Plagued: Living with the Voices
What It's Like Having Bipolar with Schizo-Effective Disorder
It was like I was in a nightmare.
It started when I was first hospitalized. I accidentally overdosed on melatonin tablets, only desperately trying to go to sleep after being sleep-deprived for nearly 20 hours. I ended up unresponsive, unable to move, and my best friend was there at the time. She saw that something was wrong, and she knocked on the door next to mine to tell my aunt what was going on. I remember my aunt squeezing my hand and telling me that if she could hear me, I should squeeze her hand. I did so, just barely. Soon enough, the ambulance came and rushed me to the hospital.
They essentially thought I was attempting suicide since they found the nearly-empty melatonin bottle on my dresser. While I was in my hospital room, however, the strangest thing happened.
I swore I heard my aunt and grandmother asking a doctor where I was. They were calling my name, looking for me in the hospital. It was so vivid, I thought they were actually there. I immediately got up from my hospital bed, and one of the nurses—who was supervising me—blocked the door from me. I moved her out the way, delirious, walking around the hallway, trying to find my aunt and my grandmother.
I figured out later that it was an auditory hallucination.
The delusions and hallucinations became worse. I thought there were microphones in my hospital room, where the whole world was listening in on me. I thought I was part of the shows on TV, even though some were recorded long before I was even born. The doctors and nurses watched me as I muttered to myself, manic, unable to respond normally or at all. They have given me a shot of what could've been an antipsychotic, and eventually, I was my normal self again.
Of course, I was admitted to the psychiatric ward. Being there, I was embarrassed. I felt like I shouldn't have been there; that I wasn't just some crazy person. However, those episodes that I was experiencing where I was delusional and hallucinating were all too real. Being in there felt like I was in jail for something I thought I didn't do. Really, it lasted for a maximum of two weeks, but to me, it felt like two months.
They treated us like lunatic animals in there. There was no sympathy, there was no compassion—just utter disregard; they regarded us in a manner that made it seem like we were less than human.
Stubbornly, it took me at least a handful of times to be admitted to the hospital before I realized that, yes, I had a mental illness—and that illness, sadly, is Bipolar Disorder with Schizo-Effective. It's something that I have to deal with for the rest of my life, and no matter how much I wished it would go away, there is nothing I can do about it but take medication and go to therapy for it.
I don't know why I have this. After doing some research, it says it can be genetic. I'm not entirely sure who in my family had this or a similar disorder, but whomever had it must of skipped a generation or two and landed right to me.
I wasn't the only one sent to the psychiatric ward.
My younger brother ended up there as well. He had a similar reaction to nothing in particular, but was acting odd, strangely mute, and severely depressed. He wouldn't eat, nor use the bathroom. He wouldn't talk to anyone, and this went on for days until he snapped out of it. They never did say he had anything wrong with him other than needing a mood stabilizer, but it still concerns me that he could be developing a similar mental disorder as I have.
Regardless, I learned that having this mental illness isn't my fault. Whether it was genetic, or it occurred because of a chemical imbalance in my brain, it doesn't matter. I am still a functioning adult, capable of working and able to be a productive member of society. I won't let this disorder define me. It is just like any other illness, like having diabetes or heart disease. It is just something I will have to deal with, and just continue the treatment I have already been receiving. I just hope to never have another episode again and be sent to that hospital, ever.