The Question Column

question marksOkay, readers, we did it! We got a couple of questions! Our first question comes from emwell:

“When you have an important decision to make and you have a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach, do you listen to your gut? How has that worked out for you?”

I think the best way to answer this is to give some examples of situations I’ve been in. I’ll start off with relationships. If there’s one thing I feel uneasy about, it’s being at odds with someone. I think because of my bipolar, I tend to blame myself for any friction or problems I run into with anyone. Do you remember my friend Lori? I had the decision to make whether to dump her out of my life or not. I was sort of feeling sick about it. I was really wondering what I had done. I just didn’t listen to my gut because my gut is not always very accurate. So I did what I often do, I got advice. I asked my husband what he thought and I also asked you guys…do you remember? Everyone advised me to forget her and move on. And so I did. And I felt better. Of course, now she is back and says she wants to be social but I am being very cautious. I don’t want to get hurt again.

When I am manic, watch out. Any feelings I have in my gut or my mind fly right out the window. I can KNOW in my head and my gut that what I am doing is wrong and just do it anyway. That is a weird feeling I can tell you. A part of you (very small) is despairing that you are being so stupid but the mania is like a drug…you cannot overcome it.

Let me give you another example. I was teaching and was struggling mightily with depression. I had a sick feeling in my stomach every day. I knew I needed to make the important decision to quit and go out on disability, but I just didn’t know how I could leave my class. But I knew in my gut (although I was sick about it) that I wasn’t doing the kids any favor by staying there and trying to teach. I was also TERRIFIED of maybe having some sort of breakdown in front of the kids and just crying or something. At that time I was also having occasional visions of things. Not during the day, but I did have fear about it. So although my gut was sick, I knew it was time to go.

Honestly, my best advice when facing tough decisions is to get other opinions from people you respect, especially when you are feeling less than your best.

Thanks for the question, em!

Next question is from bpnurse:

“Here’s a question for you: What have your hospitalizations been like? Some people benefit (myself being one of them) while others don’t do well and even get worse. What did being hospitalized do for you?”

Oh boy! Now here is a question. One I can’t probably even answer well.

I’m 55 years old and am thinking I have been hospitalized 5 or 6 times in the last 30 years. Now I do have some memory problems on my current meds, so I am going to do the best I can.

I never remember going into the hospital calmly. You know, where we were all sitting around at home or at my psych’s office and we all decided “Yes, good idea to go to the hospital!” The times I remember going to the hospital vary, but a couple of them I know I was crying so hard I could barely breathe. Another time I went I was seeing talking trash cans. I remember a nurse talking me down from that one. The other visits I don’t remember exactly why or how I got there.

I do remember that most hospitalizations had some things in common, so I will talk about how those helped me or not.

GROUPS: Ick! I firmly believe that my bipolar is the result of some physical brain problem. It’s not situational. I don’t have any more problems in my life (other than bipolar) than anyone else. So I hated sitting around listening to how everyone hated their mother or their wife. It got really boring. Plus, there were usually some snot nose psych students “sitting in” to judge the whole thing.

ART THERAPY: Uh, no. I am not creative. There was always a totally gifted artist in my group who made me feel like crap.

EATING: Loved it. You could eat all you want and I didn’t have to cook or clean. However, I always gained about 5 pounds a week.

SMOKERS: I don’t smoke and always felt like the unpopular kid cause I didn’t go out on the patio during smoke time. I just couldn’t breathe out there.

INDIVIDUAL THERAPY: Not bad, but nothing I wasn’t getting outside of the hospital.

MEDS: This was the benefit. They tried me on a bunch of different meds really fast. This was I could figure out which gave me seizures, which did not allow me to be conscious, etc. It saved a lot of trial and error on the outside.

VISITORS: Hated this except for my husband. I’d send him off each day with a list of stuff I wanted and he would bring it. Other visitors absolutely wore me out. I got tired after about two minutes.

THE STAFF AND THE OTHER PATIENTS: Sometimes it was hard to tell who was who. They were all crazy.

SUICIDE WATCH: They checked me every 15 minutes. I was safe.

So when I was in a crisis and could not handle myself, the hospital was good. They kept me from self-harm and got me on the right meds. My guess is I probably will have to go back at some tine, but I sure hope not.

Thanks for the question, bp!

Hooray, got my assignment done.

Am planning to write a Christmas entry so will see you then.


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