It was 2005 & I had a job I loved, owned a beautiful Victorian home in the "hippest" neighborhood in the city, had great friends & neighbors & was very close to my Mom who lived in a small town an hour away. I was at work and suddenly I felt frozen. I couldn't function; I was scared. I left work & called my Mom & told her something was very wrong & I needed help. I was diagnosed with anxiety & depression. I had 15 ECT (shock treatments) procedures & took a month off work at my Doctors insistence. Things were back to "normal" for about a year. The Zoloft & clonazepam were keeping things in check. I did have SOME bad days or weeks but was functioning well in all aspects of my life. In April 2006 I was managing a team of 12 people & working with a sales force of 100. The job was demanding but I was good at it. I started having trouble concentrating & remembering things. I'd have days where it was all I could do to just stay there. I again felt frozen & deep in depression. One day I was in such a state I left; leaving an email for my boss. I fell into a depression so deep I didn't leave the house except when I was out of food. I wouldn't answer the phone or return calls from friends The only people I talked to were my Mom, my best friend, my therapist & the disability people at my company. I rarely bathed, or walked my precious dog Mister, or ate; slept too much, then not at all. Not only was I frozen, I was broken. Months flew by. I knew if I didn't go back to work soon, my job could be filled by someone else. Losing my job, salary, benefits & respect from the company I'd worked at for 25 years was at stake & I couldn't do anything. The depression meds weren't helping. When I could make it to therapy I'd feel some relief in knowing I wasn't the only person who was going through what I was. My therapist understood my depression. Luckily I had long term disability insurance from my company & I was getting 80% of my salary & health benefits for up to 3 years. It may be hard to understand, but after 6 months of hell, I somehow knew I would never be able to work again. I wasn't being lazy; I loved my job. I loved being a manager, surrounded by smart, fun people. But, I knew. With time & a great therapist & psychiatrist finding depression meds that helped, I improved. I went out with friends occasionally; took Mister to the park almost every day & went to Cape Cod every September with my Mom. I had suffered with migraines for years. I got a severe headache in September 2008. Nothing helped. I was in pain 24/7. I could barely take care of Mister let alone anything else. I was barely hanging on with both depression & unending, excruciating pain. In early November I went to a neurologist. He diagnosed me with migraine in stasis; a migraine untreatable with pain meds or migraine meds. He prescribed me a 3 week regimen of prednisone (steroids).Two days later I started to get some relief! The prednisone made me hyper & unable to sleep much but it was getting rid of my headache!! I felt well enough to travel to N.Y with my Mom to spend Thanksgiving 2008 with my brother & his family. I was almost finished with the Prednisone. I was in such a great mood during the holiday. I was really talkative & was interested in everything around me. Even though I was only getting a couple hours of sleep I didn't feel tired. It was the day before New Year's Eve. I felt scared for no reason; something wasn't right. I called my Mom & told her to come to my house. Without realizing it I fell into a deep sleep; almost like I had passed out. My Mom had been knocking on the door for a few minutes. That night I didn't sleep at all. I'd look at the clock & 2 hours had gone by in an instant. I was in a state of euphoria. Every few minutes my back would arch off the bed & I thought I was going to heaven. This lasted for three hours with each "seizure" lasting longer. The last one felt like it lasted for hours. I knew I was dying & I felt so euphoric; I couldn't wait to get to heaven. The seizure ended & I immediately fell asleep for 3 hours. The next evening I started hallucinating but I didn't realize it at the time. I saw my neighbors disappear in front of my eyes & saw my other neighbor get into his car & fly away. I became very upset that Becky (my best friend) wasn't there yet. I thought people were holding her back from coming to help me. I didn't sleep at all that night. The next thing I remember I was sitting on my couch & my brother who lives in Boston was there with Becky & my neighbor. I thought my brother was my Dad (died in 2003) & I was calling him Papa. I thought Becky was the man who molested me when I was a child & I didn't know who my neighbor was. I was speaking incoherently & then I felt a warm sensation on my butt; I had peed myself; common during major psychosis. Becky had to change my clothes because I wasn't able to. Then I was sitting in my kitchen. Everyone was trying to get me back on the couch. I was physically resisting & when we got in front of the door to the basement downstairs I started screaming & dropped to my knees & crawled away. My abuser's basement was where he molested me; I thought that was where they were taking me. Eventually I was in the back of an ambulance & I was SO happy. When they were wheeling me into the hospital I was waving & yelling HI! to everyone & they were doing the same back (in my mind). The next thing I remember was waking up in a place I didn't recognize, with a woman saying good morning. I was in the Psych unit at the hospital. My "roommate" said I was SO happy when they brought me down she thought they must have given me some "good drugs." I had already been in the hospital for 2 weeks on another Psych floor. I was catatonic for most of the 2 weeks. I found out later that one of the nurse's had "saved my life." They were concerned that I wasn't going to come out of my catatonic state. My "angel nurse" had spent many hours with me trying to break through. A month later I left the hospital with a Bi Polar 1 diagnosis & new meds. The Psychiatrist thought the prednisone had triggered &/or exacerbated my psychosis. For the next month one of my brothers was with me 24/7. I was still in a manic state. I eventually "got better' & the meds were working. In July 2009 I went to see the play Mama Mia with a friend & her family. I started hallucinating during the play. My friend took me home & I started to take a clonazepam. Next thing I remember was being in the ER surrounded by family & friends. My neighbor had found me unconscious in my kitchen. I had been knocked out or completely psychotic for 8 hours. My family decided it wasn't safe for me to live alone. I had already lost my career & most of my friends but now my home? My independence? I was now living in a small town I hated, with my 84 year old mother, with only my bed, TV, clothes & my dog Mister.. It had come to this. I was devastated. It's May 2014. I've been hospitalized every year since my Bi Polar diagnosis. My "soul mate" Mister passed in 2011. Becky now lives in Cleveland so I don't see her as much. I used to volunteer at the food bank twice a week & take Yoga once a week but had to quit because of chronic back pain. I have no friends here. My last hospitalization kept me from killing myself. My Bi Polar cycles frequently. I still get some relief from my therapist & I adopted a 7 year old Lab named Buck who is my savior. I walk 3 times a day & go to the dog park often. I'm involved with dog rescue & adoption. When I visit Becky I really enjoy it. When I was volunteering & taking Yoga I found some degree of purpose & happiness. Now, I look forward to the euphoric mania as strange as it sounds. My success is I'm still here. I can take care of my 89 year old Mom. She's had 3 surgeries & my brothers live far away. I know if I wasn't here things would be very difficult for her. If I wasn't here Buck may have been put down. Every time I laugh I am grateful. Every second I'm happy I cherish it. It's all I have.
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