When I realized I’d missed my appointment with the psychiatrist, I tried to call the office to make a new appointment. I tried several times a day, every day, for two weeks, but never got through. This wasn’t a complete surprise to me, as the practice has a terrible phone system that everyone there hates.
In 1997 I was diagnosed with depression. A few months later, on January 1, 1998, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type II, which is often described as a milder form of the illness, though it really isn’t – it’s just different. During the first two months of 1998, I was hospitalized three times, the third time following a suicide attempt.
This came to mind as I was trying to reach my doctor’s office. What if it had been an emergency? What if I was on the verge of suicide again and needed help? What if the hospital was calling to ask about my history and meds? I gave up with the phone, and I hit my insurance company’s website to find a different doctor.
I saw the new psychiatrist last week, and he’s a CNP rather than an MD, so it’s much easier to get onto his calendar at short notice. Naturally he asked for history of diagnoses, so I listed them out in sequence: Depression, Bipolar 2, Depression, Dysthymia, and Depressive Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. Then he asked the fun question: which one of those felt the most right to me? I hedged. I didn’t want to have to speak it out loud, so I said, “I’m not sure.” It wasn’t quite a lie, because I’m not–and can’t be–100% sure.
The real truth is that I think I have Bipolar 2, even though I’ve been trying to avoid that diagnosis for years. “Oh, the depressions were just from abuse” and “Oh we only documented one hypomania, but it might not have been real. I’ve always been a high achiever.” You know, covering it over.
So he coded me as Mood Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. I guess it’s okay for now. See, my meds for chronic pain include an anti-convulsant that I took as a mood stabilizer for several years over a decade again. I’m already on 2/3 of the BP2 cocktail I used to take: SNRI, mood stabilizer, anti-psychotic. I had a love-hate relationship with the anti-psychotic. Actually, it was more of an okay-loathe relationship. It blunted the edge of the horrible suicidal fantasies that would move in and take over all available space, and then all space I was trying to use for anything else. They were awful, and the slightest gap would let one sneak in and hijack my brain. It was good to have some relief from them, but it came at the cost of all creativity. I lived in a sort of mist for the years I was on the anti-psychotic, and I was so pleased once I weaned off. It took about six months after that to get myself back. I’d missed me.
So yeah. I’m pretty sure I have Bipolar II. Even more, I suspect I have a rapid cycling form. By “pretty sure,” I mean “about 90% sure.” And by “suspect,” I mean “think, with about 60% certainty.” Damn, damn, damn.
For now, I’m on my meds and I’m watching things. It hasn’t been too awful so far. If you are a praying sort, I ask you to hold me in your prayers, with all who struggle with brain disorders.