Before The Breakdown
I have neglected completely to lay out the events which led me and others to decide I was a bipolar.
Work at the time was not going well for me. I was a sergeant in the Army, doing work for the “WTU”-short for Warrior Transition Unit”. We were tasked to watch over twelve soldiers apiece, monitoring their whereabouts, and generally making sure that soldiers were where they needed to be. I was considered an oddball, which I am used to, and I’m pretty sure everyone considered me a dumbass. Part of me felt they were right, part of me fought to felt that they were the dumbasses, neglecting to understand my contributions. There was this one time when the first sergeant, knowing that I was a medical supply tech, told me to make a matrix of drugs that were considered heavy hitters and controlled substances. I had to make him a graph of all the drugs we’d run into, and rate them for things like safe for alcohol, safe for driving, safe for mixing…
What’s wrong with that? What is wrong is that ALL psych meds are bad with alcohol, many with contraindications, and many for driving. I never completed that matrix; he had someone else do the dumb thing after I found out from a pharm tech that it is impossible to interpret each provider’s reasoning for prescribing the drugs they’d prescribe. They are allowed to override any precautions that the patient would take. The graph was impossible to complete. I knew it. He didn’t. He just wanted a pretty picture on the wall, probably fixing himself for a nice bullet on his review.
Months later, I became depressed and was put on Celexa. It opened the door to a high degree of clarity for me that I had not known in years. This was at a 10mg dose. As time progressed, we moved me up to 30mg, and then my behavior became erratic. The final straw came when I talked with a former sergeant major about the recent death of his son in Iraq. I admit it. I sat there and I cried in that room right next to the first sergeant. That was the end of my job, and from there on I was to be classified as Bipolar II.
As I cried outside, a former captain of mine came up and asked me why I was crying. I related the story to him, and he told something golden: “That’s your basic humanity showing.” I will never forget those words that let me know it was OK to be hurt. It just wasn’t OK to be hurt on the job. So, the Army dismissed me quickly, ending my career and ushering in the era of me as a disabled veteran. Who can tell who is right? Was I bipolar, or am I just sensitive?