I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2007, but it was just recently that I started a blog, Manic Monique’s Meanderings: My Journey to Wellness. I’m an English teacher at an all-girls school by day, but I am writing in my free time because I plan to publish a memoir about my experience with bipolar disorder in two years.
Here’s how this all started. This entire past year I’ve felt awful. I had insomnia. I couldn’t fall asleep, I couldn’t stay asleep and I woke early. I didn’t feel sad. But I did feel empty. Nothing about life excited me. Toward the end of May, I started to feel better. I thought I was turning over a new leaf in terms of my mood. But I was suspicious. I felt too good. Life was a lot brighter. Maybe too much brighter. I didn’t feel empty; I felt alive. But if it acts like a duck, talks like a duck, it’s a duck. Meaning: It’s mania.
And I was right. It was mania. I’ve dealt with it before.
Then I saw my therapist on a Tuesday in June and told him how I felt. At the end of the session we agreed that the way I was feeling wasn’t due to my bipolar disorder, and I wasn’t manic. It was just that I had normal stuff to get excited about: dating, moving back home to get out of debt, wanting to get my driver’s license and traveling plans for my summer vacation.
The next day, on Wednesday, June 4, I went to Brooklyn, N.Y., to see Janelle Monáe perform. After the concert, my friend Chavonne asked me, “What’s going on?” At first I didn’t know what she was referring to. Then she asked if I was manic.
To be honest, I resented the question. Why couldn’t she be happy for me that I had turned over a new leaf? Was no longer sad and depressed? Then I had to check myself because I had been thinking the same damn thing! To placate her, I told her that I had seen my therapist the night before and we agreed that I wasn’t manic. So I wasn’t.
But I still couldn’t kick the doubt.
I got home from the concert at 1 a.m. I did not sleep all night. My therapist and I texted back and forth for two hours. Amid the texting, we spoke on the phone at 1:30 a.m. I told him what Chavonne asked me and shared my own concerns.
By now I’m totally spiraling into mania. I get dressed. I tell my mom that Chavonne asked if I was manic. I make the mistake of adding that I didn’t sleep. I really intended to keep that to myself. But I wasn’t at my best, going on no sleep and all. So I let it slip.
Now her antenna is up. And she doesn’t want me to go to work. I tell her that I talked to my therapist this morning and that I don’t want to miss my students’ last day of the school year. By this point, I’m fighting to keep my eyes open. My mom and I have reached a compromise: I get to go to work but will be leaving early, at noon, and then going straight to the hospital.
Later, before we head to the emergency room, my mom and I eat lunch at the restaurant that’s on the ground floor of the hospital. We both order turkey burgers and sweet potato fries. We both cut our sandwiches in half. It takes me so long to finish the half of the sandwich. I know that if I don’t make it a priority, then I won’t eat. We arrive at the emergency room around 1 p.m. I don’t get admitted to the behavioral health unit until 11 p.m. There’s a lot of waiting.
When the crisis worker comes to interview me to see if I’ll be admitted or not, he asks tons of questions. Do I do drugs? Did I do drugs at the concert last night? Am I sure I don’t do drugs? No heroin, cocaine, weed, cigarettes, alcohol? I answer a confident no. My vices are not drugs; they are sex and shopping. He asks how much have I shopped; I think I spent $1,000 due to mania in 2014, whereas in 2007 I spent $10,000.
He asks about my family’s mental-health history. I don’t have many answers for him. My uncle, my mom’s younger brother, committed suicide when I was in middle school. And I have a cousin who was hospitalized with postpartum depression. I have relatives receiving Supplemental Security Income, but I don’t know what their diagnoses are. Beyond that, I don’t know. But I do know that I’m doing the right thing by getting help and that, from this point forward, I will tell my story.
Krystal Monique Reddick is a high school English teacher in suburban New Jersey. She has degrees in African-American studies, political science and English from Duke University and a master’s in education from Rutgers University. She plans to earn a master’s degree in social work and blogs at Manic Monique’s Meanderings: My Journey to Wellness.