Psych Wards and Hypomania: My Bipolar Story

Writing by Ninoosh

The plastic mattress was starting to make me really sweaty, so I readjusted myself on the hospital bed and fixed the sheets for the hundredth time. I had just rewatched the first season of Six Feet Under and was reminded just how brilliant the show was and how much I loved it the first time around, although Claire was way more surly than I remembered! Maybe because I was equally surly at the time of watching.

The nurses called me to say that ‘middag!’ – dinner in Swedish – was ready and I moved to stand in a queue with the other numb patients clutching my plastic plate. It is a completely surreal environment being in the psych ward, made even more surreal watching quite the dark TV show.

Felt fitting though, somehow.

As the nurse loaded me up with potatoes and gryta (stew) and smiled politely, I moved to the eating area and sat down with a sinking feeling.

How did I get to this situation?

Well, 2018 was the year of hypomanic Anya. The whole year I spent in this state, taking on project after project, thinking I could start various businesses, racking up stupid debts and lying about it to the people I love out of the shame and guilt. Hypomania is a step down from mania and a subtle beast. You think you can change the world.

Then, of course, 2019 has been spent mopping up the mess of this condition. Granted, I did get to go and play shows in Iceland twice last year, a dream of mine since I saw the blue lagoon in the pictures for the first time and my Björk influence. But I was so hyped up I didn’t really stop to enjoy the moments, I almost felt dissociated when I was there.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that Bipolar sits on a spectrum. I wasn’t diagnosed with Bipolar II until I was 29. It’s kind of the more subtle version of Type 1, which is why it can take time to diagnose.Who needs to go to the doctor when everything is FINE and dandy and you have so much good energy and ideas?

It doesn’t make it any less dangerous though as statistically the suicide rate is higher than type 1. Diagnoses like depression, general anxiety disorder and PTSD were given to me in my 20s by various psychologists, but none of those felt quite right – and they weren’t. My moods had always been erratic.

I thank Dr Mishra in Melbourne for taking the time to really analyse me and essentially save my life with a diagnosis I’ve felt comfortable, albeit terrified, by, especially as my medication list grows longer. It is truly a seesaw that erodes my self-esteem and identity – and my wallet!

I moved to Sweden from Australia three years before. I was really surprised how behind Sweden is in mental health and also how long it takes to access services. I’ve spoken to four women who were denied having an ADHD diagnosis because they didn’t present the classic symptoms, which in other countries had been proven to be different for women, but for some reason wasn’t the case there. A diagnosis can also take years to determine, which leaves people in a crappy limbo state. Well, to be fair, everything takes time in Sweden, one must learn patience! The upside is the affordability of the services. I just expected more from the system, especially with the glowing reputation Sweden enjoys worldwide.

My first admission to hospital resulted in the doctor taking me off my antidepressant without even weening me off, one I had been on for five years – then discharging me into a world of misery. My psychiatrist promptly put me back on the meds after I desperately reached out to her.

I was readmitted a few months later.

Through all the pain I had my music. Diving into Ableton was my solace, the repetition of found sound samples and carving the music. My song Pull Me Out was a response to the feeling of ‘Won’t somebody pull me out!’

Check out Pull Me Out, Directed by William Ek-Uvelius.

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Anya Trybala

Anya Trybala AKA Ninoosh is a music producer, writer and founder of the feminist electronic music collective Synth Babes. Her debut album Floodgates is available on all leading platforms. From Melbourne.

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