A Depression Poem – By J.E. Skye

I wanted to preface this poem with a “trigger warning,” this is a poem I wrote about suicide and depression recently, at this time I am NOT depressed or suicidal. But, this poem could trigger those feelings, so please read only if you are in a safe place. This free-verse poem was written during a poetry class in my last semester of my bachelor’s degree. It was my raw feelings when I was suicidal turned into a poem, please enjoy. I will link the other poem I posted recently.

Updated Version of my Poem: 12:15 am

My Darkest Depression

It has been a long while. I am lost in my darkest contemplations. Sinking, unable to breathe. “I’m Depressed,” there I admit it. Teetering, on the edges of the blackest of thoughts— suicide. The darkness serves as my safe and unsafe place. “I am always here for you,” says the darkness— it is far away in the distance, but I hear its cry. Fearful of this darkness I let the thoughts of the end consume, afraid of what could happen. What might happen? What will happen? This winding road is leading me to the point of no return. The darkness laughs, and it moves closer in the distance.

My thoughts seek the out the painful memories, and the thoughts missile into my consciousness. Afraid. So Afraid of losing myself. My life is a mess, a black hole of endless despair. At night I lay my head down— wanting to cry, and so I cry myself to sleep. “Yes, my friend, give in. You belong here with those who lose themselves.
Wishing. Waiting. Wanting. This will be my last day, nevermore. Awake. Alone. Again. Another day lost in the darkness, it consumes my inner soul.

God hates me for what I have become, I hate myself so much that God— he has given up on me. Let’s face it, my hope evaporated long ago, it is a wonder that no one in my life wants anything to do with this lost soul. “I am here for you—always,” the darkness tells me. Can I fight this— is there something I can do? Probably not. My life is this mess. The Chaos. I created a monster inside me.

The darkness begins to consume, first my mind— and then my body. The darkness is just outside my door, it tells me this is the right thing. “Death is just mean to an end— the end of the infinite agony,” he tells me. “Give in, your life is not worth living. Give in, it will be painless.” Thoughts devour any shred of hope. The darkness wants to win. It just might.

I find myself on edge again— a familiar place, but this time it is different. I lay out the pills tidily in front of me. Counting. Thinking. “Yes,” exclaims the darkness, “this is who you are now.” How many sleeping pills does it take to sleep forever? This becomes routine— a nightly ritual that never changes. I tell myself every night, this is the night. “You must do this now,” the darkness hovers just beside me, “this is your destiny.” A flood of my past consumes my present. There is no future.

What does life mean anymore? I continue to perish in sinking into darkness. Forever. Darkness, my best friend— and worst enemy. Depression my frequent companion, never leaving me. My darkest depression. Will I give in?

Always Keep Fighting.

What is the worse that can happen?

James Edgar Skye

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Being Invalidated by a Bad Apple

Abuse is present in all kinds of relationships: from personal to professional, from sexual to medical, where ever there are humans, abuse exists. Unfortunately, no one is safe from experiencing it in any of its forms, especially in regards to mental health. In my own mental health journey, I have been fortunate with my connections, but I know so many out there have not. I know no two instances are alike, and abuse can take many forms in this world. My most recent experience with it has prompted me to bring this story to light. It is raw, and possibly chaotic in nature, but it is where I am at right now.

I am a young woman, a wife, and a mother, who just so happens to be diagnosed with Bipolar II. This diagnosis has been following me around for over eleven years, and it is not something I take lightly. I want to feel okay and happy. I want to feel normal, and if medication and therapy are required for this to happen, then so be it. I am worth the extra effort. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I have never felt as if my team against me…until a few weeks ago. 

Back in August, my husband and I agreed we would start trying for baby #2, but I knew this meant I needed to get things prepped for my mental health ahead of time. When I was pregnant with my son, I struggled – because there was no safe medication for me to take at the time. Last year, my then psychiatrist told me if I was going to get pregnant again, there were options this time around. He knew me and knew intimately about what happened to me when I was pregnant. No one wanted to go through that again. 

Unfortunately, due to family circumstances on his end, he left, and I was given to someone new. He seemed nice and agreed to go off my previous doctor’s notes on my condition for starters and adding his own as we got to know each other. I saw no problem with this sentiment and was willing to give him the chance despite my hesitation because I was thrown to someone new so suddenly.  

As time progressed, I tried to trust him, but something always felt off and awkward with him. Sometimes a comment he made drew question marks in my head, but I brushed it off because we weren’t sitting face to face because of COVID. We only talked on the phone. Sometimes it was a ten-minute call, sometimes it was three minutes, but I felt we were on the same page.  

Before my husband and I talked about getting pregnant, I knew I wanted a game plan in place. I wanted time to get used to new meds and adjust as needed. My psychiatrist was an instrumental part in this plan, so setting up an appointment to discuss my options non-negotiable. Per instructions by my previous doctor and my own research, I already had an idea of what I needed, but I had to bring it up with my prescriber to get it. Simple and straightforward, right? WRONG! 

When the words of “trying to get pregnant” and “what are your suggestions” left my lips, the atmosphere of the conversation changed. Keep in mind, I have been diagnosed by four different psychiatrists, over the course of about sixteen years, that I have Bipolar II. I have been on the appropriate medication for that diagnosis for eleven years, and when I am consistent with taking the medication, I am stable.  

This man had the gall to let “Bipolar II is just a theory” and “many women find the symptoms go away during and after pregnancy” leave his pathetic lips. Despite me bringing up the recommended medication and explaining what happened the last time I was pregnant, he ignored me. Now, I refused to leave this session empty-handed, so he gave me two medications for “as needed” irritability and depression, low dosages with the possibility of increases. I am Bipolar, not irritable. 

I assumed this was better than nothing and began tapering my medication as designed and filled the prescriptions. After several days, I found I had to start taking more than the ‘low dosages’ to have any sort of effect, and I hit a major side-effect wall. I could either feel like I was drunk all day or be depressed. Since I work full-time and must be mentally sharp, I stopped taking the meds. I gave them less than 2 weeks, but they were not working in any capacity as he said they would.  

My therapist was appalled at his words but brushed them off when I spoke to her about it. She looked up my file and found he had not written anything he said to me, in my file (why would he?). Though she did not convince me directly, I put in a request to transfer psychiatrists the next day. Never have I ever been invalidated by a medical professional to my face like that, and even though I am struggling now because of him, I won’t let him win. 

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 2

“…you’re the spawn of the Devil!” 

After watching the pictures fly across the room, my husband turned back to his screen, acting unfazed by my actions or words.  His response, or lack thereof, only confirmed my decision; I had to reveal him to the world as the true demon he was to me. Red flags waved the last four years, but I brushed them away, creating excuses for his behavior and words. He was a narcissistic bastard taking advantage of my ignorance. For all those years, I blamed myself for everything he did said, convincing myself it was my fault for the way he treated me. I needed to learn my place in his sick world. Being young and naive, I did not realize how I was being manipulated by someone who was supposed to love me.  

I wanted to scream, but the sound never left my throat. Instead, I staggered over to my chair, sitting down with an obscene lack of grace and nearly toppling over. My desk was a mess, but what I was looking for was within easy reach. The Jameson thudded against the wood as I snatched up a white bottle. Effexor was the anti-depressant I was prescribed after a questionnaire was given to me for the Bipolar diagnostic process in 2007, of which it was determined I had Major Depression, not Bipolar Disorder. Several attempts to find a medication were made to help me feel somewhat normal. None of them worked, but I stuck with Effexor despite the roller coaster. 

By Shara Adams

I did not feel suicidal, but the world needed to open its eyes and see him for who he was. The world needed to see me, to save me from the hell I was living. Rising to my feet, I opened the white bottle and poured out a handful pills. I reached for the Jameson without counting the capsules and set my reserve; I knew what I had to do to save myself and destroy him. My shoulders rolled back with determination, but my thoughts remained a jumbled mess from the alcohol and my inundated emotions. The world was spinning, and I did not know what to think or feel. All I knew was I had to escape the pathetic excuse of a man. 

“Is this what you wanted?” 

Turning to face me, I smirked with satisfaction. I had his full undivided attention, for once. The impact I planned on having with my actions, played over and over in my head. I did not know what was going to happen, and my mind did not consider the consequences which were possible. Blinded by the potential freedom, I could not back away from my decision. As I held the pills in my hand with a drink in the other, I threw them all to the back of my throat and followed them with the last of the Jameson.

Relief washed over me as I sat back down, ignoring him. I felt I had done the right thing, but after several minutes, the world started to disappear and I began to question myself – like always. I tried to blame it on the entire bottle of liquor, which I had consumed in a matter of a few hours. About ten minutes later, a knock on our apartment door brought the light back, but I could not move. Before I reached the count of three, five to six people swarmed into our small space and surrounded me both physically and verbally. I was confused as to who they were, why they were here, and what they were asking, but I responded to their probing questions as best I could. The realization hit me like a brick after several questions: they were paramedics.

My husband had called 911. For once in his life, he may have done the right thing.

By Shara Adams

More stories can be found at pennedinwhite.com

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 1

Excitedly, I join this blog’s wonderful team. I have been passionate about mental health for many years, and I hope to be able to share my journey as I continue to navigate through life with a mental illness. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2009 (also in 2004, but I was a minor) and just like many others, my road has not been easy. I am a survivor of domestic abuse, so the hurdles I have jumped remind me of what I am capable of overcoming, no matter what life can dish out. Though I plan to write a memoir of all my experiences, here I would like to simply share my road to stability and beyond. It is not a lighthearted tale at first, but it is an important one. Just as the past is important, so is the future. We are amazing and the world needs to know all our stories.

My Journey to Stability, Pt. 1

With a bottle of Jameson in one hand, wedding pictures in the other, and a kitchen knife at my side, tears ran down my cheeks and frantic thoughts pounded in my skull. I sat, knees to chest on the bed, contemplating my next move. After being together for five years, I was beginning to understand the danger of our year-old marriage. You were an evil entity in my life and even my drunk mind believed the thoughts whispered in its ear. I spent more time intoxicated than sober when I was around you or thinking about you. The things you did to me, or made me do, were not normal for a healthy relationship.

After a Colorado courthouse wedding, we decided it was time to move to the state we shared our vows. I found a job before we moved, and you were taking your remote job with you to our new home. If I drank a lot before we moved, it only increased ten-fold with our arrival in the mountains. You were either emotionally absent or degrading me enough to force me to try and forget your words. It was as if our vows, the year before, meant nothing to you. Perhaps they did not, and never had, but I was determined to keep up my end of the bargain. I loved you, but I questioned my sanity because of it.

Another swig of liquor and my eyes thrummed with intoxication. Our blurry smiles made no sense to me as my gaze passed from distorted faces to the shiny metal of the knife. No, it was not for you. It was never for you because I was always the problem…not you. You made me believe I was destroying our marriage, not your flirting, sexual escapades, or even an unhealthy relationship with bottom shelf vodka. At an impasse, I sat on the bed for close to an hour, trying to sort through shifting thoughts and emotions. In my heart, I knew what I had to do, but my courage hesitated as I left the knife on the bed and stumbled to the living room, where you sat at your computer.

My face was set with a determination and anger I had never felt before. Perhaps it was a spark of hatred, but at the time, such a notion was wishful thinking. With the bottle in one hand, and the photo album in the other, I made myself heard. The words poured from my lips with ease, as if I had been wanting to say them for years and had lacked the courage before. I felt no regret and stood tall with a newfound strength. I watched the pictures float to the floor, smiling with a grim understanding of my next move.

“…you’re the spawn of the Devil!”

Your Shadow By Shara Adams

(More stories can be found at pennedinwhite.com)

All pictures by Shara Adams.

Mania.

Please know that the following is me writing something when this discovery hit me. I plan to write about my thoughts on my manic journal on another post tomorrow.

No clever titles today.

I am manic.

I might start to ramble. I am trying not to, but you know how that can be. I started blogging because I wanted to be a voice in this community. Not only do I want to normalize mental health, but I want to be a friend. I want to be a friend to the people who are suffering from mental illness and I want to be resource for their loved ones who want to ask the hard questions.

This is something I need to share if I can focus enough. Mania manifests differently in everyone who suffers from it. Some of us aren’t at the point where we can pick it out, and others know their tells. I have been having trouble sleeping and using my herbal medications has become pretty consistent. I try not to use it on the regular so I am sitting here racking my brain trying to understand why I could possibly be experiencing this.

I was contemplating doing something: boom. My thought went to purchasing something. WHY. I JUST went over my finances a couple days ago because we had been eating out a lot. I realized how short I was on my savings goals for the big move coming up. I made a mental note to remember how disappointing that was if I started trying to spend unnecessarily. Do you know how much money I have spent on shopping recently? I am no addict but I am spending outside of my means. like 300 in savings here, 100 there. Granted it isn’t the rent or car note this time, but it may as well have been. I still have to buy furniture, pay the rest of the deposit, rent, the moving company, and the utility deposits. I start to get irritable typically, but my medications have been adjusted since my last episode.

So yeah, I am a reckless manic. I just realized that I have been manic. I just didn’t think of all the symptoms together and that sucks. Can’t see my therapist for another two weeks because she is booked, I don’t have the money to see my doctor. I have to build up the courage to tell my mom. She can hold me accountable and the guilt alone might set me straight lol.

MY mania isn’t violent, physical self harm, or intentional. Read that again.

MY MANIA.

but everyone’s looks different.

My mania is managed 99% of the time.

Pot.

**This post discusses the use of marijuana. Please do not read if you are triggered by discussions about drug use. I am not a medical professional and the below information should not replace treatment by a licensed health care provider. I also live in a state (Arizona) that has legalized medicinal marijuana. I am a rule follower by nature**

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I have been wanting to discuss marijuana and its uses in mental health. Personally, I use it pretty consistently. I do not drive, work, or care for anybody under the influence. Again, big proponent of rules over here. I believe in bodily autonomy and I don’t get to decide if you want to be around someone under the influence. I would never attempt to convince you of my beliefs as I respect everyone’s opinions.

I primarily use this for stress and anxiety symptoms, although it is officially prescribed to me for PTSD. I feel like my mind is in so many places at once sometimes. I imagine that it has the same effects on me that ADHD medication has on those with ADHD. It calms me, I can concentrate better, and my tension is no longer affecting me physically. I can’t convey in words how much better I feel. I sleep better with it as well. I have never let it interfere with my professional life. In no way do I feel like drugs are the answer to problems. If anything, I avoid smoking or alcohol when I am depressed or manic. As strong as the desire to numb the feelings is, I don’t feel that is healthy. I don’t want to associate bad times with great enjoyable substances. I don’t go out for a drink on a bad day. I wouldn’t smoke either. I will smoke when I feel anxious, but not when I am manic. when I am stressed, but not when I am making major decisions. I guess it kinda sounds silly that someone would follow so many rules that they set for themselves over something so trivial. I sincerely believe that there is a such thing as too much of a good thing.

So, yeah. I smoke pot. I feel more productive and relaxed just enough into easing myself back to the outgoing person I was. I have to let my guard down and try to regain the self confidence I once had. Anyway, I am rambling.

Let me know what you think?

-B

p.s. Full disclosure, this post was originally posted on my personal blog here.

Thirty.

30. Thirty. The big 3-0. I want to mark this time. (peep that pic of me celebrating graduation in late May)

If you would have asked 20 year old me what the next 10 years held…she would have thought that it sounded scary and wonderful, but it could never be her. She blamed everyone for her problems. She was endlessly in love with Joseph Anthony but She was months away from the hardest break up she had faced. She was wonderfully oblivious that her life was about to change courses in a big way. She didn’t really have a lot of close friends outside of Joe. Hannah was dating David and you all didn’t really get along with David. She had a less than ideal relationship with her family and believed that it was beyond repair. There were a lot of questions about where my life would lead me. She was also very secure with herself. She of course thought she could improve in her exercise and diet, but she had confidence and it was obvious. She had no idea that these fleeting, endorphin filled time was mostly a product of her bipolar.

 

This didn’t seem like a big deal until I thought of how fast it went by. How quickly 30 years of my life happened. What have I accomplished?

 

I am well established in my career. I have been in the health care field for 10 years.

I got my master’s degree.

I moved to Texas and back.

I have a pet kitty that makes my days better (You count your kids right?)

I received my diagnosis of Bipolar disorder and started treating it.

I repaired many relationships that I had broken.

I have moved countless times, and it has allowed me experience more than one small bubble in Arizona.

I bought the newest car I have ever owned this year.

I made the big decision to start fertility treatments and become a single mother by choice.

I have realized that it isn’t a relationship I fear, it is that I wouldn’t be accepted or understood. I am asexual.

I have made peace with the fact that I will most likely have my mom living with me for the rest of her life. I am truly okay with it.

 

30-year-old me is on a camping trip in the future. This is 29 years and 359 day old me. Present me is sitting in my room. She is in Mesa and live in a crappy one-bedroom mobile home with mom. That is right, you now care for your mom. Mostly financially because she can’t work but is still independent.  She sleeps in a recliner because you haven’t been able to afford the lift bed she needs. We just got approved for the apartment we are moving to. You prefer to rent an apartment over owning a home and having all the responsibilities or renting a home and having to landscape. This apartment is a dream. You have always looked at the high-end apartments as something you dream of living in. You dreamt of living in a beautiful apartment that looks like a model home. You love the idea of living in a really nice place and decorating it so that you are proud of it.

You love living with your mom. You rarely argue, and she holds you accountable on your self -improvement.

You packed up your shit, quit your job, and drove to Texas where you lived with your dad and Nicole for a year. Much needed. Super impulsive.

Things are rocky with your sister right now. She is following your footsteps and headed down an emotionally destructive path. That is a scary thought seeing as how you went without a diagnosis for your bipolar until you were 25. You have had a couple of relationships that fizzled out. It has been 7 years since your last one. It only feels like an embarrassment to say that when you imagine other people’s reactions. You are oddly okay with this. You have spent the last 7 years working on yourself, nurturing your mental health and mending relationships. You reconnected with Joseph. He turned into a real bar fly when you two hung out together. I do mean hook up if you are wondering. Turns out he had an ex-girlfriend living in the same house. You still love him, and you still think he is selfish and inconsiderate. He has gotten weirder and less mature if that is possible. He loves to wear leggings and outlandish attention drawing outfits and attend raves. He did meet a girl last year. They are expecting a boy next month. You don’t know that Joe has grown up, you think he just found someone to act like a kid with. She has a son in high school….don’t know if that was a teen pregnancy or she is that much older than us.

Hannah is still your true friend. She has changed A TON. She stands up for herself, has really matured career wise and is making more than you! She still feels like she doesn’t know what she is doing with her life. She is living it. She needs to look around. She is still letting pretty boys walk all over her. You constantly build her up and she is so critical of herself and her appearance. She got a boob job that she hates…and botox! As long as it is safe and makes her happy, I will never judge her.

You made the decision that you would start fertility treatments and become a single mother by choice. It is a long and expensive process, but you want it badly. Your mom and grandmother both had issues and could not have any kids after 30. Your aunt Cherril has cervical cancer. She isn’t doing well either. She has decided to not have any kind of treatments and doesn’t even want to take pain medication.

You write. You write in notebooks, on the back of paper plates, you have a blog, you bounce around on your ideas and just end up writing them all in a jumbled mess.

You lost your confidence and have gained at least 100 lbs. But your confidence was gone long before the weight came. After Sean, you were down. You were approaching the BPD diagnosis, but this sent you on a journey that you can credit your life to.

You started gaining weight and staying home. You went to the doctor for weight loss and then disclosed how you were really feeling, and she referred you to a specialist. Between the sadness and the weight gain, you felt ashamed. You stopped going out and packed on more weight. You are hyper aware of those around you. Careful never to agitate or inconvenience anyone. You have actually become pretty boring. You rarely show emotion and are too concerned about other’s opinions to be the silly person you were.

 

You hope that your next 10 years bring more joy, revelations about yourself, dreams come to fruition. You hope to overcome your biggest obstacle. Yourself.

In the next 10 years, you will have a baby. You will do two rounds of IUI before you get pregnant. You will become more confident in your work. You will increase dramatically in your salary as you are beginning to really establish yourself. You will become more involved in politics and religion…after all the wise Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “Women belong in all the places where decisions are being made.”. You will continue learning and educating yourself through reading and may even entertain the idea of a doctorate. You will most likely lose your grandparents. That is going to be the kick in the stomach of the decade. I hope you are somewhat graceful in your grief. I doubt this though. You will most likely have some issues in managing medications and potentially start being reckless at this time. I hope you come back here and remind yourself of how far you have come and how many people go through this.

My first 30 years have been challenging to say the least. I was dealt a tough hand and it didn’t help that I was manic for most of it. I have made strides in my mental health that have definitely rippled into the rest of my life. I am happy. Genuinely happy. I have you fine people to thank for some of that.

 

Unicorns.

In all my time of seeing mental health professionals, I cannot recall any of them simply saying, ” I can help you”. I have had many treatment plans, some successful and some not, but never someone who just came out and said that.

Dawn did. She is my new therapist. And she is a unicorn.

She listened and then explained what she thought was the root of things, a plan to approach it, and why. WHY! I LOVE WHY. Too often people just expect us to sit and follow instructions. We know our bodies and we know our lives. You can’t see us for an hour every so often and tell me that you know what is best for me. Granted, I am a huge proponent for modern medicine and listening to your provider, but sometimes they get it wrong.

I think Dawn is on to something. She has to be, because she is a freakin unicorn. I feel relief honestly. I was worried I was going to go into this and be the one running the show.  I already run the show too often, that’s why I need Dawn. I see a therapist because my mental health doc requires it….I might actually WANT to see her now.

The Zoloft they added to my cocktail has really helped.

I finished my masters degree program last night.

I just wanted to pop on and share my fantastic week with you beautiful people (and it’s only Tuesday!) I will have a lot more free time now that school is over. Hope to write more VERY soon 🙂

A New Reality? Talking with my Psychiatrist on the Phone

Is This Our New Reality?

Photo by Luis Villasmil on Unsplash

I know that right now, everything is different than the start of the year. Things change when there is a global pandemic that is continually changing our lives. COVID-19 is the new reality where most jobs are at home in front of the computer or on the phone.

I am all for social distancing, sheltering in place, and working from home because COVID-19 does not play around. I am and have been since 2007, in the adult system of care in my local county in California. All psychiatrists and therapists for the county are now working at home. I am okay with the process, but no much how it is going.

I had plans in March when California went to “shelter in place” to reduce my Seroquel. I know I have talked recently before about this issue, but my doctor’s recent refusal to change any medications when they are unable to meet in person baffles me. In my last appointment on Thursday of last week, I got into an argument about the reasoning. I need to make this change. (Note: Never make a medication change without your doctor’s permission or knowledge; it can be dangerous.) I understood her point of view, but I felt that my side was not taken into account. 

I felt that my voice was useless, and this is common when you are part of the “system of mental health.” I get it. I am a veteran in this world. If this is going to be the new normal, then they need to get with the times. I can meet with anyone visually, so why can’t the county adjust. If this goes until let us say summer, I will be dealing with this issue of wanting to lower my dose. I guess I will have to see where things go from here. I would like to hear your stories. Anyone else having these issues? Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Too Close To Home

Okay, so I wasn’t going to write anything about the pandemic. However, I’m in the middle of a very personal experience with COVID-19. I knew I’d be a little bit paranoid about this virus – especially because I work with the public. I never imagined my fear would actually come true. I haven’t gotten my test results yet, but I want to share our story thus far.

On Monday, March 16th, my 7-year-old daughter developed a cough. At first, I assumed it was her asthma cough since she was running around outside. However, the cough had gotten more persistent and deep by Tuesday. Tuesday night, at 11:30 pm, she spiked a fever of 104.2. We made a Dr. appointment the next day. I wanted her to be tested because, it turns out, we’ve been exposed to the virus via 3 positive cases at my brother’s work. He also just flew to NYC a few weeks ago and was in 3 different airports (Pittsburgh, NYC, and Dallas). The Dr. refused to test her and I had to force her to at least test for the flu.

When I left the Dr.’s office, I called the department of health to see if we could get tested without the Dr.’s referral. They put me on a mandatory 14 day quarantine and said I needed to go get her tested. I called a testing site in Pittsburgh, who told me they wouldn’t test her because her fever had broke. Fine. We’ll just finish the quarantine. But, by Thursday night, she was taking 40 breaths a minute, which is twice the norm. Her pulse was 107, which is 20 beats per minute faster than norm. And her cough was even worse.

We went to the emergency room at UPMC Northwest at 2 am on Friday, March 20th. The triage nurse didn’t warn the hospital that a possible COVID-19 case was coming in, so they sat us in the waiting room where we put our germs on the chairs. They had me use the check-in kiosk, so that my germs were on the screen. They had me sign a paper with a pen that all other patients use. They took us to a room that wasn’t set up for the virus. They weren’t wearing proper PPE. However, they did take good care of my daughter. Turns out, she developed pneumonia from whatever virus she has. The hospital wouldn’t test her. They sent us home with a note saying that the Wolfe Center would contact us about a test.

I waited a week for a call, and it never came. I waited so long because I’d already been told by a testing site that they won’t test unless all of the symptoms are present at that time. Well, I started to cough on that Friday (March 20th) we went to the hospital. And, a week later, it hadn’t gotten better. I was short of breath and I was wheezing. But I didn’t have a fever, so I didn’t try to get tested.

By Sunday, March 29th, I decided that I wanted to try one more time to get tested. I decided to call Meadville Medical Center. They decided to test me because of the exposure I had, the symptoms I had, and the symptoms my daughter had. Even though I didn’t have a fever. That’s exactly what should have been done to begin with. Not everyone shows the same symptoms. Turns out, I did have a fever when I went to the testing site, and my pulse was 125. My lungs sounded “junky”. They stuck the test swab so far in my nose it felt like they were scraping my brain. It is terrible. The results will be in sometime in the next 72 hours – 2 weeks, depending how backed up the lab facilities are.

Throughout these 14 days, I’ve been on a roller coaster of emotions. Not only do I have to deal with the fact that I have no income right now, but I don’t know when I’m returning to work, and I still don’t know if I have the virus. I had to deal with the panic of watching my daughter struggle to breathe and hear her coughing 24/7 and have her temperature be 104.2 for 24 hours. It was terrifying and I live alone and am quarantined, so I went through all of it by myself. I started having trouble sleeping. I lost my appetite. All while being sick with whatever I have. It’s been tough. Let’s not forget, I’m bipolar, and this is definitely a stresser. I have been on top of my mental symptoms and went back on my anxiety and sleeping meds for the time being.

I’m here to say that, maybe we shouldn’t be panicking about the pandemic, but we most certainly should be taking it seriously. If this is what I have, it is no joke. People who have any kind of respiratory issues (we have asthma) are at a higher risk, and it’s no fun watching someone you love struggle to breathe. Even if you will be fine if you catch this virus, your vulnerable family member or friend may not be. Please take this seriously, stay home, and fight for your right to get tested if you have reason to believe you have symptoms or exposure.