daily life, therapy

Too many labels

The discomfort I feel at the current thinking behind my diagnosis is reaching fever pitch.

They keep trying to stick me with new labels and I keep resisting. In particular, I’m resisting Borderline Personality Disorder, because it’s such a bullshit concoction of ‘symptoms’.

Symptoms of what? It’s not an illness, is it? So what is it then? It seems to me that it’s a marker used by the medical profession to flag up difficult, volatile patients who are:

  • usually female
  • have suffered trauma
  • aren’t afraid of sticking up for themselves.

I know I have PTSD, that’s been confirmed. I am wondering about bipolar disorder, but then I think that PTSD and depression covers it just fine.

Anyway, the more I resist, the more of a tangle I get myself into.

Here’s where I’m at with my current thinking, inspired by disinterested psychiatrists and their lazy assumptions:

  • I have gone into a manic reaction (bipolar 2, cyclothymia) with rapid-cycling moods lasting several days at a time. I can’t sleep and am overthinking everything (bipolar, borderline personality disorder).
  • I feel hopeless and worthless (depression) and these feelings keep coming back (recurrent depressive disorder).
  • I have been feeling a lot worse since they started sticking new labels on me (reactive depression, generalised anxiety).
  • I got really angry at my clinic a month or so back when a psychiatrist cancelled on me, claiming I had previously said I wouldn’t see her (borderline personality disorder). I told them to go fuck themselves (borderline personality disorder).
  • Since then, I have been reluctant to engage with psychiatric services because I feel so worthless and am scared of being disliked (avoidant personality disorder).
  • I have retreated into myself and prefer the company of my imagination (schizoid personality disorder).
  • I have become quite fearful of attending my psychotherapy sessions because I’m worried about what is being said or thought about me (paranoid personality disorder).
  • I’ve had nightmares and outbursts at home, usually triggered by a remark or something on tv about abuse, and I’m totally exhausted and numb (complex ptsd).
  • I jump out of my skin when someone walks in the room (ptsd, anxiety, social anxiety) and oh yeah, I keep cleaning the kitchen (ocd, anxiety).

So, what label do you think they want to stick on me today? Therapy starts in an hour or so. Let’s see what they have to say.

daily life

Out of sorts

There are too many days where I feel at odds with the world.

When you are out of sorts, you end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy: ‘I’m going to have a shit day’ turns into exactly that. People react well to good humour and a relaxed nature, less so to someone who is irritable, snappy, hyped up and aggressive, even (on a really bad day).

What is hard to get across is that if you have a mood disorder or PTSD it is really hard to know how you are going to wake up, or how things are going to pan out after that. Often you are also sleep-deprived, or the sleep you get is really poor quality.

It’s not so easy to cheer up, or snap out of it, or make an effort, or any of the other things non-depressed and non-traumatised people tell us to do.

No, a walk won’t fix it. No, I don’t want to go for coffee with a friend. Listening to music won’t fix it either, or going to see a film because both of those can clutter up an already cluttered head.

Those days where I feel at odds with the world, I stumble through not quite knowing what to do to make it better. I feel wound up and extremely anxious, overwhelmed and like seeing people is the last thing I want. I wonder whether I should avoid everyone altogether.

I was told recently that the avoidant behaviours that go with PTSD can be much harder to treat than the flashbacks, involuntary memories and dreams.

Is this true? It seems hard to believe. I always thought that as my flashbacks aren’t all the time, or nearly as severe as other people’s, that I was less severe in general.

But at a recent asssessment for non-NHS treatment (I’m weighing up whether or not to go for specific, targeted trauma work rather than the analytical psychotherapy I’m getting at the moment) I was told that I scored very high for phobic traits.

I avoid all the people and all the places to do with a relationship that ended in trauma. Unfortunately, that’s all my local places and many of my former friends. I don’t even go to my local supermarket. I feel like I haven’t been living where I live… it’s like I mentally moved out four years ago. This leaves me very isolated and unhappy. It’s also very hard to talk about with a therapist.

I suppose avoidant behaviour is learned, and as such is difficult to unlearn.

My attempts to manage my condition(s) do feel pretty ingrained. I have a ‘way of living’ rather than a life.

I really want to get my life back, and the person who went with it. She wasn’t perfect, but she was nothing like the distrustful, antisocial, exhausted and miserable old woman I seem to have become. And I’m not even that old!

 

therapy

Living with trauma

My head has been completely fragmented for a long, long time.

It makes it very difficult to function. I’m not currently able to work, and I can’t concentrate very well on anything. I also experience total, obliterating exhaustion. Viruses seem to hang about for months and exercise… well, what exercise?

I started psychotherapy last July and it is very challenging, as it should be. My main problem so far seems to have been getting up the courage to even trust my therapist, let alone share all that has happened to me.

I have talked about abuse, about really dark things, even about my habit falling in love with people who don’t love me back… but I keep being told that I am not connecting with my feelings.

This made me very angry when it was first suggested. What do they know anyway? But actually, I am starting to connect with my feelings and experiences, many of which have been buried for more than thirty years.

I actually cried recently. I cry at home but somehow opening up in therapy, letting down the defences I have built, is extraordinarily difficult.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Do you know what it’s like to walk about feeling slightly detached, like you aren’t part of things, like life is going on around you?

I seem to have become used to an overwhelming sadness, a numbness. For many years I just gave up and didn’t care if I lived or died. I think starting therapy is acknowledging that maybe I do want to live, and live better. It’s just that I haven’t found out a way of doing that yet.