Reflecting Back on My Initial Diagnosis

Author: Scott Walker

On January 1, 2000, I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital in New Zealand. My Mom, my brother and I had met in NZ to celebrate Christmas with relatives and bring in the new millennium. I was living in Japan at the time and hadn’t seen my Mom or brother in a year and a half.

For the week leading up to New Year’s Day (NYD) 2000 I had barely slept yet had TONS of energy, talked nearly non-stop, had immense confidence, spent more money than normal, was hyper-sexual, and had nearly non-stop ideas. And I had convinced myself that I could read people’s minds.

On the morning of NYD at my aunt and uncle’s in Pukekohe I had a conversation with my Mom. Of course she and the rest of my relatives knew that I was acting very strange in the week leading up to NYD. In that conversation, I told her that I wanted to travel the world to meet with various medical professionals to figure out what was wrong with me.

I told her that I just wanted to be normal again. I told her that I wanted to admit myself into a hospital.

While at a walk-in clinic in Pukekohe I remember having a conversation in a meeting room with my Mom, my brother, and some sort of medical professionals. When I went to the bathroom an intern came with me for my safety although I was not suicidal at this point. While on the way to the bathroom the intern asked me “so you feel that you can read people’s minds?”

That’s the last thing that I remember until January 11, 2000.

January 11, 2000 was a very unique day for me in a few ways. First of all, I woke up in a psychiatric hospital for the first time in my life in Auckland, New Zealand. Secondly, I could not remember anything from the ten days preceding other than checking myself into the hospital. I couldn’t remember anything from Jan 2 until Jan 11!

Even though it was twenty years ago I remember being so confused and having no energy. I learned that I had been on some powerful medication to slow my mind down during the previous ten days. I also learned that my Mom and brother had been visiting me during that time. And I could not remember a thing! Even though I have long accepted that, it still blows me away that there’s ten days of my life that I have no recollection of. It was so strange for me being an in-patient in a psychiatric hospital. I remember looking around at the other patients and thinking that many of them were strange people.

And am I now strange? What do others think of me? Will I now always be strange?

I remember meeting with a number of health professionals in the next few days and being told that I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. On the one hand it was nice to know what was wrong with me! On the other, I was told that I’d have this for the rest of my life and would always be on medication moving forward. I learned that I would most likely go into a depressive episode after the manic episode which preceded me going into the psychiatric hospital. I remember the first few nights after January 11 being woken up in the middle of the night by some patient screaming. At that point something clicked for me.

What clicked is that I had to do everything I could to get well.

To be continued … 

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