We drove an hour to reach the mental pokey. The building was old and only had 5 floors. I had trepidation just looking at it. We entered and immediately were met with guards who wanted to ransack our bags and put paper bracelets on our wrists. After a short discussion on whether or not cell phones were allowed we were told to go to the fifth floor for assessment. Up we went.
The elevator door chimed and we got out and found a lady who asked me to fill out paperwork. It seemed very surreal. The hospital looked normal and sounded normal and so did the people who filled the waiting room. Was I in the right place? I saw a nurse who took my vitals and asked me what meds I was on. Then I saw a social worker who asked me a million questions about why I was there. After I told him that I didn't want to share my information with him since he could get my kids taken away from him he assured me that I wouldn't get my kids taken away.
I told him my story and he wasn't shocked. I'm sure it was old hat to him, but to me it was terrifying. I saw the doctor next who wanted to admit me for 2-3 days. He said it was as much for my sake as it was for the children's. I went to the waiting room for a nurse to come get me. I had a dinner while I waited. My husband asked me if I was sure that I wanted to stay. He was sad that he was going to be away from me. He teared up even. He told me that he could stay home with me for a few days to see if that helped so I wouldn't have to stay there.
The nurse came to get me and so I could begin signing myself away on paperwork. I didn't want to sign away my freedom so easily so I asked for a Power of Attorney form. While she went to get it I began reading all the small print. The part on the amount of money this would cost, even with insurance, made me pause. We couldn't afford $1500 even if we were put on a payment plan. I decided to leave. After I got home I wasn't so sure that I did the right thing.
I felt like I had been living in a horror movie. How could I, even for a second, have thought about harming my precious little baby? What chemical imbalance made me this monster? I forced myself to start having more positive thoughts and I let go of my pride and asked for help from my in-laws. I spent a week with them and the kids and I spent another week with my father and my husband. They helped me so much during that time. I shudder to think what would've been my fate without them. Would I have ended up like Andrea Yates? Would my children have ended up like her children?
If you or someone you know has bipolar disorder and gives birth, please tell them about my story. It is more likely that they will have postpartum psychosis. The mother should never spend most of her time alone with an infant because this could lead to severe sleep deprivation. Constant contact with a psychiatrist or therapist during the first six weeks after a child's birth is highly recommended. If there's a choice between meds and breast feeding to be made, please choose the medications. The sooner treatment is sought in postpartum, the better.
This can be controlled with medication. There are options out there. There is help. My little baby is now fourteen months. She said "Mama" last week and "Dada" just yesterday. I am so very thankful that she is here. When I think back upon what could've happened, I still get teary eyed. She's so beautiful and she lights up a room. I will always be thankful to the people who helped me get though that time in my life. We are never alone in our walk through life, not when we truly need it.
~Bipolar Chica writes daily for her blog, “Conversations in My Head”.~