Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The diagnosis

Being diagnosed is a rough thing to handle. I knew something about me was different, but knowing that it was in my brain was hard to wrap my head around - no pun intended. 

For me, the diagnosis came after a full mental breakdown followed by months of suffering and suicide attempts. Medicines were tried, hospitalizations came one attempt after another. Minimal psychiatric testing was done until they finally consulted a specialist. I created stories based on single pictures and filled in hundreds of circles on questionnaires. I told the specialist about my history, he reviewed my chart and finally we had answers - Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, severe depression and severe anxiety. 

My medications changed but the symptoms didn't. Eventually, I was sent to a residential facility for 3 months to work on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) while trying to find the right medicine combination in a controlled environment. The medical aspect of the stay was horrible. The doctor prescribed so much lithium and seroquel that I could barely walk, talk or write. My therapist finally stepped in and I was sent to a different facility to detox. Once that issue was handled, I was able to better focus on learning coping skills. 

After it was all said and done, I can say I walked away with three things: 

1. I was never going to blindly trust doctors like I did before. I needed to start strongly advocating for myself when things didn't feel right. 
2. There were coping skills out there that I could use. The biggest being writing, something I had been away from for quite awhile. 
3. There are AMAZING people out there who "get it" in a way no one else can. Some of my dearest friends came from this stay. People who I can reach out to when I am struggling and need to find a way back to my wise mind. 

Now, over three years later, I'm finally on a good medicine combo, I recognize when I'm starting to slide and I can see all of the reasons I have to live. I can see all of the love from my amazing support system. 

This is a lifetime battle, but I feel as though I'm on the right track. There will be regressions, I'm sure. Maybe even a few more inpatient stays. Continuing on my current path would be wonderful, but I am also realistic in knowing that things aren't perfect, medications will change over time and that I have many hills and valleys in my future. Though the diagnosis will always be there, I have the tools and support to beat it every time.
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