Reflecting Back on My Initial Diagnosis: Part 2

Author: Scott Walker

A continuation from Reflecting Back on My Initial Diagnosis

I ended up being in the psychiatric hospital for three weeks after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At the time I was in New Zealand visiting family and seeing my Mom and brother. During that entire three weeks in the psych ward I was almost always tired, was sleeping lots and had very foggy thinking.

Looking back…I was definitely depressed. Just like I was told would likely happen. After the high of being manic came the low. I had lots of shame, embarrassment and guilt for strange things that I had said and done when I was manic. As screwed up and as depressed as I was, I truly did my best to attend as many optional group sessions in the psychiatric hospital as I could to help myself get better. The one thing I really looked forward to every morning was going for a group walk on the hospital grounds with a staff member.

Near the end of that three weeks I was allowed to have a day pass. I took the train into downtown Auckland. It felt SO good being out of the psych ward for a day! Since that went well, the medical team decided to let me leave the psychiatric hospital and stay with cousins for a week. I am so grateful to have enjoyed a wonderful week with them, and that I had no issues at all.

After staying with my cousins in New Zealand, I had an appointment with the psychiatrist that I was seeing in the psychiatric hospital. He said that I was “medically fit” to fly back to Japan, where I was living at the time. I had to receive medical clearance to be able to fly, however that same psychiatrist did not agree with my decision to go back to Japan. He thought it was best and prudent for me to go back to Canada to live with my Mom.

I can respect and understand why he said that. However, knowing myself, and also having lived in Japan for a year and a half, I felt that it would not have been the best decision for me to go back to Canada to live with my Mom.

So, after being in the psychiatric hospital for three weeks, and spending a week with my cousins I went back to Japan. I had very mixed emotions when leaving New Zealand – nervous, excited, unsure, and wondering how life would take shape being out of the hospital permanently?

At the time I was still on four psychiatric medications. While happy to be out of the hospital, I was almost always tired and had foggy thinking. And I was sleeping a LOT. It honestly felt like I had a mild hangover 24/7… But I managed and I made it home.

You may be curious as to how I had the insight to check myself into the hospital and get help? When I was a university student I worked as a “STEP” student at the psychiatric hospital in my hometown of Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada. I helped with the recreation programs at the centre, as well as lifeguarded at their summer camp. Because of that experience I had some knowledge of various mental illnesses, and I was able to recognize the similarities in my own mental health. Being educated on mental health was the reason I was able to seek out the treatment I needed.

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