On this day in my history, I was hospitalized for a psychotic break. I didn’t know it at the time; I thought I was going to a birthday party rather than the ICU of a psychiatric care center.
Today’s five-year, post-breakdown anniversary is a bittersweet reminder. I celebrate the absence of a re-occurrence, but recall vividly the horror of the injury.
The cause of the psychotic episode was determined to be bipolar disorder.
The name of that disease, its category of illness, and the shame of it all felt like more than I could accept in the spring of 2010. I certainly didn’t feel I would ever be right or normal.
However with medical treatment and a loving support system, I did learn I could be healthy and most importantly happy, genuinely happy even with a feared and disrespected illness as part of my whole.
I came to realize the man-made construct of control can be destroyed through a force outside of oneself. The savings account, the physical ability to work, the false sense of security.
I also learned how to rebuild with a more solid foundation.
I do not feel stronger for having survived. I am weaker — more timid, more hesitant, more fearful. I literally have come to accept I am, in fact, not strong enough to live without the help of medical treatment. I have learned I am not strong enough to live without love and support, which I both give and receive.
A sense of gratitude did emerge from the rubble. I thank God for each day I am able to wake up symptom free. I appreciate my family, my friends, and my vocation as a writer. I am indebted for the men and women who came before me to study,understand, and treat mental illness so those afflicted can live with health. I learned to see the beauty of nature, and through this I recognize the evidence of divinity.
The title of my book, “Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis” speaks to the temporary nature of psychosis, a fracture, something that can be repaired. A stress fracture — differing from other bone fractures — results from repeated pressure put on a bone, which over time causes a break. Psychosis can be like that; the repeated pressure of living with an untreated or mistreated mental illness forces a fissure in sanity.
The book was shared so others can recognize many of the symptoms of a chronic mental illness can heal. People with mental illness can live well and enjoy the view from a place of a healthy mind, body, and soul.
Happy spring; happy new life. For my Catholic friends, on Easter Sunday sing those Alleluias jubilantly.