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The Five Point Plan

 

Erica Loberg

I have horrible taste in men, and it’s really getting old. I’m not gonna lie. I spent most of my twenties in a sudo manic high so lost a lot of years trying to find true love. I managed to scare off most of the men in New York and Los Angeles with my intensity which left me perpetually alone. By my late twenties all my girlfriends were either engaged or fixing their wedding veil before walking down the aisle and I was starting over.

When I was twenty eight years old I was diagnosed with chronic hypo mania, Bipolar II. Prior to my breakdown I had what I believed to be a solid plan in tact. I called it The Five Point Plan.

I came up with the five point plan my senior year in college. I graduated from Columbia University and was ready to take on the world by storm, which I did no problem. I decided I would dabble in a few different jobs before picking a career and by twenty seven I would be on my way to a lucrative fulfilling career and have a man ready to marry me. Not only would I have a career and man but I would be spiritually, physically and mentally in tact, hence, the five points. But… that is NOT what happened. In fact, the five point plan managed to blow up in my face over and over again and right about the time my plan was supposed to be in place I got sick. Well, I was always sick but my sickness had torpedoed into a plan of nada. Zip. Hell. 

At twenty eight years old I finally sought help for a disease that I never knew a name for. My whole life I though I had some form of ADHD or obsessive compulsive disorder or maybe just more energy than the rest of America but when you live in a hypo manic state since birth eventually it will come up and bite you in the back. I had had enough and something inside me finally sought help. I went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with Bipolar II and started down the road of perpetual recovery. 

I’m thirty five years old now and am a published writer of Inside the Insane; a mental health book that examines the journey of living with manic depression before and after treatment. Sounds funny to have a memoir at such a young age but when you live by the seat of your pantalones you live a LOT. You live HARD and extremis is your middle name. When I began psychiatric treatment I also decided to explore a job in mental health and took a job at a county hospital in Los Angeles and was faced with the realities of an inpatient psych ward and all the terribleness that accompanies living in a world that sits in ignorance and shame when it came to the words mentally ill. I was faced with patients with multiple attempts by psychiatrist to diagnose them while trying to survive in a crippled system that was a far cry from any advancement of understanding mental illnesses and the proper way to treat them. Stuffing tranquilizing meds down someone’s throat enough for them to be discharged at an accelerated rate is not the answer to treating the mentally ill. I was appalled and after my first day on the ward I started writing Inside the Insane. As a memoir and expose I did my darnest to give an honest look into mental illness from an insiders perspective. And like the saying goes: the truth hurts. When the county found out about my book the Department of Mental Health (DMH) immediately removed me from my job and put me in an administrative support position on the ground floor of headquarters. I was defeated and bogged down to the point of a depression that spiraled my life to a dark place. I’m still climbing my way out of it and can say without any regret, I am not giving up on my message. I will make my voice heard despite living in a culture that doesn’t want to face the realities of the human condition inside a mental illness.

Today my “Five Point Plan” is as follows:

Emotionally – I am still hyper sensitive and when people say that I’m too sensitive I say it’s like telling someone they have too a many freckles. Stupid.

Spiritually - I haven’t stepped foot in a church in awhile but try to find God in the sauna of my gym where I attempt to meditate

Physically - I worry about my weight pretty much everyday which makes me
feel normal cause I know that our national obsession with diet and weight lose is merely a mental one. If we stop obsessing over what we eat or ate or are going to eat or should have not eaten we’re never going to be free of a world ruled by weight.

Romantically – I’m still making poor choices when it comes to men. But at least I am out of the one night stand club or a friend with just privileges cause so and so doesn’t want to commit to someone that is “crazy.”

Professionally – My job sucks. I still work for the county but they moved me to another job doing homeless outreach for the mentally ill. Sounds noble when really it’s a punishment once again for telling the truth.

Mental illness awareness is only found by speaking the truth so I will live the truth, be the truth, and find a way to become a powerful woman. Who needs a five point plan anyway. My five point plan taught me to ditch the idea of a “plan.” Cause when it comes to my mind I have to take it one day at a time. I’m proud and fortunate to have a mental illness and hope my blog sheds light into my world and, as a result, play a part in cultivating change in this world…one blog at a time.

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