Creative Survival


It has been over a month since I got my official diagnosis. As you may remember, Dr. P was toying with the idea that I’m bipolar. She had said, “I’m not ruling out the possibility.” To me this meant that she wasn’t sure.

During my final appointment, she decided what to write in my chart, what advice to give my primary care physician. As she explained it to me, I did not have enough symptoms for a definitive diagnosis of bipolar II. She stated that my doctor and therapist should continue to be watchful for any mood cycling, and if does occur, she suggested a mood stabilizer to add to my daily cocktail. Basically, I’m a borderline case, someone who is right on the edge of the diagnosis, dancing precariously on the side of anxiety disorders mixed with depression.

Here is my official diagnosis:

Depressive mood disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Honestly, this all sounds right to me. Just looking back over the years and the experiences I’ve had, this mix makes sense. Not that bipolar doesn’t make sense, just that I always defined my “cycling” as long patterns of chronic depression, broken up by uncontrolled anxiety attacks, which on one occasion included “psychotic” features (meaning dissociation and hallucinations).

As I explained to Dr. P, I allow the stress to build to the point that my mind forces me to take somewhat of a vacation. It’s a survival response, although many would call it crazy.

Now, to continue on my path of getting healthy, I need to make sure that I continue to take my medicine and not allow myself to get fooled by the notion that “oh, I’m okay now.” I’ve done that before, and the result has been less than attractive. I’m also continuing therapy with Dr. F, changing my lifestyle and most importantly, being more aware of my physical responses to things, particularly when I begin experiencing signs of a panic attack.

This is the course of action I’m taking. Not just medicating myself, but looking for ways to prevent these responses before they happen, to get at the root cause and placate it. This approach has been working well for the anxiety. Not so much for the depression. It seems that medicine is the only thing that helps with that darkness.

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