My Descent Into Hell
by Arwen
I had been suffering with depression since I was eighteen. Then it manifested itself in the form of anorexia nervosa. My parents sent me to see my mother's pdoc. He put me on prolixin, valium and dalmane (for sleep) and none of it helped. I still managed to beat myself up with frantic calisthenics and continuous small portion eating. I cut out all starches and I was even to the point of seeing bugs in my food and that alone kept me from eating. I remember Thanksgiving that year was a nightmare, I had dreaded it since the beginning of October. As soon as we left my grandmother's house full of the big meal, my mind was spinning with the task that I would have to do when I got home. The college race track had 3 inches of snow on it and I tugged on my heavy boots and I went out jogging. I jogged till I dropped, I wasn't going to let those calories go anywhere on me. Not long after this I noticed that my moods were beginning to cycle and I couldn't control them like I wanted too, that and I noticed I could stay up all night without any deprivation side effects. I thought it was the meds so I refused to take them anymore right after Christmas. I quit the pdoc, I thought no one could help me and that this was just the way I was.

Fast forward to December 1988. I was living in Phoenix, Arizona. My ex-husband had been seeing a pdoc for panic attacks. One day in that month my ex asked me to go with him to see the pdoc because for one his pdoc had requested to meet me, and second the pdoc wanted to put my ex on tegretol for the attacks and frontal lobe seizure problems. We sat in the pdoc's dark paneled office where the light was dimly coming in the window and discussed the pros and cons of the med. My ex had trepidations about taking it. He asked me what I would do? I replied that I'd take it if I knew it was going to help me. My ex relented and said he'd try it. All this time I noticed his pdoc observing me. After my ex's pdoc wrote out the prescription he turned and looked at me. He asked me if I was alright and I was surprised. I was asked the usual questions. Was I eating and sleeping ok, how were my moods? He asked me if I had ever been treated for depression and I said 'yes'. He told me that he thought I was deeply depressed and that I needed to be on medication. I was stunned. I ended up walking out of his office with a prescription for imipramine. The med helped for a while but then stopped working. In the mean time my ex and I both were seeing the same pdoc. (I know, not a good idea).
In the spring of 1989 my emotions were rollercoastering, my ex and I were fighting and the children were constantly upset. I felt so overwhelmed I started crying and I couldn't stop. It went on for three days on and off. I can remember sitting on the floor of the narrow hallway in our house, crying. Three of my scared daughters were clinging to me and my baby girl was toddling all over the living room pouting and frowning in confusion. I had to do something.
My descent into Hell began on Thursday, April 6th, 1989. I was washed out and emotionally drained, I couldn't stand it anymore. I was lucky enough to get an appointment at 4 in the afternoon with my pdoc. The day was so hot, even so I was dressed all in black, from my t-shirt to my long pants, I was in mourning for me. I walked my daughters across the street to the neighbors and then took off for my appointment. As I drove there I felt mesmerized and I thought people were in my head telling me what to do. It was as if I was riding through a furnace, I felt the sweat dripping off of my body into my clothes. I missed the turn and cursed myself. When I finally walked through the door into the waiting room, I was blasted by cold air and my clothes dried onto me as brittle as a dead dried snake. While I was in his office I sunk into the rug and continued to cry. I felt guilty and ashamed. I just knew that I was a failure as a wife and a mother and these were the most important things to me. The pdoc told me I needed to go to the hospital and that I was too depressed to be on my own at home. He further explained that I needed to be separated from my home environment for a while. I needed a 'respite' in his words. Next thing he did was call me ex at work to tell him I was going to the hospital and my ex whined that what was really wrong with me is that I was mad that he hadn't fixed the swamp cooler and we were all sweltering at home. My pdoc rolled his eyes. I could hear my ex shouting at him on the phone. My ex continued to argue and finally my pdoc said that he was admitting me and that was that.
At 5pm My pdoc locked his office then drove me down to the hospital. I was too much of a mess to drive myself. In his office I had been crying into my long hair and now I was leaning against the window in his car hiding behind my curtain of soggy hair. I was so scared. One because I knew my ex was angry, and two because of fear of the unknown. I thought, 'God, I'm going to the mental hospital I must really be crazy after all.' My thoughts were racing on all the horrible things that were happening. First and foremost I worried about who was going to take care of my girls. My pdoc said that was my ex's responsibility. After my pdoc admitted me they put me in the lock down unit. I was so frightened I could barely breathe. All wired from no sleep I wandered around the halls with my hair still hanging in my face. A tall handsome black adult care worker (ACW) came up to me, introduced himself and offered me a sandwich. I just shook my head 'no'. I couldn't eat, my stomach was too tight. All I could do was pace the halls, the ACW's ignored me. I didn't speak for two days except to my pdoc. I didn't trust the ACW's. As soon as I went to see my room, someone shoved a journal into my hands and told me to write about my feelings. I wanted to tell them, 'screw you.'. I hid it under my mattress so no one could read it. The first two days I just roamed the halls all night even after they gave me restoril I couldn't sleep because my thoughts were racing in a drugged state. I was told to go to bed but I couldn't, I just felt I had to walk, they ignored me. By Sunday night I was able to sleep a little and Monday morning I started my life as a lab rat.
When I was awakened I felt like I was being jolted with electricity traveling throughout my whole body. I remember thinking that my nerves were metabolically caving in. I was taken to a little room to where my pdoc was waiting, I still looked disheveled. He decided to put me on depakote. It would be the first of many meds that I would try. I wouldn't take it, though. After three days of vomiting my lunch I refused to take anymore. Later that day I was moved to the open unit.
For the next eight weeks it seemed that I was trying a new med, one every six days. They made the mistake of putting me on prozac. I got mad and demolished my room. I ripped open their pillows and threw stuffing everywhere, had a laugh attack and ended up in the quiet room. I still continued to feel the electric charges in my body so my pdoc started me on tegretol, Ha ha! The same med my ex was taking. How ironic. I seemed to respond and that took care of the seizures. One morning I told my pdoc about the voices in my head. He asked me why hadn't spoken about them before, and I replied because I knew they weren't real. He started me on navane. This endless cycle went on for two months and I still wasn't well enough to go home. I missed my girls and got tired of seeing my ex bring them to visit in mismatched clothing.
One weekend my pdoc was out of town and I had to see this wild looking woman pdoc. She was dressed half hippie and half Navaho Indian. She had frizzy hair and so many bracelets that they clacked together as she made notes in my chart. She expressed that I wasn't getting better and what she thought I needed was a 'baby dose' of lithium. I can remember the first week I was on lithium, I felt so good, and the world was in color again. Within two weeks I started to respond. My moods were leveling out and I had never known what that had felt like. After three months in the hospital I was ready to go home.

After I got divorced I went off of meds because I no longer had insurance. I whacked out and got moody. At the same time I was facing finals in business college and I had a terrible time concentrating. I graduated and even received a $1500 soroptomists award for writing an essay on being a single parent and going to school.

After my son was born my new husband and I moved to Idaho. and I did fair for having no meds. Then I got fibromyalgia. It took them forever to diagnose me. I was suffering the tortures of hell in pain. All my doctors thought I was crazy. I started to get manic. I ended up being hospitalized in a low income clinic because I was paranoid and out of my mind with my physical symptoms. I saw their pdoc and he asked me a few questions one of which being what was my previous diagnosis. I told him circular depression. He told me that that meant I was bipolar. It was the first time in my life I felt relief. It explained so many things to me. Another path had opened up. I could finally start getting the right treatment and I was no longer afraid.



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