Today was the day that I learned that admission of guilt made me free. And what I felt guilt about was nothing to feel guilty about at all. Yes, to this funhouse, admission was free. And, while all the time that I felt that being an advocate, acting like this was all about pride in spite of pain was all you were going to get out of me, it was important that I finally said it. I had to say it to someone, say it to me, and then say it to all of the people that I had failed to say it to. The people that I had perhaps been robbing permission the same freedom.
Admission is free. Admission is freeing.
The morning of my visit to my new psychiatrist had me on edge. I was annoyed that a week earlier I had filled out nineteen pages of history for her. Trying to recall twenty-seven years of bipolar treatment wasn’t that easy. I had kept track of every medication, my experiences on that medication, and why I had stopped taking each one. That was a rather amazing thing if you ask me. But, I honestly could not remember each doctors name, nor the exact dates of treatment. I did, of course remember my two favorite doctors, and the approximate dates of treatment. I am certain that all other doctors had been intentionally pushed from my mind just as they had been pushed from being permitted to treat me. Jackasses, most of them.
Also, I didn’t want to deal,with the drive, and finding parking. I considered taking a Lyft, which I do when I go to areas like this: much traffic, expensive or no parking. But, I sensed I’d want some freedom,and some privacy. Turns out that was a good call. Perhaps stop for lunch afterward. There is an excellent mall just two blocks over. Maybe some window shopping, and then lunch. I’ll tell you now, that didn’t happen.
How many times I circled Avenue of The Stars and made illegal U-Turns at afore mentioned shopping center to get onto the right part of the oneway frontage road of Santa Monica Blvd isn’t important right now (grin). I arrived and was minimally flustered. If this had been just four months ago, I would have arrived in tears.
I was so ready to be pissed off, that it almost pissed me off that I liked her so immediately. Furthermore, she never repeated a single question that had been asked on any of those f**king pages. I was stunned.
She asked me how I was feeling today, how I thought my mood was. I had been off of my Pristiq, my antidepressant for just over a week, I told her I was a bit manic, probably due to, and causing a lack of sleep. It’s this shitty cycle of bipolar. I get manic, I can’t sleep, the lack of sleep sets off my ‘after burners’ which increases the mania, and so on. Being off of my antidepressant, and only on a mood stabilizer should NOT make me manic. As I explained this, I carefully measured my speech so as to not ‘push’, or speak too quickly. Pushed speech has always been a big problem for me when I am manic or hypomanic (which is more typical of my mania). I wanted to be clear that this off med situation was due to a jumble of contraindications left over from my previous general practitioner, and NOT due to the very often seen bipolar behavior of noncompliance. Not that I haven’t been down that road before. Now, I have been compliant for a decade at least. That’s a big fat win!
We discussed my depression for awhile. I talked about how, no matter what my treatment had been, depression always stuck around. Like an umbrella, the sun was never really allowed to shine on me. Even in a feeling of mania, there was a sadness. I never feel that euphoria that others talk about.
I asked her if this was due to what is called a mixed state, or perhaps a sadness that is something I need to work on more with therapy, and less with medications.
“Do you feel sad right now?”
“Yes,” I replied. “And more so the longer we talk about this.”
“I don’t think you are manic right now. I don’t see the signs at all.” She put down her pen and looked at me a moment. “How do you feel about being here, about seeing a psychiatrist again after so long?”
I was direct, I was honest. If you want help you have to be honest. “I am nervous, I am cautiously optimistic.”
Then she got me. Like this had been creeping up, ooo she was good, “I bet you feel vulnerable.”
Have your eyes ever just exploded in tears? That kind of crying where you have no warning and suddenly your face is wet, your eyes are streaming. You can’t see for all the water just pouring? It’s a good thing I always have that umbrella.
I don’t like feeling vulnerable. Less than that, I don’t like admitting it. Yes, I felt vulnerable. So very much. My history with psychiatrists is not stellar. I’ve only had two I’ve liked. They, I’ve come to learn we’re not typical. They spent a good deal of time with me, more than the scheduled fifteen minute med check (that turns into six or eight minutes). No time for any meaningful dialog. Don’t even try it.
So, now I am crying and we are talking about my history. Various meds. I continue crying as I recall certain medication foul-ups. She has really opened the floodgates. After all of the therapy, this is something I’ve never had a chance to address, it’s just never come up. I have really been through the wringer of our mental health system. I have been in some pretty sorry ass places, getting truly fucked over. There I was, in a beautiful office in Century City. Damn have I have travelled far, from free clinics and county psych wards … Well ya. Anyway.
I’ve never been able to sit and cry about how my 80 year old uncle told my mom he thought I was bulimic, because I would vomit all night from the imipramine. I didn’t know that until after he passed away. Not that he and I were thick as thieves, but hells man, that sucks. Knowing someone thought that, and told my mom, and it was the stupid ‘zombie pills’. By far the worst antidepressants ever.
The doctor treating me when I was hospitalized. My daughter was only about two. He checked me out of that place. I told everyone I wasn’t ready, that I needed to be cared for and if I left I would have to care for my child and no one would be there to care for me, and I felt sick. He let me leave on a dose of lithium so high, that about five days later I could hardly move the left side of my body, my eyes could not focus, and I had long and short term memory issues. (Lithium Toxicity)
As we, my new doctor me I, went through my history, just my psychiatric history, not my various therapists, I finally realized something. Something I never had put my finger on before. Well, probably because no one had ever asked until that day.
When we made it through the whole history, I finally looked up. She said to me, “oh no, you’ve cried off all of your eye make-up. It was so beautiful!”
This is my first ever woman psychiatrist.
I looked at her, I said thank you, and then I said it. Something I never realized, and probably the most important, as they say “Breakthrough” I’ve ever had in my psychiatric treatment.
“I hate being mentally ill.”