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Two Little Words

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

 This was written a couple of years ago. Many of you have never read it. It kind of seemed appropriate today.

I find it odd that two little words changed my life forever. Oh there were more words spoken at that meeting, but none as powerful as those words consisting of just 15 letters. They were about to impact my life in ways I could have never imagined.

As I sat in the doctor's waiting room I surveyed the photographs she had chosen for her walls. They were black and white photographs of people of all ages. Some were happy, some were not. Some were on the beach and some lying in the grass.  If you've ever watched the Sopranos you know what I'm about to say.  Just as Tony did, I looked at each picture carefully trying to find the hidden meaning the psychiatrist was trying to convey with each choice. Were there hidden meanings, or was I just being paranoid from sitting in this office?

I flipped through magazines while wondering whether to stay or to run. I knew that this meeting could provide me with life changing information and I wasn't sure I was ready to deal with it. On the other hand I was curious. Was I my own enemy? Did I have an enemy? Did it have a name?

My life has been anything but calm. From my early days I remember the turmoil as it sometimes surrounded me, pulling into its depths.  At the time I wondered why these tumultuous times wouldn't release their grips on me, now I wonder if I was I that couldn't release my grip on them.  It's strangely funny how introspective I became waiting for the verdict.

In my primary care doctor's office, I chat with the staff, look at magazines, play Sudoku on my iPhone and look forward to seeing the doctor that we have become friends with. This time was different. I was nervous. I was a little bit afraid and I was certain. I was certain of the verdict she would issue and it would be a life sentence.

Within minutes, that seemed like hours, the door opened and the doctor appeared. She was about my age, 45 or so, attractive, tall and thin. Her blonde hair fell to her shoulders and flipped up slightly on the ends.  She was casually dressed in black pants and a red long sleeve shirt. She didn't wear much makeup, but she didn't need it, her big blue eyes captured my attention at once as I'm sure they did with everyone that saw her.  She most definitely didn't fit my stereotypical image of a psychiatrist.

Her voice was soft and calm as she called me into her office and introduced herself.  Her name was Linda and she had been referred by my regular therapist, another Linda. Her office was done in neutral colors, but stylish with its classic furniture. Though not small, it was cozy and comfortable. There was no couch, no butterfly net and no straight jackets. There were shelves filled with books, kids' toys and boxes of tissues.

I looked at the chairs trying to decide which one to choose and if that might mean anything in the evaluation. I mean, if chose the chair on the left am I psychotic, if I chose the chair on the right was I a hypochondriac? I decided to choose paranoid and took the chair in the middle.

I sat down scrutinizing my posture. How were my hands? Was I sending off uncooperative body language, or was I too eager for a diagnosis, making it invalid? I thought I'd better calm down before she called in the men with the nets, who I was sure were in the other room.  I could feel anxiety-induced beads of sweat forming at my hairline. They were beginning to drip down my neck and to the small of my back.  I needed to calm down before I sealed my own fate, a fate worse than death, the fate of being admitted to the Adventist "Behavioral Center" otherwise known as the Cuckoo's Nest.

She began with asking me the usual questions about childhood, parents, siblings and then the more difficult ones regarding present experiences and traumas.  The entire meeting took almost three hours. As she spoke, I became much more comfortable with her. I calmed considerably and stopped looking for hidden syringes and various other torture devices.

She focused on my shopping, my forgetfulness, irritability, depression and mood related issues over all. In the third hour of the evaluation she turned at her waist, put her notepad down on her walnut desk. She then turned back toward me, leaned forward, folded her hands and uttered the life changing words: Bipolar Disorder. I believe her exact words were "I feel comfortable with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder II."

Well I'm glad someone's comfortable, but it certainly wasn't me.  I was thinking of that nice big check I had just written her and thinking "No, shit you're comfortable!"

Bipolar Disorder II, not the classic disorder everyone associates with manic-depression. There are no delusions, no psychotic behavior, none of the serious things usually associated with the condition. But there is shopping, irritability, severe depression, mood swings and all that shit. Wow, I'm feeling more comfortable every second.

However the more I think about it, the more I agree with the diagnosis. When you know your enemy, you can fight them offensively. I like that my enemy has a name and it's not Diva.  It's going to be a challenge, but really I'm the same person I've always been, just now I know why things get so skewed sometimes and why my moods can fall so quickly. I wasn't going to tell anyone, but I am the same person, I'll keep the good and work on the bad.  And now you'll know when I disappear for awhile or am quiet, it's not you, it's me and I will be ok. Yeah, I think I'm getting more comfortable every day.


highheeledlife May 16, 2012 at 8:32 PM  

I know it doesn't make things easier in knowing that "there is a name" for how you feel, act, react , shop :) etc. I still recall the moment I truly grasped "You have what is called a closed head injury, with trauma to the frontal lobe ... most commonly referred to as an Acquired Brain Injury" all I could think was .. I never asked for this? Can it be returned? ...

The ups and downs I face are very similar to what you describe ... So I can relate to the pain, frustration of not being in control of one's emotions at times and just wanting to stay under the covers until the feelings pass.

Hang in there ...xo HHL

middle child May 16, 2012 at 8:49 PM  

I realize this is a re-post but those things apply to me also. I was going to say that the only thing that didn't was being irrateble but....upon further I realize that is what happens one those days when everything Hunter does bugs the shit out of me. Another blogger has also suggested I might be Bi-polar II. All I can say is that if I get prescribed one more medicine,...I'm gonna need a bigger pill case!

Unknown May 16, 2012 at 8:55 PM  

I can remember fighting therapists that were treating my son, every week. Tired of hearing he has ADHD that is all, then adding ODD. Knowing they were wrong. Every medication 'proven' to help both of those made him inhumanly strong and violent and the aftermath following a trembling little boy who was scared of himself in those' black moments'. He was 16 when they finally sat down and went through everything. New place, real doctor, not some social worker who simply took notes to read to the real doctor somewhere else in the building. Bipolar 2, Obsessive Compulsive disorder, manifested with tics and verbalizations versus repeated rituals like door locking or hand washing. He also had social anxiety disorder, struggling so hard to not be different he would often take on the persona of who he was hanging with instead of being himself. Top that off with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and you have a recipe in a child that has been drug through hell and back because they didn't want to 'label' him. At nearly 20 we have been through hell and back, drug addiction to find a normal place like all his friends. Finally finding his way back from a dark place he seldom talks about. I know how that feels, to be justified and have a name and at the same time knowing what all comes with it. One step at a time, a support group of people who love you and will hang on when you really want to let go, and tons of people reminding you that you are loved. You got all of that and you are golden. I love you just the way you are. quirks and all.

joanne May 16, 2012 at 9:24 PM  

great post dear always helps to have someone on your side.

Now, get this for uneasy. My son's in-laws are both psychiatrists and we usually see them at family functions...I am so very sure that they are starting to figure me out.

Cloudia May 16, 2012 at 9:31 PM  

love your final line!

Warm Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

> < } } (°>

The Bipolar Diva May 16, 2012 at 9:38 PM  

Celia, we'll hang in there together!

The Bipolar Diva May 16, 2012 at 9:39 PM  

Middle Child; a pill case? I need a pill case!

The Bipolar Diva May 16, 2012 at 9:40 PM  

It's sad how many times people are misdiagnosed. I've gone through it and we also went through it with Joshua. It took "doctors" seven years to tell us he had autism!

The Bipolar Diva May 16, 2012 at 9:40 PM  

joanne, I would be totally paranoid!

Outcast May 17, 2012 at 2:22 AM  

I hate it Diva, bipolar disorder. I hate it so damn much. This post really moved me but I love the positivity right at the end. Things are getting better, and hopefully they'll continue to get better, I'm really glad you reposted this.

Classic NYer May 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM  

Want to hear something funny? I just found out that I have schizotypal personality disorder.

Um... what?

Princess Kate May 18, 2012 at 2:08 PM  

Thanks for re-posting. I hadn't read it the first go around. Hang in there Diva. We are all fighting the good fight. AND always remember we are all here for you if you have to step away. Just remember to come back when you are ready. Hugs

Andrea L May 21, 2012 at 6:16 PM  

I was diagnosed Bipolar II in 1995, approx one yr after I had my second child. I was 27. When I look back, I suffered with depression issues far earlier than that, and even when things got bad, I managed to 'hide' it from pretty much everyone for quite a long time. When I actually did finally see someone, it was at the referral of a family member, a head psychiatrist at a Canadian hospital. He contacted a friend/colleague he had worked with at the Mental Health Hospital in our city (a world renowned hospital), and after my first visit, things were at the point where I was sent immediately for ECT treatments. It was not the only time I had to go through that. I have also been hospitalized a few times.
I went through a period about 5 or 6 yrs ago where you wouldn't have known I was Bipolar. I was off my meds, and doing great....for awhile... now, not so much....
So many things have changed since I was diagnosed. Depression was a taboo subject, an embarrassment, you didn't talk about it... I love your blog! Thank you for being so open and honest about everything! So many of your posts, I could have written myself, only I couldn't... but reading could be me...

The Bipolar Diva May 21, 2012 at 7:53 PM  

Andrea, thank you. It's a hard disorder to deal with. The times can be so much of a roller coaster ride at times. We can do so well for so long, then the bottom tends to fall out. I only wish my parents had been alive when I was diagnosed. It would have explained so much to them.

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