One – from How To Talk To Crazy People by Donna Kakonge – Changing Diagnosis

My fifth breakdown puts me back in Scarborough Grace Hospital at the end of February 1996. The mix of lithium, risperidone, and clonazepam that they force me to swallow every morning is an acidic punishment my doctor says I need to take for life.

The first time I was told that I am schizophrenic, then they said that I have schizoaffective disorder, now the diagnosis has changed to manic depression.

Resting in my hospital bed, I look up and am surprised to see my boss, Carolyn, beside me. Her orthopedic shoes were silent on the carpeted floors.

“Hi, Donna.”

“Hi, Carolyn,” I say. “Thank you for coming.” She looks at me closely. “How are you doing?”

“I feel fine, but they won’t let me out.”

She steps closer and touches her silver wire glasses. “I see nothing wrong with you, either. You should come back to work soon. It’s probably all the shift work that upset you. I will put you on a regular shift in the evenings, starting at 6 p.m. I promise. You can work until 2 a.m.”

Carolyn tells me that she will give me the title of Evening Researcher. This feeds my ego and, despite the doctor’s order, I sign myself out of the hospital after only three days. In response, the doctor informs me that he will never treat me again.

I go back to work at the CBC, but sleeping and waking up remains a struggle.

I follow up with a female doctor, a psychiatrist, who asks me to call her Sarah. I see her once a week at St. Mike’s. I feel like a hospital refugee, now that I have St. Michael’s and Scarborough Grace hospitals on my health resume.

Sarah cuts my meds back to only lithium.

Then, she goes on sabbatical without telling me. I go off the lithium two weeks later.

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