Tooth Extraction Unlocks Bipolar Adventure
By David Scott
Some Parts of the Adventure Were Better Than Others
The year 1995 was the greatest year of my life. The worst year of my life was 1996. That in itself comprised the highs and lows of bipolar.
In 1995, I was 22 and had two jobs, a girlfriend, lots of friends and my own car. One of my jobs was security at all the concerts in the Washington, DC area. I also worked security at all Washington Redskin games.
While I was backstage at a concert, my supervisor asked me if I wanted to work the Super Bowl. I was thrilled! They flew me down to Miami and I worked on the field at Super Bowl 29. I even took Steve Young, the MVP, back to the locker room after the game. 1995 was an incredible year.
In 1996, I had to have two wisdom teeth removed. My mother took me to the doctor. The doctor had the same last name as me. I thought I was in good hands.
The procedure did not go well. I could feel the drill going into my gum. The novocaine kept wearing off. The doctor stuck me with the novocaine seven different times. I remember everything because I am forced to relive that day every day of my life. The doctor even told his assistant to go get the larger drill because he could not extract the tooth. After it was all over, I felt strange, like my mind had been altered. My mother and I got into the elevator and I whispered in her ear that I could hear what the other people in the elevator were thinking. She did not respond.
When we got into the car, all I could talk about was God and other grandiose things. We went to the pharmacy to pick up my pain medicine and I could hear everyone's thoughts. Two days later I was completely insane and violent.
I was taken by ambulance to the local hospital. Once there, I fought with at least six doctors and hospital staffers before they knocked me out with a needle. When I woke up, a doctor told me that they thought I was high on drugs but found none in my system. I told them I had never taken drugs and I didn't even drink alcohol. The doctor told me I had bipolar disorder. I did not know what that was. He explained it to me. I told him that I didn't understand. Nobody in my family had mental illness and it was not brought on by drugs or alcohol. He said I had it all along but the severe trauma that I went through with my oral surgery had triggered it. I was devastated.
I spent a month in the hospital, the first two weeks in restraints. One time they released my right wrist to eat the tray of food and when I took the tray off, I hallucinated that there was a live snake wrapped around the plate, so I threw it on the floor. Also, while in restraints, I talked to this shadow on my ceiling and this light that would form a shape of what I was thinking. I thought it was God.
After a month, I came home. I felt great and took my medication. I thought after taking the medication for two weeks, who needs the side effects? So I stopped taking it.
This time I had to go to a different hospital. It was not like a mental hospital with restraints and harshness of any sort. I was in the room with two other guys and I had the freedom to walk around. I participated in group and I played chess with this bipolar lady every day. It was not bad except that I wanted to go home and every time I thought I was okay, the doctor was like, I think you need one more week. That was totally frustrating. What did I have to do to convince them to let me go? Well, I ended up staying there for a month, just like the other hospital. I would never stop taking psychiatric medication ever again.
When I got home, something was happening. I started writing poetry although I had never written any before. I was pretty good at writing in school but I did not know how to write poetry. In my manic state I was writing two poems per day. In my depressed state I was writing one every other day. I showed them to my father who was duly impressed. I started reading poets, beginning with Langston Hughes whom I had always admired. Then at a book sale, something just drew me to a rather plain looking book with the name Dylan Thomas on it. I was blown away by this guy and I discovered he was bipolar like me. I also found out that people were mesmerized at his poetry readings. So I started going to poetry readings.
People responded to my poetry. Within a year, I was featured at libraries and literary venues. When I discovered poetry slams I started writing more upbeat poems for performance purposes. I was winning poetry slams all over the Washington, DC area. One of my poems was on the hottest radio station in DC. For some reason, getting published was not as important to me as performing was.
Today, I suffer a great deal with heat and mania but I am able to control it. I don't get depressed that much even though I don't have a girlfriend or any friends for that matter. I am still on the spiral staircase but I am ascending one step forward every day.