Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"Diagnosis Bingo! and How I was eventually Bipolar"

  My journey through my own personal crazy made a lot of stops as if my brain did not want to take the psychiatric express train but instead preferred buying a Eur-Rail pass to Fruit Cake Land instead.

  For many people the path to mental health diagnosis comes after they discover they are suffering and or are so ill that there is no denying they have something going on upstairs. It may be depression, or paranoia, simple traits for a professional to see and diagnose. In some cases and in mine it was not so easy.

 I always knew that I was different from a early age, a sense of just not quite being right but how was I to know it was a harbinger of things to come. When I was young and I know this will come to shock to whoever knows me, I was painfully shy. I avoided talking to strangers or meeting new people, and would have full on panic attacks if pushed into social situations. I also acted out and was unable to focus on things at one moment and obsessed on things as well. I was unpredictable and frankly and pain in the ass for my parents, family and teachers.  Not knowing what was going on in my own head my parents sent me to child shrink when I was 12. This shrink just watched me play games, draw, and listened to me talk and here was his diagnosis which was the first square in my diagnosis bingo.
 "Steven shows an above average intelligence but also shows impulse control issues, I think in my bearded opinion he is mildly autistic"

 Ah now my folks had a label and ran with it, reading every book on autism they could find. Along with lots more money spend for me to play with lego in creepy beard kid shrink's office.

 Soon I was a teen and along with my acne, fear of girls, hours of self touching to dirty magazines came my first depression. But no one knew it was a depression and my brains bingo card was played once again this time by a team of players. I was first called into my guidance counselor's office because I was not going to school much if at all. He was concerned what a Jr. HS kid was doing when not in grade 8 typing class.  So what was I doing you ask? Shoplifting like a madman is what, I was stealing everything including a bike I stole from a store and used said bike to steal and getaway from other merchants. But to my parents, school officials and others I was a shy, clean cut preppy kid, not a urban version of a Somali pirate. They never knew how bad I really was but my new shrink said I had depression and gave me depressants, now that is really fucked up.

 A few years later in when I was 15 I really went off the mental health rails when I had my first manic episode. That year I was 78 days illegally absent from HS, ran away from home 6 times once stealing my dads Mercedes, credit card and drove from NYC to Disneyland in California. this went on for 2 years until I was given a proper diagnosis. One doc hit it on the head and said it looked like I was bipolar but was vetoed by others who said, "teens do not get bipolar" and diagnosed me with the most socially destructive diagnosis ever, I was now a borderline personality disorder.  A diagnosis that to this day hangs like some horrible scarlet letter of "Stay Clear".

  I was a BPD til in june of my 17th year I locked myself in my room and took 40 valium. I almost died and to this day a lot of people do not know that story.  Enter the professional Diagnosis Bingo Hall the psych ward. There a good doctor diagnosed me bipolar and put me on lithium and soon I knew what it was like to be healthy or should I say healthier.

 In the years since I have been downgraded to "Depressed" was told I was a "Alcoholic" ( which if you really know me is kinda funny. I may drink heavy when I drink but I do not drink that often.) Upgraded to "Bipolar 2" again then back to "depression with social anxiety disorder". This went on for years and years til I went off the reservation again when I was married, tried to off myself again , bought two 80 grand cars in one day and was generally fucking nuts. Once again into the Professional Bingo Hall of brain shrinkery and was diagnosed "Bipolar 1 with C-PTSD and general anxiety disorder". This is the one that has stuck and with it treatment that have been for the most part very successful.

 Still when you come into contact with a new shrink, who does not know you he or she may have different ideas of what you are. They may attempt to play bingo with your mind. In all forms of healthcare we are entitled to a second opinion, if you need surgery you have the right to ask another physician if said surgery is what you need. But in crazy care not so much, we are expected to take our diagnosis like a good boy or girl and never question a psychiatrist, like they are some brain deity.

 Mis diagnosis is a common fact in Mental Healthcare, as it is a subjective field there are no biological tests to say what kind of nuts we have. So we must question our doctors, if you are not sure of your diagnosis ask for and demand a second opinion, it is your mind and your life at stake, and that is too valuable for a game of bingo...................


  1. i was misdiagnosed with borderline personality disorder in my early twenties. that just RULED my parents were able to absolve themselves of ALL responsibility and as usual but in a much worse way this time put it ALL on me.

    great post.. sorry i just got a bit trigged by the BPD talk.

  2. Do not Say you are sorry, it is a common thread of misdiagnoses as well as the huge stigma attached to BPD.