Most of all, I remember the pudding.
Okay, so that's not true. But the pudding was a cool "fridge" benefit. It was surely there for everyone and anyone who wanted some, but it felt like we had privileged upon it. It was located in the bottom drawer, almost a "hidden" drawer at the bottom of the fridge. Where you'd expect moldy vegetables to be languishing-- the "crisper" if you will. But it was full of individually portioned cups of chocolate pudding.
It's a good memory from a time when good memories were scant and unaccounted for. For this was a time when I had been hospitalized because I was a danger to myself and others.
I had been taken off of my regular medicine, the cocktail that I'd been taking for almost six years, because of an unwanted side effect-- my platelets level was dipping into much lower than normal territory. I had to watch any bruises or cuts while I ramped off of the Depakote and readied myself for a different medication. In the meantime, I continued to take my anti-depressant. This would prove to be a mistake.
After about a month of being off of Depakote, I slowly started to exhibit symptoms of mania. I stopped sleeping more than a few hours at a time. My mood was uplifted and uplifting-- I can be quite entertaining when I'm feeling the confidence that mania brings. I talked more, and more rapidly. I was much more active and willing to do things-- much more extroverted and socially interactive.
And I began to put a lot more stock in my thinking. But my thinking was starting to race, and it would lead to rapid crystallization of logic and magic. So magical and unexplainable morphed into apocryphal but understood. As though a higher level of meaning existed that wove the loose ends into a macrame masterpiece, one that would take too long to try and explain with our uncoordinated language.
We had gone to Santa Cruz, my wife and I, and we had a good time. I was charming and polite and under control for the trip, and even thought to take an extra Klonopin to help me get some sleep. It didn't work, unfortunately. When we got home, all Hell soon broke loose.
My wife wanted to watch the Emmy's, so we sat down to do so. We were hungry, so she started foraging for food. She brought me some chips and guacamole to munch on. I began eating the guacamole with my fingers, skipping the chips.
As I watched the proceedings, everyone showing up and walking out onto the red carpet, showing off their duds and beautiful bodies and cheek bones and sculpted eyebrows... I began to sense that this was all a villainous farce. Each person would flash their smile and squint off into the flashbulbs as somebody perkily powdered them with polite, superficial questions. I soon lost myself in this wretched scenario, sub-consciously concocting an elaborate conspiracy of wealth and power, brought to our homes by outlandish evil. So compelling was this mind-scene, this panoramic paradigm of the putrid, that I lost the intellectual and practical utilities of my mind and reacted. Violently.
I tossed the bowl of guacamole at the wall. It shattered and splattered. I leaped to my feet and lunged at the television. I grabbed it and pulled it out of the bookcase, then slammed the tube towards the floor. It's a wonder it didn't explode.
I was full-fledged manic now. And I don't recall the progression of events. I threw furniture, I screamed at the top of my lungs, I yelled about how I had been "F***ed by George Bush!!", among other things. I broke a chair. I ripped off all my clothes and threatened to run around the neighborhood. My wife tried to calm me down, figure out what to do, how to help. She followed me throughout the house as I rampaged. Soon, she dialed 911.
The rampage didn't last very long, thankfully, because I'm not in very good shape. So I was out of breath and collapsed on the floor in the living room when the police arrived. They helped me get into some sweats and helped me onto a stretcher. I can remember thinking that I was an undercover policeman, and that I just needed to tell the officer that I was "working" and he would understand. As if I were in a narcotics sting operation or something and was just under the influence as part of making the deal that would net our offenders. Or something.
They went ahead and strapped me to the stretcher, although not tightly. They were very kind about it all, explaining that they didn't like to use the straps unless they really had to. I guess I was a bit of a flight risk, just because I was so unpredictable.
This was my second manic episode. So my wife and I both were a little better equipped to deal with it. And still, it was a total tornado. But we did okay, we got me the help I needed.
NEXT: Mandatory 72-hour hold at the County Psych Ward