At the moment I’m like an aeroplane tossed around in turbulence; dropping like a stone one moment and bouncing back up again the next. Never knowing when the next air pocket will take me by surprise. I just want a nice smooth journey where I can get up and stroll around and maybe have a drink from the trolley. Maybe even pilot my own aircraft for a while instead of having to rely on
autopilot medication to give me a smoother journey.
I took the first step towards this today when had my psychiatric assessment. It was much easier than I had anticipated – I think I had built it up in my head as a big scary confrontation with a besuited bloke sitting in judgement behind a large desk. In fact the guy wore jeans and a shirt and was very affable and friendly.
He was very thorough and at the end of the assessment he told me that in his opinion I have generalised anxiety disorder. He’s pretty sure I don’t have bipolar 2 as my GP suggested but wants me to keep a mood diary for the next few weeks to check for possible cyclothymia. He’s going to refer me for CBT (hopefully the proper face-to-face one this time instead of the crappy computer one) and suggest to my GP that she increases the dosage of my anti-depressants.
We spent quite a long time discussing my mood cycles and their effects and at some point it dawned on me that I have no idea what it’s like to feel normal. I don’t know whether my upswings are what a regular person would call normal, or whether they take me higher than that. Fortunately the mood diary has a detailed scale in it so I just have to find the appropriate box to tick.
It did make me wonder though. I keep saying that I want to be normal, that I want to function normally. But somewhere along this road I lost sight of what ‘normal’ feels like. I have had depression off and on for nearly 20 years; I have self-harmed for about 25. Would I be happy being normal? Would I even recognise it? What is normal anyway? When it comes to mental health does ‘normal’ even exist?
DH and I don’t really do Valentine’s Day. We’re both quite
soppy romantic but share a strong dislike of being told when that romanticism should manifest, so we tend to ignore all the hype and hooha. Which is just as well really, as February 14th is when I will be seen by a psychiatrist for the first time in my life.
I have mixed feelings about this. Part of me feels quite positive – I know that this is a step forward, and that this is the first step towards a diagnosis and/or treatment. But part of me feels nervous, apprehensive, exposed. I will have to be completely honest with a total stranger about my worst moments and thoughts. What if he thinks it’s something really scary? What if he thinks it’s nothing and sends me away? I honestly don’t know which would be worse.
So there we have it – in just over a fortnight I will know one way or the other, I will know which path my life is going to take.
It has been gently pointed out to me that instead of spewing stream of consciousness type posts all over the internet (by which I mean Twitter, Facebook and Mumsnet) I could write a blog. So here I am, with a shiny new blog, typing words in and – well, tbh I’m wondering whether anyone other than me will ever read them! But I guess the most important thing is that they’re written, so here goes.
I’m in my early 30s, married with 2 small children. To save time and confusion with names I’ll just refer to my family with the traditional acronyms – my husband as DH, my 3 year old daughter as DD and my 1 year old son as DS. Imaginative aren’t I? 😉
I have suffered from mental health problems in one form or another since childhood. But it’s only recently that I have come to see that instead of blithely
limping striding through life with the occasional course of antidepressants and counselling I might actually need some proper help. So I went to the GP with a bullet-pointed list of symptoms, because I’m that sort of a person (and because while I can communicate relatively well through written text I am shockingly bad at discussing important things face-to-face). Anyway, the GP read through my list and her eyebrows climbed higher and higher – I thought at one point they might actually disappear into her hairline – until at last she took a deep breath and gently told me that in her opinion I have a form of bipolar disorder (specifically bipolar 2) and need proper psychiatric assessment.
Of course as soon as I got home I googled and sat scanning lists of symptoms, treatments and prognoses until my eyesight started to blur. And do you know what? For the first time in my life the chaos inside my head actually began to make sense. I found myself ticking off symptoms and nodding in agreement at accounts written by diagnosed sufferers. I began to think that actually there might be some hope for me, some reason that I am the way that I am – and most importantly that I might not always have to be this way.
So that’s where things are at the moment. I’m still dutifully taking my anti-depressants every morning and waiting for a letter to land on my doormat with a date to see a psychiatrist. Whether they will confirm the GP’s diagnosis or decide that something else is closer to the mark remains to be seen. But hopefully this is the first step to gaining some stability and sanity in my life.