Last year – 2019, I experienced a relapse with my mental health. It was a manic induced psychosis with suicide ideations. The relapse happened as a result of my decision to take a breather from my medication and going through my mental health without it. My diagnosis is Bipolar Affective Disorder (type 2) and over the years while I was off antidepressants and mood stabilizers, I consistently lived and functioned in a high-stress environment.
Gradually, my mental health started to deteriorate. I had little or no sleep and by little I mean between 2 to 4 hours of sleep. I’d sleep for those short hours and wake up super energized and ready to take the day by a storm. What I did not realize was that mania had taken over, having a full reign on my days. I was unable to function properly at work and live up to my fullest potentials. I lost my appetite and only survived on junk food and processed sugar, both of which were bad for my mental health. I became a shadow of myself. My low moods were very very low, I conceptualized different theories and ideas of suicide in my head. I stopped driving because I was imagining many ways to die. While I had people around me the world became a really lonely place.
Towards the end of 2019, mania decided to show its face in full force. Abruptly, I packed my bags and travelled West Africa by road. I thought I was being spontaneous and validated the trip as something I really needed to exhale from whatever I had left behind at home in Lagos. But what was traveling with me and inside of me was a massive manic episode waiting to happen. I had spontaneously and exuberantly drifted through all of my savings buying things I didn’t need, giving away money and talking to psychics. It was a lot of money. A lot to build a substantial future for myself and still have leftovers. With little left, I returned home in Lagos and my full rock bottom got triggered by the need to be loved. I felt unloved, lonely and alone a lot. I became obsessed with the idea of an ex loving me back. An ex who was a childhood crush and my first love but I didn’t pay attention to the warning signs that who I loved didn’t love me back the way I needed to be loved or more so the serious warning signs of constant migraine, the ringing in my head, my cringe-worthy reaction to metal and anything metallic, the persistent thought that my ex-military father had trained me and raised me up to be a spy. A spy that other people were out to get. I also thought that I was the soul mate of a celebrity which shall never be named. I had cryptic posts on my social media, sending weird and creepy messages to people. I also thought butterflies were sending me messages.
Is this mania or psychosis? I asked during my manic breaks. A manic break is a brief moment during manic episodes where you are your true self for a split second and become aware that something is not right with your body and your mental health. It was a terrifying experience to go through giving that I have never had psychosis before or a full-blown manic episode. It was even scarier for my family and friends who watched me go through it, not knowing what to do or how to help. It was the first time my loved ones would experience me live my mental health challenges as a Bipolar II patient. I got through the relapse with the help of my psychiatrist and getting back into therapy. The biggest lesson was me learning to allow people help me and be there for me when going through difficult moments. Yes, healing is possible but you can’t go through it alone. My experience with psychosis shared my vulnerability with those around me who were watching me struggle as I refused to give in to my suicide ideations and my manic episodes.
I spent the early part of 2020 recuperating and getting back on my feet then Covid-19 hit the world. I had to fight off the imposter syndrome and stigma to return to what I was passionate about, helping people through their mental health. During the Covid-19 lockdown, my non-profit organization LPM Foundation (Love, Peace & Mental Health) experienced a high volume of calls and mental health cases. I personally intervened in 8 high-risk calls dealing with suicide attempts/suicide ideations. I was able to help others through their panic and anxiety issues. More so, I am thankful that I fought to stay alive and sane to be able to live purposefully. While I was reflecting on my relapse, I realized most of my actions during the manic episodes was me calling out for help trying to connect with someone who would just understand that I wasn’t in the best place at that point in time.
I learned that it is okay to forgive myself. I learned that I am not responsible for the trauma and chemical imbalances in my brain but what I learned the most was that I am responsible for my healing. Happy World Mental Health Day. Healing is possible!
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