EDIT: I am quite upset so excuse incoherence. I probably shouldn’t be writing this here but I am upset. And now reading this over, I’m thinking, “Ooh, am I being BORDERLINE?!” Fucksake. Never in my life have I written or said something and thought, “OOH I’M SO BIPOLAR” but personality disorders are different eh.
I’ve had a diagnosis change, which I apparently got ages ago and have absolutely no recollection of whatsoever. According to the psychiatrist that I don’t remember meeting before, I don’t have bipolar disorder. I’ve never had a manic episode (ah, poor Rob, who has spent months trying to calm me down for nothing, pulling me away from randoms in the street and comforting me when I spent ages thinking there were things living in my walls, or pasting moustaches on my face at work, running down hills euphorically, applying for jobs as a gym instructor because I thought it would be brilliant, days and weeks spent up awake writing and talking, and months, this all lasted weeks and bloody months, not hours or seconds), my mood swings aren’t severe and it’s emotional lability. According to the psychiatrist, I have Borderline Personality Disorder. Not “and”, which I would understand. Instead of.
I feel stupid but I burst into tears and walked out of the room.
I went back, but as well as feeling its inaccurate, I feel like a fool. I allowed myself to invest far too much in the bipolar thing, as a prism for understanding myself, instead of just taking it as useful information and carrying on. This blog. Writing a book. People asking me for advice. On something I apparently don’t even have. And having a fucking abortion because I was so scared of what would happen, because of bipolar disorder. Why did I listen?
I don’t know whether to continue with this blog, and certainly not the book. Which may seem stupid but what right do I have to give advice on anything? Maybe I’m sulking but I don’t feel I should write about something I apparently don’t suffer from. I was told not to self diagnose, but I didn’t self diagnose! I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder more than once, when I had asked for second opinions, so obviously I was labouring under that thought! (Oh shaky sense of self! I must have BPD then).
Bipolar disorder has fit to me but my lack of response to medication points to BPD, apparently (despite the fact that most times off medication I’ve gone a bit mental. But I shouldn’t have been on them to begin with. And I didn’t stick with them because of the side effects that hit me hard. Lithium made me vomit constantly, and I was also trying to hold down a job on it. They thought I was an alcoholic. Depakote made my hair fall out and I gained a lot of weight, and having an eating disorder made it intolerable. Antidepressants have always been a disaster). BPD doesn’t fit to me. I don’t recognise myself at all in the criteria. I don’t think it’s accurate. I understood bipolar, it fit. It explained a lot and it helped me to know what I was dealing with. He said you can’t give people the diagnosis they want but I feel stupidly upset by this. I’m upset he says I have never had a manic episode and that my mood swings aren’t severe: then what has been happening to me all these years? What were they, then? What about racing thoughts, the psychosis, what was that? My mood swings last a lot longer than hours and days. The people who are close to me have seen that. I am better than I was and my mood swings last shorter now but I thought that was because I accepted my diagnosis and acted accordingly. I’ve got a lot better in the past year. And I put that down to medication and being more self-aware. Hence why I felt it was a good time to try and live without it. The psychiatrist asked if I only used Seroquel as a sleeping pill; I don’t, when I’ve come off it before I’ve become paranoid and agitated, but I couldn’t take the zombiedom and I’ve been sensible since I came off it in making sure I take it easy. But I didn’t get time to answer.
I don’t agree with it. I don’t think I have many of the diagnostic criteria at all. My relationships with people only became problematic in the past few years due to social anxiety and shyness and also last year me and Rob breaking up and the stuff that precipitated it and it meaning that my social life changed a lot and I felt isolated (and I thought if I had any personality disorder, it was avoidant personality disorder, as this is what my notes to the GP said), and my romantic relationships have been boringly settled. My mood swings last a lot longer than hours and days. I’m not promiscuous and I’m only impulsive in the context of being hyper. I haven’t self harmed in ages and when I did it was to calm down. I don’t dissociate. I’m not afraid of abandonment and I prefer being alone. I don’t have anger problems. I’ve taken one massive overdose in four years and it was because I took antidepressants which made me shivery, frantic and impulsive. I don’t feel bored or empty. I hate the fact that my traumatic childhood might be a factor in this diagnosis when I have never felt abused or neglected, I always understood that my parents were ill and it wasn’t their fault. My medications worked to a point; I’ve been quite stable mostly on Seroquel- but I couldn’t cope with the side effects.
But he was adamant and seems sure. So he is okay with me coming off medication, because I don’t need it anyway. He said I shouldn’t self diagnose.
I hate how upset I am over this. I don’t know whether to continue writing here. I invested far too much here. I know they are just words, just labels, but I feel foolish and like I have been misleading myself for years. I know it doesn’t change anything I’ve gone through but it dramatically changes how I understand it, and I feel like I then just did this to myself. I feel belittled. If they weren’t “severe” then how did I let it do this to me? It has always felt physical to me, and I’ve never thought I was particularly reactive. If I were reactive I’d have the highest self esteem, ever. If I were reactive just changing aspects of my life would have helped, and I wouldn’t have been so sad at happy times and vice versa. In months of depression, or spikes of mania and mixed-up bullshit, nothing touched it, nothing changed it.
I was asked to keep this within a clinical setting for now (I’m not sure why, we didn’t have much time because I was late, but I guess it’s because I’d get “validation” posting here) but I’m upset and wanted to vent. I would be less upset if it was, “and” but instead of is upsetting. I feel like the longer stuff, the destruction, and the frightening stuff, has just been dismissed. He says he knows me quite well through my stuff but I don’t recall meeting him much. He said he was explicit about this the last time we met but I don’t remember it. Then again, my memory is shit. I need a second opinion, because nobody around me believes this is accurate, and neither do I.
But I have been a lot better in the past year, and that’s important, but I also know it muddies the waters, but it doesn’t, to me, dismiss the rest of my life.
THE CALM DOWN EDIT
On the other hand, maybe seeing how things change, how uncertain diagnosis are despite my experiences remaining the same, is a good start to giving up my idea, my identity, and my treatment of mental illness. Or that I should just ignore the labels and concentrate on the treatment, when I need it again.
^That’s the sensible response, but I wish I’d named my blog something different now… I think, if anything is up in my brain, I have bipolar disorder. I doubt it sometimes because I am doing okay right now but my past experiences seemed quite obviously to me to be bipolar. But I’m supposedly wrong.
I don’t agree with the BPD label. I’d like a second opinion. But… I don’t know. It might not need to matter. Especially if I no longer want to take medication. Increasingly in the past year I’ve been stepping away from it all, which is why I even entertained the possibility of writing a book because I felt I had enough distance to do it. I have been ready to try living without medication. I don’t know. Diagnosis change, and different doctors diagnose different things, and I’d have been surprised if I didn’t get slapped with a new diagnosis. I just feel as though the rug was pulled out from underneath me, though, and I would be a lot happier if I felt it was accurate. He said he had been explicit with me about this some time ago, but I don’t remember it, and I have outright asked my CPN a few times what my diagnosis was, and I’m a bit pissed about it because if they thought that ages ago then maybe I could have come off medication and not lived with the side effects for so long. And if I go mental and have a manic episode off medication, well, that’ll be fun. It also asks why I became so crazy on antidepressants.
And, let’s be honest, part of my upset is because I, like most people, have fallen foul to the stigmatising view of BPD being a dustbin diagnosis given to difficult women. Whoops.
EDIT: The great thing is, I believed I had bipolar disorder. I have done for years because it was my experience and my diagnosis. I was pregnant last year and frightened of going mad during pregnancy and afterwards which is what can happen with bipolar disorder because they warned me it was dangerous to get pregnant. I thought it might be hereditary. I was afraid of not taking medication and not coping. And I am wrong then I did it for nothing. If anyone knew this last year before April I should have been told so I could have made an informed decision about keeping my fucking wanted child.
EDIT EDIT: Rob, my family and most of my friends disagree with the psychiatrist. My sister is angry because she feels like I’ve been dragged back to the beginning. It was hard enough accepting bipolar disorder. I don’t want to be ill in any way and I thought I’d been doing well lately, which I have, but I don’t want to be labelled with something that I think isn’t right either.
Filed under: Bipolar Disorder, borderline personality disorder | 91 Comments »