Yesterday afternoon I had an appointment with a new psychiatrist. My last one, who I hadn’t seen for two years, had flown the nest and because I needed some advice on medication I was referred to this new one. Now I don’t have a lot of faith in psychiatrists (no offence intended to my friend who used to be one) because in my experience they leap to the wrong conclusions about me.
I have never been a textbook case of anything, so I guess I make it difficult for them. And then they are always pressed for time so don’t have the time to really find out what it is that makes me who I am. So I was a little hesitant and stress levels were rising in advance. That said, I was also curious because I know I have come a long way in my recovery and I wondered what a psychiatrist would make of it.
What I wanted to do (and got the okay to do) is to come off lithium (gradually), which I have been on for about 10 years. I want to come off it because it is standing in the way of getting some reasonable medication to treat fibromyalgia, which was diagnosed earlier this year. I talked about this in To Earn Trust After Past Mistakes. While lithium has created some real problems for my physical health, it has been great for my mental health and my concern was for what might happen if I came off it. Would my level of mental health go downhill? Time will tell.
But of course seeing a new psychiatrist involved the full psychiatric assessment. One and a half hours later this new psychiatrist, who seemed to know his stuff, and I felt comfortable with, told me his conclusions.
I’m weird. I actually already knew that, but it’s interesting to be told that by a psychiatrist. Next time I’m asked for my diagnosis, do I say ‘weird’?
He also told me that while he could see I was severely depressed in the past and suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) he didn’t see that there was any label he would give me now other than having some serious attachment issues. As for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) he could see that there were aspects of this in me but he didn’t accept that it was ‘the issue’ for me now, as diagnosed two years ago by the last psychiatrist. We talked about the eating disorder but he didn’t seem too interested in that, accepting that I seemed to have it pretty much under control now. One thing that he did say is that there were perhaps five or six labels that could be assigned to me, but he didn’t think they are necessary now. I’m just weird. 🙂
Wow! It’s nearly nineteen years to the day since I was first diagnosed with a mental illness. I have been collecting numerous labels ever since, although struggling a bit because no label ever seemed to fit me perfectly. When I was given the dreaded BPD label two years ago it actually felt a bit of a relief, because I could finally see something that actually fit.
Now it seems I don’t have any labels. This is very odd. I’m sure ‘weird’ is not in the DSM-IV, although I prefer it to some other labels I’ve had. Maybe it is in the DSM-V, which is on it’s way. Obviously (as he said) I still have some issues, that I’m working on in therapy. And while he was happy for me to wean off lithium he wanted me to stay on the anti-depressant I have also taken for 10 years as a precaution against the depression returning.
This has completely blown my mind. I think he expected me to dance for joy and I can see that element, but my first statement to him was “so you’re saying I’m nothing“. Of course he hastened to assure me that wasn’t the case, and then wanted to understand why I would think that. He then suggested I shouldn’t think too hard about it, and in that he summed me up perfectly. It was exactly what I was inclined to do.
I am only too well aware that BPD is a personality disorder and is such part of who I am. My understanding of that has always been that it is not something that one recovers from. Yet perhaps I have. I don’t know, and part of me wants to race to another psychiatrist and check that the first one is right. But as I paid NZ$345.00 for this information today, I won’t be rushing to another any time soon. At that price once in two years is quite enough.
This information is still sinking in and weird is exactly how I feel. One on hand it is great news to not have those labels and to know my hard work has paid off, yet for nearly 20 years I have been labelled a psychiatric patient. And believe me, I did it in style. If one can call it that.
So what am I now? Other than weird? I’m not sure. Time will tell. Life is far from perfect, but it is so much better and the butterfly is finally emerging.
“I am spinning the silk threads of my story, weaving the fabric of my world…I spun out of control. Eating was hard. Breathing was hard. Living was hardest.
I wanted to swallow the bitter seeds of forgetfulness…Somehow, I dragged myself out of the dark and asked for help.
I spin and weave and knit my words and visions until a life starts to take shape.
There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.
I am thawing.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls
- To Earn Trust After Past Mistakes (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- What’s in a label? (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)
- Psychiatric Assessment Results (prideinmadness.wordpress.com)
- Mental Illness Hierarchy (prideinmadness.wordpress.com)