Working Up To It


I have always thought of myself as a pretty open book. I don’t flat out lie. If I am asked a question, I will always try to answer it honestly and to the best of my ability. Any misinformation is either from a miscommunication or an accidental omission.

I have been having symptoms far enough outside of the scope of BP II that it made me start challenging my diagnosis.

A diagnosis is a label. A label is just a label, and it shouldn’t make much of a difference, right? The point is that I’m gulping down pills of every color that should apply to every disorder under the sun.

Wrong.

At first, I didn’t want to question it, and I prayed that the extreme symptoms would subside. I had hoped they were circumstantial and as soon as the situation was resolved, the symptoms would resolve. Somehow, I forgot a key element of disorder. It doesn’t resolve when a situation resolves. That’s why it’s termed “disorder” instead of “moodiness”.

C.S’s appointment came and went without change. No relief came for either of us. In fact, we were both more distraught than ever with the news that we would be waiting another five weeks until there was a definitive diagnosis. And even then, that’s just the start a treatment. It could be years before things start to turn around.

In the meantime, I’ve found myself in agony, like a person huddled in a cold cave, waiting out the storm. I have always been in the habit of putting others first, because they rely on me in times of need. I know what it’s like to have the rug pulled out from under me when I’m in the most desperate of need. I’d never leave a person near and dear to me to fend for themselves. Especially when they have explicitly asked for my help.

Things get better. Things get worse. It is rollercoaster of daily twists and turns, ups and downs. And I couldn’t understand why my mood and behavior were so unstable. The medication works when I’m not particularly sensitive to external stressors. The inner turmoil doesn’t exist without it. But once a person has stirred the pot, it puts things in motion.

I started my excavation. I started reading old journals, some as far back as twelve years ago. Certain recurring symptoms emerged, and these were exactly the ones plaguing me now. The ones I find exist somewhere outside of BP II.

I examined my mood chart that I began in the tail end of my most recent depressive episode. Consistently low scores. And then, suddenly, the points were very high one day, and very low the next. I am careful to chart at the same time each day, so that the scores can be considered consistent.

When I noticed the trend as it was happening, I termed it “dysphoric hypomania”. The lows weren’t sadness, it was rage and anxiety. That was, until it went beyond the definition of “hypomania”.

Energetic despair. That’s the only way I can describe it in retrospect. I started running to burn off some energy, anxiety, and emotion. I clung so hard to anger, because I couldn’t cry. And when I did cry, it was in unpredictable bouts. I would start, and everything would come flooding out.

Then, there were the fits of rage. I would find myself beyond irritable – extremely agitated is closer to the term. I became more obsessive than usual. Things had to be a certain way. My anxiety was so far through the roof that I found myself trembling at times. Chunks of memory started to fall away, and I began frequently misplacing important items. It was a recipe for recurring explosions and tantrums.

Then, I began terming what I was seeing as a “mixed episode”. Impossible for BP II, right? So, BP I? It shouldn’t matter.

The question plagued me again. Why has my medicine afforded me shorter episodes and longer stability if I’m “getting worse”? Why all of a sudden?

It didn’t add up. Obsessions and compulsions, as they were happening, were not within the criteria for anything on the BP spectrum. I started having full-blown psychotic episodes in short bursts. But, I still didn’t quite meet the criteria for a full blown “manic” episode, required in a mixed state.

As things became rockier between C.S. and I, old, very painful memories started emerging. I’d feel the pang of the emotional reaction to a situation that was “familiar”, and then I’d have the flashback. But, the flash wasn’t always strong enough for me to pin it down completely. For a millisecond, I was in that moment in my past. Not always long enough to identify it.

But, they were plaguing me at times unprovoked. Times that I allowed my mind to wander. Awful feelings would come out of acts that hardly pinged me in the past. But then again, I had been drunk and numb.

That’s not BP anything. Not even close.

I had been wanting so desperately to solve this on my own. There are so many things I can’t imagine speaking out loud to anyone. Even harboring the flicker of the memory and the attached emotion is hard enough.

I took some inventories online. I started to put labels on things.

OCD – for the obsessions, the thoughts that kept recurring, the compulsive need to check, wash, count, have certain items on my person, etc.

PTSD – for all of the flickers and flashes of things in that dark closet. For all of the things rattling the inside of the Pandora’s box that has been dormant for so long. For all of the hurt, neglect, and abuse I had never spoken a word to any professional about.

BP I – to cover the “mixed” behavior and paranoid delusions, and auditory hallucinations.

Then, there was a label for the jar that shocked me.

Borderline Personality Disorder???? What?

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13 thoughts on “Working Up To It

  1. A history of trauma is frequently responsible for multiple diagnoses. At the Trauma unit they called it “co-morbidity.” I have been diagnosed BP 1, PTSD, Borderline, and Dissociative disorder (i.e. multiple personalities). My condition continued to get worse until I started addressing the trauma itself (and even then it got worse for awhile).
    Also, I have read that mixed episodes are more common with age. I don’t know if that applies to you or not.
    Wishing you the best.

    • I really appreciate it. I am getting to the point in my posts about how my thinking and symptoms prompted me to seek treatment.

      You know that feeling you have right before you get sick? You don’t know that you’re sick yet, but you definitely know something doesn’t right. That’s the feeling I’ve had. I know something isn’t adding up.

      I don’t know how to deal with the trauma. It’s like fire; everytime I get too near it, I get burned. So, be assured that I am going to see someone. But, there was a lot between this point and that point. To be continued…

  2. Once again my heart goes out to you and C.S. I recognize so much of this.

    I know it all seems so very bleak and I ca to some degree understand the ‘five weeks before a diagnosis’ whilst you have been living with and are oh so familiar with all this the psychs need to be sure and that is often what takes the time. It can certainly be very hard to take when you feel like you have been living with this for so long now,

    In temrs of the ‘it could be years before things start to turn around’ here again I do understad it but in my experience that is the ultimate not the immediate and certainly once on the right treatment you should experience some releif – probably in a lesening of severity or repetition. But this depends on the treatment of course..

    Many of the things you describe overlap and certainly do come within the Borderline Personality Disorder symptomology. The truth is that it is not an easy call to make and even when made can be changed later – I have been diagnosed with it in the past.

    I want so very much for you to know that you are all in my heart and my prayers and to know also that there is, regardless of how things may seem at the moment, hope. I am living proof of that. You have already survived so much and what is more along the way you havbe given so much and shared and helped others.

    It s my fervant and heartfelt hope that you be given some releif and that you may identify and find a way of reducing the triggers and that no matter how dark the night, you can always see the hope of the morning that follows.

    Kind Regards

    Kevin.

    • My poor husband. I’m watching him go through a very similar thing I went through. I’ve tried to find shortcuts to help him get relief faster, but as I recall, I couldn’t even find any for myself.

      Admittedly, I do feel a sliver of satisfaction. Now, he has a very clear picture of what I went through. With the exception that he didn’t have to run all over the city to find a provider by himself. Oh, and the exception that he doesn’t have to go through this alone.

      This is forthcoming, but I made a decision as all of this was going on. I noticed that my mental state was decaying rapidly in times of the greatest stress and not repairing in times of reprieve. An impairment was beginning to form, and I can’t have that. Before I can expect myself to head this and stand as the stronger pillar right now, I have to get some reinforcements.

      Just like when a person gets sick, they see the doctor. I know this is a behavioral problem, so I need a therapist.

  3. I also alalyse my diagnoses when my symptoms go beyond what I know as Bipolar II. My therapist just says that happens sometimes. But I like to know for sure exactly what is wrong. I like my life in a routine and under control. So it is hard to have to go around wondering exactly what mental illness your suffering with. You are doing like me, studying multiple disorders to try and find the one that fits. I hope that you are able to come up with an answer. As far as meds, you really need to find a cocktail that fits with your symptoms. Be careful about taking the wrong meds together. It doesn’t seem right that your husband is having to wait so long for a diagnoses. But that day will come. This will not last forever. This is just a very very bad patch. If you can be patient and be mindful of your situation, you will make it until you find the answers. I am still praying for you. hugs

    • I am a control freak to the max. If I don’t have control over something, I feel like things start to spin out of control. It starts to feel like my grip on everything starts to slip. You know, like dominoes. I realize that is a problem.

      It becomes a problem with the people in my life. I don’t want to control them. I want to fix them. And when I can’t, I freak, like I’m not doing something right, or I’m failing them. I’m a fixer.

      I’m also a self-loathing, self-destructive, rage-a-holic beast on my worst days. I have been known to project on the very worst days, when it seems like I spit venom and verbally harm the people I love. From what I understand, that is a symptom.

      I’m not saying all of my bad traits and misbehaviors fall into that category. There are also times when I’m super lazy. No motivation, completely unrelated to depressive symptoms. I feel like everything and everyone is boring. Not mania either. I don’t feel peppy.

      But, I know when I’m being me and when I’m not in control of certain behaviors because they are so spontaneous and ingrained. I don’t want to cut, and for many years it was sporadic. Over the last four years, since I stopped drinking (constantly), it’s become more and more frequent. There are other things that I’m not ready to talk about yet. I have a hard time accepting that I’m like that.

      I keep it together and clean up nice, but in truth, I’m really screwed up. And I thought that this was all stuff that would resolve with age and wisdom, and everything else. It hasn’t. I’ve just adopted more complex, maladaptive behaviors I thought would fix it.

      I’m coming undone. It’s been coming. It’s like when you grab an armload of clothes to carry somewhere. Little things like socks and underwear are going to fall out. And they’re the most offending of the clothes, so you’re compelled to stop and try to pick it up. Then, you start dropping bigger things, because you shifted a little.

      Everytime I make a stride to get myself together, get and hold a job, have a stable home life, etc – well, I pull myself together by grabbing all of myself with an armload. And little by little, I’ll start dropping dirty bits here and there. Eventually, it’s going to all end up scattered in a pile on the floor, and I’ll be sitting in the middle of it crying and broken because I couldn’t do it.

      I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me that I can’t seem to make a perfectly good life work. There are people in this world that would kill and / or make deals with Satan for what I have.

      I have a husband who is really in love with me, and who needs me as much as I need him. I have a gorgeous, healthy, brilliant son. I’m not too far in the red when it comes to money, and I’m fairly well educated. I am intelligent enough that school was never really difficult, and I have special talents that many others do not.

      I have almost everything I’ve ever wanted in this life, and I just – I’m just like this. Even all of these things can’t heal me.

      I don’t know. I guess I thought, when I started to become symptomatic, when I finally grew up and had control over my life, and had everything I never had – well, that I’d be fixed.

      And I wanted to pretend I was fixed, because everything had come together. And then, over the last six months, it just felt like it was coming apart again. And nothing happened to provoke it this time.

      Does that make any sense?

      • yeah it does, and your owen traits that are not from your illness is causing you to be more frustrated with your mental issues. A lot of what you are feeling I do understand. My only difference is that I have no responsibility to anyone. No partner, no children to have to get myself together for. But I go through times when I can’t get off of the couch and I can’t go and take care of things. I get numb and i used to get extreme anxiety, well I still do but not half as much, but I would build up things I thought were going to happen in my mind and my anxiety would go through the roof. for no reason. But I have given up now. If I get like that I disasociate and withdrawl. I’m sure that some of the things you are feeling, is coming from paranoia. In reality, you can make it. Like you said, you are a very intelligent woman. You are smart enough to stay aware of yourself and your symptoms. I think you despirately need a med evaluation. It is obvious that whatever you are taking is not what you need right now. I know what you mean about seeing things wrong and feeling like you wanted to pretend that they were fixed. I do that too. We have a hard time dealing with things out of the realm of our control. But that is fine becasue in reality, you can’t fix it all by yourself. you need to see a pdoc and explain what you have here in your blog. Then you can hopefully get on some meds that will help you better.Again. I believe God will be there if you ask him to. I am still praying for you. That is all I can do. Now when I have these strange symptoms, the first thing I do is say, “God what ever is happening please help me to get through it,” and he is there Im not alone. Also he can feel what I feel. He knows my pain. He comforts me. I don’t want to sound like some religous nut. cause I am not at all. Im just going by how it is with me.
        But do think about positive things like you mentioned above and be thankful for what you have. I think you should really take these things like self harm and the other things you don’t want to say, and go through intense therapy with a good pdoc or therapist. I think that is the only way, other than God that this will ever resolve itself. WE talk to you and encourage you because we love you and want to say something that will be the thing that will make it all better. The truth is though, that no amount of love advice or encouragement is going to heal you. I know you want to heal yourself and your husband. I understand that feeling. I would give anything if I could heal you both. but that is just not the way it happends. Not with some of the symptoms that you are suffering with. I will be here any time to talk with you and do what I can, and like I said, I will not stop praying. But consider turning all this over to God or a professional and not try to handle all of this yourself Lulu. (((hugs)))

        • I did pray on this. I got straight with God, and I asked, “Can we figure this out and find a way to get through this together?” I asked him to help me find a way to help myself. Anytime I’ve ever asked God for that, he has always provided. I asked him to help me find a way to provide for my family, and he led me to my current job. That was almost two years ago.

          I asked God about a few weeks back to help me help myself. And God’s answer was to have many of my friends who understand (yes, my blog friends) plant the idea of therapy in my head. And after that, it just took some time and a few gentle nudges for me to open up to the idea. The gentle nudges being the behaviors that don’t work and cause me harm. Even behaviors that cause me more harm than good. I started to see it, and he helped me open my eyes.

          I might need an antipsychotic. We’ll see. But, I really think the key thing that is hindering my recovery from any and every Dx I have is the absence of therapy. It’s gone beyond what I can manage. I have no skillset for this. How do I manage a partner who may have a more severe mental illness than I do? And worse, at this point, what happens if we’re both symptomatic at the same time?

          I saw a glimpse of it over the last couple of months, and it’s not pretty. And that’s when I had enough resolve to hold it together. What if one day I can’t? I just get tapped out?

          I didn’t realize how dependent I am on others to keep me in check. And I didn’t realize how poorly I regulated myself. Worse, I saw that the only thing holding me together was a schedule that was becoming more and more rigid. What happens one day when all of those flimsy supports just fall away?

          I need to fix things and be able to stand alone when my supports give out. Even if it’s only for a little while. I need to know how to give support in a long term situation.

          And as for the good things in my life, here’s the screwed up thing. I have such a duality in my nature that things often conflict that shouldn’t even touch each other. I know what I have. And sometimes, I don’t even believe I deserve it. Sometimes, I believe I paid for it in blood, sweat, and sanity. And sometimes, I hate myself for finding flaws with it. I’m always finding flaws. I’m always trying to fix.

          And you’re right. I did always have it in my head as a kid that one day, when I was loved, respected, appreciated, and all of those wonderful things, just because I was being me and I gave 110% every day, that I’d be healed. And I guess I got pretty disappointed when I wasn’t.

          I have a lot of trauma that I have never admitted to a professional. This is trauma that I’m only starting to admit to myself. Maybe it’s just the trauma. I don’t really care what it is. I just want to get it treated.

          There’s still more to come. I have a second and a third part in this series. Stay tuned.

  4. I can’t believe you have to wait five weeks for Dxs. That’s absurd. Is your doctor forming a committee to evaluate you? I’ve always had psychiatric doctors ready to give me a diagnosis on the spot. That’s five weeks without treatment for either of you. Let’s hope the initial treatments the pdoc finally comes up with does some good. With a five week waiting period, it ought to be damn good. I am disgusted on your behalf. I’m sorry to hear about this – I hope things turn around soon. *hugs*

    • Five weeks is actually pretty short compared to the six to eight week standard around here. Our psychiatric care is mostly garbage. In the duration of the last twelve years of intermittent treatment, I have seen one Pdoc I could get along with and zero therapists I could deal with. I’ve been through at least seven or more Pdocs and four therapists. And those therapists were mainly for intakes.

      One place outright refused to take my husband’s “case”. He had too many hospitalizations, diagnoses, and “didn’t seem cooperative to the process”. Another place refused him because he refused therapy. That happened to both of us once before, and that was the whole reason he stopped treatment the last time. Well, that and the doctors kept insisting on antidepressants that just made him suicidal. My husband is not depressed.

      Most of the time, he’s rarely moved. Not to say he doesn’t feel at all. He’s not particularly sensitive to anything but stress and familial problems. And even then, he has a mechanism for shutting people out.

      He’s hanging in there. In the meantime, I’ve been working with him to keep the dialogue going, and to keep his emotions functioning. The defense mechanism for shutting down has been hurting him more than anything else, I feel. He spent a lot of time very isolated, extremely anxious, and repressing emotions he should have been processing.

      I tell him that we do this so he can talk to the doctor when he gets there. “The doctor isn’t going to want to hear what I have to say. I can’t be your mouthpiece.”

      I’m actually going to a completely separate behavioral health facility for my therapy. Not that I like having the split. The therapist is going to be a lot more frequent than the Pdoc, so it has to be closer to the house.

      Will my therapist be in contact with my doctor? I hope. I don’t think this is a medication thing though. I am pretty stable with the exception of these behaviors that pop up when fundamental things in my life are being jostled around. I shouldn’t react in such a dramatic way. I should have the tools to be able to handle things. I don’t. I can’t cope without going overboard.

      And I can’t go overboard. Stuck between a rock and a hard place. So, this tension starts to build up when I’m sitting still when I’d rather be running and screaming. It builds until I do something irrational, uncalled for, damaging, hurtful, self-destructive, etc.

      I can’t live like that. I want to be healthy. I want to be functional. And every single day, I feel like I’m less and less functional. The less functional I get, the more of a burden I feel I am. And I lose even more function.

      So, I’m stopping this dead in it’s tracks. There are more posts forthcoming, because it took a long way in my head to get from the point described here to this dot I’m sitting on right now.

  5. Definitely sounds like the mixed episodes I’ve had. I’m BP II, but have wondered before if it’s BPI?

    Also thought could be Borderline too. I really identify with some of the symptoms. But I don’t self harm, which seems to be a big part of it. Confusing!

  6. There’s not really a label that seems to fit me at all, though I have my issues. (Well, other than my anxiety labels.) That’s why I think labels aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be . . . they’re just ways of trying to treat and understand what’s going on. It’s harder to do if a label doesn’t fit, perhaps, but it’s still doable. *hugs*

    • I’m pretty well convinced it’s a duel diagnosis situation. But you’re right. The fit isn’t right.

      I realized why the fit isn’t right, and my husband and I have been over this several times now. He suggested it years ago when I was first diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. I rejected it, because I didn’t fit. My mood did flit around based on circumstance, but there were these long, horrible moods that seemed to have no source and no solution. BP II fit better, and my husband seemed to agree with me once he saw treatment starting to work. He occasionally reminds me that the treatment is working when I make the attempt to question it.

      “Nothing will ever be as bad as it was,” he tells me. Coming from someone on the outside, it might hurt. But, coming from someone who has seen the good, bad, and ugly, and can form an objective opinion based on the observations in a period of time where he wasn’t madly in love with me, then I have to take it as a compliment. I have to take it as a “look how far you’ve come, don’t turn your back on all of it.”

      The treatment for BP and BPD are very similar. So, it would stand to reason that I would get better for a period of time on the medication. But, it would also stand to reason that I would likely find myself in a situation of a serious crash one day, because the behavioral aspect was never corrected. That’s what led me to believe this wasn’t a BP relapse. I could find causation everywhere I looked for these hyperemotional ups and downs.

      So, naturally, I hit a serious transition period in my life and things start changing, things fall apart because all of the definitions are relative to a situation that is changing. Functional relativity is what I called it to another blogger. When one thing is contingent upon another thing that isn’t static, then the whole thing becomes relative to itself. I’m a huge bundle of unsound logic.

      Anyway, we talked about it. He’s good to bounce psych things off of, because while he’s interested in psychology, he is completely an amateur. He didn’t grow up with anyone with serious disorders that he was aware of. He didn’t study it in any official capacity (no classes or anything). The best he’s done is flipping through diagnostic criteria and a few books. He can only compare diagnostic criteria applied to one person and their set of behaviors to another. Completely relative. No objective knowledge or observation.

      He had pointed out that I did not behave stereotypically. I pointed out that I had pointed that out several years ago, upon my first diagnosis. He pointed out that I did not behave like other people who had BPD. I pointed out that there are reasons for that, and in my younger years, I did behave just like that.

      And I have every intent to post about it. I’ve been meaning to post about a kind of atypical BPD as a result of conditioning and awareness about the “bad” behaviors associated with it.

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