How I Discovered I Have Bipolar Disorder
Below is the email I sent to my co-workers in December letting them know why I hadn't been in. It's a high level run down of my manic episode and corresponding hospital visit.
I am back at work now. Mostly full time. But, I'm still having to check out early on occasion due to lack of energy. I'm also working with a psychiatrist to tweak my meds to improve that. (Update from three years later, took 26 med changes to get the dosages right.)
Dec. 13, 2017 ~ From: Me ~ To: A bunch of co-workers
As some of you know, I got to spend time in the hospital the week after Thanksgiving.
First off, let me reassure you that I'm in much better shape now.
In the spirit of an After-Action Report, here's the high level of what happened:
Over Thanksgiving, I decided to experiment with recording a podcast.
As I got more and more into it, I ended up in what I later discovered was a full blown manic episode. I was aware something was off, but figured I'd keep pushing it because 1) I'm me, and 2) well... mania...
After several days straight of constant talking and recording with virtually no sleep, I called a buddy who came over to see if he could help me slow down. He also happens to be a trained crisis councilor. I wasn't thinking of that at the time, but it proved very helpful.
I still wasn't able to calm down. He called the therapist I've been seeing for a few years. With their help, I got myself voluntarily checked into Flaggler Hospital's psych ward. (I found out later that they Baker Acted me when I first went it which mean my stay was no longer voluntary.)
The psychiatrists there diagnosed me with Bipolar 1 disorder.They were surprised I'd never been diagnosed before. Apparently, it's usually discovered well before someone hits their 40s.
Along with the diagnosis, I also received a prescription for a drug called Aripiprazole that I'm now taking daily. It's one of those drugs that takes some time to get the dosage right, but I can already tell it's having a positive effect.
My manager and I have started discussing my return. The basic idea is that I'm going to ease myself back in slowly.
So, that's the gist...
The other thing I'm planning is to be very open about about all this. Hence, this email. There's a lot of stigma about mental health issues. My hope is that by being open about it, I can help remove some of that.
Please note: it's a testament to all of you that I'm willing to be so open. While the idea is still scary, I have more than enough trust in you all and the TOUR in general to have the confidence to do it.
The only thing I'll ask at this point is to please avoid peppering me with questions. It takes a lot out of me to keep having to get back into the story.
Other than that, I look forward to seeing you all soon as I ease back in over the next several weeks.
P.S. Since that was pretty intense, allow me to close with a joke. For those of you that have seen the FX show "Legion", there's still no indication that my time in the psych ward ended up giving me super powers.... yet.