Sharing the Mental Health Awareness Advocacy, here’s a 4-part story of a fellow advocate, clinically diagnosed with Manic Bipolar Disorder 1. Based on a true story.
…continuation from FIRST PART.
I waited for daylight before I got dressed. The heaviness in my heart was overwhelming. I left my dorm without a word to my landlady. Then I hailed a cab. “Where to?” the cab driver asked me. “Mandaluyong Mental Hospital,” I answered. My voice was quivering. All I had on me was 5,000 pesos and phone. I’ve already lost the will to live. He looked confused but he nodded. I got inside the cab and called my brother’s girlfriend. At that time, I needed help and I didn’t know where to go. She told me to go to the Psychiatric ER. I nodded, tears streaming down my face. The cab dropped me off inside the hospital. I vaguely remember approaching the nurse’s station and telling them that I wanted to kill myself. Two orderlies immediately escorted me into a cot and hid me from view with curtains. I started crying really hard and they tried to cheer me up. But the tears just won’t stop.
A doctor came after some time. We started to talk. I cried all throughout the interview. The things that I’ve kept inside of me for such a long time started to spill out: I aborted a baby. Am I going to jail or hell? The baby’s dad, my ex boyfriend, was a liar and abusive. He hid the truth from me. He was married! I was a mistress for more than a year and I didn’t know it! My mom and dad separated this February. I’m scared for my siblings. Hell, I’m scared for myself. My dad has a substance abuse problem. I cannot get promoted at work. I don’t have savings because I spend it on food and nice clothes. There are days when I just cry in my bed and I don’t want to move. I haven’t slept in 4 months. My current boyfriend has anger issues. He’s so toxic and he tried to break up with me three times just because of my moods.
Is there something wrong with me? I’ve slept with 39 men so far…. I might have AIDS… I was raped four times. I really, really want to die right now. While the doctor listened to me, I had the vague feeling that my current situation was not just about my depression. There was something else there. When I told him about the men and my risky sexual adventures, he shot out of his chair to grab my file from the front desk to update it. Then I fell asleep because they gave me a sedative. My ex boyfriend picked me up from the hospital when I woke up a few hours later. I don’t remember telling him to come and pick me up. But I do know that I specifically asked not to be committed inside the hospital because nobody will be there for me. It just goes to show how alone I felt because I chose the last person in the world to come and get me. I tried to listen to the doctor through a groggy haze as he explained that my behavior and life choices was caused by Bipolar Disorder 1.
I was depressed right now because my mania finally went away. I also remember him telling me kindly that I should get well soon and I shouldn’t lose hope. My ex took me back to my family. I stayed with them for two months. So I quit my job, started taking my meds and wondering what to do with my life. I did my research on my condition. Apparently, my uncontrolled shopping sprees, grandiose ideas and unrestrained spending was because of mania. I was starting lots of mini projects and finishing none of them. I was always semi-aggressive and full of tension whenever I dealt with people. My libido was just like an 18-year-old male so I looked for sex all the time. I had a larger body count that my peers. So I was flying so high for so long that it caused a crater when I hit the ground. It also explained why I wanted to die at 14-years-old, my angsty fanfics and feelings of emptiness. It was the reason why I was so sad all the time and why I couldn’t move forward from my trauma. My grief made it worse. My auntie took me to a private hospital to see a psychiatrist for a second opinion. The result was the same. Her heart broke when she found out about my abusive relationship and my abortion. Upon hearing the same diagnosis, I decided to accept the illness so I could move on with my life. I started taking a mood stabilizer with an antidepressant. The antidepressant was also a mild sedative that I have to take so I could sleep at night.
My mother took me walking around a park every afternoon so I could get out of the house. Getting endorphins into my brain was also a goal. Taking medications for my illness helps me manage it. Just think about a diabetic who needs a daily insulin shot. My brain is missing neurotransmitters. The meds provide that missing chemical so my brain could work properly. That’s why I have to take them at the same time everyday to avoid a relapse. When I started to feel a bit better, I decided to come back to Manila to work. I felt so guilty for being a burden to my family and I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. Guess what? My mania came back with a vengeance. I started a new job, I jumped into an apartment with girls I barely knew, I began a relationship with a guy I’ve only known for two weeks and I started swiping my credit card like crazy. It all happened again at the same time in September 2016. Of course, I was in denial. I thought that I was so sad for the past few months that it’s normal to feel really good about yourself. It’s OK to feel energetic and happy. There are good things happening for me so I should be happy. Yup, I was so delusional back then. Thanks to my mania, I had enough energy to come to work on time, perform my tasks and shine. My family situation was getting worse so I decided not to focus on something I couldn’t control. So I focused my attention to my job and my boyfriend. I applied for a supervisor position, I moved into my own apartment and I devoted even more attention to my ex boyfriend. You should take note that I was still taking my meds. Let me tell you that just because I’m on meds doesn’t mean that I’m stable. I was very, very far from it. The higher I went, the harder I fell…
To be continued…
Noela Camille Bonilla Tumesa
A 29 year old artistic writer, clinically diagnosed with Bipolar 1 Disorder.
Currently living in Manila, and enjoying life as an “almost” tita.