Tag Archives: What is it like to be bipolar?

What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

While the kids were young we always had a family book that we read after dinner and the kitchen was cleaned up. Some were single volumes, others were entire series. We loved quite a variety. We made it through hundreds.


Sometimes we’d stay up later than we should, cuddled on the couch, and reading “just one more chapter, please!” This was true as we worked our way through the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling.

I remember one evening particularly when the power had gone out and we were reading by flashlight. We ended up staying awake past 1:00 a.m. to finish the book. That memory is dear to all of us.

We did the same thing with the movies. We all waited and saw them for the first time together. Kind of a fun family tradition. Since then, watching and reading again has always made us think of each other.

Over the weekend we were watching the final Harry Potter movie together before Alex leaves for graduate school in a few weeks. So, when we came close to the end of the film, we all knew what was coming before it happened.

It’s one of my favorite conversations, in both book and movie. The scene takes place after Harry has willingly let Voldemort kill him in order to save all of the others. After the wand blast, Harry finds himself in a clean, white, between-life conversation with Professor Dumbledore. As Harry makes the choice to go back and continue the fight against evil, the scene ends with this last interchange:

“Tell me one last thing,” said Harry. “Is this real? Or has this been happening inside my head?” Continue reading What is real? What difference does it make if something is real or imagined?

Spinning out of control into lockdown

This article is part 1 of a 5 part series.

For series summary, click here.

I’m sure that there are as many different stories of how one would end up in the psych ward of a hospital as there are people who are admitted. I won’t pretend to know all of them. But I do know mine. Maybe there are others out there who can save themselves some pain by recognizing similarities in our respective journeys.

hospital bed

Every day was turning into what I call “screamers.” I can usually handle one or two or three days in a row of these, but after a couple of weeks my defenses were wearing down. I just needed to get out of my skin, if even for a short time, to rest and gear back up. I had tried every weapon in my arsenal: trying to find an emotional or psychological cause of the screaming, enough rest, careful diet, consistent exercise, good music and sunshine, focusing on work around the house, time with my family, service and compassion for others, prayer.

Lots of prayer.

I called the psychiatrist’s office and let them know that I wasn’t going to make it through the weekend. The phone call resulted in a change in my dosage of medication and for that first week I was able to back off of the edge. I was almost giddy with relief.


But by the time my scheduled appointment rolled around I was again dangling over the precipice. I felt I just needed to step back from it all, step back from being what seemed to be me.

I didn’t know what else to do.

I had to be honest with my doctor and admit that I had become suicidal again. Continue reading Spinning out of control into lockdown

Insights that may impede insanity

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I was released from the psych ward in Salt Lake. I posted a few feelings of gratitude upon my return, but then chose to write on other topics immediately following for a few posts.


I’m not ashamed or embarrassed about my stay there; probably more the opposite. But I needed some time.

I have taken that time to think and mull over and remember and try to sort things out. I think it was a blessing to have had this experience. Not that I’m EVER interested in repeating it, once was certainly enough.

But I think there is some good that can come out of it.

I think there is good that can come out of just about anything, if we work for it.

I think I’m ready to try to make a little sense of something that on the surface seemed so senseless. A little time and some sunshine and good music and a good workout will do wonders in helping to see things from a brighter perspective. Continue reading Insights that may impede insanity

How does God have time for me?

Last Monday Ann and I made our well-familiar trip to Salt Lake for our appointment with my psychiatrist. We knew that one of the medications I was on was making me crazy, literally, and we were looking to get it stopped.

We accomplished that, and so much more.

It was probably within an hour of the appointment that I found myself on one side of a locked door, and Ann on the other.

What was happening? How had things deteriorated to this point?

Within the first five minutes they had taken my shoes with laces and belt, stripped me down and checked all areas of my skin for indications of self-harm, and given me a pill.

hospital bed

I began to pace back and forth in the sparse, harm-free room. Four steps to the plastic covered window and back to the door that doesn’t lock.

As I paced I did what I instinctively do when things seem out of control for me: I began to pray.

And I kept praying.

I will admit, that first night I really wondered how I had ended up in Hell.

The staff was kind but detached; tired and very busy. They hadn’t been prepared for my arrival, as I seemed to get there before many of the orders for my care had. I could tell that I was adding work to an already over-burdened team trying to keep control of a ward of people who didn’t seem to be able to do it for themselves.

The patients covered the spectrum of imagination: some were in street clothes and smiled; others were in hospital gowns and mumbling, while wearing blankets over their shoulders to find some sense of security.

All were scared.

At first when I was taken to the dining area for dinner, I watched closely those around me and felt like I had absolutely nothing in common with these people. They were nuts; I wasn’t. I was just a bit wound up.

Okay, I had been fighting suicidal tendencies for a while now, but I knew that I would never actually do it.


But as I listened to the others talking about their symptoms and feelings and pain, I all-too-soon realized that I understood EXACTLY what they were saying.

I realized that to someone else looking in, I was no different than the rest.

Confused. Tired. Scared.

My prayers continued.

“Dear Father, I am frightened. This is more than I can understand right now. This isn’t real. I really just want to go home. I really just NEED to go home.”

But even as I tried to panic about the situation, a calming peace came and just wouldn’t leave, no matter how hard I may have tried to chase it away through doubt and fear.

I knew this wasn’t a mistake. I knew our doctor had done the right thing. I knew this was where I needed to be right now.

I had no idea why, but I knew this was right.

And so I trusted and accepted.

Over the next three days I continued to pray constantly. Instead of pacing in my room I took to walking the halls briskly, returning to my room for pushups, planks, and curls using the chair in my room, and then back into the hall again for a quick walk.

It gave me a lot of time to think.

And a lot of time to look.

I watched the staff work so hard to help people who weren’t sure how to receive help. I realized that they had to find ways to hold on to their own sanity while working month after month in a pretty tough place. I quickly picked out the ones who seemed to understand me, and I them. I marveled that there was a complete variety there that could provide that ‘someone to connect with’ for everyone.

I watched the patients deal with both perceived and real abandonment from home and family. As the security lines from the outside seemed so thin and frail, I witnessed them grow strong and safe with each other, even though they were total strangers hours ago. I was taken aback by the incredible kindness they showed each other, and to me, when they were obviously in such a painful place in their lives.

And I wondered, “How on earth could that be?”

But it really wasn’t from an earthly or mortal source, was it.

The presence of God was very much alive and permeating each moment in that place that, on first experience, was full of pain, sadness, and even madness.

I don’t know how He is able to have all the time in the world for me, but I know that He does.

What is even more amazing and humbling is that He does it for every single one of us.

May we feel God’s love and help and strength today. I know it’s there, if we just ask and then look for it.



I’ve fallen and I can’t get up! (where’s my life alert pendant?)

I need to beg a bit of patience from you and see if I can miss the Thursday posting this week.

Ann came and rescued me this morning from the psych ward where I was an honored guest this week. I’m so glad and grateful to be home.

I did a lot of musing and writing while there and I’m anxious to try to sort out the thoughts and share things that I was able to begin to see differently: things about life, things about love, things about courage. It’s quite a university if you think about it.

In the meantime, I hope your weekend is amazing and you all have a highlight that makes you smile come Monday morning when we get together again to share and learn and try to grow.