Read the directions, folks

As I have mentioned before, I do not care for taking medicine. I’ve come to accept taking my crazy pills, but I’m never thrilled about over-the-counter meds; however, I hate going to the doctor even more, so sometimes medicine is a necessary evil. 

This was the case last summer when I had some fluid in my lungs. My sister, who is a nurse, was in town, and she bought some Mucinex DM for me and said it’d help clear the gunk out of my chest. Compliant medicine-taker that I am, I took her word for it. I took the medicine over the weekend, but I forgot it at my parent’s house when I drove back to my apartment.

I went to bed at my normal time, but woke up at an ungodly hour and was wide awake. I could not go back to sleep. Awesome. I was hypomanic. I could tell as soon as I woke up. I was working on five hours of sleep, but I was hyped. More than hyped. 

I did a hard workout first thing, and then drank a glass of chocolate milk after my shower. Still not tired. I realized I’d forgotten the Mucinex and decided to get some more once Kroger’s opened at 6:00. Great, I get to wait two hours for that. I probably read or cleaned in the meantime. 

I feel the same way every time I have a short night. I can physically tell I’m hypomanic. There’s this unmistakable energy coursing through my body; I feel incredibly empty and I can rarely get full no matter how much I eat; I typically have a lasting headache; and I have perpetual giggles.

My run to Kroger’s was uneventful and I got the Mucinex DM. I went back home because it was way too early to leave for work. I took two tablets, just like I’d done over the weekend under my sister’s direction. About forty-five minutes later, I left for work.

I realized on the way to work I probably should have eaten something since I just took medicine. I got to work, and our HR manager had gotten everyone coffee. Perfect. I didn’t need to eat anything. Why this seemed like a good idea is an excellent question. 

I was fine at first. I am incredibly aware of myself physiologically, especially when I’m hypomanic, but after an hour or two, I could tell something was wrong. I got up to get myself some water from the cooler and everything was on a tilt. I couldn’t walk a straight line if I wanted to. 

Now, I do not drink. I’m not supposed to with the medicine I take, and I’m not going to flirt with what could happen if I disregarded that stipulation. I have, however, watched plenty of movies that portray what being drunk feels and looks like. Based on this knowledge, I decided I was inebriated in some way. I thought it was some weird combination of being hypomanic and taking the medicine with coffee. 

I texted my friend, who happened to office fifteen feet from my desk, and told her something was wrong. I explained what was happening, and I seem to remember her finding it humorous. It was rather funny. I went into her office, and when I talked to her, my speech was slurred. She knows I don’t drink, so I’m sure it was funny to see me “tipsy.”

I went back to my desk and just giggled to myself. My arms weren’t exactly obeying, which I thought was hilarious. Eventually, though, I started to get a little scared because my condition was not improving and was possibly getting worse. I was texting this same friend, and she said I needed to get something into my stomach. That sounded like a good idea. Except…

My mouth was incredibly dry; my mouth wasn’t producing enough saliva to eat the granola bar I had. So I tried to eat some strawberries, but they tasted funny. The pineapple I had tasted even worse. 

I couldn’t do it, I told her. She said to try, so I did. I was trying to follow her directions. She has experience with drinking, so she was coaching me through my inebriation-like experience. I became somewhat obstinate, and thus less willing to follow her advice. 

It stopped being fun and then I became somewhat despondent. I didn’t want anyone else to know about it because I thought the biggest factor in my current condition being hypomanic. I couldn’t have coworkers knowing about that. I went into my friend’s office again, and just kinda felt like fainting. I squatted down and put my head down. Bad idea. I instantly felt sick and lightheaded. She told me that probably wasn’t a good idea. 

I needed to go home, but I obviously couldn’t drive. I told my friend I wanted to go home, and she said she would take care of it. I just stayed at my desk, not able to focus on anything and my mind was spinning too fast. My friend drove me home in my car, and our HR manager followed and took my friend back to work. 

This friend is by far my best, and she is not one for openly expressing emotions, especially affection. Luckily, I was feeling so poorly I didn’t talk on the drive to my apartment. But, had I been feeling a little better, I would have indubitably shared with her how much I loved her. I did no such thing, which was probably for the best. 

She walked me all the way to my door to make sure I got in okay. She reminded me to drink lots of fluids. I told her I didn’t want to, but she was adamant. She even gave me a vitamin C packet to give me some electrolytes. I put it in some water and drank it soon after she left. It tasted horrible. 

It was probably about noon, and I decided I should maybe try to sleep it off. That was not even in the realm of possibility. I was still hypomanic, sleep does not come easily in such a state. Since I couldn’t sleep and felt too terrible to do anything else, I decided throwing up might be beneficial. I was still texting my friend, and she said I could try it. I dry-heaved some, but nothing came up. I hadn’t eaten anything substantial all day. 

I had avoided telling my mom about my condition because I knew it would worry the crap out of her. But, after throwing up some, I didn’t know what else to do. So I called her and told her what I thought the problem was. She said she’d come over to my apartment to check on me. 

She came with animal crackers and saltines. My glorious mother, here to save the day! She did some investigating, and guess what? 

Yeeeeaaaah, I bought the extra-strength Mucinex DM and took two of those tablets. On an empty stomach. And washed them down with coffee. 


My poor mother. She was understandably concerned. She told me I needed to call the poison control center, and I did so grudgingly. Basically, the person I talked to said it was a good thing I didn’t fall asleep because I likely would not have woken up. She said I was out of the danger zone, and she told me to stop throwing up. 

I was feeling less woozy, but I still felt horrible. The biggest concern for me at that point was if I could take my crazy pills like normal. The lady from the poison control center said I could. I got off the phone and my mom immediately asked me what the woman said. I tried to play it off, but she wasn’t having it. I told her and she immediately started crying. 

My mom drove me to my parent’s house so that I could spend the night there. On the car ride to their house, I felt horrible. I felt like I was losing my mind again. My thoughts were racing and I couldn’t keep up. Racing thoughts are no laughing matter when it comes to someone who is bipolar. I wanted to laugh, though; I had the giggles and couldn’t shake them. 

I have to take some of my medicine with food, but I did not feel like eating. I forced down a little bit of cinnamon toast, but my mouth was still incredibly dry and I felt sick with dread. I figured I’d be in for a hard night. I was right.

I had trouble falling asleep because of my racing thoughts, and I thought I’d go the whole night without sleeping. When I closed my eyes, I saw colors bursting and it was very psychedelic. My mom came into the room in which I was trying to sleep, and I told her that I thought I might be manic. I said I thought I might need to go to a hospital the next morning. She prayed for sleep for me.

Sleep still did not come, and my mom suggested we go upstairs and watch Christmas in Connecticut, which has always been a surefire way for me to fall asleep. I took some melatonin as well, and finally fell asleep. 

I woke up relatively early for having such a rough night, but I felt much better. I made it to work before 8:00. I got to tell some of my other co-workers about my gaff, and they thought it was pretty funny (minus the part about my possibly dying). 

I think I was lucky I was hypomanic, or I might have fallen asleep, which would have been catastrophic. I’ve learned my lessons somewhat. First, always read the directions before taking medicine. Second, always take medicine with food. And third, always tell your mother what’s going on when you are sick.

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