Maniac Vent

The Behavioral Unit (BHU) at Portsmouth Hospital is a place that I can be admitted anytime my mania becomes unmanageable.  I don’t know who is more worthy talking about the staff or the patients.  Both groups are as colorful as a rainbow after a spring shower.

For myself, when I am at the BHU I have my own little niche, and place within the floor itself and with the staff. Since I have been there so many times before for lack of sleep, and I am not acutely mentally ill like most of the patients I fly under the radar.  I get my pills that nobody else gets, because they have been prescribed to me for so many years.  Have you ever been in-patient on a psych unit?  Do you know anyone who has been in-patient?   I know that all the places are very different and in the state of New Hampshire people want to come to the BHU.  They don’t want to go to the state hospital in Concord, NH.

I forgot completely I have done two in-patient stays at Tufts New England Medical Center for prescription adjustment that had to be done so fast they called it Rapid Detox.  No, I have never had a problem taking my drugs as prescribed, I was on a medication that was causing life-threatening side effects so it was imperative that I come off the drug as soon as possible.  Being at Tufts, where I wasn’t a regular, and didn’t have the history with the doctors, I am reminded just how well I have it at the BHU.

I don’t mind going to the BHU, I tend to let my crazy side hang out a little more and feed directly off the shear madness of some of the other patients.  There you get real up close and personal about your problems with other patients really fast.  This one older married lady, Jessica, was there because she was hearing and seeing things.  She went to bed complexly normal, and when she woke up the next morning, she didn’t recognize her son or her husband of 10 years.  Completely did not know who they were.  They initially sent her to Concord the state hospital for 6 weeks, none of which she remembers.  She got somewhat better and her memory was coming back to her, so they just sent her home.  After being at home, the voices and images started up for her and she ended up the BHU.  Jessica is someone I will always remember.  Her pain about her adopted son was so great and ran so deep.  He didn’t want anything to do with his mom, and it killed it.  She had one of the best personalities ever with a great sense of humor.  The staff would ask her, “How you doing Jessica?” “I am playing a big game of suck.” she would respond.  She was not a trouble maker like me, but she ran as close to being bad as she could.

I remember one of my last trips to the BHU, they could not get me to sleep.  They tried everything, and no I am not talking sleeping aids like Ambien CR or anything that most people get prescribed, I am talking weird shit. I would take the medication at 8:30 and be in a complete stupor but awake until 12:30 am when I would have to come tell the staff I still wasn’t sleeping.  There was this man, Richard, who also couldn’t sleep, but he didn’t like to talk so I was pretty much shit out of luck.

In my mind, everyone needs a mental breakdown at some point in their life to get admitted to a psych ward.  There is nothing like the alphabet soup diagnoses of the nursing staff. I am often wondering, what is the real difference between myself and a particular nurse?  Lots of times there is no difference.  You get the nurses, who just sit behind the nurses station and plug data entry into the computer.  Each patient is assigned a doctor, nurse, and social worker daily and nurses are assigned for the late afternoon, and evening shifts as well.

When I am asked to describe a typical day at my home, the psychiatrist cant seem to write fast enough. I start my day around 1-2 am and go get my coffee drink and take my first Adderall.  This is what I call the golden elixir and gets me jet propelled with work for school or blogs until 6 am or so in the morning without a break.  Obviously this is not the key at the BHU, but they know my routine at home very well.  The rest of the morning until lunch I take another Adderall and get through whatever my morning entails.  In the afternoon, I try depending on my school schedule, to go get another coffee drink and take my last Adderall. This gets me to six pm when the mania kicks in full blown, and every night I am pretty sure it will be a sleepless night.

All this that I write, is to illustrate that over the last ten years of treatment, medication, new doctors, etc., nothing about my health in regards to sleep or mania has changed. It is mind boggling to me, that they cant out me to sleep easily without anesthesia. What has not happened in these last ten years?   I haven’t gotten any better with mania, and my lack of sleep as cost insurance companies 10’s of thousands of dollars in in-patient stays.  As a healthcare consumer, these conditions, and my life are not acceptable. Not one new pill for mania in 10 years.  Yes lots of new pills but none for mania, or acute chronic sleep disorder.

So is this my life, living the dream with the maniac’s hours, but suffering the rest of the day?  What happens when I cant be on a computer or reading to stimulate my over active mind?  I deserve better, I deserve to be able to sleep and rest my body.  I deserve common respect, and accountability by the medical teams that care for me. I am not happy and I don’t mind the mania, in fact I would be lost without it.  There is no more separation between me and my mania.  We are one. I guess that is the way it shall be.