A Bipolar Diagnosis for a Trauma Survivor

Trigger/ Content Warning: Talk of PTSD, mental health battles, being suicidal, and self harm.

 

If I go to a doctor of any kind because I suggested it, know that something is very wrong.

For me, it was feelings of helplessness. An all too familiar feeling that was beginning to lead down a road of suicidal idealizations. Though I was unaware at the time, they had already started to slowly invade my safe space; my mind.

I had been in therapy for nearly a year now and hadn’t thought much on going to a psychiatrist. What more could they do for me? It was pretty obvious my diagnosis; PTSD and major depression. As my therapist had pointed out already, I was pretty self-aware.

A little back story without delving into my entire childhood and early teens; I had always been anxious and depressed. It was something I hid well and attempted to fight on my own for a while. Only when the suicide attempts began to reach into the teens, did I realize that I couldn’t do it alone and needed help. Even then, therapy was suggested by my neurologist to help relieve stress and hopefully in turn, relieve my migraines.

Now back to the time of deciding to reach out to a psychiatrist.

If you are unaware, I live in a rural area in the south. Which translates into there are limited resources in my nearby area and I don’t feel comfortable going to a psychiatrist in my own town. Everyone knows everybody, but everyone doesn’t call everyone friend (yes that was a reference to a country song to only prove how country I am).

So I rode, because screw driving I am already scared enough of everything else, 45 minutes away. Let me tell you, that’s a long drive for me. I hate care rides that are over 20 minutes because my bladder can’t handle it.

I had no clue what to expect. So I did the same thing I had done for my therapist; I printed a self-diagnosis test I had found online. Why you may ask? Too many times had I heard that psychiatrists don’t see their patients long before forming a diagnosis.

And there was a specific diagnosis I feared and thus didn’t want him to mention.

Now, at the time I was 16-17 years old. Being underage, my dad came into the appointment with me. We sat down and talked to this man for a little while when he formed the same opinion my therapist had already reached; I am very self-aware and blunt.

He asked what was wrong; I answered “I don’t think it is very normal for people to want to kill themselves.”

He asked about my past, I very plainly laid on the table everything. Even mentioning my number of suicide attempts. I was going to drill into this guy that I was suicidal and needed to do something about that.

He asked about symptoms, I gave him my self diagnosis test and explained my paranoia, anxiety, sleepless nights filled with nightmares, my avoidance of situations as basic as getting groceries, my unnatural attachment to people (read as adults) who pretended to care about me. Everything I could think of.

He asked if I cried randomly sometimes; I said only before a huge a breakdown.

He asked if I had a self-harm issues; I said “When would self-harm not be considered an issue?” Then explained how self-harm had weaved it’s way into my life by disguising itself as a solution when in reality it was part of the problem.

He asked if I caught myself looking over my shoulder in public; I said “How else am I supposed to know that the person I perceive as following me is doing so when in reality they are simply trying to find the milk I keep stopping in front of.”

When he finally finished asking his questions, he let me know he was going to record his findings, thoughts, and what we had just discussed for accuracy sake in my records. Cool, no problem. Only, he still hasn’t told me his diagnosis. I looked over at my dad hoping maybe he knew what I was being diagnosed with.

The psychiatrist starts talking. One of the first sentences being, “Patient Courtney Keesee is very self-aware and presented her symptoms with extreme clarity.” As he continued he talked about how easy it was to diagnosis me because of this. “Obvious symptoms of PTSD. Patient already in therapy and I suggest that continue. Diagnosis of PTSD, slight OCD, Bipolar, and Depression. Prescribing…”

My thoughts trailed off with his words because I was stunned. “Bipolar??? And you can’t even say what type of bipolar? What in your ever blasted mind makes you think I am bipolar when you just spent 15 minutes asking me about my paranoia, flashbacks, and suicidal thoughts? You asked one mother fucking question that may have suggested a bipolar diagnosis and I even told you it only happened before a huge fucking melt down. You never even asked why I have melt downs! It’s because I realize I can’t do this shit on my mother fucking own asshole!” These were my thoughts, but they couldn’t find their way to escape my mouth.

I remember with such vividness that I was stunned speechless for 12 minutes. We had left the office and gotten back into the vehicle before I was able to speak.

The psychiatrist finished talking into the recorder and asked if we had any questions. Luckily my dad asked what I was thinking. “Bipolar?”

“Yes, for her record though I am not sure she is or isn’t. However, I am putting her on an antidepressant and mood stabilizer so I always say bipolar in order for insurance to approve the medication easier. She very well could be bipolar, and I believe I see trace amounts of it, but her PTSD is of my main concern.”

Trace amounts of a mental illness?? This isn’t a drug search mister, you won’t find trace amounts of cocaine lying around my room! You are talking about diagnosing me with something because you see “trace amounts” of the illness!

Now, yes getting this diagnosis did affect me greatly. It was now on my record for no reason (in my mind). And as he said, I do have slight OCD. This was something I became OCD about.

Still stunned speechless, I left that day without a single question I had had answered but more added to my list. What makes you think I am bipolar? Is it not normal to cry when you are having a breakdown? Are you seriously saying you diagnosis people based on “trace amounts” of a mental illness? What type of bipolar disorder?

The time has come for me to venture back into a psychiatrist office and I wonder, will that psychiatrist also see “trace amounts” of bipolar in me, or will they see the diagnosis I have always feared?

2 thoughts on “A Bipolar Diagnosis for a Trauma Survivor

  1. That psychiatrist was in CYA mode — leave no diagnosis un-mentioned, just in case. “Trace amounts”??? – Virtually every human being on the planet not in a coma could be said to have “trace amounts” of almost every category in the DSM. I do hope this next one is better. Good Luck.

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