A Journal Writer’s Roadmap to Her Potential Diagnosis: BiPolar Mixed? Major Depressive D.O.? PTSD? A
In an effort to figure out what the hell happened to me this October, I decided to start ransacking my basement and attic for all my old journals, and especially for my old hospital records from June of 1995. Despite the mess I made in both places, I managed to locate everything. I am still not sure this was a good thing, but none the less, I found the papers I wanted to bring to my therapist for a second opinion.
As I have written in another one of my posts, I admitted myself to a locked unit exactly one year and one month after I lost a baby I carried for over 8 months. The first thing that struck me was the Previous Admission Date: 5/5/94. That was the day Michael was born. The hair on my forearms stood on end, but yet I forced myself to continue carefully reading through all the paperwork. Being a nurse, of course, the next item I fixated on was the final diagnosis: Bipolar, Mixed; Major Depressive Disorder. I then read the History of Present Illness and each symptom from agitation to restlessness, anxiety to feelings of wanting to run away, sleeplessness to weight loss are all too familiar to me as of late. On the face sheet, in doctor’s chicken scratch, there were statements about being “frozen in unresolved grief over lost child” and “rapid speech, failure to make eye contact when discussing emotional issues, sometimes inappropriate.” Which brings me to my concern: Are my symptoms truly situational, or have they gone untreated for the past twenty years? Don’t get me wrong, they did send me home on Lithium and Prozac, but I hated how those medications made me feel, so I stopped taking them, sought regular counseling and was told that the whole experience was probably a result of unresolved grief and extreme Post-Partum Depression, so I went with it. Today, uncertainty ruled my mind and I began having overwhelming doubts, ultimately leaving me to recount each and every step of my life to remember how I behaved. Racing thoughts were pervasive today following my trip down memory lane.
Next, I reached for my journals which spanned my entire adolescence and young adulthood. There was a common theme: Depression. Amongst all my Taylor Swift lovelorn poetry were poems about death, suicide and finding peace in burial grounds. Holy shit! I know I had idolized Robert Smith of the Cure, but these were over the top, and confronted me with the realization that possibly this has been a lifelong battle, one which I chose to try to fight my own way. I suppose I did okay, all things considered, but now I wonder if I could have done better. I know I was not an easy woman to love at times and when my moods and irritability were bad, they were BAD. But for twenty years I managed, and fortunately, my husband loved me for me, the melodramatic, hot tempered, sometimes very unstable me only he and my family would see. To the rest of the world, I was an organized, loving, upbeat nurse, always willing to help and go the extra mile.
But this October was it for me. Everything crashed down around me on that fateful morning my daughter came home and told me she had been assaulted. My shoulders could no longer bear the weight of even one more painful event, and I finally broke down. Possibly I should look at this as a blessing? I mean, I am only forty-three and I have a lot of life left to live, if only I can get myself well. My therapist told me not to get hung up on the diagnosis, and I told her I wasn’t. I have no shame. I am not worried about a stigma. I just want to get well. I’m being totally honest about everything, handing it all over, hospital records included, because at this point, what do I have to lose? I do this with the firm belief that there is a reason I have to endure this and come out on the other side. I do this with the hope that the next forty three years of my life will be balanced and peaceful, and the girl who wrote about cradling a .22 caliber will finally be able to sleep without her Xanax.