Welcome back to End the Stigma! Today I am going to discuss how hard it was to be diagnosed with the right mental illness. I will also be discussing some of the mental illnesses in detail that get confused for Dissociative Identity Disorder. This is why it can take over 10 years to get the correct Diagnosis.
Mental health is a vast topic and its not all just about the diagnosis. Anytime you go anywhere for a mental illness issue they have to diagnose you with some sort of mental illness so that insurance (if you have it) will pay for your care. Unfortunately sometimes they rely too much on the “in” mental illness for the year (we will discuss that in a different post). Therefore you end up being diagnosed with so many because it is all kind of a guessing game based on the DSM-V which is the current diagnostic manual for psychologist and psychiatrist and your personality traits and symptoms you claim to be having (because lets face it they cannot literally get in your body to feel the symptoms).
So now that the boring stuff is out of the way lets go right into my diagnosis story starting when I was a teenager!
I started going to counseling weekly when I was about 15 years old due to a lot of different things happening in my life. I lost my Grandpa to Cancer and we had spent so much time with him before he died that it was like losing a close relative. There were other stressors in my life as well. I was always depressed and would fly into fits of rage that I could not control. Among that I would also have crying jags and feelings of being younger or older than I really was. I was having Auditory Hallucinations and feeling like I was detached from my body most of my teenage life. I could not even tell you much about what happened during that bad year.
So fast forward to when I turned 18 and chose to go to a college far away from home. I chose to take a depression test at the college cuz they were offering treats for all the college students who took it so of course at 18 I’ll take the stupid test right. Hahaha. Then I got a really low score on the test and the counselor of the college started getting in contact with me about my scores. That is when the diagnoses party started happening.
Long story short I ended up going to a hospital my second semester in February while I was at school. Remember how I told you I had been discriminated against because of my mental illness in my past? This is when my first time of being discriminated against was. I was pulling decent grades B’s and C’s I didn’t really care about anything but being on my own back then and hanging with my friends. However after I went to the hospital the college made me sign a contract a huge BS contract that we will also get into in later posts. So I signed it and then three days later (although I was following the contract as hard as I could) they decided that I broke a rule on the contract and suspended me from college.
Okay now that tangent is over lets go into what happened at the hospital shall we?
I was talking to the doctors about my dissociation tendencies where I just felt like I was in a dream sometimes while walking around. My friends had never felt that way and told me it was weird that it was a normal occurrence for me. So the doctor of course started fishing for a diagnosis so that they could get paid by my insurance. However there were so many diagnoses given to me at the hospital that they ended up just throwing me into Borderline Personality disorder because of all the different illnesses they tried to tell me I had. So I was officially Borderline personality Disorder and had major depression severe with Psychotic features when I left the hospital, however they also threw a bunch of sub diagnoses at me like Post Traumatic Stress (true), Generalized anxiety disorder (not really), they even brought up Schizophrenia to me the 8 days I was there (nope). So I went home with like five diagnoses because they could not figure out what I had.
Well then I started seeing a counselor again and talked to them about the voices I heard in my head every once in a while. I discussed the anxiety I got a lot of times with major panic attacks. I also discussed the dissociation and the fact that I felt like my age changed a lot. Again I took a Borderline Personality Disorder test and they told me I had it (that was the year Borderline Personality disorder was the “in” mental illness if you had not already figured it out). Hahaha.
So for several years of seeing a counselor until my early twenties I had been diagnosed with a lot of Mental illnesses that get confused because of the line blur between them. Bipolar where you have High and low moods was one of the things that had been thrown at me countless times because I discussed the different age feelings and the fact that I had really intense emotions when I felt those ages.
Schizophrenia was thrown at me a few times because I talked about the auditory hallucinations and the people reading a commentary in my head. This was about the time I started doing my own research into what was wrong and found out the names and ages of some of the people inside, but I still did not realize what I had. I also did not want to admit that was what I had so of course I again pushed it aside.
Borderline Personality disorder kept cropping up because of the major mood swings and some of the ways I pushed people away and clung to people for fear of abandonment. This was almost a sealed deal for me until I met a different counselor. I was about to decide maybe I did have Borderline Personality Disorder. One of the biggest things I remember was that none of these diagnoses seemed right at all. There was just a feeling that I did not exhibit enough of the symptoms (even though the DSM would say otherwise) that I considered it a done deal.
One day in my early twenties I had a major breakdown in my Therapists office. We had discussed that it might just be Post Traumatic Stress disorder showing up a lot with all the mood swings I had. I remember breaking down in her office because it was so intense and I sounded like a little kid and I didn’t know what I needed and anytime she tried to get me to work with my “Inner child” to fix whatever it was my “inner child” said something along the lines of “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to feel that way.”
The next week I went back to my therapists office after thinking on it long and hard. I knew in my heart of hearts that it was the right diagnoses. I had known it forever but I had pushed it aside because of the stigma the world places on us.
Because those of us with Dissociative Identity Disorder are considered Sybils to this world. People who cannot live on their own, people who will need to be put in a hospital the rest of their life, people who will need to apply for disability because they can’t have a job, People who would never be able to make it through college, and people who should never have kids. This is how the world views us, this is why I lost jobs based on this fact. No one believes that we with Dissociative Identity Disorder can make it in the world.
I’ve got news for you world. We can! Your Wrong! We are fighters! We can do more than you realize! Hollywood and storybooks have painted us as scary, but those of us with Dissociative Identity Disorder just want to have a normal life. Yes we may have several other parts and not all our parts will like you, but we want to be treated like a normal person. My parts like being recognized when they are out with people we are really close to.
So Yeah I officially got diagnosed with Dissociative Identity disorder, it took me a year to come to grips with it and actually be okay with it. I had to be hospitalized again after I got diagnosed with it and I told the hospital what my diagnosis was. Instead of treating me normal they treated me like a Princess. That may sound awesome to you guys but honestly some of my personalities took advantage of that. Inside my heart of hearts some of the things we got away with was not okay. However three times my personalities came out in the hospital. Yet the hospital did not give us the true diagnosis of it.
One of my personalities came out while we were talking to a therapist in the office at the hospital and the therapist actually asked if they needed to let the nurses know I was going to be a problem that night. I immediately came to and started crying because I was so confused why he thought I needed to be watched closely.
Anyway I will end it there today, thank you for reading this rather long post/personal story. I would love any comments or questions you might have about it.
To all of you out there struggling with a mental illness you are not alone. Lets work together to:
End the stigma (one reader at a time)