I want to share with you some struggles that I went through in the last year in order that I might share the lessons that came with them. Last year in the summer, I asked my doctor for a change in medicine. One of the medicines I was taking at the time caused extreme drowsiness, making it very difficult to wake up in the morning. The only solution I had found to this was to sleep for around twelve hours a day giving me very little time outside of work to do anything. Eventually, I asked my doctor for a change from that medicine to another one that would not make me as tired.
At this time, I had been quite stable so I felt ready to risk a med change. My doctor moved me from the medicine that caused drowsiness to a related medicine which did not. At first, this was wonderful. I did not need too much sleep. I found soon enough, however, that while I did not struggle with the side effects, I did not seem to be getting the effects, either. I became extremely manic.
With mania comes irritability and anxiety. Eventually, I found myself shouting random noises whilst driving because of my excess energy. While dealing with the unending energy that tormented me, I found myself shredding a box for no especial reason. I knew I had to get help so I went to the local Community Mental Health (CMH).
Thanks to my years of experience in dealing with mental illness, I knew to be fully honest and to share everything going wrong with the people at CMH. I was presented with several options regarding what to do. I could go to a hospital diversion program, but sadly this option disappeared because I had been employed by all the local hospital diversion programs. Getting treatment there would create a conflict of interest. I tried advocating for going to a program like this an hour’s drive away, but the person at CMH would not allow me to drive that far. One of my symptoms had been thoughts of ramming other cars whilst driving and she did not feel it was safe to risk that for an entire hour.
Another option was stay at home intense therapy and care with a doctor at CMH. This is another sort of hospital diversion. The doctor for that program, however, was someone I had worked with before and did not like one bit. I still feel that he had made some serious mistakes with my meds years ago which are now very difficult, perhaps even impossible to correct. (Not actual med errors, but more prescribing meds I don’t need and getting me stuck on them).
How to Obey the Holy Spirit
Perhaps I should say now what I knew the whole time. I knew I had to go to the hospital. Whilst in prayer, I asked the Holy Spirit what I needed to do. I felt an overwhelming need to go to the hospital. I wanted nothing to do with this option but I felt the Holy Spirit was clear. This was before I had a spiritual father so all I could do was rely on my own judgment.
I wrestled with this. I was desperate not to go to the hospital, but I knew the will of the Holy Spirit. I knew I had not the strength to make this decision so I begging God to give me the strength. To find the strength, I called some friends. I have a WRAP plan. WRAP stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan and is worthy of its own post but for now I will simply say that part of mine is that I have three people who can, by a simple majority, order me to the hospital. This is not legally binding in Michigan, but it is binding in my mind. That is the power of the WRAP.
One of them, told me I was stressing out over nothing and that I should just go. To this day, I don’t appreciate that, but he is one of the three so that was one of two required votes to send me. I called another. By now it was the middle of the night, but she answered and told me very forcefully “Go to the hospital.” She said it with compassion unlike the other, but I knew I had my votes. I spoke to the person at CMH and said, “I need to go to the hospital”. At that point I had actually negotiated my way out of going to the hospital, but she accepted my decision and sent me.
I was terrified. At the hospital, you lose all your freedom. You have no control over anything really. But it’s a good place to be if you need to be safe. I was scared out of my mind about going so I called my friend who had made the second vote. I told her I just needed to talk to someone encouraging while I drove to the hospital in terror, so she spoke with me an encouraged me.
My father watched the whole thing and saw that I made the right decision when I didn’t have to even though I was terrified of it. He later called to tell me how proud of was of me for making that decision. He’s not really the sentimental type who says that a lot, so I’ve cherished that call ever since.
The Lessons Learned
This is the story of my decision. Next will be my story of my stay there. I want to say for now that while I feel there are many lessons to be had in this story, I will let the reader discern most of them. The one I will point out is that even during a period of stability, a med change can make all the difference and ruin years of work. Generally, it is wise to avoid med changes unless things are already going poorly. I am not convinced it was worth it even though my fatigue was overwhelming.