From Denial to Doubt

Many years ago I was told that it’s possible that I have Bipolar Disorder. I didn’t really think much of it at the time; my grandfather has it so I guess the diagnosis sort of made sense. I took the drugs given to me and continued along my path of denial and self-destruction.

A year or two later I began seeing a clinical psychologist (after months of being encouraged to by my psychiatrist), and so this journey of self discovery began. 

The first year of my therapy was a joke, not because she was incompetent but because I was still hiding from myself. I never opened up completely and viewed the whole process as just another obligation I had to bluff my way through. 

It was only when I decided to abruptly go off my medication a year ago (against both my doctors’ advice) that shit really started getting real for me. 

I was in the preparation stages of making a huge move to Taiwan, so stress levels were already at an all time high. As the medication that I had been on for years began to leave my system I slowly started to lose my (already shaky-at-best) grip on life. My head became literal hell to be in. The mental and physical pain was immense. 

When I finally broke down and went back to my doctors I begged them for a diagnosis, anything to help me make sense of the torment I was in. Very gently they told me (again) that it is highly likely that I have some form of Bipolar Disorder, probably type 2, and that it is important for me to be on medication at this stage of my life. 

This time I listened to them, and actually felt relief hearing that what I was going through wasn’t my fault or just in my head.

I’ve been back on my medication for over half a year now, and am settled in my new home (as settled as someone like me can be anyway). However, something still doesn’t feel right. 

I have begun to doubt my diagnosis. Not in the same way as before, I am no longer in any denial that there is something quite serious going on with my brain, but something about the label Bipolar Disorder doesn’t quite seem to fit. 

I am by no means an expert on the disorder. I know a lot about it because of the research I’ve done since receiving the diagnosis, but I also know that it can be very tricky to pin down and can present itself in a thousand different ways. 

During my exhaustive reading on the subject I inevitably came across Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). It was not the first time I had heard or read about it, but it was the first time that I started to look at myself through that particular lens. I identify with the majority of the symptoms, and have read that it can be mistaken for Bipolar Disorder or that the two often exist together. I don’t know why reading this filled me with such dread. Or maybe I do…

My psychiatrist once told me “you are not your disorder”. While I fully agree with her, it is rather difficult not to feel that way when the potential diagnosis suggests that your symptoms are an inherent part of your personality. I tell myself that no matter what my diagnosis I am still me, and yet the thought that I might have BPD still terrifies me. 

Perhaps it’s because my older sister more than likely has it, and she was a turbulent and abusive presence in my life for a long time. Perhaps it’s the horrific stigma that personality disorders carry. Perhaps it’s a combination of these, and more. I don’t know. All I know is that I now have massive doubt inside my head about what my doctors told me, and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. 

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5 thoughts on “From Denial to Doubt

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  1. Just the fact that you have been diagnosed, treated, and that the medication has worked means that you likely have BP II. The fact that your grandfather has it means it runs in the family, and that it’s most likely passed on to you.

    The brain is plastic, but that does not mean its sensitivities will abate, nor does it mean you are responsible for the mental illness. It’s a physiological illness— the way the brain was formed, physically, and characteristically will remain. Your responsibility is in the long term care, not the short term effects you didn’t ask for.

    There is, however, a common thread between BP II and migraineurs:

    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/bipolar-disorder/are-migraines-and-bipolar-disorder-related-0

    The two things I know for certain about migraineurs is that they are sensitive people and that sugar is their biggest enemy; sugar depletes the person of their energy, and when depleted have migraines.

    BPD is more difficult to diagnose because it’s a personality disorder, and thus requires a serious number of traits. Merely having abandonment issues is not BPD. This isn’t to say you don’t have it. You could have both. It is important to rely on an official diagnosis, and not fall into assumption because you find certain effects line up. WebMD can make anyone think they have cancer.

    These terms are medical, after the fact in establishing a cause for an effective treatment for an individual; they are not meant to serve as labels. Ultimately, trial and error is necessary, working with a mental health professional to know for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I moved to Taiwan at a tough point in my life too. I only lasted there 9 out of my 12 months I was supposed to teach English. I got depressed and they took me to the hospital. Then I up and quit and traveled around Asia manic. Please be sure you’re well before you go so far away. I really got myself in trouble and was mostly alone.

    I wrote a similar post today on denial about mental illness too, but I do fully accept it now.

    I hope you don’t identify yourself as your illness. I wrote about this topic at https://birdflight.blog/2017/03/20/labeling-a-yourself-or-others-i-am-insert-illness/ . There was one person who commented that argued that he feels he should identify himself as his interest. He gave his reasons. I still don’t feel they’d work for me, though.

    I also really like the title and caption for your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there.

      Thanks for reading, and for commenting and sharing your experiences.

      I am not alone here, I moved with my boyfriend who is very supportive of me. I still really struggle (clearly) but am managing so far.

      I am on the path of self acceptance, as difficult as it sometimes is, and agree that we shouldn’t identify solely as our illness.

      I look forward to reading your blog 😊

      Like

      1. Thanks, ramblingsofruin. I’m glad you have the support of your boyfriend. As for managing, sometimes that is fine. Taking things one day at time, as my psychiatrist tells me to do.

        Liked by 1 person

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