotic depression; I researched psychotic depression online and my heart fell – was I really this terrible person, this monster?! My depression spiralled and the path of self-destruction began. I wrote goodbye letters to my children, I researched suicide methods online, I took 30 Citalopram tablets (Not realising they were never going to kill me and only gave me a horrendous, soaring, quaking high and shattering headache the next day), I sliced my wrists, I tied ropes to hang with, I swallowed massive amounts paracetamol and my poor husband ran around like a wild man thwarting my every attempt, afraid to leave me alone, a burden of massive proportions upon his shoulders. I begged him to have me committed on several occasions but he refused for which I am grateful as I have no doubt I would have been lost had he granted my request.
My depression continued to worsen, my anxiety grew to the point of ridiculousness where I could not answer the phone or the door and would rarely leave the house and so my husband was visiting the doctor for me a relaying his interpretation of my symptoms. I later found out that my husband had embellished a lot about what the doctor was saying (I still don’t understand why – desperation, perhaps?) and that he had never said I had psychotic depression; this shattered my already broken emotions and I fell further into the hellish pit of psychosis.
I was a wild thrashing beast of a person, impossible to reason with and the very definition of psychotic.
I don’t know how I eventually clawed my way out of the insanity and I live in a near-constant state of terror that I will relapse to that point again and not have the strength to come back. Insanity is like foreign land, a home away from home – both a comfort and torture in equal measure. I miss it sometimes even as I quake in fear at the thought of its return… I don’t think I can really explain why I miss it, I don’t think I know why…
Depression and the darkness that comes with it seems so much more acceptable than the symptoms of mania. When I am depressed, I wallow, I ooze lethargy, I spread sorrow and I’m sure I’m not much fun to be around but so much worse than that, for me, is the thought that whilst in the throes of a manic episode I might endanger a loved one or act in a manner that hurts someone, then there is the painful embarrassment stemming from the occasions of mania in my past – the lack of reconciliation with the person I am and the lack of control over the person I become… and the excruciating knowledge that I don’t know if an action is caused by mania until it is already too late. How can I ever believe I am not a bad person when I have hurt so many people? Does a lack of intention to hurt equate a lack of blame?