I was always diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (along with a diagnosis with PSTD). I was okay with that. It took some time, but I was okay with my diagnosis. I wasn’t always. I went through stages. At first I was made at the defect that I was born with. Then I was sad, because I would never be normal. However, there came a day of acceptance, when I realized my diagnosis was out of my control. I was born with bipolar. This was part of my genetic code, this disease was part of who I was. It was out of my control, just like the color of my eyes, or any other illness that I would be predisposed to. Why waste time being angry about it, when I could spend time learning? So that’s what I did;I learned everything I could about Bipolar Disorder, the different types of Bipolar, Bipolar management, therapy skills, holistic remedies, TED talks, YouTube videos… I surrounded myself with knowledge, whether it be from a textbook or from reading someone’s personal experience.
My diagnosis always felt a little off; like a sweater, that fit perfectly everywhere, if you could look past the fact that the sleeves were a seven feet long. I ignored the awkward fit, and refused to get it tailored,or checked on. I was bipolar; that had to explain what was wrong with me. I’m not entirely sure why I put off getting a second opinion or a re-diagnosis for so long. I knew something was wrong with calling myself “bipolar,” but I had confidence in my doctors. I think I was afraid that something else could be wrong with me, or being even crazier than originally thought. I had already educated myself to the best of my capability; the thought of something else being wrong with me was overwhelming, and at times horrific.
Recently, after living with Bipolar for 6 years, I went to go get medical assistance, along with a re-diagnosis. I figured it was time for a tune-up, and if there was anything that needed to be brought to my attention, now was the time. When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar, it was just me.I didn’t have anyone relying on me, and I wasn’t entirely honest. I was new to the world of mental health, and I was scared. A really big part of me thought the doctors would hear how I was feeling, and would lock me away, and never look back. Now, flash forward 6 years, as a mom, and a functioning member of society,who has been around and in and out of the mental health world, I know this is ridiculous, and I shouldn’t be afraid to tell my doctors anything, because they are there to help treat me. As hard as it was, I told them everything during my re-diagnosis intake; I told them what I was living for, and I told them my truth. As it turned out, I wasn’t living with Bipolar this whole time; I was on the Borderline Personality Spectrum.
This meant that I was never born with a mental illness, rather, it developed from trauma as a young child. I wasn’t born this way, I was made this way; and I’m having a difficult time grasping that.
Part of my coping all these years with my original diagnosis was understanding that this was out of my control, because I was born this way. However,now I have to realize, I wasn’t born this way. I wasn’t born with Borderline Personality Disorder, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I always knew I had, but was never addressed in the past), or my dissociative disorders (I have recently been diagnosed with Dissociative Amnesia, and Dissociative Personality Disorder). All of my mental health diagnosis’s have developed overtime as a response to trauma in my early childhood years.
Again, my first response was anger. This time I wasn’t angry at myself, but at those who put me through the trauma. I was angry that people put my life at risk, for whatever their reasoning be, at an age when I couldn’t fend for myself. After all this time since my early trauma, everything felt fresh. Old wounds were now open again. I suddenly wasn’t over something I thought I was over for over 15 years. I was angry that negligence that wasn’t my fault was now personally influencing my life in such a severe way.
Upon this diagnosis, I felt weak. Because I wasn’t born with this, because I wasn’t born this way, I felt like this was part of natural selection, saying I wasn’t fit for this Earth. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I felt like I was made to die out years ago,and as if my existence was a mistake. For brief, fleeting moments, I felt suicidal, once again, a feeling I had gained control over for the past few years. However, I had one advantage that I didn’t have years ago. Instead of falling down the rabbit hole and sinking into a deep depression before reaching acceptance, I was almost immediately able to pull myself out of this dark way of thinking, and it was all thanks to a secret I learned years ago.
I was talking about my diagnosis to a group, and was saying I am Bipolar, and my therapist, repeatedly, kept shaking her head no. Finally, I had enough, and asked her what was wrong. She said she saw this behavior in all patients, where when discussing diagnosis we spoke as if we were our diagnosis. It was important to know our diagnosis, but not lose ourselves in them. So we starting replacing “I am” with “I have” and we were able to regain some confidence. I’ve carried that with me to this re-diagnosis. I will continue to educate myself; learning your diagnosis is a key to treatment. However, I won’t lose myself in the scary words of a medical diagnosis. Not again.
Taylor Nicole is a young author and mother based out of New England. Taylor is a foster care advocate, as well as a mental health advocate. She is a frequent blogger, and her memoir “Free Tayco” is set to be released April 7, 2017!