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Recently Diagnosed... Again


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Who am I? I'm not myself today. Maybe I'm you.

I've been in therapy on and off for the past forty years. I've had endless diagnoses - depression; involutional melancholia; alcoholism; cyclothymia; personality disorder; PTSD; DID; OCD; LMNOP (I just made up that last one). I was given antidepressants and talked half to death, hospitalized several times, but with very little progress. Antidepressants set off hypomania followed by rapid cycling. That brings up to a year or so ago...

Now they're saying bipolar II (along with the PTSD and OCD; I get to keep some of my letters). They tell me I must take my meds or BAD THINGS will happen. Seems to me meds are what made the bad things happen in the first place. That rapid cycling is like being in the spin cycle of a washing machine with a bunch of broken glass. It's not as much fun as it sounds...

Aside from being more or less batshit crazy now, I am unable to work. I've applied for disability. The psychiatrist was the one who advised this. I tried to work, but... too many mood swings too often, plus I can barely get out of bed much of the time.

So, after forty years of difficult and often painful psychiatric treatment and hard effort on my part, I'm toast. The wonders of modern medicine. I suppose it could be worse. In the good old days, they just shoved an ice pick into your brain and you were "cured".

OK, so that's the history in a nutshell. Right now I'm just trying to get stabilized and to recover what functioning I can; and to avoid starvation and eviction while I wait for my benefits. Which, I am told, could take anywhere from four months to three years or longer. How long can you tread water?

I live in Chicago with my two cats and a gazillion books. I like to play the piano, read (of course), play with the cats, and so on. Nothing too fancy. Oh, and to ride my bicycle when the weather's OK. Somehow I'm not even able to hold on to this simple life. God knows I've tried. It might have helped if the effing doctors had gotten the diagnosis right oh, about thirty or forty years ago. But maybe not. We'll never know.

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Whew. That's a lot of diagnostic-confusion and (I'd imagine) frustration with the mental health system. I hope that you find something helpful and effective in the near future.

The "take the meds" talk may seem strange since it caused so many problems in the first place...but I have to admit that the right drugs (as opposed to just any drugs) can make a difference. A hypomanic/manic reaction to ADs isn't surprising if there's something bipolar-like, though you'd think that would have clued them in earlier. Anyway, I won't babble on more...but the general point is that they can actually be helpful, once properly prescribed. It sucks to be on the rollercoaster while they try and sort stuff out...but once it's sorted out, you kind of get your life back.

Sorry it's been such hell. I hope you find it helpful to be here!

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Thanks, all of you, for your supportive replies. I think my tone came out a bit worse than I actually feel. Yes, I'm frustrated and angry and confused, but then again, that's the story of my life. Through all of it, I survived kept my sense of humor, and still have most of the parts I started out with. With the possible exception of my mind, of course. Wasn't using it anyway.

It's nice to feel welcomed here. Thanks for that.

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