After I was released, my life didn’t change a bit. I went right back into the stress and strain I had always been under, although now I was medicated for the depression. After my psychotic break, I was put in a psychiatric hospital in northwestern Louisiana. This ward operated very differently from St. Dominic’s—after the morning rounds, our rooms were locked, forcing us out into the common rooms to interact with each other. I was on an acute intermediate ward, which meant I was around patients much sicker than I had been around in my last hospitalization. My roommate talked back to the voices in her head all night each night I was there. One older man suffering from dementia was there until a place came open on a dedicated Alzheimer’s ward for him; he once mistook me for a social worker and talked to me about how much he wanted to go home and would I please let him?
Again I was very hesitant about interacting with the professional staff, thinking that I needed to be that perfect patient again so they would let me go home. I did leave there after three days, but I was readmitted to St. Dominic’s immediately once my husband brought me back to Mississippi. This time at St. D’s, I was very open with the staff, looking for some magic formula from them that would help me out of the hell I had created for myself. I was there another week before my doctor felt I had stabilized enough to go home.
It was then that I was first tried on lithium, which worked like a charm but kept me constantly thirsty. I stayed stable on lithium until we had evidence that it was harming my kidneys—I was then but on a high dose of Abilify in conjunction with an antidepressant, Welbutrin, and the anti-convulsant Depakote. That worked well for me, too—until the next spring rolled around. That began a pattern that I followed until 2010—at some point between Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, I was hospitalized for depressive symptoms including suicidal thoughts.