The Ups and Downs of Diagnosis

tumblr_n351e6mVjJ1r5mbvpo1_500I started this blog back in January of 2011 with the hopes that it would be a safe haven for me to rant and rave about my mental health. Obviously, this idea fell by the wayside and life intruded just like it always does. Well, now I’m back. This summer has been an emotional roller coaster. I can’t begin to tell you what’s gone on and the emotional toll it has had on not only me but the people around me. Mental illness tends to do that. While its tightest grip is on the person it’s affecting, it also has a good hold on the people who love that person. In May, I went in-patient at Sheppard Pratt for suicidal ideations. I had a plan (I was going to overdose on Ativan, my anxiety medication) and was fully prepared to carry it out. There was a little voice in the back of my brain telling me to ask for help. This voice grew louder until the words finally came out of my mouth. My mother whisked me away in a flurry of packing and tears to the walk-in clinic they have. We barely made it in the doors before they closed but I was seen. The doctor was very nice and gently assured me that everything would be okay. I made it upstairs at a reasonable hour and quickly shut myself away in my room to cry. The next day I was seen by a very nice doctor, handsome and polite, who put me on a litany of medications to figure out what would work best. I’m now taking Effexor, Remeron, Naltrexone, Lithium Carbonate, and Trazodone. This combination didn’t immediately pick me up the way the Zoloft did when I started that. Actually, I spent a week and a half locked in my room, not participating, not talking and not cooperating. I was switched from the handsome doctor to an older man, bald, who wore tweed suit jackets and round glasses. He was the head of the psychiatry department so everyone assured me I should be thankful that I had such a great man working on my case. Of course, my immediate reaction was to hate him. Looking back and trying to judge fairly, he wasn’t so bad. I liked the first doctor better but Dr. Number Two wasn’t as evil as I originally believed him to be. Anyway, he believed I had bipolar disorder. I was adamant that I didn’t have bipolar. There’s nothing wrong with having bipolar, I just don’t fit the symptoms of the disease. My psychiatrist believes I have clinical depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder. The handsome doctor in the hospital gave me a new diagnosis though. He agreed with the first two but wanted to tack on another one, one that fits me so well it’s scary. He broke the news that I had Borderline Personality Disorder. This was like the bombing of Nagasaki for me. I knew my brain was broken. I knew I had trouble maintaining a state of pleasure and I liked to fret over things that don’t need to be worried about. I hadn’t quite accepted that I had a broken brain, but I was much more comfortable with that diagnosis than having a broken personality. Your personality defines who you are, it makes you what you present to other people, how could mine be wrong? As I gathered information on the subject, though, I found that indeed, I did have BPD. I can relate to so many symptoms and case studies, it’s not even funny. Okay, now we had an answer to my worsening symptoms. Why it took so long for someone to come up with this answer, I don’t know. I’m not sure why the dots took so long to connect, but they finally have. So now what? We’ve got a name, we’ve got an identity to the crisis, now what? Well, my mother took over from there. She set about researching, reading and hunting for anything on the subject. She was very thorough and once I was released from the hospital (it took a little convincing to make them believe I was actually better. I’m still not sure I am but at least I’m not a danger anymore), I joined the pursuit. What were we pursuing? Anything. Names, numbers, doctors, therapists, statistics, facts, anything and everything we could on BPD. And we found a lot. There seems to be a secret, underground world to BPD. One that people can only join through invitation. One that’s talked about in hushed tones and notes passed secretly between classrooms. It’s like Fight Club. The first rule of BPD? You don’t talk about BPD. The second rule of BPD? You DO NOT talk about BPD. It’s a blessing and a curse. Knowing why you act the way you do is great, but knowing that the way you act is wrong is absolutely horrible. However, I got the necessary recommendations and struck ground in this new-found world of personality disorders. Ever since, I’ve been reading autobiographies of “survivors” with this disease. Of course, I’ve been obsessing over my Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy too, but that’s a whole other story. I joined this group for people with BPD. The group uses Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) to treat the illness and it’s totally different from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The facilitator is great, funny and witty, and I like the people in the group too. It’s just nice to have someone to relate to about all of this. So that’s where I am now. I’ve been attending therapy once a week with the group facilitator, and then attending group once a week. I see my psychiatrist every month for medication checks and updates. And honestly, I feel pretty good. My mood hasn’t been on top of the world but it hasn’t been in the depths of despair either. I’m just okay. And for now, that’s all I ask for.