Falling Up the Stairs: Mania and being Transgender, the struggle with Bipolar Disorder

Patsy Starke
5 min readMar 30, 2017
From Pintrest.com

Mania side of Bipolar Disorder

Rolling and tumbling
My mind is crumbling
Defying gravity
In my depravity
My thoughts are jumbling

Spinning and stumbling
I’m so bumbling
I feel the mania
like in Tasmania
my body rumbling

Words I’m mumbling
Not so humbling
Confabulation and rumination
Out of control imagination
Conversation crumbling

Rolling and tumbling
Up the stairs
If anyone cares
Please stop fumbling
And stop me stumbling.

Catch me as I’m falling,
Up the stairs!

Patsy 2017

Free Images.com

Sometimes I think I’ve made it to the top of the stairs. Just when I’m thinking that, I usually fall back down. With my life long mental illness, Each time I’ve fallen I’ve had to start back at the bottom. This includes; mentally, physically, emotionally and even professionally. Fortunately being an RN I’ve learned symptom management and know when it’s time to get help.

The stigma of mental illness and Gender Dysphoria is like a chain that holds me down. Most Nursing Jobs I’ve had wouldn’t give me the chance to find my way back up the stairs. Even though I maintain a perfect professional record. They would say, we cant have someone like you caring for our patients.

There is not much of a safety net for people like me. I never wanted to go on disability because I’m a good nurse and when I’m healthy I’m a great nurse.
So anyway, I’ve been on sort of a creative high for a while. To be honest I kind of enjoy it. I like what comes out of me. Always in the back of my mind I fear the crash. I get very tired and worn out when this happens. Often I sink lower than the gates of hell at the end of my creative rainbow.

Usually I end up in the hospital in a bad way where I just fight everything, until I’m so exhausted that I have no more choices except to accept treatment. I have had many diagnoses since early childhood but never the correct one until recent years. I was put away as a child, only to be warehoused for a year and a half.

For some reason I never gave up and was able to earn a BSN after 16 years of college. I have successfully practiced Nursing for the last 20 years, except for intermittent hospitalizations. In my home state of Delaware and in violation of my HIPPA rights, I became known as the Bipolar Nurse. Today I wear that memory as a badge of honor. I ran away from Delaware to Texas where about every two years for six years I had to be hospitalized. At that time Texas ranked 49th in the U.S. for mental health. I returned to my state to face all of my demons and remain here to dedicate the rest of my life to Transgender and Mental health in whatever capacity I may find myself, both as a consumer and professional.

I finally shared with the world about being transgender about two years ago. After starting on Estrogen, it was the first time in my life that I really wanted to live. I quit smoking and all self destructive behavior. I have diabetes and in a way was using that to commit suicide. I am very compliant with that now with diet and medication, although sometimes I eat a donut or two. I have also been more compliant with my medicine for my mental illness and keeping appointments.

For a while I thought being Transgender and getting on estrogen was the answer to all of my mental health problems as I never felt so happy about who I was. Then alas, severe depression hit me out of nowhere. I was blind sided. This time I was able to stay out of the hospital and just go through a day program for several weeks. Guess what? I still feel happy about Patsy and being her. Yep! no dissociation there. I don’t know what I would have done if I lost my true self again, as being a Transgender Woman Is my identity. I love Patsy, she is so beautiful. Mental Illness and Bipolar are something I have. My being Transgender just needs to be expressed and my mental illness needs to be treated.

Not exactly sure why I’m posting this here. I do feel a real kinship with the LGBTQ community. I don’t hear a lot of discussion regarding mental illness except the debate about Transgender Identity versus the non-truths about the pathology of Identity as a disorder. So glad I don’t fall into the latter category anymore.

Two years ago after living with a secret for 56 years I was able to come out because of struggles, the bravery and persistence of my new community and family. I am now coming out regarding my mental Illness of Bipolar disorder in hopes that others may benefit and find hope, even when all seems hopeless in a depression cycle.

I continue to survive by reaching out for help and to give help when I am called upon. I look forward to meeting many of my new family in person someday. I truly love you all. I’m crying because I have never felt this level of love in my entire life. Because of all of you and your continued presence, I can now love myself.

Addendum: In May of 2017 I lost my Job due to my depression and I believe covert discrimination. Then another Job in December due to overt discrimination and have been unable to fully recover mentally, emotionally and socially since, although, I continue to grow and transition as my true self, Patsy. If it weren’t for the people who continue to love and support me and the incredible world of writing, I don’t know where I would be. Many thanks to my God in Heaven, Family, and Friends on Medium. I truely am Learning how to love by being loved and loving Patsy…

Patsy 2017–2018

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Patsy Starke

Registered Nurse, Transgender Woman In a lifelong transition, Parent, Grandparent, Normal every day run of the mill person, realizing my place here.