Guest columnist Bob Nagle: Treat, street, repeat

Gerd Altmann/via Pixabay

Gerd Altmann/via Pixabay Gerd Altmann/via Pixabay


Published: 01-10-2024 6:00 PM

According to Frontiers in Psychiatry, 3.06% of people living with bipolar disorder experience psychiatric hospitalization. Upon awakening, I found myself emotionally mired in a wellspring of despond. What happened? My life of strife continues.

Presumably, the involuntary commitment stemmed from the vicissitudes of unpredictability within my broken mind that can best be exemplified by my chief characteristic self-sabotage, the unscrupulous usurper. Again, I am assailed by an uncannily evil presence that foments my propensity contumacious conduct that’s emblematic of the maladaptive travails of my bipolarism.

Previously, I had been uniformed concerning bipolar disorder. Therefore, in this instance, I became increasingly frustrated over my inability to recollect what precipitated being immured in a psychiatric ward. Instantly after emerging from the void in what was clearly the nadir of my life, my wife recounted a disconcerting conversation with the psychiatrist that divulged a transfer to a state psychiatric hospital was imminent. Mercifully, that dire scenario didn’t come to fruition. Conversely, my forced confinement in the psychiatric ward had just begun.

Whatever commotion occurred, my perturbation over the staff’s dilatory efforts in restoring lost memories impelled me to implore the psychiatrist for a cogent explanation of the source of my inability to remember anything. Eventually, after looking inside myself, I determined that a bipolar blackout occurred, inaugurating a seemingly indissoluble manic episode, resulting in a furtherance of rampant cognitive dysfunctions.

Contemporaneously, it altered my cognition, ultimately instigating a bipolar psychotic break, a series of adverse reactions which induced a complete schism from reality. As the dire after-effects waned, my pleas for clarity concerning the incident were constrained by frustration over unblocking my brain, particularly the ordeal of my self-stupefaction when I was beset by vestiges of hopelessness echoing throughout my fragmented mind.

The initial obstruction in the road to recoverability was my abrasive nurse, whose glowering was the embodiment of the infamous Nurse Ratched of the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The character, a psychiatric nurse, was based on a true story of her institutional abuse of power to cruelly persecute psychiatric patients. The psychiatric ward is a place of insufferable degradation. Furthermore, it’s flagitious to be girded in a jail for bipolarism. Unsurprisingly, that harrowing environ was strengthened by Nurse Ratched’s pillory that exploited my inferiority complex.

Living with bipolar while incarcerated is the essence of existential dread, abetting fearful incertitude over the probability of an additional involuntary stay. That consternation put my imminent mandatory examination in jeopardy. The first compulsory therapy session imploded over the central fulcrum, my inveterate opposition to acknowledging bipolarism, the invisible disability, insisting that revealing it would imply that I was weak and broken needed to be fixed.

I maintain that psychiatry is a myopic overpriced gamble with myriad philosophical contradictions that puts an undue emphasis on pharmaceuticals. So, intuitively I contrived to taciturnly abandon my individuality and obsequiously acquiesce to treatment aspiring that appeasing them would be a viable tool in execrating myself from this hellhole.

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Subsequently they manipulated my curiosity by putting the emphasis on my vulnerability and instead of helping, decided to forgo an explanation, leaving me adrift and compelled to agree to treatment. Predictably, that incentivized the use of the atypical anti-psychotics and mood stabilizers while minimizing the side effects. This quick fix mindset undermines the credibility of putative treatment. Accordingly, the rift between us was inundated with discord, regrettably persisting with all my succeeding psychiatrists whose cursory examinations invariably settled on pharmaceuticals instead of talk therapy.

I am indignant over their priority of treating only the plutocrats while flippantly casting aside the uninsured, leaving them immorally neglected and left with no access to treatment but self-commitment for help. The able-minded blinkered view is personified by the universal acceptance of the counterfactual bipolar is no excuse for your actions. My counterargument that scoffing incontrovertibly demonstrates that bipolar’s invisibility makes it easier to deride us as “crazy.”

This is when the able-minded nonacceptance of the invisible bipolar reveals itself. The similarities of my bipolar predecessors and myself are they were brutally chained to a wall and forgotten. I’m psychologically shackled to a quack remedy and shunned.

Decades have passed, and the only headway has been the method of suppression. With pills or chains nothing is gained, and the ubiquitous ableism remains. The echoes of the road that has no end, and that bipolar is starting again, leaving me unable to fend without family or friends.

Bob Nagle is a 60-year resident of Northampton, bringing visibility to those living with bipolar and mental health stigmatization in the community.