“Check in with yourself and communicate when you think you’re starting to slide into a depression, mania or mixed state.”   I even preach that gospel on this blog. Sure, OK.

It would have been great if I’d taken the advice.

I spent a week cooling my jets in the hospital because I let things go a bit too far and entered a mixed episode.  Thankfully, a change in medication that was ordered the week before the hospitalization started to work while I was in The Bin. It shortened my stay and I am home now, and on the mend.

For those who aren’t familiar with mixed episodes, it’s where elements of both depression and mania are present at the same time.  The Vivien Brand of Mixed Episode inevitably involves depression with severe agitation.  That means instead of sitting in a corner crying, I am not sleeping, running around doing everything with a heavy hand, being overly agitated with the universe and everything in it  and crying.

Working through one of these mixed states is pretty hellish.  Depression meets adrenaline!  Filters be damned!  Everything is worthless and annoying! And nothing is sacred. Nothing.

I’ve agonized over how I should write about this experience. Do I satirize the whole ordeal, using my razor-sharp Mixed Episode Witt that had my husband and son laughing when they would visit me?  Do I describe the impatience and generally unkind Mixed Episode Agitated Thoughts I had toward my Club Mental Health cohorts?  Do I tally and publish the number of times I sat in my room and cried ’cause there’s no putting the brakes on Mixed Tears?

Well, no.  That’s the point  These damn mixed episodes are just so jam-packed full of emotion and mayhem that I really can’t compose a meaningful post within my self-imposed 1000-1200 word limit.

American Hotel, Amsterdam

American Hotel, Amsterdam (Oh, the irony!)

But, I must say this.  For those keeping score, you will no doubt have noticed the hospitalization this past week took place in The Netherlands while my previous stay in 2010 took place in the US.  Both facilities were dedicated mental health hospitals for the not-so-insane.  The experience here in NL, however, was a night and day difference from what I experienced in the US.  Here, I wasn’t locked on a ward, I was given my own room and my shoelaces weren’t taken from me.  It was more along the lines of a hotel for crazy-ish people.  At no point did I feel my dignity was compromised or I wasn’t being respected as a person.  Maybe it was just the crap hospital I was admitted to in Kirkland, WA (Google away…) that handles their clientele inappropriately, but it’s been my overall experience mental health here is handled with much more dignity and grace and less stigma than I experienced across the pond.  So, in my next edition of ‘Round the World for the Mentally Ill, I will have to give The Netherlands accommodations more stars than those in The States.

I suppose when you are Bipolar I and didn’t treat the entire spectrum of the illness for over 20 years, extended periods of extreme stress are bound to put you in the hospital, if you don’t ask for help when it all starts to go bad.  OK, fine.  Lesson learned.

Mixed episodes, how I do not love thee.

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