Sarah Rogers' story made me remember my own.
Elizabeth Lindell: There are stories in the news that touch us universally, and then there are stories that touch us personally. Not everyone can relate, but those who do are riveted and pulled in deeply. They leave us asking, "Could this have happened to me?" or, "Could this have been my story?" The story of Sarah Rogers had me wondering similar questions.
Sarah Rogers, 29, a woman with bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia, has been missing since December 2009. Authorities do not suspect foul play. It appears that Sarah has had a strong support system in place for her illnesses, but did not always take her medication. Her parents and her husband, Fritz Coulombe, with their 2-year-old son in tow, appeared on the "Today" show Tuesday to spread awareness about Sarah's disappearance, adding that Sarah's medication made her feel "weird" and "groggy."
Sarah's husband said that she became manic and snapped, taking off out of the driveway at about 40 miles an hour. Her father said he had been in contact with his daughter the entire week she was breaking down, trying to get her on her medication and to reach her psychologist. But he said none of those calls were returned.
I, like Sarah, have bipolar disorder, and I, like Sarah, had a day where I was manic and paranoid when my child was 2. I was compliant with medication but had just left the hospital after 10 days of intravenous steroids, which cause mania. I also had a support system. I do not know all of the events of Sarah's manic day (or days) in December, but I do know one difference. My psychiatrist picked up the phone. He told me exactly which medication to take and how much to take. I didn't want to. Like Sarah, it made me feel weird. So he gave me an option: Take the medication and go lie down, or he could find me a bed in a residential treatment facility. Even in a manic state, it wasn't a tough decision. I chose feeling weird (a sensation of being in wrapped in a mental straightjacket while you slowly lose access to extreme feelings that have been a comfort to embrace).
While I understand not wanting to succumb to the medication at first, it is there to prevent situations like Sarah's from happening. That weird feeling the medication causes is temporary, but how long will Sarah's baby cry for his mother every time he sees a blonde woman at the store?
Sarah's family is hoping she is alive, reading and watching the news, feeling their love for her and the bond she has with her baby that can never be replaced. Mistakes that are made during a manic episode can feel monumental and even unforgivable to the person with bipolar disorder who made them. If Sarah is out there, I hope she realizes that she has been described as a loving and devoted mother, and simply has an illness that needs to be treated.
|Elizabeth Lindell is a journalist, fiction writer, wife of 11 years and stay-at-home mom to a blossoming tween daughter. She happens to have lupus and bipolar disorder, and has blossomed herself since moving to Los Angeles in 1996 (from a small town in Indiana).|