Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The One Where I Get A New Label

Psychiatrists suck.

Psychologists suck.

Not all of them, granted.  There are some out there who do their jobs properly.  I met one psychiatrist the other day who seemed quite competent at diagnosing someone.  I also have a great psychologist who does what she is supposed to do, namely challenge thoughts and behaviors and help me live my life better.

But the rest - and there have been many - that I have seen since I was 19, well they can all bite my shiny metal ass. (erm...)  How can that many shrinks of one variety or another and that many GPs (also lots) miss something like Bipolar?

Bipolar 2 Disorder.  Bipolar Lite, if you will, which means I'm not about to spend the family fortune, shag everyone I meet nor will I talk a thousand words per minute and think I am Jeebus. But I will visit the deepest darkest pits of hell of depression and be serious about others being better off if I weren't here. I will also have amazing ideas for projects that take up all of my time every day, that I am not physically capable of doing, and no one else seems quite as enthusiastic about it as me...

My psychologist made me do a test. I love doing test. Love.them.  This one was an hour-long online assessment through the Black Dog Institute. It took an hour to complete, and I didn't need the whole hour to realise into which box my answers would be fitting.

My score:
  • 30 out of a possible 30 for Depression (still? really? shit)
  • 24 out of a possible 24 for Functional Impairement (that's some fucked up functioning)
  • Severe PTSD
  • Moderate Anxiety Disorder
  • Moderate Social Phobia
  • Moderate Panic Disorder
Diagnosis: Bipolar Disorder

When I saw the psychiatrist last Friday for a full assessment, the online assessment was confirmed and I was advised to start taking the mood stabiliser par excellence Lithium and the anti-psychotic Seroquel.

Tonight I have popped my first Lithium, and so begins the new med-go-round. I hope this doesn't play out like the trial and error of getting my pain management right. I don't want to waste another two years of my life trialling meds before I am stable.  I have lost so much time already from not being properly diagnosed when the Bipolar first appeared when I was 14.  I dont want to dwell on how different my life would be had I been treated then.  I want this diagnosis to play a positive role in my life now.

I now have a label on which to hang many things from my past. I have a way of making sense of things that seemed nonsensical. Nothing in me has changed. My behaviour hasn't changed, or not until the Lithium kicks in anyways. I'm still the lovable nutbag I was last Thursday. Its just that now I come with a label attached, one that is valuable and beneficial as far as my treatment, future happiness and understanding of my self goes.

It is unfortunate that with this label comes society's prejudices, assumptions and negative ideas about Bipolar.   And with those comes the likelihood of being discounted or dismissed because I'm manic (even when I'm not) or as just another nutter who doesn't have anything to contribute (when I do), or as someone whose friendship may be too difficult to manage (I'm harmless, promise).

The trick for me now is to concentrate on the benefits of knowing what is wrong with me my condition is.  That's a hard trick for me to learn, since I have spent most of my life being told I am worthless, but it is one I must learn.

Fuck the haters, right?

Image credit

It's my 42nd birthday in two days and I'll be happy about being Bipolar if I want to.


  1. I remember with stinging clarity the time I went for a diagnosis and came back with severe depression. My grandparents and parents and aunts and uncles started talking to me slower and smiled a lot at me.
    would say something totally lucid and insightful and they would tut tut and go there there. Ignoring me. I became an unperson almost overnight, just for having the courage to confront my depression and share it with people.
    Funny how most of them have depression of some sort or another at times in their lives yet they still treat it as though it is a shameful disgrace.
    Probably part of the reason I haven't spoken to them for nearly ten glorious years come Easter 2012. What a sense of freedom!
    Love your work...

  2. While this diagnosis will undoubtedly bring forth a host of new challenges... it must at least offer some sort of respite to KNOW what you have been struggling with for so long! That makes you even more of a marvel as far as I'm concerned.

  3. Oh I love diagnoses, I love knowing "So THIS is what it is", it gives you a direction - and legitimises the problem very much, which in your case opens all the good doors. I can only be relieved you have one, even as I shake my fist at the skies a bit, you have all the same problems now plus the opportunity for real help, this is a Very Good Thing.
    I also believe that we shape some of what happens to us because life (read: Life) is listening, the same way we have a pattern re what sort of man we unfailingly attract. So I also love that you've decided to look on the bright side of it, it can't come naturally but that's exactly it, "natural" can be learnt too and your "natural" so far has been self-destructive, now let's hear you roar!
    I hope they find a meds combo that works for you right away but please don't be discouraged if it needs tweaking, our biochemistry is a complex, individualised little bugger. It's not going to be like the past 2 years at all, those years were under the egis of Poor Med Management and you were often not taken seriously, now you have a definite diagnosis. Embrace the specialness, woman! And fuck the haters in the 'rhoids, always.

  4. What Lioness said. I'm another BP2 sufferer here. I know the mania isn't as severe. But the famly fortune etc..still an issue, so be conscious.

    I've not tried Lithium (not great for insulin dependant diabetics), and my anti=psychotic was Zyprexa, but it's not dissimilar to Seroquel.

    Good luck. It might need a tweak. I felt similarly..almost relief that I finally had a name to put to why my family was better off without me. (sorry. I still go there. But slightly less often).

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Have been looking around. HOpe you don't mind if I stay? I think we've a bit in common.

  5. I too love diagnoses. I only wish that more was known about mental health 20-25 years ago when I really needed it. As each of my conditions was diagnosed, I always felt a sense of relief - so that's why I feel the way I feel! And then more therapy would ensure to help me manage each condition.

    I have been reading a little bit about BPII in the last couple of years and I'm pretty sure I have that too, as well as high functioning autism and adult attachment disorder (thank you Dr Google and blogs). My GP does not "believe" in BPII, but has prescribed a mild mood stabiliser, which seems to be doing the trick.

    I also have all these years of therapy and self-education and self-development behind me, which help me cope. I am learning to look beyond labels, beyond conditions and try to focus on how I want to feel, how I want my life to be and take little steps towards that every day.

    The label doesn't change who you are, it helps you understand what is going on in your head and how to deal with it...

  6. Well, labels will always be there, people judge but you don't have to pay any attention to them, you must focus on your getting better!

  7. Different psychologists have various methods of helping people and make their life better. But let's admit it: in order to expect results form the professional help, you need to help yourself first.


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