Yesterday I was discharged from a psychiatric hospital after a five-week stay. I was hospitalised for mania and psychosis (you can read about it here). Instead of only feeling the expected excitement and joy, I also felt underlying apprehension and fear. But mostly, sadness dominated over happiness.
We had the usual family meeting, which ran it’s usual predictable course, then we did the usual thank-you cards and good-byes to the nursing staff, then my mum and I did the usual drive to the pharmacy and filled all of my six prescriptions. Although my discharge was planned, it still hadn’t sunk in while we drove home. It didn’t really hit until it was twilight and my bags were in my room, waiting to be unpacked.
It was then the sadness overwhelmed me. I cried for the lost hospital routine, my little hospital room, the fact that I was never alone and woke up every day and went to bed every night to the smiling faces of the nurses. I had cleaned the manic mess in my own room over a couple of days while on leave and had hung a few of the paintings I had done while psychotic on my walls. I liked them at the time but now they served as a reminder of just how unwell I actually was.
This is what I cried mostly for. The reality had set in about what had happened over the past five weeks (particularly the first two) and sobs racked my body. It was a replay of being diagnosed after my first psychotic manic episode. I cried because I had been manic, I had been psychotic, I had bipolar disorder, I had been hospitalised in a psychiatric hospital, I had spent time in seclusion, I was one of those cases people heard about. How rapidly and severely the mania and psychosis came on was scary, and once again I was reminded of how powerful and deadly my illness can be. I cried about the unpredictability of bipolar and how unfair it was that I had it. I cried about all of this but I still longed for my little hospital room with the feeling of security and the smiling nurses’ faces.
Though, I have to say spending the night in my own bed with my window open and a full, summer’s moon hanging overhead was heavenly. Today wasn’t as lonely or boring as I thought it would be, which is credited to family and friends. And I realised how lucky I was to be out of hospital and to have my freedom and independence.
In a completely irrelevant context to my current situation, my friend un-expectantly messaged me this: “Sally you have a good life”. At first I thought how can I have a good life when I have just spent the last five weeks in a psychiatric hospital? But it didn’t take me long to think, “Yes, I have an exceptionally good life, and I’m so incredibly lucky to be out of hospital and living it.”
(NOTE: The picture is yet again, another picture of me in hospital.)