Since we arrived, I’ve been meaning to stop in to my old GP’s office here in Sandusky. Dr. B, after all, saved my life.
I still remember 7 years ago this past April walking into his office, sheaf of paper in hand, saying “I think I need help.” I had been awake for about 27 hours before that moment, hallucinating and unable to sleep. I had charted my progress for the week prior – in 7 days I had only managed maybe 15 hours of sleep total. I was seeing and hearing things which did not exist. I had wild, grandiose plans in my head. I was manic. I didn’t officially know the word yet, but I knew what I was feeling. And I knew how I was when I wasn’t manic – withdrawn, unable to concentrate, feeling of little to no self worth, etc. I wanted to die, but my body wouldn’t let me.
My doc read my itinerary from Hell, put his head in his hands, and said, “I need to go home now.”
He diagnosed me as bipolar, and put me on a drug called Zyprexa. The drug saved my life while simultaneously killing me – it turned me into a walking zombie, and destroyed my metabolism. By the time I changed drugs 1.5 years later, I had gained 82 lbs. But, it allowed me to get to a place where (with intensive talk therapy and a less severe med) I was able to manage my disease. It was no longer the death sentence I initially saw it as.
Now here we are, 7 years later. I am married (something I never thought I would do), with a baby (something I never thought I would have), and I am for the time being med free. I am a vocal advocate for the rights of the mentally ill, having done video spots for the Time to Change project, and even mentoring others as they begin their process into the delightful world of bipolar disorder. For me, though, the greatest ‘proof’ of my progress is Alex. He’s my shining achievement – a constant reminder of how far I have come.
And that’s why I wanted to visit him so badly – Dr B saw me at a place of such desperation, I *needed* him to see that I had succeeded. I needed him to see the evidence of my strength. He had watched me slump into his office, full of pain, just wanting answers. Then, when I got the answers/diagnosis, full of such anger. And finally, he saw me resolved to beat my disease into submission. Some days I win, some days I don’t, but I always get up and fight. I have to – for me.
And, for Dr B.