On Facebook earlier this week, I saw a video of Lady Gaga talking to Prince William about mental health. The caption said something to the effect of “Be Brave, Talk about it”. I got extremely pissed off at that. I clearly have no qualms about discussing the fact that my brain does not do what, I suppose, it is meant to. By someone’s standards. Well, legitimately, by my own standards, I’m not a huge fan. Should I have a say in my brain’s makeup, I would lose the constant nagging pressure of my chest as my thoughts race with every conceivable thing that could go wrong in that moment of time or fending off worthlessness and hopelessness like flies on poop.
I digress…Anyway, this video got me thinking about my bullshit, because I tend to do that. I don’t even know what number bipolar I am. Isn’t that weird? Shouldn’t I have a complete diagnosis of whether they think I am 1 or 2? I mean, when my psychiatrist easily dismisses me as “not being used to not having mania to get your life in order…” I find that deeply depressing. Am I to understand, then, that I can’t clean my toilets or accomplish shit that used to matter to me because I don’t have .. mania? If that is the case, I kind of want my mania back, because my toilets are gross.
The video made me angry because I do, in fact, talk about “it”. The problem for me, and I’m sure many others, is that the people that write the fucking prescriptions do not listen. I get 15 minutes with my psychiatrist. In 15 minutes, this woman gave me life-altering diagnoses that essentially say that I need to be medicated for my entire life, and that’s that. The alphabet soup I have right now is astronomical. This woman said I am bipolar (number tbd?), borderline, PTSD/CPTSD, OCPD, GAD, MDD, PMDD. Holy shit. She claimed to have sent my psychologist a treatment plan, but my psychologist seems to not know what email is, or how to read, or in fact, no treatment plan exists. I understand, she’s focusing on her private practice now, so she spends half of our appointment doing shit she said she was going to do last appointment, and offering to see me privately for “Aetna’s rate of $80, so it’s easier on you” When I told my psych the Seroquel I was on made me feel like I was dying, she snapped at me and said, “Look, you need to take something, you are bipolar.” Well! Thanks! I should stick to a medicine that made me struggle to breathe, hold a conversation, or lucid thoughts. I’m unclear why I have to educate a doctor on the fact that medication affects everyone differently.
Obviously, people say bipolar patients are notoriously med non-compliant. I get that. Everything I have taken robs me of the things I actually enjoyed about myself. Do I like being impulsive to the point of danger/damn near stupidity? No, of course not. Do I enjoy frequently fighting off intrusive suicidal thoughts? A psychosis where I was convinced I had put myself and family in danger? No, obviously not. I do, however, enjoy having energy and the ability to work through things as opposed to being paralyzed. I once fancied myself highly intelligent and creative. That, regardless of the letters, my brain did work differently and I was all the better for it.
Should I really have to “fight” or “advocate” for my right to maintain my mind? Do I really need to cowtail to a woman who spends 15 minutes with me ever 4 weeks and condescendingly remarks how I’m “better”? How the FUCK could you know what my better or worse is? As I said to you, 30 minutes prior to leaving for this appointment, I was trying to manage through another massive panic attack. I’m glad, though, that I was able to fight my way through it, sobbing and frustrated, so you could sit there and tell me I seem better because I’m not “babbling”. I’ll take babbling, even about crazy shit, to rocking back and forth sobbing with my chest caving in. What do I know? I’m not a doctor. She knows what’s best for me.
Isn’t it weird that, if you were to break your leg, a doctor would spend more time assessing you and a visible injury? If a bone is broken, it’s there, it’s clear. I mean, yeah you have to do x-rays and everything, but seriously, a broken leg is kind of straight forward and you get more face-time with doctor(s) than a person who is dealing with something as critical as your MIND. I mean, what do you have in life, if you don’t have your mind? “I have flashbacks that make me scream in terror and hide in the basement for 3 days, but damn my 6 pack looks amazing”??
“Talk about it” so, to whom? When I talk about it to my friends, most get uncomfortable and/or tell me to talk to my doctor – who tells me I’m wrong…about myself. I have lost most of my friends as it is. I “talk about it” with my psychologist and she tells me that I am “overthinking”. She told me that the psychosis was clearly mania, and also MDD has psychosis. So…by this logic, I was both manic AND depressed at the same time. The nightmares that prevented me from sleeping are apparently irrelevant, and if I’d just stop wondering what the fuck is wrong with me, I’d be fine.
Clearly, I should switch providers, right? This would be my 5th? 6th? doctor/therapist combo. This is where the mentality of “Fuck it, I’ll just be crazy” comes in. I know I’m not the only one that is going through this. I know I’m not the only one that looks at the pile of pills they’re popping and thinks, “what the fuck?” I’m currently terrified to NOT take meds, because I have an aversion to people with melting faces and almost driving into a sign or telephone pole or something at 60mph, but I’m equally unhappy with my inability to obtain effective treatment.
If nothing else, it would be helpful to feel as though I can talk about the things that concern me and receive advice on how to manage that, or not be put down for feeling/struggling the way I am. I read somewhere that it can take a year or more for people to recover from psychosis. That fact alone is eating at me, because I understand. As I sobbed to my ex, “What if I was with the kids when this happened? What if I was alone? I could have killed myself!” This is not something temporary that will fade with time. I’ve gone from relishing my alone time to being terrified of it, because I am scared of my mind! “Focus on the progress you’ve made!”
“Uh, okay, I don’t see melting faces, but I can no longer stay awake for longer than 2-3 hours at a time…” To tell me that is my “loss of mania or hypomania” Ah! My mental disorder(s) hid narcolepsy! This is the problem. You cannot understand something like someone’s MIND in 15 goddamn minutes. Particularly if you are half listening, because you applied your labels, you tossed your script, and you are done with the issue. Medicine doesn’t solve everything, and the wrong medicine can make everything worse. As I’ve tried to explain to both of these chuckleheads, this is even more traumatic for me, because my diagnoses have never remained consistent from doctor to doctor.
Imagine if someone had been bounced around with benign breast cancer, changed to pancreatic cancer with 2 months to live, then the flu, and lastly, strike that, it was appendicitis. I’m supposed to trust this? In the mental hospital, I was diagnosed with GAD, MDD, PTSD, Borderline, and PMDD. Upon discharge and with 15 minutes with this new psychiatrist, all of that plus bipolar. I just don’t understand. The last psychiatrist I had? “I see absolutely no evidence of bipolar” and she took me off the bipolar drugs I was on.
The thing is, I don’t care. All I truly want is balance in my life. To me that is, the ability to manage my normal, day-to-day stressors, carry out my life and maintain a level of okay-ness with myself. I don’t know. I am just venting. The point is, talking about this is not going to do shit if the system stays as completely fucked as it is. I get that people don’t want to ask for help or talk about what is going on. If you don’t have these sort of issues in your life, it is extremely difficult to understand. When someone is aware that they suffer these issues, their mind focuses on that and reminds you of it constantly. No matter what you say or do, there is a nagging, “You are crazy and they know…” As much as everyone craves human interaction and connection, for most people, isolation feels safer because they know they’re different. Separate. Unequal.
The stigma is certainly a problem. The problem is mainly thinking shoving a pill in someone’s face is going to fix it. As anxiety and depression diagnoses increase dramatically amongst children and teens, suicide rates skyrocket, and pharma companies dole out new meds like skittles, as well as the clear correlation between addiction/abuse/mental illness, maybe people need to stop fucking talking about the issues and actually look to change. I’m “privileged” because I have insurance which is providing me, clearly, the bargain basement crap that I keep encountering as I attempt to fix myself. Unfortunately, I don’t have 300-400 extra dollars a month for a private doctor (on top of the 300+ I pay just to have insurance). What about people who can’t afford either? A friend of mine was prescribed Latuda in the mental hospital. She doesn’t have insurance. She went to fill her prescription and was told it was $700. Naturally, she cold turkeyed off the meds and ended up back in the hospital in psychosis.
Even if you are able to manage those feelings, there’s still paranoia. Every time you screw up, your mind immediately goes to your diagnosis. Especially something like bipolar. When the shit happened with my car? Bipolar was the FIRST thing that came out of people’s mouths. I’m so tired of being looked at as a diagnosis and not a human being. I guess, maybe from now on I should introduce myself as Bipolar (number TBD); maybe then a professional will listen to me…. In the meantime, I’ll just be inspired by Lady Gaga and Prince William and keep talking to everyone, because we are not alone – even though most of us isolate and feel like shit. We can all talk to our doctors and get ignored and google shit until we find ways to maybe help ourselves. Eventually, I’m sure we can all medicate ourselves out of our issues while we talk about how brave we all are.