More Than A Diagnosis
In light of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, as well as BPD Awareness Month, I thought that I would go back and share a little more about my diagnosis.
For those who don’t know me, or haven’t been following along for very long, my name is Preslee, and I have Bipolar I disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder (an old diagnosis that has been recently relisted…), and Anxiety. But I am much more than my diagnosis. This is my story.
First, let me start by saying that, at any given time, anyone can be touched by mental illness. Current statistics from NAMI.org say that “approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. – 43.8 million, 18.5% – experience mental illness in a given year. 2.6% of adults in the US live with bipolar disorder. 6.9% of adults in the US -16 million – had at least one major depressive episode in the last year.” So, before you start to say, “it’s not real”, or “It could never happen to me,” it is real, and it could happen to you.
When I was 15, that’s when things started to get more and more depressing. I started cutting myself, I lied of course. To protect myself from punishment and scrutiny, I lied and hid what I was doing. I didn’t need any more pressure. I started to cut myself to relieve the pain I felt inside. I stopped sleeping, because, when I did sleep, I had nightmares. I started hallucinating, death was following me. I remember when I got in trouble at school, for a stupid poem I wrote, and instead of getting help, I got in trouble.
Cutting was something that felt good. It was easy. It made sense. It helped ease the storm inside. There was a rush. I needed it. It became a coping mechanism, it became an addiction.
Looking back, because hindsight is always 20/20, I can tell you that I was depressed long before then. I remember when my nephew was born, I was around 10 years old, and my legal mother had to send me away with some friends to “cheer” me up. She would try to get me involved in things, I was in peewee cheerleading. But I was sad, but it was more than sad.
Moving forward, I managed. I dealt with my feelings the best that I could. I got involved with band and color guard at school. I had boy friends. I had some best friends. When I was old enough to work, I emersed myself in my job. But, the idea to cut, the need and the desire, was always there in the back of my mind.
When I was 17, I was raped by my ex boyfriend. It wasn’t violent or anything. But it is what it is. Still, he’s “sorry that [I] took it that way.” Just add that to a list of sexual abuse history. Possibly started in Pre-K, the counselor was seen taking me into his office and locking the door. They said that you could hear me screaming down the halls, but I don’t remember that. When I ran into him in intermediate school, he said that he remembered me because I “always wore those pretty dresses”. He was fired for indecency with minor girls. Then, there was the incidents with my niece and nephew’s dad. He would have me to sit on his lap when we were alone, kiss him on the lips. He would touch my thighs and my chests. One night, I was watching him play video games and I fell asleep in his bed, I woke up to Donna being all pissed off because he was asleep in the bed with me. Another night, I woke up to him standing in my doorway watching me sleep. He came into my room, saying that I was uncovered and was covering me up, even though the sheets were already up to my chest. “Kiss me”, he said. “No, I don’t want to kiss you, go away.” I kept saying that over and over, but he wouldn’t leave. He kept leaning over me, his lips so close to mine, I could feel his breath on me. He kept asking me to kiss him. And he wouldn’t leave until I did. I’ve slept with my door shut ever since. When I finally said something about it, we took it to a detective who gave him a polygraph test, and called me a liar.
The mood problems, they weren’t problems — or maybe I just didn’t pay attention to them — until I got to college. This was after the first semester, my fiance at the time had cheated on me. I began to isolate myself. I started having panic attacks. I was depressed. It wasn’t until I got my Bid for Tau Beta Sigma that I started to leave my dorm room. I even went to the clinic on campus to get help.
During that time, the mother that I had always known, tried to kill herself. I had called the cops on her. She was taken to the hospital in Ft. Worth. While there, she was telling people how they could kill themselves in their rooms, so I told the nurse, who told the social worker, who told her doctor, who eventually got her sent to Wichita Falls. She was there from November to January, and we have not had a relationship since. While all that was going on, I found out that my real mother was right there, and we have never been better.
I got married to the guy that cheated on me….because that’s a smart idea.
A couple of years later, it got really bad. I got depressed. To the point that I couldn’t handle going to work. I was angry. I was having panic attacks. I broke down and went to the doctor. She started me on Prozac 10 mg. It worked well enough for the first year. I was managing my emotions. Yes, I would have down days, but it wasn’t too bad. Until the meds weren’t helping. But when the doctor wouldn’t help me, I found someone else. She increased the Prozac to 20 mg, until that wasn’t working. And then she started me on Seroquel, because I made the suggestion that I thought that maybe I was Bipolar. I was having mood swings, high to low. I managed. Until managing was all I was doing.
Eventually, I started seeing a counselor, which, eventually landed me in the hospital for suicidal ideations. Stress is not something that I handle well. When I get stressed, I often take it out on myself. I think that there is a type of octopus that eats itself when it gets stressed, maybe I’m not that bad, but it’s bad.
The hospital stay itself, wasn’t bad. The first night was scary. I remember going in terrified. I had never been hospitalized, even for illness. So I had no idea what to expect. And you hear horror stories of mental hospitals — people screaming, padded rooms, etc. I remember my husband (at the time) dropping me off. I was scared. I didn’t want to be there. I knew it would be good for me. But I didn’t want to go. The first night, scary. But I made some friends. One, I still talk to. We have each other on Facebook and check in from time to time. The doctor there diagnosed me with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and PTSD. And all he focused on was the rape and the sexual abuse history. Yes, I had been recently triggered, but that’s not the whole story. I was reading The Hunger Games while I was there, he said that I needed to be more like Katniss.
That’s when everything in my life, up to that point, fell apart. My marriage, that I worked so hard for, fell apart. When I got home, I was there for two weeks, still going through symptoms, the panic attacks, the depression. And yes, maybe I started a fight. He kicked me out. So I left. I packed what I could, I went to my mom’s. And things were really rough and tough for a while.
I was having a hard time holding a job, I couldn’t stay in one place long. Financial instability means that your housing situation probably isn’t the best either. I lived with my mom for two weeks, then I stayed with my sister for a couple of months, I had my own apartment for a couple of months, moved in with some friends (which was a disaster!), and finally ended up back with my mom.
During that time, I saw a couple of different doctors through the MHMR system. The doctor that I saw in Ft Worth diagnosed me with Bipolar I disorder and BPD and PTSD. Of course, I cried with I got the BPD diagnosis because it’s a personality disorder.
We managed my meds the best we could. I started working again, though I still had the hard time with going to work. But having to help mom and not wanting to disappoint her, I went to work.
In 2014, I reconnected with a lost friend. We had met back in college, and I had liked him, but at the time, I was engaged…. Anyhow, turns out, he liked me too. We talked, started dating, moved in together, and got married. It’s been a crazy ride. But, he is very supportive of me. He sits with me in the dark times and helps me ride through the storms. He helps bring me back. It’s been amazing having someone like him with me. Marriage isn’t easy, but it’s even more difficult when someone has a major mental illness.
Now, the doctor I’m seeing has me down as MDD, Bipolar I, BPD. He took me down from 7 medications just down to 2.
My symptoms are everywhere.
-I don’t always get enough sleep, or I get too much sleep.
-I get mad at everything. Like, every little thing. Even things that shouldn’t bother me, bother me. And, when I’m mad, I have over-the-top reactions. I’ve noticed lately that my brain gets fuzzy when I get mad, like I’m going to black out or something. My breathing changes….
-I, mostly, want to hurt myself when I get mad. Sometimes, I want to hurt others. But when I have those thoughts, I turn them around, because I could never hurt someone else like my thoughts are provoking me to.
-I hear a voice in my head, but honestly, I think it’s mine – but more bitchy. Telling me that I’m worthless, ugly, stupid, or worse. I try to get the voices/thoughts out of my head by slapping/tapping/hitting my head. I want to make it stop.
-It’s a coping mechanism (pretty sure) that I can switch to pure bitch in a split second. My husband refuses to talk to me when I’m like that, and I don’t blame him. He tells me that when I switch it’s scary. He said that my whole demeanor changes – face, mouth, tone, speech pattern, even my eyes. Years ago, I called her Paige. But she’s not a true alter, I have no memory loss or slips. I remember what happens.
-Depression – same as ever. Days where I don’t want to get out of bed, eat or shower.
-Manic episodes that include shopping sprees with no concern for where the money is going to come from, until it’s over and I’m left with the guilt.
-Fear of rejection or abandonment. The people I love are going to leave me…
Even with all of this, I am more than just a diagnosis or a statistic.
I am a wife, a sister, a daughter. I love music. I love reading so much that I can get lost in a good book and have no idea that you’re talking to me. I’m a caregiver. I have two dogs and a cat that I love very much, because they are my babies. I love watching Netflix, I found out that the movies I grew up watching are on there, so I’m super excited!
I believe that even though I live with a war in my mind, I am a gentle person. I know that I can take care of others, and I do just that. Because I have been through hell myself, I will move mountains for people. I am compassionate, empathetic, sympathetic, and kind. I try to believe the best in people.
You are more than your diagnosis.
Posted on May 4, 2016, in Life, Mental Health, Support and tagged awareness, Bipolar, borderline, borderline personality disorder, BPD, Depression, diagnosis, Life, major depressive disorder, mental health awareness month, mental illness, mental-health, Support. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.