This is the page that I really didn’t want to do. *sigh* But I have to, if I’m going to really tell you about myself, and I realized that I can do it in such a way that it isn’t just a list of my diagnoses, because over the years I have learned that A) that list doesn’t even begin to describe or cover it, B) diagnoses are only helpful insofar as they can point you in the direction of the proper treatment, and C) labels are for jelly jars.
I do carry a number of psychiatric diagnoses, I think at last count there were six. I know I have referenced some of them more directly in my posts, but I’m only going to tell you one outright here, and that would be Bipolar Disorder I, treatment-resistant.
I read and have on my Blogroll a number of blogs that deal specifically with BD (clinical shorthand for Bipolar Disorder) and other mental illnesses, and I understand why someone would choose to focus their blog on that particular aspect of their life.
But here’s why I have chosen not to.
I have been diagnosed for about six years now. I have been medicated into a stupor, I have had my ear talked off by multiple therapists who know nothing about that of which they speak (my wonderful friend and fellow blogger lunasunshine said, “nothing prepares you for being a parent like being a parent,” the same applies to mental illness: nothing – not even years of schooling and practice – prepares you for having a mental illness like having a mental illness), I have had my brain shocked 16 times over, and six years later I am not any better than I was the day I began this journey. There is not a single day that goes by during which something doesn’t remind me that I am mentally ill, from a timer telling me to take my medications to a reminder of someone I loved who has chosen to no longer want me in their life because of it. The last thing in the world I wanted or needed was something else (especially something I created and had a choice about) shouting, “YOU HAVE A MENTAL ILLNESS!!!”
But that isn’t all, not by a long shot. When you carry multiple diagnoses, as I do, your doctors and therapists will often talk to you about how it’s difficult to tease out the strands of which illness causes what behavior or symptom (really, thanks, couldn’t possibly have figured that one out without your help). The same is true with my life. Because I became symptomatic young – I had my first discrete bipolar episode at 14, but I probably had some symptoms of it prior (life generally doesn’t go along in a progression of normal, normal, normal, normal, BOOM, severely bipolar), and I know I had some symptoms of other disorders much younger – as well as the fact that there are many things about my personality that could be considered bipolar-type traits, even without the illness, it can sometimes be very hard to tease out the strands of what is (are) the illness(es), and what is just me being me.
And of course there is the final reason. It may not be the most important to those of you reading this, but it is to me. I am so much more than just a listing of diagnoses (hence the other pages I am creating). I am intelligent and creative and curious and beautiful and honest and a writer and an advocate and a reader. I am wonderful with children, I take interesting photographs, I am loyal and supportive, I am kind, I understand the things in this life that cannot be understood, and I can love like no one you have ever met in all of your days.
One final specific I do want to add here: I sometimes use the term “ECT moment,” both in these pages and in other aspects of my life. Generally this refers to when I have a moment where my brain blanks on something, but it isn’t one of those things I know will come back to me, given enough time. It may be something I’m not even entirely sure if I ever knew or not. So to me it’s an ECT moment – something I have forgotten about because of my electroconvulsive therapy. I use it in a fairly accepting, almost flip way (it is usually accompanied by an internal eye roll and a shake of the head). It isn’t my intention to make anyone uncomfortable by using this term, but the way I see it, I have lived through it and made my peace with it as much as possible. If it does make you uncomfortable (unless you, too, have experienced the joys of ECT), that’s entirely your issue. If I can get over it, I would sure as hell think you could.
Addendum: As of August 2012, I have to report that I am better. I am much better, I am healing, I am happy. Certain things still lurk, they always will, but I have been (and will continue to be) kicking their asses all over the place.
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